Of the many marketing plans I’ve seen, there’s one major thing that a majority of them desperately need but are curiously missing: a clear vision. This should be the same (or at least similar) vision from your business plan that guides all aspects of your organization. And truthfully, anyone can write down a vision – and many do – but a clear vision will easily apply to your marketing plan, and it will do exactly what you expect: it will clarify.
A lot of times, I see vision statements that are multiple lines long and – quite frankly – confusing and frustrating to follow. One time, I actually witnessed a marketing director having to pull out a document in order to read the vision statement verbatim from a sheet a paper. If you catch yourself doing this, I can promise you that your vision statement is wrong. Your vision is supposed to guide your team’s entire direction. How can you expect your team to follow a vision, if you can’t even remember it?
Spending time on a clear vision statement can seem overly idealistic and intangible, but in reality, an unclear vision statement can waste a your team’s time and resources. I’ve witnessed teams that scatter all their marketing resources towards projects that lead in all different directions, and I’ve seen marketing departments spend countless hours brainstorming and trying to make decisions on things that should take no longer than 5 minutes – all because the Vision was unclear. A clear vision is consistent, predictable, and frequently communicated – especially by the marketing department. It aligns organizations as a whole by empowering them through a common goal. Your vision statement should be so effective and engrained in your communications that your target audience should be able to read it and nod their head while thinking to themselves, “yeah, that makes sense for them”. Even here at MLS, we spend time on our Vision; below are some photos of us refining our own Vision, Mission, and Values with the help of Linda Young of ponderpickle Consulting Group.
A quote from this article sums up perfectly the point of a clear vision:
There are many different types of vision statements and there is not a wrong or right way to do it. The most important is that you resonate with it, it inspires you and is clear enough to give you targeted direction.
Vision statements can seem almost unattainable; for example, when Microsoft was in its early years, their vision was to have “a personal computer in every home running their software”. It seemed highly improbable at the time then, but you can argue that they’ve achieved their ultimate vision.
Below are some other examples of vision statements. Personally, I believe the shorter you can make it, the more powerful its potential is because your team will remember it and repeat it (either internally or out loud). But, as mentioned above, there is no right or wrong way, it just has to resonate.
“To make people happy”
“A World Free of MS”
“A world where everyone has a decent place to live”
“To create a better every day life for the many people”
“Our vision is that people everywhere will share the power of a wish”
Just to be clear, I’m not saying a clear vision is the only thing you need to create an effective marketing plan – I guarantee you that you’ll need much more than that. It just happens to be the main thing most marketing plans are missing. It wastes the entire marketing plan when the vision is just plopped there without any real significance – it’s not a dutiful addition, it’s the entire foundation of your plan.
If you want to learn more about specific key elements of an effective marketing plan, read our 50+ page booklet on How to Write A Strategic Marketing Plan That Yields ROI – complete with explanations