Many business owners have embraced the adage: “I know 50% of my marketing/advertising budget is working, and 50% of my marketing money I’m just throwing away…I just don’t know which 50%.” These business owners feel like they are bleeding, and in some ways they are. They are not only wasting precious financial resources, they are wasting their valuable time vetting, planning and tracking marketing initiatives when they could be engaged in more profitable activities… LIKE running their business! And, while I don’t think you can create a 100% positive hit rate for your advertising and marketing, it is possible to know if at least 80% of your marketing is working while identifying what really isn’t working.

Where most businesses go awry is not in the creation of the marketing plan, it’s the lack of preplanning and understanding that’s necessary to have before the actual marketing plan is generated.

Let me explain. I’ll start by assuming you have a great service or a great product, and that you have refined a successful method of delivering the product or service. There are a few things that need to happen in the pre-plan phase in order to help the final marketing plan be more successful. Don’t feel badly if you have no idea what pre-planning I’m speaking of. I’ve seen this information and documentation absent in 6 month old companies as well as 60 year old organizations. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Define your brand – internally and externally
  2. Define your business and marketing goals
  3. Define your target market/s and how they want to be reached

Numbers 1 and 3 above are the most important. Number 1 almost always gets skipped completely by newer companies, and they end up paying dearly for it for several years. Skipping number 3 by not clearly defining your target market means your marketing dollars and advertising efforts are being tossed into the wind with the “hope” they may find their target. Now that’s taking risk with your money!

Without defining your brand, goals and target audience, your marketing plan is bound to fall flat. That brings to mind another overplayed marketing adage: “If you are marketing to everyone, then you are marketing to no-one.” We call marketing to everybody the shotgun approach. Instead of shooting your shot up in the air and hoping, we prefer to use the automatic rifle with a scope…unless, of course, you have an unlimited budget (and if you do, then definitely call us right NOW!) All joking aside, the more you can define and focus your brand, goals and target market, the faster and more efficiently your marketing plan will work, and you’ll reduce the dollars spent without benefit.