I was working on a new E-Course the other day when I got to the lesson that addresses the importance of having a marketing plan and I immediately thought, “no one's going to want to read this one. "
My 16-year-old daughter happened to be in my office at the time, and I explained to her that while most business owners want to be good marketers and be successful, for whatever reason, the idea of having to create a marketing plan turns them off.
Or, they're just not interested in creating a plan, don't know how to create one, or they simply don't think they need one.
So I started thinking maybe I should rename them. What if we called them “Success Plans. " Would you dare start the year without one? Especially if you knew that was THE way to achieve success?
Anyway, to help get my point across - that marketing plans are important - my daughter and I started brainstorming analogies we thought people might be able to relate to.
I explained to her that in the introduction to my 10stepmarketing System, I compare a marketing plan to a road map. I asked her, “What do you think would happen if you decided to go on a road trip but didn't have a clear destination or a map?" (she's a new driver plus we travel every weekend to her travel softball tournaments).
"You'd probably get lost, " she replied, knowing we HAVE gotten lost when we've taken off on weekends without directions! Then she continued, “You'd end up somewhere, but probably not where you want to be. "
"Exactly!" I replied.
I explained to her that a marketing plan is just like a road map. It's the best way to ensure a business will end up where the business owner wants it to be. Whether that's in terms of the type of business it becomes, its size, how many products or services it provides, or how much money it makes.
Then I told her that when I teach, I often use the analogy of going grocery shopping without a list. Now, if you've ever done this you know what happens (especially if you ALSO shop while you're hungry!). You spend twice as much money AND you come home with all kinds of stuff you really don't need.
Operating your business without a marketing plan is sort of like that, too. You very often spend twice as much money and get fewer results, or you end up spending money on marketing activities you don't really need or that don't contribute to achieving the goals you want to achieve.
Why is that? Because you don't have anything to guide you in your decision-making about what marketing to do and what to pass on.
Think about all the things in our lives we DO plan. Birthday parties. Vacations. Weddings. Having children. Buying a home. And yes, even the little things like planning to go grocery shopping by taking the time to create a list of what we need to make spaghetti for dinner on Thursday night.
Many of those things we would never think of doing without first planning them out.
Take going on vacation, for example.
We research the destination. Where do we want to go?
We research transportation options. How do we want to get there? How much money do we want to spend? We then book airline tickets and rental cars or we decide to drive our own car.
We research accommodations. Where do we want to stay? Do we want to camp out or stay in a 4-star hotel? How much do we want to spend? And we make our reservations based on the answers to these questions.
What do we want to do while we're on vacation? What places do we want to visit? Then we make plans or buy tickets so we can do those things while we're there.
We get an itinerary and we follow it. That's how we know we'll make our plane and we know we'll have a place to sleep while on our trip.
All this for a week or two of fun and pleasure! In fact, many people put a lot more effort and planning into a one-week vacation than they do into creating a plan for their business.
While vacations are important (I'm all for playing, especially when you work hard!) your business is your livelihood.
So I've come full circle, back to the question, why don't more small business owners create a marketing plan for their business?
My guess is they may not know how, they may not want to take the time and I'll bet many of them just don't realize what operating without a plan is costing them.
Let me leave you with one final thought . . . this is one my daughter and I came up with during our brainstorming (she's 16 years old with a new drivers license and a car so that may explain the focus on cars and driving!):
Would you get into a car without a steering wheel and expect to be able to easily get where you want to go? Probably not.
But that's exactly what you're doing if you're “driving" your business without a marketing plan.
Just something to think about.
(C) Copyright 2005 Debbie LaChusa
Debbie LaChusa created The 10stepmarketing System to make marketing your own business as simple as answering 10 questions. Learn more about this unique, step-by-step system and get a free 10-week Marketing E-Course when you subscribe to the free, weekly 10stepmarketing Ezine at http://www.10stepmarketing.com