Do we still need the marketing plan?

I hope so otherwise a large part of my work is likely to disappear without trace!  But seriously, the reason I want to write about this subject is many organisations these days want to leap in feet first without prior thought and planning. 

Obviously it is important to spread the message to develop awareness and sales.  However, if there isn’t an overall plan that has researched the competition, gauged the size of the market, defined the budget, allocated the tasks (plus listed the myriad of other tasks); people can end up running around like headless chickens not knowing what the priorities actually are.

Marketing plans don’t need to be huge tomes of multiple pages which took 17 people 5 months to put together.  (Actually, in my experience, the bigger and more complex the plan, the less it is used and referred to.)  Sure, many corporates want a marketing strategy at the start of each year so they can see where and how their money is going to be spent, but what about the smaller companies/owner operators?

Again my experience shows that these organisations, just like the big boys, need their plans.  In fact, as they have so many different tasks to juggle, they probably need them even more.  The key is to ensure marketing plans are easy to complete, contain appropriate headings that relate directly to building the business and, probably most importantly, contain accurate measurement tools. 

Create a straightforward template that can be adapted and used for each campaign, piece of research or any other marketing activity.  Main items to include are: the marketing requirement, actions and dates, task holders, budget and expected outcome.  A plus is also to include contingency plans if any unforeseen or potential disaster takes place such as overwhelming response (we all wish!), or conversely no response at all.

In essence, marketing planning takes the stress out of life and provides you with a roadmap of activity throughout the year, against which you plan your sales and match actual results.