“Isn’t business plans a little outdated?” was the response I got from a fellow marketer when I proposed to her the idea that business plans are actually a necessary part of marketing. “Like, nowadays nobody reads biz plans. Unless you mean 1-page infographic style… then maybe.”
“But it’s the ultimate macro scope perspective,” I said.
She was still unconvinced. “Mission, vision, SWOT, KPI for 3,6,9,12 months… Done.”
“How about budget? Cost analysis? Break even point?” I pointed out.
“The reason why I brought this into the mix is because most of the time, we tackle clients who doesn’t know what they want,” I continued. “Because they never sit down and comb through their plans. Instead they just wing it.”
Then I blurted out, “I’m tired of doing things that doesn’t get results because clients want me to figure out a biz that they themselves haven’t figured out.”
It’s as if I lit up 10 light bulbs in her. “YESSS!! I hate that too, like, do you not know what you want, hashtag rage?”
The rant aside, I positively believe that in order to get ANY find of long term sustenance in the business, you would need a business plan. It would help you not just in marketing but in every major component of your business.
But firstly, what exactly is a business plan?
A business plan is a document that describes what you plan to do for your business and how you plan to do it. That’s about it. It’s not some fancy-ass, state of the art technology that is way too complicated even for millennials to use. It’s a road map, sea map, whatever-type-of-travel-that-rocks-you map. A to-do list? A mind map? A wordy document that covers 50-pages? They can all be a business plan, or at least the seeds of it.
In the end, the straight purpose of any business plan is to give you two things:
- Clarity about your business direction
- Confidence that you can do it
The business plan’s relation to marketing
Once you are clear about your business, you will know how to sell it. That is why a clear business plan can help make a clear marketing plan. Your product? Check. Your target audience? Check. Your product benefit to your audience? Check. Now tell it to your marketing team to let them plan how to find the audience you are targeting, how to talk about the product to that audience and how to make that audience buy it.
Can’t afford a marketing team? Then do it yourself. No time to do the marketing yourself? Then look back at your business plan’s financials section and figure out how much you need to be able to afford them, yet still able to make enough profit for yourself.
Giving the marketing team the relevant info
Of course, you don’t need the marketing team to scrutinize every information you have in your business plan. They don’t need to know every company secret. Here are the things that would be relevant to a marketing team:
So that your marketing team don’t plan a million dollar campaign and find themselves with a minimum dollar budget.
In line with the financial aspect of things, target revenue will tell the marketing team that, after spending out the budget, successfully selling something for $1 is not considered success.
Company Vision and Mission Statement
The overall goal and direction of the company are summarized in these. Hence when the marketing team crafts the messages in the campaign, they would know not to stray too far from the company’s overall purpose of existence.
Sales is useful only if it is sold to people who will find you useful. Without understanding an overall target audience, the marketing team will be trying to sell a lifeboat to a man in the Sahara desert.
(Of course, please give them a big fat bonus for being THAT fantastic is that ever happens.)
In other words, your SWOT analysis. The marketing team needs to know what your business is capable of doing as opposed to what the competitors are doing. Eventually, they can decide whether to take the fight to the competition, or walk a different path for their campaigns.
I cannot emphasize enough about how important business plans are. In fact, at Brand BuildUp Collective, that would probably be the first few things that we ask you about. At the time of writing, we have several lean business plan marketing formats that we use to identify clients exact needs, whether it is marketing or otherwise.
In fact, we may sometimes reject clients if we do not see clarity in what they want out of the marketing efforts that they wish to see happen. Our stand is simple: we want to give tangible value with visible results, but it will be hard to do if we are not getting tangible directions from our client. If it looks bad to our clients, it will definitely look bad on us.
Do you believe that business plans are essential to make your marketing work better? What do you think are the key components that marketers would need to understand from their client to move forward? We would like to hear your thoughts, so leave your comment or drop us an email to us!
Armen Rizal Rahman