The organic marketing plan is a bunch of marketing stuff that gets done out of necessity. The organic marketing plan is formed over the course of years by different factions of people in the company. It?s rooted in the need and desire to grow but it lacks the structure and process needed to be a focused marketing plan. It?s largely undefined and informal.

Most people start a business because they have a skill they think will make a business work. I know I started my first business that way. Business owners naturally focus on a profound product and delivering value to the customer. Most owners have a belief that ?If I build it they will come.? There isn?t a real marketing plan. The owner believes the product is so good that people will buy it. Friends and associates will talk about it and sales will just happen.

A marketing plan typically grows organically. Someone in the business realizes that a marketing plan is needed and someone gets assigned to do it. It may be the sales manager. It may be the accountant or even the business owner. Someone starts to look at the company?s marketing as compared to competitors, vendors, business associates or even books.

Over a period of years marketing and sales activity slowly grows. It?s usually sales first. Usually the owner is the sales manager and the top sales person. Slowly more sales people are added. Eventually customer relationship management (CRM) software gets introduced. Sales people are responsible for generating their own leads.

Referrals aren?t tracked and word of mouth is nearly impossible to control. Sales people aren?t required to track their sales funnel. The business starts to try different advertising methods but doesn?t keep track of how they work. Metrics aren?t used to track much activity at all. If it feels like it?s working, then the plan is continued. If it feels like it doesn?t work than it?s cancelled.

Several years into the business marketing activities such as lead generation, inbound marketing and corporate identity become important. Internal pressure to reach sales goals becomes intense. Eventually the business finally asks a fundamental question such as ?Who are we and what do we do??

There are some common characteristics of an organic marketing plan:

  • Up and down revenues. Because the plan is slow, inconsistent, and uncontrollable, revenues porpoise up and down.
  • Reliance on referrals, word of mouth and networking. These are the common marketing tools of the organic plan. They are free. A business doesn?t pay to use them. While they can bear some fruit, they are generally uncontrollable and unreliable.
  • Capacity problems are prevalent. Because sales move up and down so does production. It plays havoc with production capacity.
  • Large customers dictate the terms. The business becomes beholden to the one or two large customers generating the bulk of revenues.
  • Cash flow it tight. The up-and-down revenues cause cash flow to be tight. It?s almost always a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Businesses don?t have to fall into the trap of the organic marketing plan. It?s not a rite of passage. Marketing activities are often the last to develop in small companies.

Developing a real marketing plan with current strategies and tactics is a good idea for any company. From the one-man-show to a company with 100 employees, a formal and defined marketing plan makes sense.

The organic marketing plan doesn?t have to be a rite of passage.