Doubts and second guessing are the bane of true potential. We’ve all seen a golfer who suddenly thinks he’s using the wrong club or hasn’t lined his shot up right. The result? A bogey or worse. The same holds true when it comes to committing to a marketing plan.

Folks lack commitment for a couple of reasons: Some don’t believe in the plan or think it has the “legs” to take their company in a better or new direction. Others simply can’t stay focused (or patient) long enough to let the fruits of the plan come to fruition.

Here are the marketing cornerstones that demand your commitment from the get-go. They represent the foundation by which you can build an effective marketing plan.

* Mission Statement. Every organization, big or small, needs a mission statement which tells people – employees and clients alike – why you’re in business. For example, “We’re in business to provide phenomenal service to people in the commercial real estate industry at the lowest cost possible.” Or, consider Disney’s simplistic – but true – mission statement: “To make people happy.” Too many company decision-makers can’t articulate their mission. And if they don’t know what it is, how can they possibly expect their employees to provide a consistent message when dealing with customers?

* USP or Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Selling Perspective. Most clients lack a clear-cut answer to what their USP is. And, if they do, it’s not particularly unique or exclusive. In today’s hotly competitive marketplace, a USP that states, “We offer great customer service” may not be particularly compelling. So pay close attention to what your competitors are claiming. If it’s the same thing, it’s not a USP.

How can you develop a USP that differentiates you? Take a closer look at your product or service and determine what’s built into it that no one else has. Or, look at yourself, as a salesperson, for a USP. For example, “I bring 28 years of experience in all aspects of the realty business.” Or perhaps you’ve serviced the area longer than anyone else. Maybe your USP has to do with your company, how long it’s been in business and how many customers it has helped.

* Elevator speech. Pretend you’re on the bottom floor of an elevator and you’re going to the 12th floor to pitch the CEO – who just happens to be standing right next to you. What would you succinctly say to her about your business – and why she should consider it? It’s the tried-and-true elevator speech, and it’s extremely impactful when trying to get your team on the same page with a consistent marketing message. Start by putting your employees on the spot. Ask them to recite their elevator speech. You’ll be surprised how many don’t even know where to begin.

* Positioning. A company name without a positioning statement or tagline attached to it will rarely be remembered. Consider “Excellence in realty for over 50 years,” Or “Providing commercial property services to healthcare providers.” Now, when people experience or see your brand, they instantly know what you do and what you stand for. Then, commit to the consistency of your brand, its logo, and positioning statement. After a year or two, people will tell you that they’ve seen your ads. That’s because they recognize the look and the message as yours and yours alone. Look at all media, online and off. Major brands are consistent in their look and feel. Their marketing material may change, but their identity – logo and tagline – remain the same for at least a year or two. Many for years longer.

I meet people every day who want to grow their company and who say they do a lot of marketing but can never count on the results, or even really keep track of them. That’s simply not true. You can track your marketing efforts. But first and foremost, you must commit to establishing the cornerstones of your marketing strategy – the consistent, differentiating messages that you want your customers and prospects to hear time and time again. That’s the only way to ensure that your investments have a recurring return.

That’s Q from the street.

Anthony Quaranta is the president of Q Group, Hauppauge, N.Y.