Marketing plans can be loose or tight, simple or elaborate, designed to cover a few projects and a single initiative, or built to encompass the next five years. But everything you do in advertising—everything—will be smarter, cheaper, and more effective with a plan, than without it.
Go on vacation without a plan? Unlikely. Build a house without a plan? Never. But a lot of expensive advertising and marketing happen without a plan.
All of our experience tells us that planning is the most important step you can take to make sure that you get maximum value from your marketing and advertising budgets. Whether you're working on a one-time promotion, or an overall strategy that will guide your company for several years to come, planning:
The process doesn't have to be daunting. It doesn't have to be time-consuming. It can even start small. It just needs to be done—and we can help you make it happen.
There are many -- from doing a better job of predicting budgets, to leveraging creative and content across multiple media.
One of the most useful ways that marketing plans save money is when they act as a test for opportunities that are not in the plan. When you come across an opportunity—to advertise at a steep discount, to use co-op dollars, to participate in a trade show or other event, to add some bells and whistles to your website, to get a newly rehabbed celebrity spokesperson at a bargain-basement rate—you can see how it fits in with the goals and expectations of your plan, and make a smarter and more cost-effective decision.
Well-written plans are not rigid—far from it—but they do provide guidelines that can help you determine what's right for you. Consult your plan, and in a few minutes you'll have a good idea of whether a particular opportunity suits your goals, your target audience, and your budget.
You and I and three other decision-makers can be sitting around a conference table, all believing we are in agreement about the plan we have just discussed. But trust us, we all walk out of that room with completely different ideas about what we're about to do. (Contact us to learn more about how our exclusive Convergence process helps to make sure that everyone on your team stays on the same page.)
The differences may be as small as which task will take priority, or enormous disconnects about mission-critical issues like budgets, talent resources, and outsourcing. Until a plan is written down, the details are fluid, flexible, and subject to the vagaries of individual memories, priorities, and perception.
For example, it's been our experience that a company that proceeds on a web project without a written plan adds a full year to their development process. Frankly, it gives us heart palpitations just to write that down.
See answer above. So far, in our collective decades of experience, it's not cheaper to skip the plan, any more than it's cheaper to skip the plan when you build a house.
Absolutely. Plans are meant to be executed, otherwise, they're just random words on paper. When it comes to planning, there are three kinds of marketers:
Sure! If you have time. Lots and lots of time; years, perhaps, and the capital to keep you going while you're at it. Also plenty of human resources, to be working like crazy during all that time. It's also helpful if your competitors are asleep at the wheel.
As we said, all marketing success is a combination of time, budget, resources, and skill. If you're spending very little of some, you'll have to spend a great deal more of the others.