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But is it marketing?

Okay, choir, heads up. The sermon is about to begin.

A marketing plan is more than an advertising campaign. All together now, a marketing plan is more than an advertising campaign.

This weekend, I reviewed a marketing plan created by a group of college students for a nonprofit theater. Great idea, giving students real-world, hands-on experience in creating marketing plans. Bad idea not to require that they complete any meaningful research or that their final product actually be a marketing plan.

The plan the students produced included no research on who attends the theater’s productions or gives donations, had nothing on ticket price points, included no demographics about what income level populations currently donate to local theater groups. It included nothing about how to create a brand or effectively use a Website or other online tools. There wasn’t even a whisper about public relations-type efforts.

What it included was an advertising campaign – badly thought out and, again, without benefit of any research. Should a community-based theater really spend upwards of $10,000 per production to buy advertising (representing fully one-third of the budget for a single production)? Where would that money come from? How does it fit into the overall production budget? What would the long-term implications be, both financially and in image enhancement?

So back to the sermon: A marketing plan is a comprehensive look at a business, its customers, its products and its markets. It is not, repeat after me, it is not just an advertising campaign. It must include advertising but cannot be limited to that one marketing tool.

A solid marketing plan can mean the difference between success and failure. Make sure yours is a working, changing, dynamic plan that fits your business, your customers and your marketplace.

There are scores of marketing plan templates available on line. For hands-on help, contact our SBDC offices. Or look at these sites:,, or my own favorite that includes a weekly newsletter with free marketing tips –

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