I think it is good advice to avoid clichés; however, occasionally we should throw caution to the wind and revitalize an old cliché. I am going to do that right now. No one seems to know where to credit this quote but I will use it anyway. “Those who fail to plan can plan to fail.” This is just as true for the small business woman or man and maybe more true for him or her. This article is geared toward the small business person, the entrepreneur that has from one to thirty employees. I realize that business that have upwards to five hundred employees can be considered small businesses and while this is true for them also, it is targeted at small local businesses; especially small business to business and business to consumer service businesses. This ranges from the local contractor, IT service provider or accountant, to the local attorney, engineer or chiropractor…and it is not just failing to plan business wise in general, these businesses should do marketing plans on an on going basis.
This plan should be somewhere between a formal five page document and Jay Levinson’s seven sentence marketing plan. Don’t get me wrong, Guerilla Marketing is a great book and the seven sentence marketing plan is a must but, I am suggesting that the plan be a little more formal and a little more detailed. Furthermore it should be shared with every person who plays a role in the business. One of the most important parts of this marketing plan should be a one sentence position statement. This should be the ideal of what you want to accomplish for your clients or customers. A good template for this sentence would be as follows; Name of your company is a ______ firm dedicated to ______ ______ ______. When you fill in the blanks it should send a message to your prospective customer that says “they have what I need.” In fact everyone connected with your business should have the position statement memorized so that they can recite it every time they get a chance.
You can go on the web and find many marketing plan templates and marketing plans that you can use as a guide and, while you are at it, use your common sense. Don’t include a section just because it is there. Make sure that it has actionable steps that can be understood by all of the people connected with your success. That is the key word here; actionable. The reason is that it will take actions to reach your goals.
Finally, keep it flexible. It should be a fluid document that you can update with any situation that may arise in your market climate. Be always watching and evaluating your competition and continually creatively find ways to set your self apart. It may mean that you have to offer something new so the marketing plan can change; no expect that it will change. Hopefully I have inspired, nudged, cajoled you into starting a new plan today. Do it even if you are merely restating a plan that has been working for a long time.