We are surrounded by brilliant businesses who we collaborate with on projects and over the coming months will be sharing some guest blogs. First up is the wonderful Nicole Martin of Pinpoint Marketing Consultancy Ltd
Nicole is an expert marketing strategist and planner – thank you Nicole for contributing.
This guest blog looks at why you as a small business owner or start-up business should plan, even if it’s not in the traditional sense at the moment, and how can you avoid your marketing being haphazard and inconsistent over the coming weeks and months.
The world is very much in a different and unusual place at the moment and there are a lot of things about day-to-day life and the future, that are out of our hands. So, there is every reason to think of battening down the hatches and keeping your business head down when it comes to planning. Or you can think because of all the uncertainty, that maybe now could be the right time to plan? Use some downtime you may have to good use and plan for what you can control in the meantime?
Why you should plan for your business
A plan allows you to take a bird’s eye view of your business, take stock and review your business to build your foundations. As well as getting organised and getting ahead, a plan allows you as the business owner to brainstorm the bigger picture, take a step back and think logically. Be on not in the business.
No one likes taking risks unnecessarily or spending money if they don’t need to and if you haven’t set any objectives for your business and your marketing activities, how can you decide at the end of it all if you have achieved what you set out to do?
Other key benefits to planning for your business include breaking down what is potentially a huge and overwhelming task or goal into manageable pieces, therefore making it much more achievable, as well as you having somewhere to keep an eye on costs and ROI. A plan can also save you time, avoid procrastination and keep you focussed and on track. Detailing out what you will do, when and to whom also ensures you cover all the marketing mix and use all marketing channels that are relevant to your business and your target audience.
Be proactive not reactive (although at present, I appreciate this isn’t always possible).
What should a marketing plan look like
A plan can come in many forms. It can be a carefully crafted document covering pages, charts and tables on the 7 stages of marketing planning including objective setting, defining your message and target audience and implementing and measuring your tactics. Note a marketing plan differs to a business plan as it doesn’t cover financial sheets like P&L or balance sheets. Your business coach or accountant can assist you with these areas if required.
Or your plan can be goals/tasks to do, on a 30 or 90 day basis, in a simple table format.
Or your goals and action points can be in the form of a grid or mind map. Or even as part of a vision board exercise.
There is no right or wrong answer here and you could use one or a combination of all methods. The method you chose will depend on how you and your business work, what level of detail you need, and what resources you have around you to create and execute this plan.
It is worth saying that a plan can be created, reviewed and implemented at any time of the year. It isn’t just a January only thing. The same goes for goal setting as well. (read more.)
Whether you are ready to take the planning plunge or not or whether you have a plan written and ready to get going on, know you why first and be clear on your goals and direction. Do not see marketing as a tick box exercise that you should do because people tell you to.