I hear a lot from small business owners who think they can’t afford to hire a marketing expert to help write their marketing plan—and more importantly their marketing budget. Those same small business owners admit that they start out the year with a plan to write their marketing plan, then much like other resolutions they kinda sorta don’t get around to it.
Plan to have your marketing plan written by a marketing expert.
It might sound like I’m dissing small business owners, but I’m really not. I get it, you’re running your business and the last thing you want to do is spend time researching, planning, and writing a grand plan that gets buried on your desk and never gets implemented. I recommend small business owners have their marketing plan written by a marketing expert for lots of reasons, but here are two of the biggest:
- A marketing expert who isn’t as close to your business will ask lots of questions, see things from the customer’s perspective, and can offer expertise most small businesses don’t have in-house. In short, their business is to focus on marketing yours.
- If you PAY someone to write your marketing plan you have a big incentive to follow through and see that is it implemented. Plus, depending on the arrangement you have made with your marketing expert they are likely to follow up and see that it is implemented. Win win.
You can have a great marketing plan, but it is worthless without the budget to implement it. While you are working on your marketing plan and brainstorming ideas you need to consider what you would like to spend and what you are able to spend. Think about the return you can expect to get from the investment you make by implementing these marketing ideas. Most marketing tactics can be measured to a certain extent. Some are more difficult to measure, but are still important.
Consider the amount you are able to spend on implementing your marketing plan. Some marketing tactics can be expensive. You may brainstorm a great marketing campaign idea that is virtually guaranteed success, but if you can’t afford the financial investment or the time and manpower to implement, it may be doomed before it starts. Your marketing plan and budget has to be realistic.
Figure out how much you can spend before you plan.
Especially when you are working with an outside marketing expert, it is important to discuss budget. For example, without a budget to work with, he or she may come up with a great plan that will cost $100,000 to implement. If you can only afford a $50,000 marketing budget, that plan won’t do anybody good. It is okay to budget for a ballpark amount as long as you can afford it.
Don’t be afraid to set a dollar amount.
Tell your marketer what your marketing budget is. When I first discuss marketing budgets with clients I can almost see their thoughts: ‘If I tell her what I budgeted, she’ll spend every last penny.’ While it is okay to give your marketing expert a range, say $10,000 to $15,000, if you absolutely can’t spend more than $12,895.42 that is something they need to know up front. Good marketers will create a plan that fits your budget.
Plan your marketing for your business.
A marketing plan should be strategic, goal-oriented, and written for your business. Copying a marketing plan for someone else’s business is probably not going to help you. You can find lots of great marketing plans in books and online, but your business is unique. No other business (not even your competitors) is exactly like yours. Different target markets, different product and service mix, different geography, different economy, different goals, different brand, different referral sources, different employees, different budget, different plan.
Your business needs a marketing plan that fits your goals, your resources, and your budget—that will guide your business to success.