Vision without execution is a daydream. Execution without vision is a nightmare. Japanese Proverb
That proverb made me think of many of the small business owners I know. A strategic marketing plan is often the step that most small business owners overlook, yet is really the most critical to their ultimate success. And, for some reason, rarely do people want to spend money on developing a marketing plan. This amazes me – yet I’m never surprised when I see those same people closing their doors after a year or two in business.
Here’s the thing — you rarely have success without a plan. Success is generally not an accident, it’s the result of a well-thought out, well-executed plan. Anything else is about like closing your eyes and tossing a dart over your shoulder, hoping you’re aiming for the target, and crossing your fingers for good luck. Here’s what taking time and/or investing in a marketing consultant to help you develop a strategic marketing plan can help you accomplish:
The best strategic marketing plan is an inclusive one. This includes things like:
Drilling down to the core of your business and your current customer base. This will help you understand your existing customers, your core offerings and allow you to attract the kind of clients that work for your business;
Creating a story about your business and the products or services that you offer that is engaging – this is a critical component of success and often overlooked;
Competitive analysis of the market – knowing who your competition is and what they are doing is an important component of success;
Identification and prioritization of target audience – who are they, what do they want, where do we find them, how do we compel them to action;
Establishing baseline measurements (showing you where you are NOW, so that as you grow, you can see progress and ROI on your marketing dollar);
Study your best customers and see what characteristics they share. Then target new customers who share those same characteristics. In other words, fish where the fish are;
Look for trends in your industry – the people who get there first are often the people who are looking for trends, the maximizing those opportunities;
Find creative ways to be where your competitors are not;
Concentrate to dominate. Determine which “battle” you want to fight first. Which “battle” will be the most effective in the least amount of time. Focus your marketing efforts and dollars there first for the best results.
These all sound like easy things – and they make great sense. You would be amazed at how many small business owners either completely overlook the value of integrating any kind of strategy into what they do or, who realize the importance of strategy but who aren’t willing to spend any money to develop a strategic marketing plan. Often, recognizing what you’re good at – and what you’re not, are the first steps toward success.
Not everyone is an experienced marketer. So, if you’re one of the people who is smart enough to know that you need a marketing plan but who doesn’t possess the skills or expertise to do it yourself, do yourself and your business a favor and hire a marketing consultant who does. Your business will probably be better as a result!