When I ask entrepreneurs and small business owners, it is not unusual for not having any marketing plan. I once read that Sir Richard Branson never had any marketing plan when he started the 1st Virgin business many years ago. In fact in one study of entrepreneurship (I couldn’t recall the name of the study) was that as much as 50% of entrepreneurs and business owners don’t have a business plan and marketing plan when they first started the business.
What was the outcome? As much as 90% businesses started by entrepreneurs and small business went busted or failed within a year. I experienced one of the many busts few years ago (with my cafe business) because i don’t really have a proper and “the few solid sheets” called a marketing plan.
Coming back to my questions to entrepreneurs and small business owners, many of their answers sounded like this, “I don’t really have one”, “It’s in my head coz I know the business so well” and worse, “I don’t know what is marketing plan”! If you happen to be in one of these categories, rest assured you are not the only one. And to perfectly honest, that’s the ultimate reason why I turned back to my writing board where I was actually in the middle of writing (rather perfecting!) a personal development programs. I dropped that program and quickly drafted and started Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC because many of you need it, seriously.
But, I don’t specifically mean my own Marketing Plan S6PEC Framework because there are so many versions and gurus out there that can give you the benefit of marketing plan. Of course I am going to say mine is a lot better because it’s a practical and practitioner’s guide. Other than being a consultant, I also have performed marketing manager role, entrepreneur role, business manager role, investor and student of entrepreneurship (during my MBA!). But that’s not my main point. My main point is for you to have a marketing plan to guide your business. Which one? Well it is up to you!
So, to put things in perspective; why do you really need a marketing plan?
– in a marketing you will think, record and document all your ideas, products and services offering, price, distribution channel, programs, sales direction, customer segment and so on. I have experienced whereby I suddenly realized that my business is not going on the right direction because I didn’t follow my marketing plan. Have you experienced that? Or perhaps you suddenly realized that the thing you do know supposed to be done many months ago because you forgot about it? And you forgot because you don’t jot it down and plan for it? This is what I mean that marketing plan as a guide. I cover this in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC.
– people said the more you talk about your ideas the more refine it becomes. I think this is true. Did you ever experience when you talk to more people you generated a lot more ideas? When people give you feedback it triggers another dimension of your ideas? If you are, so where do you keep all these ideas? It should be in a marketing plan.
– in marketing, there is only one thing that’s scarce: RESOURCES. Some people have a lot of money but lacked ideas and another group is the other extreme; more ideas and less money. Many of us probably the later than the former! In the marketing plan we will tackle things like people to hire, pricing, distribution plan, sales programs budget and so on.
– similar to business strategy, marketing plan will capture strategies required to support your business strategy. For example if your business goal is to achieve 20% increase in sales, your marketing strategy would be to 1) introduce new product, 2) increase price for premium offerings, 3) recruit more distributors and offer commission scheme and so on. Strategy is king. When you can see your business in totality, I can assure you that you will find it easier to manoeuvre. Marketing plan is the place to address all these issues.
– in our marketing plan we shouldn’t only concern about making money or positive points, we also should address the risk we are taking. for example it is common for a marketing plan to capture things like, “require additional staff to handle sales call”, “additional investment from the management budget will increase chances of increasing 10% sales target” and many more. Imagine if you can factor your risk earlier and think through it, wouldn’t it be better for you?
– I once said in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC that, “Price is the key determinants of your profits”. I stand firm to keep it that way. In your marketing plan, you will address pricing plan for your distributors, customers, multiple segments (some business charge differently – price discrimination) and cost price i.e. your raw materials and things like that. Not many address price correctly and bear in my mind that we need to standby few pricing plan to respond to the market. Take for example during festive season, if everyone is lowering price and slashed their price or even ignited a price war, what do you do about that? Follow suit or wait? If you want to follow, how far? If you want to wait, how long? You capture all this in pricing plan.
– this is talked about most of the time, but let’s accept the fact that today’s customers are fragmented to smaller niches. Your product and service will not be consumed by only one segment and at critical mass. it is likely to be consumed by smaller segment and multi. No more critical mass, but rather a solid spread of niches. For example, who buys iPod’s today? If Apple only think about yuppies they are making a big mistake because apparently iPod is also used by women and people with active lifestyle. Another example, who buys from hypermarket? If hypermarket only focuses on households they may not survive or be successful like today. Hypermarket main segment is actually small business restaurant operators that buy in larger quantity compare to households and on daily basis. I’ve been there, I know! LOL
– a marketing plan is a living document. Trust me, the moment you have it and experience planning your marketing, you will realize this. Therefore it is a plan that allows you to assess past strategies and results and at the same time allow you to make necessary corrective measures to fit your business growth. for example, who expected the 2008 financial crisis to hit us so badly? No one other than the few so called “economists” but how did responded to it? Severely. Many businesses closed including many giants. But the good thing is, many have a solid marketing and business plans, therefore they make quick corrective actions and moved forward.
– I once sat in a meeting of project and business updates and suddenly one of the directors said, actually with all that we have now we can be in the medical device market. Violaaa!!! This medical device company used to service government hospitals and they have all the equipments. It’s just that they never thought of going direct to the hospitals and take the lion share of the business. In that meeting, after going through the company yearly updates, this “innovation” came instantaneously and the next year they are pitching about it to the government hospitals directly.
Imagine if you can do all these and manage all these in a marketing plan? Systematic, organized, well thought, innovative and captured all your pertinent business information, don’t you find having a marketing plan is useful for your business?
One thing about my business, I don’t sell templates. I only sell REAL content. I believe that template is only to give you the general overview of direction but not how-to do it. That’s why I highly not recommended you choose to download or purchase marketing templates because I have seen them i personally think it won’t help you much. Let me share you a recent story about template.
I have childhood friend who wanted to open a small business. I offered him my service at $$$ which is so much below market rate because we have been friends for 20 years. He said no, because he thinks there is another cheaper way to do it or in other words “resourceful is my middle name” kinda thing. So I let him do that. I offered him five days later that, if he needs me to view the marketing plan I will do it for free over tea. He showed me a marketing template he bought for USD 25 and all he got was a template!!! I scolded him and cursed the site that provided such thing. It was just boxes everywhere and not even a paragraph on how to fill those boxes. Well, this is what I mean and I defy being in that business because that’s cheating. By the way i got to do my friend’s job after that.:)