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Introduction

The Military Analogy
"Marketing is merely a civilised form of warfare in which most battles are won with words, ideas and disciplined thinking". Albert Emery. US advertising executive

Marketing is concerned with gathering intelligence (market research) on the enemy (competitors), developing strategies and tactics, marshalling resources (financial and human), identifying prime targets, mounting attacks and counter attacks (marketing programs), and occupying territories (markets).

In military terms there are four broad strategies - offensive, defensive, guerrilla and retreat. The parallels with marketing are striking. Just as a military commander plans strategies and tactics and marshals his forces, a marketing executive coordinates the direction and thrust for his or her business.

Military campaigns are won through having superior planning and intelligence than your enemy. Equally - market leadership is achieved through having a more clearly defined strategic direction than your competitor. Marketing was once like real warfare in that it used mass communications just as cannons and bombs were used by the military. Today in this digital electronic age present day marketers use more targeted digital communications that are the equivalent of modern warfare's smart bombs.

What can a Marketing Plan do for your Business?
Most of us would not attempt to build even a basic garden shed without a plan. In sport, successful teams invariably play to a game plan. The military would not contemplate an offensive without a battle plan. Successful people invariably have a career plan. In short, you cannot effectively do anything worthwhile in life without having at least a basic plan in place. Yet the majority of small to medium enterprises struggle daily without committing so much as even the most rudimentary plan to paper.

Without a written cohesive marketing plan, you and your business could be spinning around in ever diminishing circles with the result that your business is not reaching its full potential. It is not something you can do effectively 'in your head' or 'on the run'.

It does not have to be a complicated process. A plan simply gives you the tools to build your business systematically and methodically and to allow you to concentrate on the skills in which you and your business do best. It gives you with an edge over others who are competing for the same customers. A marketing plan lays out the steps your company will take to achieve your sales and marketing goals. Without a marketing plan, you are merely busily processing random activity. With one you are taking a disciplined approach to thinking through your products and services, your customers and prospects and to developing effective strategies that achieve realistic attainable goals.

A marketing plan enables you to focus on your strengths and reduces wasted time and effort. It will help you to concentrate on the most profitable outcome for the least amount of investment. It heeds the rule, "do not fritter money or effort". Involving your key people in "workshopping" the plan is a good way to gain their thinking, commitment and "ownership" of the plan. The time spent in planning and analysis that goes into a marketing plan is every bit as important as the plan itself.

Remember the maxim "everyone can profit from working on your business - not just in your business. But to do so you need to make the time to analyze what you are doing and to take an overview of the business as a whole. You should try to approach it as objectively and dispassionately as someone external to the company. Finally, keep in mind the well worn but valid saying: Failing to plan is planning to fail.

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