What Happens if You Don’t Have a Marketing Plan?

By Katie Cline

What happens if you don't have a marketing plan? Close-up of crumpled paper on table with unhappy businesswoman

A while back we went into the reasons why you should formalize a strategic marketing plan. But what happens if you don’t have a marketing plan?


1. Reactive and Disorganized Efforts

Without a documented plan, your marketing activities become reactive and disorganized. Switching your priorities every week (or every day!) leads to a lot of unfinished efforts and a lack of results. This also puts added stress on your team and can lead to burnout and costly turnover.

2. Budget Blindness

It’s a story we hear far too often. A client hired someone to run ad campaigns for them and ended up spending thousands of dollars a month on ads with no clear strategy or measurable results. Research and a documented plan are needed to ensure you’re using your budget to reach the right audience the right way, and that you know when to adjust

As Hudson Integrated puts it, “Without the proper research to back up your marketing choices, you’ll just be wasting your precious ad budget on low-converting marketing mediums or the wrong audience.”

We have also seen clients hire multiple freelancers to cover different marketing channels (SEO, social media, website design, digital advertising) without a clear plan to coordinate their efforts. This also leads to wasted time and unexpected costs that could be avoided with a marketing plan.

3. Lack of Differentiation

Without a marketing plan, it’s difficult for your organization to consistently communicate the company value proposition. This leads to potential customers not knowing what your company does or how you can help them.

A good marketing plan should include competitive research and track key messages through your customer touchpoints to ensure your value is clearly differentiated.

4. No Shared Language

Your marketing plan should be a shared source of truth for how all of your teams talk about your company and your offerings. It is necessary to ensure marketing, sales, operations, and support all talk about your value proposition, features, and benefits in the same way. Without it, your team members may feel like they are not speaking the same “language.”

This lack of definition and consistency also makes it difficult for your best customers to make appropriate referrals.

5. Lack of Results

If you’re lucky, you may see some results even without a marketing plan, but you may be sitting on major opportunities for improvement and not even know it. If you’re making progress without a plan, just think what you could do with a little planning and coordinated optimization!

But most likely, in order to make any real progress, you are going to need a plan and ways to measure it.

Your marketing plan should define not just what you plan to do, but also how you plan to measure and evaluate the results. Without this, it’s hard to tell what’s working, what’s not, and how to optimize your efforts for better results. But with some basic goal-centric measurements in place, you can identify ways to tweak your marketing to keep building on your progress.

What Now?

Now that you know what happens if you don’t have a marketing plan, hopefully you are motivated to work on your own plan! 

We know this can be a daunting task, so we put together a free Marketing Plan Checklist to help you get started. This includes all of the key sections that we typically cover in our marketing plans.

We encourage you to start by documenting what on this checklist you already know and then working from there. Keep in mind that you don’t have to start with a plan for the entire year. Focusing your planning on the next 90 days, with an eye toward your goals for the year, is a great place to start.

And if creating a marketing plan still feels completely overwhelming to you, don’t fear, we are here to help! Contact us anytime with your questions.

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