If you’re a small business owner, you know that cash flow is the number one killer of small and microbusinesses. We, owners, are time-crunched, and the tasks we choose to do at the beginning of a day rarely match up with the list of things we actually did at the end of the day.
Considering this triple whammy, it’s no surprise the idea of marketing planning tends to get a big “Why bother?” out of people.
One of our new clients, Fox Hill Remodeling in Nashua, NH, has a lot going for it. They had a great year financially and project-wise in 2007. They’re about to launch a new “3-Week Kitchen” concept that blows the doors off average renovation project timeframes. And they’ll be appearing at five home shows this year, whereas in past years they only did one.
They understand the importance of how marketing boosts a business’ success. But when it comes to marketing planning, they raised a question we hear from a lot of other businesses, too:
“Why should I spend money on a plan, when I could just spend it on the marketing itself?”
That question touches all the core issues we flagged in that first paragraph. Owners want to spend their money wisely, they don’t have time to waste, and they know what happens to the best-laid plans of mice and men.
Without a good solid plan in place to guide, track, automate, and oversee the next 12 months of your marketing efforts, how will you make sure:
* The money you spend on one-off marketing efforts serves the Big Picture success of your business?
* You’ve got something – more sales, more clients, more revenue, a better reputation, more respect in your field or community, increased brand awareness, etc. – to show for your marketing efforts and investments?
* Your business has a stronger, more consistent, and more solid foundation, online and off?
* You’ve increased ways and incentives for people to “take the next step” with you – whether that means spending money, investing time and energy, recommending you to their friends and associates, or simply thinking of you next time they need your particular product, service, or expertise?
* You stay competitive, creative, focused, and realistic about what you can do with the budget and resources you have?
The simple answer? You can’t, and you won’t.
Ouch. Not good, for your business OR your bottom line.
Still, when cash flow is everything, it’s hard to justify spending thousands of dollars just to have someone give you yet another to-do list:
a) Can’t see the value of
b) Don’t think you have the time, money, or resources to implement, or
c) Fear won’t produce results
More than anything, then, you need to know what separates a waste-of-time marketing plan from a customized, focused, professionally-crafted marketing plan designed specifically around your business’s short and long-term success.
A customized, focused, professionally-crafted marketing plan:
* Begins with your end goals in mind.
* Develops everything around your core message, mission, and vision.
* Aims to communicate with your distinct target market, using their language, solving their unique problems, and highlighting the benefits only you can deliver to them.
* Makes the most of your marketing budget, helping you track the impact and effectiveness of marketing campaigns and outreach efforts.
* Is solid enough to weather any storms, yet flexible enough to seize opportunities when they come along.
* Delivers results. (!)
Odds are, you wouldn’t trust a home builder who chucked a bunch of wood and nails in a pile and told you he could build your dream home from scratch based on nothing but whims and instincts. Why, then, do so many business owners trust their reputations, growth, and revenue-generating opportunities to accidental marketing?
While there may not be any guarantees in life – especially when it comes to marketing – there are ways to exponentially increase the chances of quantifiable, measurable success with the right strategic plan in place.
So, if you’ve never before invested in a plan to streamline your marketing, boost your bottom line, rev up your reputation, and produce measurable results, this would be a great time to give it a try.
After all, what do you have to lose except the nagging feeling that you could’ve done better this year and the years to follow, if only you had set a plan in place to make it happen?