Without a plan, there is no clear or easy way to assess your success or failure. If a particular program happens to work, why did it work? If not, what have you learned and what will you do differently?
The investment you make in strategic market planning is one that will pay dividends with each marketing initiative. It helps you to spend your marketing and advertising dollars wisely. Otherwise, it can be like the old adage - throw it at the wall and see what sticks. A plan provides the ability to check your progress against milestones you have set for yourself and your company.
Defining your ideal customers and what you have to offer them is easier said than done. It takes time and the willingness to ask (and answer) tough questions about your business - your market advantages and disadvantages. The alternative 'spend first, ask questions later' is a short-term solution with long-term consequences.
There are prepackaged software programs offering simple steps to walk you through the process of creating a strategic marketing plan. Some online services are free, and perhaps that is good enough for your business. Typically, they fall short when you reach a point where your experience and expertise just haven't prepared you for the myriad of decisions available in today's internet age. Knowing how to present your unique market advantages, and tailor them to each specific media, is outside of most business professionals experience.
Creating a strategic marketing plan with a professional firm will provide an outside perspective and challenge some potentially limiting beliefs. Today, market conditions and the economy are changing at an accelerating pace. Being prepared in advance for these changes will enable you to more easily adapt when needed. But, if you don't know where you are going, any path will take you there. Trite, but true.
Creating and following a logical plan can be the difference between success and failure. Marketing is a pillar of any business's long-term success and an integral part of a comprehensive business plan. Ask your banker whether they will provide capital without documented planning. Investing your time and effort in the strategic marketing plan of your business will help you realize the success you envision. Anything less is uncertain and unpredictable.
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