I started hearing some banging and sawing and the noise of neighborhood children having serious fun a few months ago. Curious I followed my ears into the woods near my house and found them hard at work trying to build something. I had an immediate memory-flashback to my youth, and to my early parenting years watching my own young children.
Probably through the march of history, adventurous children have hiked off into the woods or behind the garage carrying hammers, nails, and lumber scraps, all "borrowed" from the family workshop. Their minds are filled with grandiose mental images of creating a fort, pirate ship, or clubhouse. Most of these construction projects start with a lot of banging and end with an abandoned construction site and a harried Dad looking for tools that are rusting and decaying over at the now-forgotten "Fort Apache."
The reason for failure is typically because the little adventurers started with a mental image of whatever they wanted to build, lots of childish enthusiasm and energy, but no planning. If they had a simple blueprint more clubhouses would actually get built.
It's pretty much the same with most Marketing Plans. They get started with grandiose mental images and dreams of success but very little, if anything, gets committed to paper and a formal (or semi-formal) planning process. Just as a blueprint for a building (or a fort) starts with a goal and plan, the Marketing Plan starts with an identifiable goal. Both the blueprint for a kid's fort and marketing plan develop in the same way, with foundation, position, themes, timetables, budgets, and sub-projects … all working towards the ultimate, identified end – a workable Plan.
The next time you think of starting a marketing project, stop! Think of an unfinished, rotting Fort Apache with a rusty hammer and an angry Dad. Then get out the paper and pencil and design the Plan first. What specifically do you want to accomplish – maybe it's expressed in sales volume or number of units to sell, or lost customers to reactivate, or new customers to attract. Then develop the theme, visuals, media strategy, timetable, budget, and fulfillment strategy.
You do not want your promotions to end up looking like that partly built fort, you want it to be a huge success that will accomplish your goals and that requires a plan. So, instead of banging away with youthful enthusiasm, put pencil to paper and get started.