Research Topic 5: “I’ve got a small business with only 3 full-time staff. Marketing Planning’s no real practical use to me! Besides, I can’t afford the time and/or the money to do it”
The writing of a marketing plan is extremely important step in the functioning of an effective and successful business. A marketing plan will give a snapshot of where the business currently stands, where the business hopes and wants to be and what needs to be done to achieve this. This is crucial if the business wants to grow or maintain its current level of profit. It could even be helpful if a business needed to down-size. Marketing plans can be as detailed as required, and as such are useful tools for large corporations and small businesses alike.
The creation of marketing plans can be quite daunting without previous experience, and this is one reason why many small businesses don’t create a plan. Ross Cameron, of Cameron Research Group states “…there appeared to be a large number of small business owners who were not interested in growing. It is possible this is because many small business owners don’t know how to grow” (Hartnett and Keisler 2008, p.2) Many of the smaller businesses don’t understand the benefit of creating a marketing plan, and therefore avoid creating one.
One benefit of creating a marketing plan is in analyzing the current situation. Particularly in small businesses, the ability to step back and take an external view of the business is often difficult for an owner, as that time can be put to use elsewhere, and the results of a situational analysis can often be confronting (Hartnett and Keisler 2008). Most successful entrepreneurs of the world are able to view and analyze the business from the outside.
Another benefit of producing a marketing plan is the potential for “greater co-ordination of effort” (Overton 2007). In having a clearly defined plan for the direction of the business, as well as an idea of how to get there, all of the employees can be focused towards that same goal. A business that has no marketing plan can potentially have employees pulling the business in many different directions, as the goal is not clear.
Producing a marketing plan can also help measure the success of any efforts put in to improve the business. In creating a marketing plan, it is best to quantify the desired achievement. For example, if a business wanted to improve its sales by 25% over the course of a twelve month period and this goal is identified within the marketing plan, then it can be reviewed after twelve months (or at intervals during this period). The results of the review measures the effectiveness of the marketing plan. If sales figures have grown by 25% or more, then it is seen as successful. If sales grew by under 25%, or worse, declined, then the marketing plan has not been as effective as it should be.
The measurement of success of a marketing plan can also be used as a benchmark to set future marketing plans. Using the perceived effectiveness or not of the previous marketing plan, can be a useful tool for looking forward. It can inspire a business to set higher growth in sales figures, or to set the benchmark lower, to enable a sales figure that is a little bit more achievable, based on the previous marketing plan (Overton 2007).
A marketing plan can also help a business by looking at its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (also known as a SWOT analysis). In providing this analysis, a business has a better viewpoint from which to build upon.
Analysis of strengths provides important information about what the business does well in its operations. For example, it could be how the business differs from its competitors, or what makes the business more successful than others in certain aspects. For instance, this could mean that the employees of the business are better trained or motivated than at rival businesses, the business has higher valued intellectual...
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