by Julie Fiedler on August 25, 2016
Let’s say you want some more customers. (What business doesn’t?) And let’s say you decide to do some marketing to get the word out about your awesome products and services. (That’s a pretty reasonable approach.) Then you run some ads on social media and call it good, right?
I’m sorry to say this won’t get you very far. Running some ads on social media does not a marketing plan make. And you need a plan.
You’ve probably heard having a goal without a plan is like going on a road trip without a map. I like to think of it as having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the bread. It’s a complete mess.
A plan provides a framework and context, so that you have a foundation for all the gooey, delicious goodness inside.
But, let’s face it. Bread isn’t sexy. No one calls it a bread, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The PB & J get all the glory. But without the bread, they’d be nothing. It’s the same with your marketing.
The pretty brochure or slick TV spot or social media ad won’t amount to a hill of beans if your website isn’t intuitive to use or your branding isn’t cohesive.
Yet, we often see companies looking for just that—a brochure or TV spot or social media ad. Sure, sometimes your business needs a one-off. But a one-off, or even several one-offs strung together, won’t really serve you unless they’re part of a larger picture.
With a plan, your marketing efforts will help cement your brand, communicate your value and engage your customers. Without a plan, you risk fragmenting your presence online and in print, confusing your audience and muddying your mission.
Who wants a muddy mission? Not you!
So, get yourself a plan. But don’t get just any old plan. Get a full-blown plan that will lay a foundation for your goals, identify priorities, and build upon your successes.
A worthwhile marketing plan will be:
Strategic & Tactical
Strategy represents the big picture. Tactics get into the nitty-gritty. You need a plan that includes both. It’s the difference between saying “I need a presence on social media” and “To increase engagement on social media, I am going to grow these five Pinterest boards because that’s where my target audience is.”
Data is your friend while creating and implementing a plan. When starting out: research, research, research. Do your homework as you think about your strategy.
- What are my competitors doing?
- What technology is my audience using?
- What questions do people have about my company?
Once your plan is underway, check in to see how your tactics are performing. Evaluate the analytics and refine as necessary to stay on target with your overall strategy.
- Am I showing up on the first page of search results?
- Which social media ads are people clicking on?
- How many new email newsletter subscribers do I have?
No one has the bandwidth to do everything all at once. A plan shouldn’t expect you, or members of your team, to do so. Start with the fundamentals. Establish a solid base and build on it, marketing project by marketing project. Make sure each element strengthens and refines your message.
Consult any history book and you’ll learn that not every plan is going to work. You need to allow room for adjustment. Your plan should define parameters for success and include multiple ways to get at that. If something isn’t working as you’d hoped or expected, evaluate and refine. If something unforeseen happens, adjust your messaging or try a different tactic.
Ready to whip up that plan? Not so fast.
Get inputs. Talk to your bosses, boards, staff, customers, and potential customers. Think through the tools and resources at your disposal (whether internal or external to your organization). Articulate the vision. Establish guidelines.
Developing a strategy takes time, but it’s worth the investment. Some might even call it the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Convinced you need a plan, but not sure where to start? We can help!