If you're in the middle of launching a new business, you may be convinced you do not have enough time. If you've been growing your business for some time, you may think, "Something's working! Look - we're growing! Why would I need a marketing plan? We're just figuring it out as we go."
I understand both of these perspectives. They are tempting beliefs to hold onto when your life as a small business owner feels chaotic and you can't imagine finding the time or mental energy for something as "structured, boring, detailed and overwhelming" as a marketing plan.
HOWEVER. There's a bigger picture to consider. Don't let your short-term overwhelm lead to long-term opportunity loss. Let's take a look at some of the ways creating a marketing plan will impact all areas of your business life.
If building an intentional business isn't your thing, this would be a great place for you to stop reading. However, if you hold intentionality as a value for your business, marketing planning will provide a healthy framework for realizing your overall business goals.
Building an intentional business means paying attention and being conscious of your decisions and actions - both big and small. At first glance most owners would say that they are, indeed, intentionally building their business.
But when you evaluate their daily planners, social media efforts, email communications, UX, business expenses and marketing stack it becomes clear they are not, in fact, operating with intention. They're surviving. Which is better than not surviving, yes...but it's not sustainable.
Eventually those poor time management, mental focus and budgetary decisions circle back around, leaving business owners to undo that damage in addition to running a business.
Intentional business owners view each component of their work holistically, acknowledging and embracing that each decision has a ripple effect. They value essentialism and have a razor-sharp understanding of where they're going and how they're going to get there. Without losing their mind or their quality of life.
Increased Mental Clarity
Praise for organization and tidiness has been sweeping the internet for some time now. If you haven't cleaned out all the closets in your house, or evaluated whether or not a salt shaker sparks joy, you're missing out.
Kitchen gadgets and team building exercise '99 t-shirts aside, the concept of decluttering and organization are key for business success. There are lists of psychological studies that point to reduced mental capacity, focus and efficiency when visual clutter is present. But what about the stacks and smatterings of marketing ideas, potential lead details, content ideas and should-bes taking up space in your mind? The stressful implications of mental overwhelm are not only impacting you personally, but your business as well.
Imagine what your mind would be capable of if it had a little room to breathe?
With the incredible analytics options available today - both free and premium offerings - there is no excuse for ignoring data in your business. From the basics of Google Analytics to dashboards like Cyfe and platforms like Kissmetrics, there are a wide range of options to begin tracking your marketing campaigns.
Data-driven decisions will most often not only yield your most favorable results, but will provide a clear path for revisions and next steps.
Easier Batch Processing
Batching is a productivity hack where you dedicate chunks of time to similar tasks. While it's not a new concept, most small businesses are not taking full advantage of this time and energy saver - especially when it comes to their marketing. (Refer to a previous blog on batch marketing for more details.)
Batching is nearly impossible without planning and structure. Not only does having a marketing plan enable you to have the foresight and deliverables you need to batch your work, but it allows you to optimize your batching to save time and money.
While optimizing your workflows is always a good idea, this becomes crucial when growing your team. Even if you're currently a solopreneur the reality is, if you continue to grow, you will need outside help at some point.
Wise entrepreneurs establish solid workflows with both the present and future in mind. Presently, workflows will increase your personal efficiency and free up precious time to devote to new strategies. And in the future, establishing clear workflows will make it easier to hand off tasks to other team members.
If you want to dig deeper, check out Fizzle.co's 2-part podcast on workflows.
Improved Team Dynamics
Most of us, at some point, have worked on a team that was less than organized. So we all understand the frustration of feeling like your time is not being respected and your skills are being wasted.
Building a quality marketing plan will help bring cohesion to an existing team and help future team members enter the fold feeling proud and eager to be part of a well-oiled, intentional machine.
Less Decision Fatigue
Each day owners make countless decisions about the direction of their work. Every action done and undone is the result of a different decision. And it's exhausting.
How many times have you sat down to write a monthly newsletter, stared at a blank screen, and then wandered off in distraction and frustration? When you put in the effort and focus up-front, at designated times and with outside support, you cut down on decision fatigue. You give yourself the opportunity to jump feet-first into the work of the day - be that an email newsletter, blog post, social media engagement or promotion design, knowing in what direction you're heading and how to get there.
New Customer Growth
No matter what your market is, chances are it's crowded. The key is to not see this as an obstacle, but rather as a welcomed challenge. Competition means there is most likely demand, and where there is demand there is opportunity.
New customer growth will come when you and your business become the best versions of yourselves. Competition drives us to sharpen our products and services. It compels us to pivot and revise and refine, taking our best work to market.
However, there is more to new customer growth than refined products or refined services. Your brand, your marketing (aka how you tell your story) and your execution will control your results. You can have a life-changing offering but if you don't have a solid plan for getting it in front of the right people at the right time, it will fail.
Healthier Customer Retention
While acquisition may be the sexier topic, customer retention is crucial. It costs far less to retain a customer than to acquire one, but this piece is often overlooked. We take for granted that a new customer will stay with us if we deliver a quality product/service and give them a good experience. While this is true to some extent, the challenge of customer retention is complex.
Our customers are continually bombarded with distractions and competitors and daily life. It's our job to build quality relationships, share our stories and truly bring them into our brand's community. And you can be sure that doesn't happen without intention and a game plan.
You're running a business, so profit is important. At the end of the day, all of the benefits above will impact your bottom line.
When your marketing is intentional, you have greater mental clarity, you make data-driven decisions, you batch process, you build smoother workflows, your team is happier, you have less decision fatigue, and your new customers and customer retention grows...it's like magic.
Your brand reputation, product/service execution, connection with your people and profit will grow. And when your profit grows (in a healthy, ethical way - of course), it means you have a wonderfully viable business that will allow you to keep doing what you do best...with mental clarity, wholeheartedness and sustainability.
Stay tuned for Creating Your First Marketing Plan Part 2: Assessment & Homework. Complete the form below to be notified when Part 2 is live. Bonus? You'll received a free Assessment Guide to get started on your own marketing plan.