Monday, 4 May 2020

Marketing plans over the Internet? Not ideal, but necessary

I've been helping businesses develop marketing plans for over five years and, in hindsight, much of it happens either over the phone, via email or on a video call. But the best way to start is undeniably to visit the business and "walk the floor".

Something special happens when you are physically present at a business and breathe the same air and get to sit in the very office or boardroom where decisions get made. But this can’t happen at the moment with strict travel restrictions in place. It confronts me with the question: how do I help entrepreneurs put in place focused marketing plans over distance?

There’s no doubt that all businesses need a marketing plan that includes a strategy (how to position the brand) and an action plan on what to focus on to successfully reach customers. Notice that I am not saying “you must spend money on marketing”, but rather “you must know what you want to do and how to achieve it” - no matter the budget.

Companies need marketing plans, whether they spend money on marketing or not.  

The pillars of a marketing strategy remain as relevant as ever during this time of turbulence: clarity on who the target market is, key decision-makers, brands, value propositions, messaging and success measures. A marketing plan is part of a sophisticated, mature, sales process meaning those that are serious about making sales, or at least maintain good standing with existing customers, must also know how to do marketing.

Unfortunately, the truth is that many smaller to medium-sized companies do not have a strategic marketing plan in place. It’s a bit all over the place because it is not seen as important enough. Sure, it’s not critical, but it is important, especially if sales are becoming harder to make.

I have recently circulated a survey to owners and entrepreneurs in which I ask them a few marketing related questions, including this one: “do you have a documented marketing plan?”. I am still sourcing answers, but as it stands, from 86 respondents, almost 60% say “no”.


Surely it is in times like this that the basics need to be in place to give your business the best possible chance of survival? Surely a clear, 1-page summary of your overall business strategy, together with a documented marketing plan and strict financial controls are all part of such basics? 

It confronts me with the question: how do I help entrepreneurs put in place clear, focused marketing plans over distance?

Since starting Firejuice I’ve been on a mission to help small and medium-sized companies - The Underdogs - do better marketing. As with all businesses, there is a deeply personal story behind why I started my business: I’ve been disappointed by large corporates and wanted to take revenge by helping the small guys unsettle the big boys. The best way to understand the intensity of these feelings is to visit me in person and have a coffee with me, but unfortunately, this can't happen now. The same is true for those I work with: I can’t visit them now, and it is not ideal, although, the alternative is far worse - to not have a plan at all.

Marketing plans are not optional. They are crucial to how companies tackle the next few months and my mission to provide professional assistance in this regard remains more relevant than ever, even though the process will not be perfect. I will not be able to visit you, and we'll have to do the entire process virtually, as I have already done successfully with clients in Uganda, Cape Town and Johannesburg’s East Rand.

Companies need marketing plans, whether they spend money on marketing or not. The roadmap to more, and better, sales and customer experiences is more important than ever. I am open for business. Firejuice is ready to help your business do better marketing. If ever there’s a time to overtake the big boys, it is now. The big red square is already falling.

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