Do you know the most frequently asked question after someone finishes a marketing plan?
"So, what’s next?"
After you finish your marketing plan, it’s easy, especially as a busy small-business owner and entrepreneur, to slip right back into the day-to-day business that keeps you engaged all year long. In fact, you’ve probably neglected some pieces of your business while you’ve been spending time constructing your marketing plan. Your first inclination is to go right back to where you left off.
Not so fast.
You may not have realized it during the process, but you should share your marketing plan as soon as you are done with it. You can’t run your business alone, so you need to share the direction you are taking with all of your key business partners, including senior leadership, important suppliers and anyone else that has a hand in your success.
You need to pull them into your thinking so that they can contribute to the execution of the plan.
A marketing plan that doesn’t see the light of day isn’t much of a plan. You need to put it into action, and you can only do that with the help of your staff.
Most marketing professionals are comfortable with what we call “the creative brief.” It’s a document that is shared with creative staff when they are being asked to come up with a marketing campaign idea.
In a creative brief, a team of designers and writers are given specific directions about the target audience, key messages, desired emotions and a call to action that should all be included in the campaign.
While your business partners may not all be “creatives,” you should be thinking similarly about sharing information with them.
While you may not give them a creative brief, you should educate them on elements of your marketing plan that you expect them to embrace.
One of the best ways to do that is to write a business brief.
In a business brief, you literally outline key objectives for the business, insights on the target audiences, competitive intelligence, lessons learned on past business programs, and ultimately how you see each business partner contributing to the marketing plan.
The business brief will instruct your partners on the most important parts of your plan, giving them specific action steps for them to follow for their part of it.
Why not just show them the entire plan, you may be asking?
You should, but it’s not enough.
The marketing plan will show them what you are planning for the business, but the business brief will tell them their role in making it happen. The business brief will give them specific direction on what they have to get done by the end of the year to make your marketing plan work.
While the marketing plan may set the general agenda for the year, it’s the business brief that becomes each team’s to-do list.
Which is why you need to write a business brief as an immediate next step after finishing your marketing plan.
Now get to it!