Why you need a written marketing plan (it can't be in your head)

If you can’t lay your hands on your marketing strategy in 10 minutes, you might as well not have one.
Sarah Stratford
Marketing team

It’s a rule I apply to most things in life; if I don’t remember where I put it, it probably isn’t that important (although as I get older, it seems to apply to more and more stuff). But it’s true. The stuff we really rely on and can’t function without is usually at our fingertips – our  phones,  our  keys, a bag of Haribo (or is that just me?) And, if you’re running a business, your marketing strategy should be one of those things.  I can’t overstate this – after over two decades working in and on businesses large and small, it’s one of the most important documents a company can have.

And yet, research* shows that around 2 in 10 businesses across the UK don’t have a written marketing strategy – and those who do don’t always know where it is.

But, what good is a marketing strategy if you can’t find it? if you can’t lay your hands on your marketing strategy in ten minutes or less, you’re certainly not using it regularly to drive all your communications in the way it’s intended.

Now that there are so many marketing channels to take advantage of, it’s more important than ever to have a single, coherent plan that brings everything together. Without one, it’s almost impossible to know whether you’re doing the right things to grow your business effectively.

It can’t be in your head

Marketing strategies should be written down and shared with the entire team. It's no use being stored in one person’s head. The best way to ensure everyone is on the same page is to ensure everyone is working from the same literal page.A documented marketing strategy is crucial for helping your team stay focused on your company's goals and objectives. And, perhaps most importantly of all, it helps everyone understand how what they’re doing – be that managing social media or running events – contributes to your business success.

Too often in our experience, these less performance-related marketing activities become disconnected from the numbers.  Whilst they may not directly drive sales, if you have no view of how or why they will ultimately contribute to them, what’s the point?  This is just one of the ways a clear strategy and plan, will help by ensuring that everything you’re doing has a link back to growth.

Where is your money going?

And more importantly why? Without a written and regularly referenced plan that’s clear and easy to access, you’ll never really know if you’re spending your marketing budget in the best way possible.  How can you spend strategically?  How do you know why you’re spending money on certain things and not on others? And how can you measure success?Without a strategy to reference, it’s all guesswork.

Being constantly reactive

Not having a plan, also means you’re naturally in more of a reactive position.  An element of reactiveness is essential to a good marketing strategy.  But without a plan, it will become your default position.  You’re likely to find yourself scrambling to react to marketing opportunities as they appear, not knowing which of these opportunities you should respond to or spending all your budget on opportunities that don’t pay off. It's a stressful position to be in, which will only further challenge your ability to make informed and considered decisions. Ensuring quick accessibility to your marketing strategy is not just a bureaucratic exercise.  It’s critical for success.

It’s a map, not an essay

A written plan serves as a map, providing direction and coherence to your marketing efforts. It shouldn’t be bulky and complex – that can be off-putting and make it less likely to be a reference point. Our aim is always to create a marketing strategy that fits on a page.  That way you’ve got a better chance of people reading and referring to it, they might even stick it up on the wall.  Easy access means swift decision-making and, in a world, where every moment counts, a well-articulated and readily available marketing strategy becomes a cornerstone for sustained growth and competitive advantage.

*Research carried out in 2023 by Walr, commissioned by Favour the Brave.

Written by
Sarah Stratford
Written by
January 30, 2024