Some clients approach us with ideas already in mind – often based on what they’ve seen from their competitors or internal brainstorming efforts. Other clients come to us with no idea where to even begin on their marketing journey.
Two common factors pop up in both scenarios: the feeling of being overwhelmed with options on which direction to take and limited resources to accomplish it all.
There’s no one recipe for success when it comes to marketing. Creating the right strategic plan for your company requires understanding and establishing your marketing priorities.
So how can you prioritize and focus your efforts to create a truly effective marketing plan?
Define your goals
This is one we can’t stress enough. It’s impossible to come up with an answer to an unknown question. Before you begin any marketing efforts, you have to know what you’re trying to accomplish, and how you’ll measure your success.
Are you looking to generate more leads or business opportunities? Are you looking to improve your company’s conversion rates and close more sales? Do you want to establish a stronger, more consistent brand? Maybe you have a great brand already, but aren’t being found by the right people.
When defining your goals, it helps to think in big picture terms. This will help you figure out where your true priorities lie. You’ll likely have more than one goal and that’s perfectly fine. Once you establish your objectives, the key is to rank them in order of importance. Yes, all of your goals are going to be important. However, some are going to be more immediate or more important needs than others.
Narrowing your focus can allow you to accomplish more, and better budget your resources accordingly.
Focus on what makes sense for your company
You may see your competitor advertise in the paper, or see them making major connections on social media. Naturally, you now think you too should advertise in the paper or spend more time on social media.
And sure, it often makes sense to be seen in the same space as your competitors. For instance, you may apply for the same awards, attend the same industry events, etc. However, you can compete with your competition without repeating exactly what they do.
Rather than copying their playbook, create your own. Define what it is your company does well and who you are as a brand – and build from there.
Maybe your company is known for having great customer service. Find ways to capitalize on that by creating an awesome customer referral program, or utilize more user-generated content.
Focus on what is going to help you accomplish the goals you established for your marketing plan. You should definitely pay attention to what your competitors are doing, but don’t let that distract you from your end goals. Plus, just because marketing efforts are flashy, doesn’t mean they’re getting results.
Document a strategy – and stay on course
Once you’ve collaborated with your marketing team to design a strategic and tactical plan, focus on working the plan. There are always more ideas out there – and sometimes those ideas can be incorporated into your existing plan. However, there’s a reason you’ve prioritized the plan as it is.
Consistency and follow-through are the foundation of a successful marketing plan. Achieving results requires sticking to a particular plan long enough to see it through.
New marketing tools are constantly emerging. It can be easy to get caught up in the latest trend. We’re always looking out for new inspiration, and love when our clients feel inspired to try new things as well. If it can be incorporated into the plan with little effort or in place of another effort that’s great, but make sure it doesn’t pull you off track from your established focus.
You could spend eternity finding new things to try in your marketing plan. And over time, things will get tweaked. But you can also easily overthink yourself into inaction, or brainstorm yourself completely off track.
We keep track of the new ideas we have or our clients have. Sometimes we can work them in right away; sometimes they need to go in the sandbox for a future campaign. We’re here to keep you on track and focused on your goals.
That said – remain flexible.
Creating and following through on a strategic plan are critical to achieving results. That said, marketing is never a rigid process and it’s important to be flexible. Sometimes, new opportunities arise and it makes sense to go after them.
Say, for example, a speaking engagement comes up. Suddenly, it may make more sense to spend time creating a great presentation and campaign to promote the engagement, rather than dedicating those hours to writing and promoting blogs. Your goal may still be brand awareness, but you’re achieving it in a slightly different way than originally planned.
This is where establishing and prioritizing your goals comes in handy. With those big picture objectives in mind, you can be flexible in your tactics without losing sight of the finish line.
Evaluate what works and what doesn’t
You won’t know how your marketing plan is doing unless you define your KPIs and track your efforts. Now, most worthwhile marketing efforts will take time to see results. You should still define benchmarks based on your objectives. Check back in on a regular basis to evaluate what tactics are working – and what aren’t. By diving into which elements of your plan had the most success, you can create even more effective plans in the future.
Working with a marketing team to help you define goals, prioritize, execute and evaluate your strategic plan can help you make the best use of your valuable resources. By prioritizing your efforts based on your company’s needs (and not on whatever everyone else is doing), you’ll create an effective plan that gets you the results you want.