If you do not want to grow your business in 2016, then this article will be superfluous to your requirements. However, if you are an SME who has already made a commitment to increasing turnover and profit, then a marketing plan might just be the difference between reaching your target or not. This article will therefore not explain ‘how to create a marketing strategy’, but more so to serve as a pre-requisite to that process by reinforcing ‘why SME’s need a marketing strategy’ in the first place.
Having worked in marketing and advertising for over fifteen years and been witness to companies who have either ‘achieved’ or ‘failed’ in hitting their sales, turnover or profitability targets, without doubt those that fall into the latter category have consistently either a) had no marketing plan or b) failed to implement the strategies outlined in the plan.
Having also worked with SME’s where we have produced marketing strategies and plans for the first time in their trading history, whilst they may not have achieved target, they have got an awful lot closer than in previous years where they had no strategy at all. Furthermore, reviewing and refining the marketing strategy in year two onwards (after first analysing the reasons why targets weren’t hit in year one), has typically ensured that the gap between target and result becomes much closer – in other words each year clients have become more in control of the their companies growth.
What we would acknowledge is that marketing plans are more important for some businesses than others. For example, if you have a business where 90% of your leads are generated through a direct sales force, then arguably having a comprehensive sales strategy would take priority. In this instance however, what would make sense is to have a marketing plan that identifies how that direct sales force can be supported, to maximise their effectiveness. Are they targeting the right and most profitable customers, are they communicating the companies strengths whilst exploiting competitor weaknesses, can their conversion rates be improved, have they got effective sales collateral at their disposal, are they being fed with leads, is the brand strong enough to open doors? What is clear therefore, is that a marketing plan developed in coordination with your sales plan will without doubt increase the chances of your sales teams achieving their targets.
If you have a business where 90% of its leads are delivered by the existing marketing and advertising campaigns in place, then clearly if that business wants to double in size, then a marketing plan is essential. In our experience however, the vast majority of SME’s whose businesses are already very reliant on marketing and advertising to generate leads, still don’t have a plan in place. In reality, what has typically happened is that the SME has tried various different strategies over the years, perhaps a PPC campaign, SEO, social media or print media advertising and one or two of them have delivered good results – so they have stuck with them and simply grown their spend each year. That ‘simple strategy’ is fine up until a point, but it can often stifle future opportunities for growth, or in some cases it can carry significant risk. Take SEO for example, what do you do if you are already on page one, position one for your target keywords and you want to achieve 50% growth? And then there is PPC, what do you do if the cost per click rate reaches a point whereby you can’t substantiate the return on investment any more. Therefore, relying completely on one or two channels without a plan B carries a risk to many businesses.
Finding an agency that will take a holistic look at your business, your products and services, what you are trying to achieve, your evolving marketplace, and put in place a marketing strategy that will channel your budget at delivering measurable results is key to achieving your company objectives.
If you would like to discuss how having a marketing plan in place can help your business achieve its growth targets, call Jonathan Scott on 01924 367105.