I have been in business and a serial entrepreneur since 1988 officially, unofficially I started in 1979 moving lawns, pulling weeds, and washing cars… So suffice to say I’ve been at it for a while. Even so it ceases to amaze me how very little some small business men and women actually know about business. One of the biggest things that frosts my hide is the lack of understanding of what is needed for marketing. I teach both graduate and post graduate marketing classes; from intro marketing to advanced marketing theories and there is one thing I do in all of those classes; I ask a very simple question. “When creating a marketing plan, what is the first thing you need?” I get a myriad of answers, I get things like:
- Find a target customer
- Segment your target
- Assess your market
- Understand your customers
- Build a website
- Create a blog
- Perform public relations
- Social Media
- Get organized
Some good answers, but not the one I was looking for.
I even asked my best friend Google what she thought was the first thing that I needed when creating a marketing plan and she took me by the hand and we went on a virtual field trip to various blogs and websites of professional marketing companies (or so they claimed) and they all had great ideas, very intelligent, organized things that needed to be done. They too did not have the answer I was searching for, which actually surprised me; I mean I thought at least the other professionals would have the right answer, but no, I seem to be alone. So without further ado the answer to the question,” When creating a marketing plan, what is the first thing you need?”
How can you plan a marketing campaign if you do not know how much money you have to spend? Here is a scenario I often use with the students in my various marketing classes:
You have made the decision to purchase a new car; and based on your income, your credit score, and the current interest rates you have it all figured out, and know you can afford a thirty thousand dollar car, not a dime more… so you decide to go car shopping.. Are you going to the Lexus dealer? Are you going to go to the BMW dealer? How about the infinity dealer? Porsche? No you’re not. Why? Because you cannot afford those cars, they are out of your price range, and it makes very little sense to go look at sixty or seventy thousand dollar cars when your budget is thirty thousand dollars. Marketing is not any different; marketing has a very wide range scale, from a five hundred dollar monthly budget to a five hundred million dollar annual budget. Like shopping for a car it makes little sense to talk to a marketing rep at Fox Broadcasting about advertising during American Idol if you have a fifty thousand dollar quarterly budget when the cost of one 30 second spot during American Idol is over four hundred thousand dollars… This is why it’s important to have a budget, because the marketing spectrum is very wide and without knowing how much you have to spend, it’s going to be near impossible to come up with a viable marketing plan. So even if your budget is only a few thousand dollars a quarter, or if it’s a very large seven figure budget, either way, you need to verbalize what that budget is, so that an intelligent marketing plan can be put together..