If you fail to plan your business activities, outlook, and marketing, don’t be surprised when you don’t get the results you had hoped for.
We get a lot of inquiries from business owners looking for help with their marketing. While the first question from them is usually “how much is this going to cost me?”, the first priority from me is to see their business plan. I need to be convinced that the business in question has merit. If it doesn’t, then the conversation stops there. If we can’t get on board with the business plan, we cannot get enthusiastic about the business – and that affects the quality of work that we do.
What’s just as important is how the business owner in question views the subject of marketing their start-up or small business. How a marketing budget is decided, how it’s shared over a twelve-month calendar, and what business goals the marketing plan is meant to address.
In recent weeks I have met with seven potential clients who all admitted to me that they don’t have – and have never had – a defined marketing budget for their company.
Instead, the owner/CEO tends to take a look at each marketing opportunity individually, as it comes up, and makes a gut decision whether to go for it or not. It’s a bit like Julius Caesar giving the ‘thumbs-up’ or ‘thumbs-down’ at the end (well, almost the end) of a to-the-death gladiator fight.
Each CEO then proceeded to inform me that they are aware and convinced of the importance of marketing within their respective companies. Yet, to me, the lack of any long-term marketing budget consideration reveals the real truth: consciously or unconsciously, they see marketing as a cost rather than an inevitable part of conducting business. They fail to plan their marketing in a way that they would never do for sales, customer service, equipment investment, or tax.
Fail To Plan, Plan To FailWhether you’re a one-man-band organization or a stockmarket-listed multinational, you need to allocate an amount of money to be your company’s marketing fund and plan how you’re going to spend it. A plan puts a stick in the ground and points out direction. The budget allows you to make decisions as to what you’re going to do, when, and where. Failing to plan over the short or medium-term means your shooting in the dark and hoping to hit the target.
Without having both of these elements in place, your company’s marketing cannot be anything else than disjointed, inefficient, ineffective, wasteful – and even damaging to your company’s business value. You have no way of knowing whether your marketing is succeeding, since you haven’t decided on how you’re going to measure it.
However, just because you have a plan doesn’t mean that you’re bound to blindly execute it, lemming-like. Nothing’s written in stone.
But it’s a lot easier to change a plan when you already have a plan to change.