SCORE Small Business Blog

Marketing: What’s Missing From Everyone’s Marketing Plan Drafts?
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What’s missing from everyone’s marketing plan draft?

The action plan.

And a detailed marketing budget.

As a SCORE counselor, I read and comment on lots of business plans. Invariably entrepreneurs are unaware that marketing takes significant time and effort. And they typically underestimate what the marketing and sales activities that they so blithely propose will cost.

An action plan is a monthly or weekly schedule of marketing activities, an estimate of the hours required, and the name of the person or persons who will put in those hours. Or the quotes from vendors to do the activity. And weekly or monthly targets for hits, leads, sales, etc.

A marketing budget is a list of the costs of all marketing and sales efforts in a particular time period. When I read a plan, I note the marketing activities and estimate their costs on a yellow pad. I expect each to show up in a detailed marketing budget, with the total of these in business plan financials, on the marketing/selling line.

“Free” Activities Have Costs, Particularly Someone’s Time

You’re going to go after partnerships where you exchange services, at no cost to either party? How about the transportation costs of making the calls to set up these deals? Expenses to pick up the tab at Starbucks? What about costs of an attorney to review agreements?

Or maybe you plan on free PR, you say. Ok, who is writing the releases? How many releases per month? Are you going to submit them to professional PR outlets online? If so, you are likely to be paying $250+ per release. Do you have topics to write about other than your products and services? You are not likely to get much pickup from releases with a purely promotional angle. (“News” has multiple sources, while PR has one — you. Professional publications are looking for topical news, not copy on your latest product offering.)

Who’s writing all those emails to prospects and customers you are talking about? Who will handle the email database, analyze results, refine the lists, deal with bad emails?

Don’t wave your hands and say viral marketing or word of mouth. These are not as easy as they sound. Furthermore, writing articles, creating products to give away, setting up affiliate programs and the like all take someone’s time.

Do you plan to do your own marketing at first, along with everything else involved in launching a business? If so, the action plan will show you how much time you need to allocate to marketing activities.

Plan for Ongoing Marketing

Without a sustained marketing effort over the first year, your business has no chance to get off the ground. While concentrated in the launch stage, marketing activities and costs must continue throughout the year. Get some quotes from PR and marketing agencies to handle this, and you will begin to understand the time/money that “full court press” marketing requires.

So if you’re asking me to comment on a draft of your business plan, please include a marketing action plan and budget for the first year in your appendix.

What am I missing in marketing action plans and marketing budgets? Please leave me a comment.

Peg Corwin, SCORE Chicago
More posts by Peg


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Discussion (4) Comment


  1. kenyVisitor

    I would like to congratulate you for the work. Wish i could join you and help you.

  2. [...] Related post of mine: What’s Missing From Everyone’s Marketing Plan Drafts? [...]


  3. Maria MarsalaVisitor

    Thanks for the reminder.

    It’s funny how people create plans cause they want to do something better, make more money and have more time — and then forget to use the plan do to that. Systems are so important, including a system to monitor the efforts you’ve put into your plan.

    So often, the way business owners monitor is at tax time when they see what they made for the year. So sad.

    That’s why when a client of mine creates their One Page Business Plan(r) the next step is not executing the plan.

    Now a days there are so many options for the monitoring system — a performance management system. Paper system, excel spreadsheet, an online performance system or software like MS Project. Main things is you do it!

    ———
    I remember a time when an advertising client– new to business, had been asked to be on the board of a chamber of commerce. He was conserned about he was going to do that and start/run his business.

    We figured out what they wanted … for free of course — equated to $28,000! So instead, he asked them “what was the one thing they wanted more than anything else” … they told him, he did that one thing and got good advertisement.

    And maybe years from now when he can afford to provide more time to the group; and IF he wants to provide them with his expertise for free — he can do that, too.

  4. Outstanding post, Peg. I’ve always heard that marketing is 80% of business and I don’t think most people realize that. Two books I read when I started my business: Getting Business to Come to You by Paul and Sarah Edwards, and also 101 Ways to Promote Yourself by Raleigh Pinskey…both have terrific no- and lost-cost ways to market. But as you say, no cost still takes time.

 

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