An Idea for Your Business is Not a Plan

I had a long conference call with a client on the east coast yesterday. I wanted to get the company focused on a marketing plan. They were all for it and set up the conference.

The call began with a brief introduction of what a plan should contain and some things we (the company) need to think about to formulate the plan. I wanted to discuss our target market and how we could best position ourselves to meet the needs of our ideal market segment.

I wrapped up my introduction by asking for discussion about the “ideal” customer in order to focus our marketing approach.

When I stopped talking, there was a flood of “I have an idea!” from nearly everyone on the call. The CEO said, “this is great. Somebody start taking these down.” Then I heard, “we can run a radio ad!” And, “we could get into the next issue of [magazine]!” Then, “how much does a full page ad cost?” “We can go with a half page!” “No, we’ll need a full page.”

The discussion about the magazine ad tapered off with someone getting the assignment to find out the actual rates for running ads.

Several more “ideas” were added to the list before the CEO declared that time was up.

I got the assignment to review the list, pick the best “ideas” and start implementing our “plan”.

But an idea, or a list of ideas is not a plan.

No goals were set. No target market was identified. We didn’t even set a budget. Their budget process works like this: Tell me how much that costs and I’ll tell you if we’ll do it. That’s not a plan either.

When you have something you want to achieve, make a plan. Remember that your idea or list of ideas is not a plan.

Plans include goals, budgets and time frames. Absent those, you just have a list.

Most people do not plan to fail. They fail to plan.

I hope I’ll get my client to adopt a plan before they start churning through the idea list and burning through the cash.

Chris Reich