The Marketing Shop - Marketing PlanHaving just returned from a fantastic trip to Scotland, taking in the delights of Edinburgh, The Scottish Highlands and the awe-inspiring Loch Ness along the way, I’ve been inspired to write today’s post on the fundamentals that are often forgotten as we live in a world where we’re almost permanently connected to the web and ultimately the world.

When you start out on a journey, be it business or pleasure, and unless it’s a simple trip in the car or a flight from A to B you’ll have done a little research on your destination.  Mostly you may have consulted the web, depending on the destination you may have picked up a guide book and if you’re going by car you’ll have lined up a sat-nav or a trusty old map.

So as we set off on our tour de Scotland we had calculated the journey times, selected a few hotels and planned to have a leisurely trip stopping off as and where we fancied an afternoon or an overnight.

It was then we realised that Scotland’s mountains do not make for good mobile signals.  Actually they frequently make for no mobile signals despite having between us the two largest mobile operators at our disposal.  So, that little plan to call a hotel to book a room was rapidly replaced by knocking on a door or two to find a place to stay.  The old fashioned way and it works, far more effectively than calling a number and being asked to select from a series of numbers in the hope of possibly finding a bed for the night.

Having taken sat-nav directions that sent us into a park and down a private road (the wrong way of course!), we also quickly established that the latest Collins Map of Great Britain is in actual fact quite a lot more helpful than anything the web could possibly suggest to us – particularly when a system insists on telling you that you are quite prominently situated where you most definitely know you are not.  And unfortunately, much as we love Google maps it’s not quite as adept as you’d expect at finding you either!

So, why do we relate this to Marketing?  Well, in the rush to get the biggest fanbase on social networks or in an effort to keep the customers flowing through the door, we often plan as we go along but trust technology to be our leader and not our gut instincts or the methods – in our case a map – that have been employed for centuries because they work.

Sitting down with pen and paper, or laptop and Word might seem basic to a lot of people but a blank page/screen is often the best place to start when you’re facing a new challenge, whether that particular challenge is to increase sales, deal with a new year or even take on a new competitor.

When you’re running your own business, at some point on your journey you made a plan – a plan on what product or service you were going to sell, a plan on the name, a plan on employees or premises.  Depending on the business you quite possibly had to propose a business plan to an investor or bank based on fact, instinct and of course some guess work – after all, the guesstimates are the necessary evils of all businesses whether they’re established or not.

Often however a lot of businesses, particularly those that don’t have the luxury of a dedicated marketing manager or department don’t consider the importance of a marketing plan once they’re up and running and have started to enjoy a steady stream of customers.  However, we feel that every business should have A Marketing Plan, a plan that takes into account important factors including;

  • Budget
  • Product
  • Target
  • Channels
  • Goals
  • Seasonality
  • Campaigns
  • Tactics
  • Resources
  • Competitors
  • Research
  • Evaluation
  • Economy
  • Flexibility
  • Mission

A lot of words?  Yes, maybe some that aren’t all familiar but are in fact in your world already albeit under a different header.  If you don’t create a marketing plan for your business, think for a minute about the past year and how you found customers?  Did you decide on a weekly basis to run an ad?  Maybe you run Adwords because it works and decided you’d do a facebook page because it seems to work for a competitor?

Plans don’t need to be set in stone, after all sometimes there’s a need for reactive marketing when the economy or a competitor forces a situation.  This however should never detract from the fact that having a plan, the old fashioned type, is of huge benefit to anybody in business and you’re never too small a business to make it work for you.

Ideally you’ll base your plan on a 12 month period, but you can of course break it down into chunks with perhaps a higher marketing spend during your busy season and a reduction in spend during your quieter periods.  All plans will be unique to your business remember, so picking up some tips from the web will never beat actually sitting down with those in the know.

Over the coming weeks, businesses and in particular those in retail will be caught up in the Christmas rush.  The rush that started in August this year with tins of Christmas chocolates sitting next to back to school supplies in some supermarkets.

What happens after Christmas though, after the sales or when the new year kicks in?  Will you sit back and wait for business or will you plan ahead, put a strategy in place and a definite plan as to how you’re going to achieve your 2012 goals?

Business works when you work your business, plan your journey, map it out to the fullest of your ability and even where a facebook shop is on the agenda for next year or a brand new website, don’t forget that before online marketing people bought, sold, produced and did business.  And did business successfully too.

It’s worth remembering that no matter what channels you opt for to do business, even where you’re focusing all your efforts online that some traditions such as the plan should be incorporated too and should become a habit that your business will reap the benefit of for years to come.

And if you need help in putting together a realistic plan for your business, make sure to contact us at hello@themarketingshop.ie








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