An estimated 74% of small businesses have no marketing plan. That is an astonishing number considering that a strategic marketing plan is essential for every business and can make the difference between success and failure. Here are a few telltale signs that your company is in need of a strategic marketing plan.
1. You are the sole person invested in your company’s marketing efforts. A marketing plan will help identify the resources that will be required to market your business effectively and can bring focus to employees by ensuring everyone is working towards the same goals.
2. You have inconsistent branding across marketing materials. Consistency is key and a marketing plan will guide all of your branding efforts.
3. You aren’t absolutely clear on how your business is different than competitors’ businesses. A competitive review is a fundamental part of every marketing plan and will bring to light your business’ unique differentiator.
4. You don’t know much about your target audience or understand what’s driving their buying decisions. A marketing plan will not only identify who you should market to, but outline demographics, psychographics, attitudes and value drivers so that you will know how to reach and engage them.
5. You aren’t keeping up with industry trends or acting on them. A marketing plan will ensure that you aren’t caught off guard by emerging trends and will evaluate them to determine the implications to your business.
6. You have not outlined marketing goals. A strategic marketing plan will identify “S.M.A.R.T” (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-sensitive marketing objectives that will help you achieve your overall company’s business goals.
7. Your marketing decisions are reactive. Your marketing efforts will be far more effective, and cost-efficient, if they are planned, coordinated, synchronized and on target, rather than undertaken in a sporadic, inconsistent and piecemeal fashion.
8. You’re executing the same tactics you used five years ago, and have not embraced social media, blogs, mobile or email marketing. The Internet has caused a major shift in your target audience’s lives and also the marketing landscape. A marketing plan will evaluate all marketing channels as well as your audience’s behaviors and recommend the strategies and tactics that will maximize your marketing ROI (return on investment).
9. You aren’t getting quality leads. This is an indicator of one or more critical problems with your current marketing strategy. A marketing plan will outline strategies and tactics that will help you attract and retain your ideal customers.
10. You have inadequate or no analytics to determine which marketing efforts are driving results. There’s an old adage that “I know half of my marketing is working, but don’t know which half”. There is no excuse for this anymore and a strategic marketing plan will include the specific metrics that will be used to measure success.
If one or more of these is true for your business then please, for your business’ sake, don’t go another year without a strategic marketing plan. It may be the best decision you make for the long-term success of your business.