Spending time and money on a marketing plan is a good idea for three main reasons:
- Commitment to what you are doing and when
- Assigning responsibility for making those things happen
- Knowing how much it will cost and how you’ll decide if it was worth it
A lot of meetings, research, thinking, planning and budgeting goes into a good 12 month marketing plan. So why do some business owners or marketing managers still feel like their marketing efforts were willy-nilly and un-measurable at the end of the year? It may be because they diverted from the plan too many times, grasping at seemingly attractive opportunities and worse, sacrificing planned activities to do so.
Distracted by Shiny Objects
As an entrepreneur I can say this: we are visionary, action-oriented and we drive things forward. That also means we get distracted by new ideas (a.k.a. shiny objects). I’m guilty myself. Opportunities that are not part of the marketing plan are bound to pop up. But it doesn’t mean we should take them. That being said…
Unexpected opportunities can be great!
One marketing activity gets results or achieves part of a goal and a complementary activity emerges. A great thing a marketing plan gives is a framework to make decisions about these unexpected opportunities. Your plan should have identified goals for the next 12 months, with action items addressing what you need to do to get there = the logic that goes into recommended activities. Once you start down that path, additional opportunities are likely to pop up. In fact, it’s a good idea to work-in a small allowance for it knowing it’s bound to happen.
Use your plan as a guideline to make decisions
For example, a goal of ours is to be recognized as experts in marketing for law firms. Therefore, marketing activities should put us in front of lawyers and demonstrate our expertise. An offer to advertise to manufacturers at 50% off may seem like a deal, but it still costs money and doesn’t move us closer to our predetermined goals. However, a last-minute opportunity to speak about marketing at an event full of lawyers may also be unexpected and require unplanned money and time, but would definitely get us closer to our original goals.
When an opportunity comes up, have a look at your marketing plan’s high-level objectives and ask yourself if this will help you get there. If the answer is yes, or you’ve already decided to do it anyway, ask yourself if it will mean sacrificing something else in the budget (time and money) and how that will affect the grand scheme, and if it’s still worth it.
If you decide to go ahead, hold it to the same standards you have the other action items in there: give it a budget, assign responsibility and decide how you will measure its success.