So Why Do You Need A Marketing Plan?

So Why Do You Need A Marketing Plan?

I suppose it is a result of having worked in marketing for as long, and acting as a marketing consultant as I have, but I am always surprised to find firms that do not have a marketing plan. In most cases, I usually find that the reason for the lack of a plan is current success as in “We are doing fine so why do we need to waste time on a plan?”

Marketing Plan

The other reason I come across frequently is simply a lack of understanding or knowledge of how to create a marketing plan. At the end of the day, however, asking why you need a marketing plan is a fair question.

I will do my best to explain why I feel having a marketing plan is essential for any business. So let’s start with the number one reason:

  1. You need a marketing plan because it forces you to think.

    So what am I telling you – that you don’t think now? Of course not. What happens to many of us though is we simply get too rapped up in the issues of the day to spend the time to think about where we are going.

    So what kind of thinking does marketing planning force you to do? Well for starters it forces you to think about the bigger issues like where you are going and how will you get there. What about your competition and how they may impact your business? Are there changes in the external environment such as; regulations, the economy, technology that could change things?

    Beyond these basic questions, marketing planning also forces you to think about the assumptions you make in running your business. Are they valid? If you have based your business upon a set of assumptions that no longer apply it is hard to see something good coming from that.

    The thing is no matter how successful you are today things will change. It simple makes good common sense to take the time to consider what those changes may be and how they may impact you.

  2. You need a marketing plan to ensure alignment with the rest of the company.

    Marketing in a vacuum is a waste of time. Marketing should be the driving force in the company when it comes to strategy. Why? The answer is because marketing is where the customer meets the company. All aspects of the companies operations should take the customer into consideration.

    So is marketing is a company-wide effort then it needs to be undertaken with the rest of the company in mind. Marketing planning does this for us.

  3. You need a marketing plan to serve as the foundation for you efforts.

    Would you build a house without a foundation? Then why would you run a business without one? The marketing plan is the foundation from which your marketing activities should come from.

    The existence of a marketing plan that can be referred to as a guide for the implementation of your marketing activities gives you common ground. There is value in a co-coordinated effort, and the marketing plan does that for you.

  4. You need a marketing plan to provide structure to your marketing efforts.

    With your foundation in place, you are now able to move onto the creation of the house itself. The marketing plan serves as the blueprint for your marketing efforts. How the marketing plan does this is through the establishment of clear communication which promotes understanding.

    By having a commonly accepted way of developing your marketing efforts you are ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Marketing planning without structure is a free-for-all.

  5. You need a marketing plan to provide you with a marketing process.

    Let’s face it process can be painful and counterproductive. The fact is though we need to have some sort of plan as to how to go about figuring out what we want to do. Try and imagine figuring out how to organize the marketing plans for your company for the next year without any set of instructions on how to do that.

    When it comes to creating your marketing plan having a process in place helps to ensure that your planning efforts are proceeding in a logical manner. Even better with a process in place everyone knows how the plan will be developed.

    Without some form of process in place to give people direction what you end up with is likely to be anarchy where he who shouts the loudest leads the charge. Inspiring for great battles – less so for any kind of developmental activity.

You may be busy. You may not have enough time to plan (or think you don’t). You may not have the knowledge to create a marketing plan. You may be successful now without a marketing plan. All are reasons I have heard for not having a marketing plan in place. In reality, all of these points can be addressed if you are willing to make an effort on your own, or to get help.

For more on developing your own marketing plan go to “Think, Plan, Prosper” at Van Wagner Marketing Solutions

Scott Van Wagner
Scott Van Wagner is a senior marketing strategist. His marketing experience includes roles as a Sales Rep, Product Manager, Service Director and General Manager and Author. This practical experience is enhanced by marketing knowledge developed delivering courses on marketing strategy and management at The University of Western Ontario, Brock University, McMaster University and The University of Guelph.
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