You’ve set your business to open in 90 days.  Your building looks great.  Your employees are eager. Your product is solid. You know the niche is there. You are poised to pounce.

It’s time to spend that grand opening budget you set aside. You call your local ad agency to hammer out a few crazy ideas and set the town ablaze with your big idea – dreaming of the line around the block to get in.

The 90 days fly by. You open your doors. There are no lines, just the small trickle of traffic from townspeople who are curious about anything. Your grand opening budget is spent. The revenue you expected to generate from the grand opening to pay for all that advertising isn’t there. Now what? Do you dig deeper into your pockets and scramble for sales or do you wait for that small stream of curious customers to recharge your marketing budget.

This could have been prevented with a marketing plan.

Marketing plans should be a part of every business plan. It sounds obvious, but business plans typically relate to the business-side of your company – overhead, margin, projections, etc.  Marketing plans, on the other hand, explore the relationship between your product and the full spectrum of potential clients.

There are times when businesses get caught up in the moment. Grand openings are exciting.   However, investing in a strong marketing plan before the doors open can reduce the burden of grand opening revenue and help prepare businesses with contingency plans if the grand opening doesn’t go as hoped.

A good marketing plan does three things that will eliminate stress right off the bat. Great plans provide a:

1. deep understanding of the product. – Knowing your product and what separates you from the competition will let you stay true to your marketing objectives. This understanding gives you a core to rally around. While campaigns may come and go, strictly adhering to what makes your product unique will do wonders for your brand today, tomorrow and beyond.

2. deep understanding of your customer. – Chances are you’ve entered this business as a person working in the industry who feels your way is a better way, a consumer who sees an unfulfilled need in the market or both. Developing a marketing plan before you open will keep you in the mindset of a “typical” customer before you get wrapped up in the day in and day out of a business.   A marketing plan lets you think like the consumer and bridge the gap early on between business and customer.

3. way to budget. – Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a company deviate from a campaign strategy with reactionary buys. So many media dollars are wasted on impulse.  With a marketing plan, you can set up your advertising budget in advance. Know what months, weeks and days will give you the best chance for success and be prepared to act. Keep a buffer for new opportunities, but diligently stick to the plan. If something obviously isn’t working,  let it run its course and evaluate it. You wouldn’t rip up your garden in May if your flowers aren’t blooming, so don’t tear up your marketing plan until the season’s over.

Tim Berry, president of Palo Alto Software reinforces this statement. Berry says, “In real-world marketing, you can’t keep doing something that isn’t working just because it’s in your plan. But, on the other hand, with any normal marketing strategy you and your whole team are bored stiff with a marketing strategy long before it begins to make impact on those people you want to reach. You need to give it time. And you need to stick with it until it’s not working,  not just until you’re bored with it.”

The best way to market your business before it opens is with a clear-cut plan in place.  The more you know before you tackle the market, the better you can develop messaging, media buying and strategies for future success.

The Internet provides a great resource to hear about the value and importance marketing plan development. Here’s a quote from Andy Ponkow, director of business development at P&G Steel Products, Inc., to help you get started investigating the benefits of investing in a comprehensive marketing plan. Ponkow believes, “The (marketing plan) process enabled us to set a solid strategic direction that has driven our recent growth. By setting specific measurable goals, we have been able to consistently track our progress and take the appropriate actions that provide the greatest positive impact on our business.”

Absolute Marketing Group has helped several small businesses get started with a marketing plan.  If you have questions about your own marketing plan or want to start one for the upcoming fiscal year, give us a call. There’s no obligation, just conversation.