5 Reasons Why You Should Create a 2015 Marketing Plan Even If You Don’t Want One

No doubt with the new year quickly rolling around in just around the corner, your company is preparing to tighten up its business plans.

As much as you’re tempted to just stick with the same old business and marketing plan, with hopes that it will help to increase profits, it’s time to go back in the saddle and update your marketing strategy for 2015.

Here are a few ideas to help you…

1) Taking advantage of new technology will help you win the race.

We can all agree that technology is here to stay, with new web trends, mobile phones and tablets, marketing tactics should accommodate emerging tech.

To generate more profits in the upcoming year, figure out fresh ways to deliver content and your service through these new mediums.

Ask yourself, has your company delved into the mobile app development industry?

Is your online presence strong?

These are just a couple of things that should be apart of your planning when developing a 2015 marketing plan.

2) Top brands are boosting ad spending.

According to Ad Age major auto brands such as Audi and Chevy have announced their plans to launch more television advertisements. While you may not have a Fortune 500 marketing budget, such moves from top brands inspires ideas you can borrow for your marketing, on a smaller scale.

Create a new marketing strategy that allows you to advertise on emerging platforms, if it can be measured for ROI.

3) What worked and what didn’t work?

As great as some of our marketing ideas seemed for 2014, you have to admit that not all of those supposed “great” ideas worked. Understanding where you went wrong with past efforts will help you determine where things fell apart.

Also, it provides concrete evidence that supports continuing or changing your marketing strategy. This is one of the most important things you should think about when creating or updating your marketing plan for 2015.

4) New products and services deserve fresh planning.

Has your company added new products or services to the product mix? Perhaps you’re launching a new product or service soon?

Using the same marketing tactics for new products and services may not work as well as past marketing for your existing products and services. You want to get consumers hyped about the latest things you have in store. This requires a change in marketing focus.

5) Move a level up on your competitors.

You can bet your last dollar that your company’s competitors are brainstorming different ways to surpass you and to stay on top. This means that they are creating fresh and maybe innovative marketing tactics that will entice clients, customers and patients.

You may want to do the same if you want to stay a step ahead. Including innovative tactics on your marketing calendar will help make your upcoming year profitable.

Even though last year’s plan may have worked fairly well for you, why not shoot for better results with an updated marketing plan for this upcoming year?

Why Your Small Business Needs a Professional Marketing Plan

Many small business owners know that they need to promote their businesses – in other words, they know they need to be doing marketing activities of some sort. Yet choosing the right mix of activities seems like an impossible task. Should they focus on building a new website? Running ads in the local newspaper? Sending out direct mail or email, or perhaps posting to social media?

Even if a business owner chooses a few activities to try, often they’re not sure when or how often to run those ads, send out the emails, or mail postcards. Understanding small business marketing and developing an action plan often feels overwhelming for a small business owner. Combine that overwhelm with time pressures and the limited budget of a typical small business and you suddenly understand why few actually have a written marketing plan in place.

What’s so important about having a written marketing plan in place? Why can’t you just sit down with your staff and come up with a few ideas, then go out and use them to promote your business?

You can certainly sit around the table and brainstorm ideas, but without a written plan, how many of those ideas will actually be carried through to completion? And if you do have several ideas you need to choose among for your activities, how do you sort and weigh them to understand which promotional idea can potentially yield the best return on investment? Who is going to actually create the promotion, make sure it is placed or mailed on time, and then follow up to count the responses to see whether or not it was worth it?

As you can see, there’s a lot to know and remember when you’re planning your small business marketing. That’s where a marketing plan and a professional marketing consultant can help.

A marketing plan created by a professional marketing consultant who knows and understands the unique challenges that your small business faces may focus on several key areas. These areas may include goal setting for your business, understanding the business and competitive environment, defining the products you’re selling and the messages to share about them, and then creating a marketing strategy and action plan (tactical plan or marketing mix) to direct your activities in a focused and measurable way.

I’ve seen some great marketing plans that were detailed and creative, but they sat on a shelf and gathered dust. Why? Because they weren’t focused on action! A marketing plan without an action plan and clearly defined tactical steps is like a scientific research report; rich with information but offering little practical value. Small businesses don’t need a research report – they need a focused, clear action plan.

There’s a balance between the background information that informs the action steps a small business should take and a tactical-only plan that focuses solely on the promotional methods. As a business owner, you have to know and understand the marketplace forces, your customers, what you’re selling and the advantages you have before you roll out any promotional campaigns. Yet most business owners focus solely on the promotional aspect because it makes them feel like they’re finally taking action and getting some marketing steps accomplished. Action without strategy, planning and forethought, however, can lead to missed opportunities and wasteful spending as you put money into marketing activities that may not reach your customers nor communicate the messages that will resonate with them. And marketing activities without some sort of assessment or tracking can lead to wasteful spending. If you don’t know how many new customers you have reached or how many sales you achieved from your promotion, how do you know it was worthwhile?

Before spending more money on your current marketing activities, take a moment and consider what it would take to have a professional create a marketing plan for your business. With a professional marketing plan in place and someone to coach you through the activity steps, you may have a better chance at achieving your goals, attracting new customers, and selling more. And in the end, isn’t that the result you want from your marketing programs?

Marketing Plan Essentials for a Successful Business

A marketing plan enables you to draw an outline of the techniques to be employed in order to achieve the goals of your online business. Without a plan, the business will have no direction.

So why is it necessary to develop a marketing strategy?

  • To have a roadmap: The plan is a guide to realizing both your short-term and long-term visions for your business. You will be able to develop the right techniques for reaching out to your target market. The plan gives your business a sense of direction.
  • For branding: The marketing plan helps you in planning out the best methods of building the brand of your business. If for example your target market is college students, then the plan should be focused on branding your business as an entity for college students.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Developing a strategic plan for managing the resources of your online business can significantly reduce the operating costs. The plan makes the activities of your business more organized and efficient. You will be able to reap more for less.
  • Stability: The plan makes you business more stable in an unpredictable marketing environment. The online business environment is dynamic and new trends in marketing emerge every day. A well developed plan enables you to integrate the new trends and take advantage of them. You will be able to avoid reactionary marketing strategies which are usually ineffective in face of stiff competition.

Most online start-ups fail within the first year of their operation due to failure to create an effective marketing strategy. A great plan can enable a small start-up to be on the same level with already established online businesses.

Let’s take it a step further and discuss the essentials in developing a reliable marketing plan:

  • Determine your target market: You should identify your target market. Conduct a market research for establishing the right customers for the product or services offered by your online business. This will enable you to determine the best way to reach out to potential clients.
  • Branding: You should be consistent in creating brand recognition for your business. Marketing online should be centered on creating a unique business personality that can resonate to potential customers. All marketing efforts should be focused on creating a recognizable identity for your online business.
  • Goals and objectives: Set short-term and long-term goals for promoting your online business. The marketing plan should be drawn from the goals of your business. Goals also help in defining the budgetary allocation to your marketing campaign.
  • Budget: Work out the budget for your business. Map out your monthly and annual budgetary needs. Determine the costs of running a marketing campaign which should be in line with both your short-term and long-term goals.

And, don’t forget about the 4 P’s of Marketing: Product, Place, Price and Promotion — the graphic below has key

It is important that you satisfy all of these when creating a marketing strategy.

Embracing a good marketing strategy guarantees you of a ready market for your products and services. It also makes your enterprise successful and on a competitive edge by addressing the market forces of demand and supply. Once you have formulated the perfect marketing strategy and have the right product being offered at the best price, at the most convenient location and using the best promotional tactics, you get an edge over your competitors. All you need to stay at the top is adapt to the changing environment.

Creating a marketing strategy can take about an hour to do — and it can be the BEST hour you’ve spent on your business yet! Get in there, set your goals, create a marketing plan and stick to it!

To your success,

April