Why 32% of Companies Lack and Don’t Believe in a Formal Marketing Plan (Part 1)

by Debra Andrews | July 26, 2017

When we talk to potential clients, we always ask a simple question: “Do you have a marketing plan?” The answers range from “Yes, of course,” to “No, we don’t have time or budget for that.”

But there’s always more to it than yes or no.

We conducted a survey to gain more insight into whether companies have (and use) marketing plans. In this post, we’ll look at the responses of those who reported their companies don’t have formal marketing plans.

1.  The Hard Fact

32% of our respondents told us that their companies don’t have formal marketing plans.

This number reinforces what we’ve seen over time in talking to potential clients. Though it might seem like a low number, it’s actually a little shocking. It means almost a third of companies are essentially winging it with their marketing efforts.

In its State of Inbound study, HubSpot notes that the top two priorities for today’s marketers are converting leads into customers and generating Web traffic. These goals are tied together: Web traffic can bring leads into the pipeline, and those leads can become customers.

On the surface, it seems like getting people onto a website will result in more customers. But that’s not always the case. The crux of achieving those priorities begins with answering focused questions and setting a plan. For example:

  • What type of website visitor are we trying to attract?
  • What type of lead is more likely to turn into a customer?
  • What can we do to attract that type of lead?
  • What has worked before?
  • What are we doing too much of that’s bringing in the wrong type of lead?

With lofty priorities, it’s hard to imagine how a company wouldn’t invest time and effort into a marketing plan. It would help them better leverage resources and promote their products and services to the right audiences. And with recent technological advances in marketing automation and tracking, now seems like a good time to focus on marketing efforts.

But, as you’ll see, it’s more complicated than that.


2)  The Hard Truth

Almost 64% of our naysayers pointed to some difficult truths within their organizations in responses like:

  • “There is no marketing expertise”
  • “They have given the marketing team zero budget”
  • “Executives don’t believe in marketing and/or marketing plans”
  • “There is a limiting budget”
  • “Because no one will be accountable to it”
  • “Our company does not place a high value on the marketing department”

These answers shine a spotlight on leadership and culture. If an organization’s culture isn’t supportive of marketing efforts, marketing cannot thrive. Even a great B2B marketing plan or a large marketing budget can easily go to waste without leadership support.

In situations like that, the issue isn’t as much about marketing planning as aligning the organization toward its goals.

2)  The Hard Reality

It seems like the 32% of respondents without a formal marketing plan are either reactive in their efforts or actively trying to get a plan together. When asked about the value of marketing plans and why their company doesn’t have one, we got a few responses like these that didn’t fit quite as well into the cultural bucket:

  • We have something close or “like” a marketing plan.
  • We are working on it, but don’t have a clear roadmap to implement it.
  • Our marketing is unplanned, and we do reactive marketing because the company is growing incredibly fast.
  • Developing a plan would require a specialized CMO or VP.

Reactive, fast-moving environments will benefit from having a strategic marketing plan. It helps focus efforts and create traction by setting goals and measuring results. It also turns marketing into a team effort and dialog—rather than an exercise in top-down assumptions—because team members are clear on priorities and the context for their work. And if it’s a matter of finding time, then it can help to bring in external help to get additional perspective and minimize disruption.

Want More?

In Part Two, we’ll return to the survey results and review the responses from those who have a formal marketing plan in place. We’ll share some great insight into how often they update their plans and how effective those plans have been for their companies. Please feel free to subscribe to our blow or you can also learn more about our services by downloading the resource below.

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