to see that marketing is changing.
Failing to plan, means you’re planning to fail.
The only constant in a business is change.
As soon as you’ve heard everything –
All of us in small business has heard every one of these sayings more than once and if you have a small business, probably said one of these sayings a few times to fellow employees.
If you are reading or seeing them more, it’s the nature of doing business in 2013. As a kid growing up in Chicago, I constantly heard, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait a minute, and it will change.” Obviously it wasn’t that quick but you get the point.
Now is the time to heed these sayings because the winds of change are moving quicker in marketing.
For example, I started out as a small business ad agency and worked in the home for the first three years of business. I added an employee in year 3 and moved into an office shortly thereafter.
I was a rare breed back then because I did write a business/marketing plan before officially opening the business and followed it. When I moved into my first office I started to refocus the company as a direct marketing agency. My sixth sense warned me that an ad agency was never going to meet my expectations.
The catalyst for change was when a doctor called me to discuss marketing his dental practice. Back then, doctors never advertised other than in the yellow pages or school programs. This call provided me an opportunity to provide services to healthcare practices by creating strategic marketing plans to meet their growth goals and still maintain their professional appearance.
Then I started to teach and educated the doctors and their employees on using patient knowledge and marketing to their patient’s lifestyle, needs and wants.
This all occurred in the first 5 years of business. Because I had a plan I learned that my customers did not want to use an ad agency. The word marketing appealed more to healthcare than the word advertising as a way to grow their business.
By re-focusing on becoming a marketing agency also separated me from a lot of the competition of ad agencies and graphic design firms. None of this was in my original plan which quickly proved to me that change was more common that I originally thought.
Since then I have repeatedly changed my business focus based on customer needs, the changes in doing business, and the capability of technology. I learned the importance of being creative in the times of change. And yes, I would do some things differently, but the key was creativity and recognizing that change happens for a reason, so be prepared for it.
So the next time you hear that a business plan is not essential, remember my story. Without it, I would not have lasted. And by the way, in case you didn’t guess it, your business plan must always keep evolving.
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Everything marketing starts and ends with your customers… cater to them, listen to them and react to them. The results will amaze you.
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