After thirty years of helping commercial companies and non-profit organizations enhance their effectiveness through high-impact marketing efforts, we’ve seen some patterns develop. It appears that there is a correlation between how effective these companies’ marketing efforts are, and wait for it, the specificity and thoroughness of their marketing plan. It’s not budget, it’s not necessarily vision, it’s not brilliance in creative execution – it’s how well they draw up a plan and stick to it.
Imagine a fighter pilot, maneuvering a $150 million aircraft (small one), randomly, changing course whenever clear skies present themselves, dropping ordnance on whatever targets strike his fancy. He might hit the assigned target, at the right time, in league with others also scheduled to attack that target. But the odds drop precipitously with each misguided maneuver and missed “opportunity” bomb dropped on his way there. That’s how some companies run their marketing operation, wandering from media outlet to outreach platform to new endeavor, without ever consulting the plan, if one even exists. This kind of rudderless marketing is nearly always doomed to failure, and results from a lack of vision, lack of discipline, lack of planning.
The best way to avoid this is to actually go through the often painful but always beneficial exercise of creating a specific, measurable, organized, well-researched and grounded marketing plan, and disseminating it to EVERYONE, so that all stakeholders are in sync and can be involved in carrying it out in an informed way. Make a plan, stick to it, carry it out aggressively, and measure your results routinely, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much more successful your efforts will be.
There are loads of publications, books, blogs etc out there to help you with this task if you are a young start-up with no experience at planning. Each one is different, each is unique, but each share several key elements, including measurable specific goals, time milestones, assigned responsibilities, and available resources. Fully complete plans include media choices for outreach advertising and PR activities, brand characteristics, audience profile, media schedules for placements, creative cues for progressive campaigns, drop dates for mail, e-mail, and designated resources and personnel for all tasks including social media activity.
Big job, but one that not only saves time and money over the year by reducing missteps and waste, and one that removes the guesswork and allows everyone to move forward confidently and aggressively toward achieving the goal. How simple is that? Apparently not very, based on a resent study showing that nearly 40% of businesses with over 20 employees have no written marketing plan!
If you need help, get it. If you can’t find it within, hire it! If you can’t stick to it, post it and have someone else hold you accountable. Ultimately, it’s plan now, or pay later – your choice.
If you agree with these assertions (or disagree) drop me a line and let me know what you think. If you found it valuable, subscribe to this blog above, and be sure to pick up your copy of “The Marketing Doctor’s Survival Notes”