Marketing needs to be versatile, and you need to be able to change course quickly if you start to see that the efforts you're making aren't producing results. That doesn't mean, however, that marketing should be random. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Randomness in marketing can make it feel disjointed, send unclear messages, and produce unsteady results—most likely worse than the results you could be achieving.
Marketing works best when it's mapped out in advance. Granted, it's not always easy to do, and it takes some discipline. Even so, you should think about your marketing efforts in advance and plan them out at least a month ahead of time so you're well prepared.
Part of the planning process will depend on the kind of marketing you want to do, and how different efforts will work together. For example, for social media updates—announcements on Facebook, Twitter, etc.—you don't need a ton of advanced planning (although I always like to plan out my social media updates a month in advance). You will, however, need to plan further ahead if you want to run a print ad in a local newspaper. You'll need to reserve the space, write and design the ad, and submit it to the publication. If part of your marketing will be to announce a sale on your website, you'll want to coordinate your marketing so that it announces the sale ahead of time and drums up interest among potential consumers.
Figure out what you want to say (your messaging), decide the best way to say it (we'll go through some of your marketing options throughout this section), and determine in advance what marketing you're going to do, where, and when. And don't forget to keep your budget in mind. There's no point in planning marketing that you can't afford (and yes—finding out the prices for various marketing efforts is part of the planning process).
When all is said and done, the points you'll need to plan are the following: