When you’re running a business, no matter how small or large, you need to plan to ensure your business flourishes and grows.

What happens if you don’t plan?

You get offered opportunities – and you don’t know if they’re right for you or not, because there’s no frame of reference to fit them into.

Let’s take an example.  A local publication offers you a rock-bottom rate for a display ad – let’s say that it would normally be £500 and they’re offering it for half price.  Is this an offer you can’t refuse?

With a plan you can:

  • Look at your target audience, what the publications they typically read and what they are interested in
  • Check out the reader profile of the publication and decide if it will reach your audience
  • Review your marketing budget and see if this fits into it – and what you might have to compromise on to make this investment

Without a plan your decision will be based on a knee-jerk reaction – after all, you’ll be saving £250, won’t you? 

Maybe, but not if your target audience aren’t reading this publication or if your ad doesn’t deliver what they want or if spending £250 will leave your cash flow depleted when you need it.

Seems obvious, but I meet business owners who haven’t got a proper marketing plan and budget and know how additional expenditure will impact on both.

The dominoes will start to fall

There’s another issue that is often overlooked.  What do you want people to do when they’ve read your ad? (You have included a call to action, haven’t you?)

Do you want them to:

  • Visit your website?
  • Pick up the phone and call?
  • Go to a landing page and sign up to your marketing list?
  • Buy a product or service?
  • Book a free or reduced price consultation?

Are you prepared for them to take action?  Have you got the right information on the website to engage them?  Are you staff prepared for extra calls and know what to say?

If you need a landing page someone will have to create that, load it and put a data capture system in place.  This might also require the creation of a free giveaway document to encourage sign ups (nobody signs up to a newsletter these days).

If you’ve got an offer on, have you got sufficient supplies to fulfil the demand?  If you’re offering your time free or at a low price, how many appointments can you fit in?

This is just the beginning and all these have costs attached, so in addition to the £250 for the ad, what will it cost to deal with the response?  Your marketing budget may be struggling to keep up if you haven’t considered these things.

It may be a cliché, but fail to plan … plan to fail!  A simple plan, with some numbers attached, reviewed at least quarterly will make a big difference to your decision making.