Except for an occasional penny-ante poker game with friends, I’m not much of a gambling woman so I would never gamble on the success and direction of my business. Just as I wouldn’t bet on a sports team that didn’t have a game plan, didn’t practice, didn’t analyze their competitors, and didn’t test out new plays, I wouldn’t bet on a company that didn’t have and follow a marketing plan.
A marketing plan (in direct support of the overall business plan) is vital to the success of any business–large or small. To keep the sports metaphor going: a business plan gets you in the game; a marketing plan helps you win the game.
The most strategic of marketing plans begins with some level of research, whether it’s primary or secondary. You and your team need to understand not only your strengths and weaknesses, but your opposing team’s strength and weaknesses and how best to exploit your strengths and their weaknesses.
My favorite sport to play is tennis. When I reached a point where I was no longer just playing for fun and instead was playing to win, I realized that I couldn’t win a match without a game plan. If I wanted to be a successful tennis player, I needed to understand different tennis strategies and to be able to adapt to my opponent. My initial strategy was to pay attention to my opponent when we were warming up so that I would know–before the game–what my opponent’s weaknesses and strengths were. During a warm up, I would mix up my shots and observe how my opponent handled slices, drop shots and how their net play was. Were they intimidated by net play or was I going to keep them away from the net? By analyzing my opponent, I was able to change my style of play as many times as was necessary to win the match.
Many professional services companies I speak with today have been able to grow their business in the past often simply by word of mouth or local community involvement. While these still are tremendous ways to develop new client relationships, times have obviously changed and current and prospective customers are now savvy online users from around the globe.
Having a marketing plan acts as a roadmap by laying out a clear direction for your business marketing goals. The bottom line is if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Pretty simple to me, and yet, so many companies don’t approach marketing in this manner.
A marketing plan helps you laser in on:
- Who you are
- Who your competitors are
- Who your ideal client is
- What is their problem
- How can you solve it
- How can your audience find you
- How they come to know you
- How they can trust you to the point of doing business with you
How many times have you seen a professional sports team just show up and win without having some type of plan to win against their opponent? Probably never!
Fortunately, with today’s marketing analytics and metrics, you can also keep score on how your marketing plan is working. If you’re not winning the game, then a marketing plan allows you to see where the plan is not quite right so you can take steps to correct it. Just as I needed to be flexible about adjusting my tennis game based on my opponent, a marketing plan needs to be flexible in order to adapt to an ever-changing world of business.
To quote the legendary football coach Lou Holtz, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Your marketing plan is your preparation for meeting opportunities in your marketplace.
If you’re ready to prepare and roll-out your own marketing plan, give us a call today or leave a comment below to discuss how Right Source Marketing can help.