You’re doing it wrong.

Why would anyone need a plan? That’s no fun. Too much thinking and debating going on. The worst part is actually making decisions. Screw that. Let’s just make web sites and brochures. We all love the pretty pictures. What shall we put in the pretty web site? Oh, let’s worry about that later. We’ll put some five dollar words and stock photos of pretty girls wearing headsets. Yeah, that will work. While we’re at it, we’ll just buy some expensive ad space in the Business Journal. Oh, and we’ll need an ad too. Let’s put our logo in the ad really big and a photo of the city’s skyline. That will rock. And our phone number because once people see our giant logo and the skyline, they’ll be storming our phone lines with their checkbooks at the ready.

I hope I didn’t overwhelm your sarcasm meter yet. The truth is a marketing plan is your roadmap to gaining a return on your marketing investment. That’s right. If you are thinking marketing activities are an expense, you’re doing it wrong. And I’m also going to bet you you don’t have a plan.

“But we made this spreadsheet of all the money we are spending…” That’s not a plan.

“But we sat down with the executive team and brainstormed new advertising ideas…” That’s not a plan.

“We’ve been in business for 25 years and we know everything we need to know…” That is seriously not a plan.

A plan combines internal knowledge with external facts. The resulting strategy is based on this compilation of information. If you didn’t talk to your customers, check out your competition and objectively assess your current strategies – you don’t have a strategy. You are guessing.

I would even say that without a specific planning process even if you do these activities, it is very difficult to end up with a truly effective plan. This plan doesn’t have to be one of those five inch think binders full of esoterica – just a road map to guide your decision making, set a tactical approach and budget and provide a point of reference with regard to performance.

The entire point of planning is not the eventual document. It is the process of planning that questions long held beliefs and assumptions and brings knowledge and logic together. I have a great process for planning that I would be pleased to share with you if you contact me.

Or you can pay me to make a pretty web site. I have this great idea that involves monkeys who are riding those old fashioned bicycles while smoking cigars.

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