A recent survey from Pitney Bowes showed that while 87% of SMEs recognise that marketing increases sales, the average SME only executes around 39% of its planned marketing activity. When I read this, I was not very surprised. This is something we frequently encounter with companies; it’s all very well putting a marketing plan together, but seeing it through is quite another matter.

Running or working for an SME is hard work.  Often, employees will wear many hats, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve everything you want to. In an effort to deliver on product or service, marketing is often the thing that falls by the wayside.

However, we know from experience that true and lasting marketing success comes from developing a marketing plan and seeing it through consistently. If you do this, your business will grow.

Of course plans may need to change, and you should allow for some flexibility and agility (we tend to follow the 80:20 rule, i.e 80% of your activity is planned, 20% is responsive and agile). However the systematic drive to achieving your objectives, following a formal plan, is a sure way to maximise ROI from investment in marketing.

So how can you manage this process when time, money and people are scarce? Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure your marketing plan is realistic and achievable. Devote plenty of time to considering what is attainable within your budget and ask your people how much time they can spend helping the business achieve its marketing goals.
  • Break your plan into specific actions and tasks, assign each task to a person, and give them a deadline.  Assign one person to overseeing the whole plan, and ensuring that each person completes their set activities.
  • Celebrate small wins as you go along. When a milestone is achieved – share the success. If you meet a target, let everyone know and thank the people who got you there. This will keep your people inspired and motivated to keep pursuing the plan, even when it gets hard.
  • Finally, keep at it! It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. And like anything, the more systematic and consistent you can be, the easier it will get.