​​  CM&A Consulting, LLC

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What Marking Plan?
By Ron “Cat” Mason
Founder and CEO of CM&A Consulting, LLC

My friend “Bill” and I were talking over a cup of coffee last week about his business, I noticed that Bill, seemed worried about something. When I asked Bill what was bothering him; he told me that his business was consistently losing money. He said that even though his regular customers were still using his business no new clients were showing up, nor did he see any in the foreseeable future.

I asked Bill what type of marketing plan he was using and if I could take a look at it, since building marketing plans was a big part of my consulting business. His response to my inquiry was not totally unexpected; Bill said that he has never had one and that he relies strictly on word of mouth alone to bring in customers.

Bill’s situation is a common occurrence that I encounter when working with businesses, from start-ups to large businesses. Since a marketing plan is a necessary component of a business plan, I am not surprised to find an absence of business plans as well. I have found that many small business owners are not sure what a business plan looks like not to mention a marketing plan. With the bigger companies, I find that the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) may not have reviewed the company’s marketing plan in over a year.

For a company to be successful, whether it is a small one person business or a conglomerate, the marketing plan needs to be constantly evaluated and updated. The marketing plan needs to be monitored frequently, since the customer market changes so often, that it is easy for a business to be left behind.

With the current world economic situation businesses tend to shy away from spending money on marketing. The fact of the matter is that now more than ever is the time to increase marketing or at least continue marketing to stay in the public’s mindshare. When businesses inform me that they are unable or unwilling to develop or revise their current marketing plan, I inform that they might as well hang up the “Gone out of Business” sign because I guarantee that their competitors are updating and implementing their marketing plans.

The objective of a marketing plan is to; act as a roadmap for marketing the business, to assist in management control, and monitoring the implementation of the marketing strategy. The marketing plan informs new participants of their role and function to obtain resources for implementation, to stimulate thinking, and make better use of resources. Employees need to be aware of the marketing goals of the business.

The marketing plan places a business on the path to meet its marketing goals, which in turn enables the company to meet its current and future goals. The ever- changing business environment requires the constant re-evaluation of the marketing plan on a regular basis. Aside from the fact that it gives businesses a path to follow, the marketing plan forces an accountability of action. A marketing plan is a “must have” component of any business plan; this applies to start-up businesses as well as established ones.

Because of our conversation, Bill has since developed and implemented a marketing plan for his company, and the company has seen a dramatic increase in new business.  Bill also knows to constantly revisit the company’s marketing plan to stay ahead of his competition.

There is an old proverb I use, especially when dealing with start-up businesses, about marketing plans is this; “Dig the well before you are thirsty not after!” In other words, build your marketing plan before you start the business. For the existing businesses that are happy with referrals only, or have an outdated marketing plan, a quote from Mark Twain says it all;

Even if you are on the right track, if you are just sitting there, someone will pass you.” ©