Does your business have a marketing plan?

Come on, be honest. It’s okay if you answer no. I think you’d find yourself in good company. According to latest survey done by Manta, less than half of all small business owners have a marketing plan. Why? Well, I’m sure you know the answer to that one as well. Small business owners are overloaded with work and stretched too thin to dedicate either time or resources to creating a marketing plan.

But you should. A marketing plan should be a part of your greater business plan (complete with an operating budget) and should be updated often, or at the very least annually.

Let me tell you why.

Have you ever gone to Disney World? If so, you know that a good trip requires good planning. Whether you hire a professional (like a travel agency or a travel planner) or you plan it yourself, it’s a significant time investment.

You make your resort and travel reservations almost a year in advance. Six months ahead, you make your dining reservations (and you do so quickly as the hot venues fill up fast). You plan which days you are going to visit which parks, taking in account the extra magic hours, parades, and fireworks.

If you don’t plan for your trip, could you still go to the most magical place on earth? Of course you could. But that trip would be expensive. Without planning ahead and reserving your accommodations and travel arrangements in advance, costs could be almost three times as much as if you had planned effectively. You wouldn’t be able to eat at the dining locations of your choosing – those venues fill up with reservations very quickly. You wouldn’t be able to get tickets to special shows and events. You may go to the wrong park on the wrong day and miss something special (like a parade or fireworks).

Would you still have an enjoyable time? Probably. It is Disney World, after all. But you would be throwing money out of the window, based on necessity and emergent situations and wouldn’t be getting the most out of your trip.

The same is true about creating a marketing plan.

Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort to make it happen. Sometime, you need to bring in the professionals. But the planning pays off. You are going to spend less, do more, and get the most return out of that investment. And that? That is magical.