Marketing Wednesdays: Do You Have a Marketing Plan?

As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice in Lewis Carol's Alice in Wonderland, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there." Your business' marketing plan is your roadmap for success; without one you're just wandering blindly through the forest.

Your marketing plan can be a simple 1- or 2-page document or a detailed 60-page booklet, complete with charts and graphs. Either way, the exercise of creating a formal marketing plan can help you determine exactly what it is that you want your marketing program to accomplish, how you intend to reach these goals and what yardstick you will use to measure the results.

A basic short-form marketing plan should include the following elements:

  • Business/financial objectives – What are your business' overall goals? Be as specific as possible.
  • Market overview – Description of your market, product and competition.
  • Marketing objectives – What are the goals of your marketing program? For example, you may want to increase sales, introduce a product to a new market and/or increase product awareness among a particular group of people.
  • Target audience definitions – Who are you marketing to? In addition to all of the people who may want to purchase your product, you may also plan to market to those who can influence their purchasing decision, members of the media, current or past customers and more.
  • Key creative, media and promotional strategies and tactics – This is the "guts" of your marketing plan, the details of how you plan to accomplish your objectives.
  • Infrastructure issues – Are there any known issues which may impact your ability to reach your goals, such as personnel, supplier or cash flow problems? If so, how do you intend to address them?

Do you have a marketing plan? If not, now's the time to create this critical document.