You Don’t NEED a Marketing Plan by Alexandria K. Brown
Note from Publisher: Below, E-zine expert Alexandria K. Brown argues against a marketing plan. Surprisingly, I agree with most of her points, especially her urgings to continually focus on doing something to move your business forward. An individual entrepreneur or small business person must be action oriented, be willing to take risks, and ready to venture boldly forth in the face of incomplete or imperfect information.
I think Alexandria holds some underlying assumptions about marketing plans that do not always hold true:
(1) Having a marketing plan means your actions are set in stone.
I would argue the main purpose of a marketing plan is to help you decide what overall strategies are best for your business, not to limit your actions. In fact, I love flexibility. It helps you best take advantage of changing situations.
(2) Writing a marketing plan involves suspension of actions until you reach 100% certainty.
I would ABSOLUTELY disagree. Business, by its very nature, is continually in flux. Reaching 100% certainty is impossible. That is one of the beauties of having a marketing plan – it can help you overcome the problems created by not knowing everything about a particular activity.
(3) A marketing plan has to be meticulously documented.
Not so. The strategy and logic behind your marketing activities are the critical parts of a marketing plan. My personal marketing plan is a single summary page.
In fact, Alexandria says it best herself, “I just knew who I wanted to reach and what I wanted to say.” That, to me, is evidence of strategy and planning. She knows her target audience and she knows her positioning.
I highly suspect she also knows what strategies – general approaches – she should take with her business and uses them to help her decide which actions to take.
And THAT, folks, is what a marketing plan is all about.
–Bobette Kyle, Author of “How Much for Just the Spider? Strategic Web Site Marketing for Small-Budget Businesses“, a marketing planning resource for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and business educators.
You Don’t NEED a Marketing Plan
If you pick up a copy of the November 2003 issue of Entrepreneur magazine, you’ll see my Web site listed on page 10, along with a good amount of promotional copy.
How did I get featured in a major, national magazine?
Do I have a great PR person? Did I know someone at the magazine? Was this part of my carefully-crafted marketing plan?
No, no, and um, no.
I’ll tell you exactly how I did it.
Are you ready?
I picked up the phone.
A few months ago, I was flipping through a past issue of Entrepreneur and saw they had a section that listed Web resources.
I looked at the bottom of the page and saw the name of the author.
I flipped to the front of the magazine, found the masthead, and located the phone number for their editorial offices.
I called that number and asked for that guy.
He picked up the phone.
I asked how I could submit a resource.
He told me.
I submitted mine.
He ran it.
Well, I do believe when you put energy out, you get good things back. But honestly, I just picked up the phone.
I see this as a great example of that you don’t have to be perfect.
I didn’t wait until I had a marketing plan.
I didn’t wait until I had all my ducks in a row.
In fact, I’m proud to share that I’ve never been fully prepared for anything I’ve ever taken on.
I just knew who I wanted to reach and what I wanted to say.
(I wanted to reach small business owners and solo professionals, and I wanted to let them know about all the valuable, free information at my Web site.)
And you know what?
That’s also all YOU have to know!
Listen, marketing plans are swell. If you have one, more power to you. I often wish that I did have a nice, neat plan to follow for the entire year. In fact, it’s been on my to-do list for about five years.
It just doesn’t look like I’m ever going to do it.
I’ve realized that what works better, for me, is to simply jump at opportunities as they arise, even if my pattern is haphazard. Otherwise I’d still be where I was two years ago, waiting until I worked out a plan. I’ll never more forward if I keep waiting for everything to “be ready.”
I just attended one of highest level internet marketing conferences for entrepreneurs in the world. And one of the speakers, a man who has made millions from his Internet business, uttered a sentence that has since stuck with me:
“It’s amazing how much money you can make in this world without being perfect.”
Are you trying to be perfect? Trying to plan everything ahead? Standing in your own way?
Right now, this minute, I want you to do one thing, just one thing, that you know would push your business forward. Especially something simple you’ve been putting off.
Perhaps it’s picking up the phone and introducing yourself to that important person your friend referred you to.
Perhaps it’s replying to that e-mail regarding a great opportunity but you’ve been more occupied with more “urgent” things.
Perhaps it’s sending one of your articles to the editor of that e-zine with 100,000 subscribers who are your target market.
Perhaps it’s completing that proposal to speak at a convention that’s going to put you in front of 500 pre-qualified prospects.
Please, just do it.
(c) 2003 Alexandria K. Brown
About the Author
Online marketing coach Alexandria K. Brown, “The E-zine Queen,” is author of the award-winning tutorial package, ‘Boost Business With Your Own E-zine.’ To learn more about this step-by-step program, and to sign up for FREE how-to articles and FREE teleclasses, visit http://www.EzineQueen.com/