As a business owner you understand how important it is to have a business plan, but’s it’s also equally important to ensure your companies marketing efforts match the goals and forecasts in your business plan, otherwise you’ll never achieve the goals laid out in your business plan. It’s therefore imperative that when you create your marketing plan you refer to your business plan to ensure you are living up to your stated vision, mission, goals and objectives.
Your business plan generally details the overall strategy you envisage your business adopting, this includes all aspects of finances, products, services, operations, sales and marketing.
Your marketing plan takes the marketing portion of your business plan and expands upon it and outlines your strategy to penetrate social media, content marketing, pay per click marketing, online marketing, local marketing and whatever marketing you plan to engage in.
Both your business plan and marketing plan help you:
Establish Your Identity as a Business
In other words, they help create a cohesive brand across all channels, ensure that your marketing matches the mission statement within your business plan, and you’ll ensure both marketing and business plans work hand in hand.
Create a SWOT Analysis
When you create your business plan you’ll do a SWOT analysis. What this does is establish what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are for your business. You can use this information in your marketing plan to address these issues. I personally love to do SWOT analysis of any major decision, as they help me see all sides and make better decisions, so use them in your business plans but also use them whenever you like.
Predict Customer Behavior
Doing the work to create a complete business and marketing plan will identify potential customer behavior in advance of your marketing plan. If you do your homework right, your marketing plan will work as you envisage in your business plan.
Understand Your Cash Flow
Creating your business and marketing plan will help you understand your cash flow so that you can create a good marketing budget. Have you heard the saying “Cash is King” and in terms of cash flow it most definitely is and your cash flow is an important consideration when developing a marketing plan. For instance there is no point in planning to do commercial television advertising if your cash flow isn’t strong enough to support such a financial outlay.
Set a Realistic Marketing Budget
It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses have no idea of what their marketing budget is. When you truly understand your business, the opportunities your business offers, and your market, you should be able to set a realistic marketing budget that helps you reach your goals.
Set Specific Goals and Long Term Objectives
Based on your analysis and established budget, set goals and objectives for your marketing efforts based on the goals and objectives you set in your business plan. If you stated in your business plan that it would take five years to reach a certain dollar figure per year, is your marketing helping you reach that goal? Do you have the marketing budget to reach that goal?
Let me give you an example, let’s suppose you want to carry out content marketing activities to bring in 20,000 visitors to your website each month, have hundreds of thousands of page views, thousands of social media followers. Ask yourself if you have the resources and knowledge to do this in-house or do you have the funds to pay a company such as FX Digital to do it for you.
Establish Your Strategy
With the information you’ve gathered, narrow your focus to a specific target audience who needs, wants and desires match what you are selling. Ensure that your marketing efforts, while aligning with your business plan, also happen where your customers are. It’s a little like networking this, network where your customers are not where you would rather be.
Measure If You’re Meeting Your Goals
The goals you set should be measurable and you should have a mechanism in place to test whether or not you’re meeting them. Be very specific when you set goals so that you can have a number in place that defines success for you. And don’t be afraid to set big goals as these are often just lots of little goals joined together, the important thing is to measure your success in reaching goals and holding yourself accountable if you do not.
Review, Rethink, Revise
The good thing about testing and measuring is that you can change midstream and stop doing something that isn’t working at all, and do more of what is working and if nothing is working you can pivot your business in a new more profitable direction. This is especially true when marketing online, this is what’s so great about online marketing; you’re not trapped into a marketing plan that isn’t working you can jump ship and change until you find one that works for you, however you do have to give each marketing tactic enough time to succeed before deciding if it works or not. For example, I know that content marketing takes approximately four to six months before it starts to generate a realistic return on investment.
That was the long answer to the question; Do your marketing efforts support your business plan? The short answer is that they need to. Because if they don’t, you need to rethink both your business plan and your marketing plan in order to ensure a successful result from both plans.