Are Marketing Plans Worth the Time to Create Them?

laptop with marketing display

Formal plan or back of an envelope. Which are you?

The short answer is yes, and that goes for companies of all sizes.

Small- and mid-sized companies are often the most challenged, with perhaps a few key employees (none of whom may have a true marketing background) tasked with the responsibility. In my consulting career, I’ve seen many firms with no formal plan, or, at best, a PowerPoint presentation outlining a few key goals along with some sketchy execution ideas.

Often the marketing plan (such as it is) suffers from a lack of constant scrutiny and direction. Over time, the company’s performance also begins to suffer as more aggressive competitors address the market’s changing conditions.

To assist, I created a marketing self-audit that provides basic guidelines to help you summarize your company’s marketing efforts and begin a more in-depth evaluation. A semi-annual review of your marketing plan and its creative execution will help keep your company a step ahead of the competition, which grows more aggressive and relentless each day.

Part one of the self-audit will begin with the core component of any marketing plan, positioning.

Auditing Your Positioning Strategy

  1. In a few concise sentences, describe your company’s market position.
  2. Name at least three important, competitive distinctions you have over your competitors. Reach beyond the traditional triangle of quality, service and price. Buyers hear these claims so often that they tend to ring hollow. And in all my years of consulting, I’ve never heard anyone say we have high prices, mediocre service and so-so quality.

Tip: One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came from a CPA/management consultant who said, “If you really want to know how your client performs, buy something from them.” And it’s true. You might be surprised, shocked even, to see how your company performs in the quality, service, price triangle. Have a trusted “secret shopper” do this for you if you really want to know.

  1. Ask the members of your sales and customer team to give their answers to questions one and two. It’s an excellent check to see if everyone is synchronized on some basic positioning messages. There must be consistency in the communication coming from all customer-facing employees.
  2. Name your major competitors and ask these questions:
    1. Who is on the rise and who is declining?
    2. Has any competitor threatened your existing market share, stifled your growth or cut your profit margins over the last six months?
    3. Has any competitor launched a major new product or service within the last year?
    4. Have you run a Dun and Bradstreet report within the last year on each major competitor?
    5. Have you maintained a file on each that includes copies of any advertising, sales literature, etc., and compared it to your own?
  3. Have you surveyed your customers within the past year to see if you are satisfying their market needs? If you’ve conducted a survey, did your carefully analyze the results? Remember that their opinion of your market position and performance is the only one that counts.

Contact me if you’d like help creating a marketing plan that will truly guide your company now and into the future. I have decades of experience helping companies of all sizes in a variety of market sectors.

Next up: Inquiry Programs and Database Management

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Batavia, IL 60510
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