Business Suicide Strategy Number 15 – Not Developing a Marketing Plan Before the New Year Starts

For most businesses this time of year is slow unless you are in retail sales. If you are a small business owner this is the time to evaluate your marketing plan. Today’s economy is forcing businesses worldwide to re-examine their marketing campaigns.

Instead of a marketing plan I prefer to call it a ‘Business Optimization Action Plan’ that shows what marketing strategies and campaigns you’ll be using and when you’ll be activating them. I recommend small business owners do a quarterly business marketing plan.

Marketing without a plan is like sailing a ship without a rudder – you never know where you’re going to end up – and you might even capsize! You’ll move from side to side and rarely forward. You should record all the results and measure the effectiveness of each marketing campaign.

Your Action Plan is the tool you should use to drive your business forward. What you don’t want is a 40 page marketing plan that gets read once and then collects dust on your shelf. Having an action plan that guides you every week to your end game is so important.

As obvious as this sounds, very few business owners even have a business plan in place, never mind a sales and marketing Action Plan. One of my roles as a marketing consultant is to set a realistic and attainable Action Plan with a business owner. An action plan should guide you every week to your end game which is vital to your success.

I like to “chunk-size” projects: that is to put them into bite size manageable goals. If the plan is not put into bite size pieces that fit into an overall marketing plan then it becomes overwhelming. This is where I see businesses breakdown.

Not only must a business owner have a marketing plan but the business owner should have an exit strategy for the business. Without an action plan driving the business forward this is impossible. A majority of small business owners have no exit plan. You must know what an exit looks like for you. Are you going to sell, float, hand down to family, or retain your shares and bring in a new management team?

Whatever your exit plan is, the ideal is to get there as soon as possible. And whether you like it or not, the success of your business is dependent on the success of your sales and marketing teams. Without a clear focus which includes a Business Optimization Plan, this just isn’t possible. So don’t make the mistake to think these things aren’t important – they are.

Affiliate Marketing – 7 Characteristics of Effective Affiliate Marketing Plans

The following seven characteristics are what I have found to be the qualities of an effective affiliate marketing plan – effective in the sense that it is easy for you to put it into practice.

1. An overview

It’s important that you know where you are headed with the affiliate marketing plan. This information is needed so that you can make the right decisions along the way. You have to understand what the marketing approach is hoping to achieve. The overview can be provided by a series of mind maps or flowcharts or through clear introductory comments and diagrams.

2. A clear step-by-step approach

This is essential if you are not going to get lost and frustrated. Marketing plans typically have steps as building blocks and if you can’t understand one of the key steps you can’t progress. Without the building blocks you are unable to set up a complete marketing system.

3. Answers your basic questions

Many creators of affiliate marketing plans forget what it was like when they first started out and are oblivious of the numerous questions you are likely to have. An effective marketing plan identifies your likely questions and offers sound, detailed advice. This can be communicated via a webinar recording, podcast, video or the transcript of ongoing coaching sessions with a newbie. In this way, the basic questions are identified at the stage they are likely to occur and the answers will thus make more sense.

4. Examples of how the affiliate marketing plan has been used

It’s one thing to read about marketing plans, it’s another to see concrete examples of how each stage of a marketing plan has been applied to a specific product or program. This enables you to make a connection with your own product or program and to see how you could apply the same principles.

5. Encouragement and support

It really helps if the creator of the marketing plans shows that they are aware of your stage of development, shares their own learning experiences and mistakes and offers constant encouragement and support.

6. An action plan to guide you

This helps you to keep tabs on what actions you have taken and where you are up to in the overall process. If you plan on conducting a number of campaigns, an action plan is essential – otherwise you will lose track of what you have done and where you want to go.

7. A checklist

This enables you to make sure you have covered all the steps and not left out a critical stage. The marketing plan checklist builds your confidence as well.

Some affiliate marketing plans leave you high and dry or throw you in the deep end to “sink or swim”. This is why so many people give up and leave their marketing plan e-books to gather dust. The creators of the better marketing plans are conscious of where you are at in your learning curve and offer concrete and supportive guidance.

What is a Marketing Plan Template

A Marketing Plan Template is a document in the form of a template aimed to be used to guide a company in their business planning. It is one of the important documents of the entire business plan. A complete Marketing Plan Template shall include four important categories listed below:-

  1. Marketing Objectives
  2. Marketing Strategy
  3. Business Environment Analysis
  4. Marketing Performance

The depth of assessment in these four categories are dependable to the complexity of the business, market competitiveness, customer behaviors, operation capabilities and other challenges to Resources. Since a template is used, the details of each category in the template is not fixed but the coverage of the four categories is mandatory. This is to ensure all aspect of importance to the business are covered in details and kept current to the business needs and changes.

Why do we use a template?

It serves as a useful guidelines in addressing the four categories in a a marketing plan. The template also act like a reminder to the marketing head to evaluate the mentioned categories with great details of data collection and analysis. Depending on the complexity of the business and the environmental changes, a good Marketing Plan Template would cover the pertinent topics in detail which has the greatest influence to the business future in medium term and long term.

A template shall include detail analytical section for each of the four categories such a way that you do not go for a short cut to merely list down statement of intend without supportive analysis of the situation. In this way, you have to provide documented evidence to support your recommendations.

How to ensure the template is properly used?

If you are using a Marketing Plan Template or any form of template, it is vital that proper training is conducted to explain the nuisances of the template. Different people may interpret topic in the template differently. Training in a group of users is aimed to align the understand of the group in the usage of the template. The intention is to avoid or minimize the “Fill up the blanks” syndrome of the template.

The four categories in the template are briefly described below:-

1) Marketing Objective

A Marketing Objective is the purpose of a business or in some organization the Marketing Department. It deal with macro aspect of the business in term of marketing.

2) Marketing Strategy

Once the Marketing objective is clear, then this category advocate a strategy to meet the objective. The marketing strategy is derived from a series of strategic planning process to ensure its relevance.

3) Business Environment Analysis

This category is most challenging. it ask for a systematic and factual data collection and analysis of the data and it is align to the Marketing Objective. Several Analytical tools are deployed to help in this aspect.

4) Marketing Performance

This is the most important category of the Marketing Plan Template. It highlights the ultimate significance outcome of the entire marketing plan. It is like a report card of all the strategies and their key actions. The challenge for this category is to include all relevant key performance indicators. Each of the Key Performance Indicators should be well balanced in a way that they are inter-dependable towards the business objectives. Every Key Performance Indicators shall support the ultimate results of the company that is “Profitability”.

In conclusion, a Marketing Plan Template is a road map to a Marketing Plan which forms the heart of of a business plan and shall be subjected to frequent review for effectiveness and relevance.