Where are you trying to go?
Starting a marketing plan without having a marketing strategy is like getting in a car to drive to an unknown destination without a map. Clearly defining where you are trying to go is a necessary step to ensure your marketing tactics and metrics can support your strategy.
Documenting your marketing strategy can be a daunting task. Here are three simple steps to help you clarify your strategy. This step will ensure your marketing efforts are aligned and drive the right metrics.
Define the WHY. The ‘why’ are your objectives or your marketing goals you set in order to achieve your overall business objectives. Objectives are broad and identify your areas of focus for the coming
year. It’s not realistic to have more than 5 objectives, unless you you have an unlimited budget. :-)
These objectives should follow the SMART rules - Specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely. These should also be realistic based on your staff, budget and market conditions.. ^^See reference about budget above.
Define the WHAT. ‘What’ are you going to do to accomplish your objectives? Define the main strategies you will use. These are your strategies that will govern what marketing efforts your focus on.
There are many different roads you can take toward business growth. In simplest terms, you can grow revenue by expanding your (reach) and getting new customers (acquisition), getting additional business from existing customers (retention/growth), or improving the efficiency of serving your customers (savings). These can serve as high level strategy areas for you to focus.
The biggest challenge at this step is deciding what to say “no” to. Narrowing your focus requires discipline but will be required to be successful.
Define HOW. Define your tactics. The specific, detailed marketing activities that you plan on engaging in to achieve your marketing strategies and business goals.
This is the stage when it is best to engage with agency partners. Once you have identified your focus in step 1 and 2, an agency partner can help evaluate options and steer you toward the very best tactics available to help you reach those goals - with the resources you have available.
If you start with tactics without defining your end game, you will miss the mark. It’s the driving to unknown destination without a map analogy again or if you prefer, the conversation between Alice, from Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat.
We are often approached with “I need social media” or “I want to do SEO” type of requests. Our first question will always be “what are you trying to do?”. SEO or social media, or any other tactic can be good - for the right strategy. Furthermore, all tactics can be improved by using data and insights to narrow your focus for targeting and evaluating against all available options.
A good agency partner will also ask you challenging questions as a way to help clarify objectives, ensure the money you spend on marketing delivers ROI and that you are measuring and refining efforts along the way. Bringing outside perspective to your marketing will always enhance it.