[We see it happen all too often… a marketer tries a specific tactic a couple of times, say a newspaper or magazine ad. Or they may even be diligent and try it many times. But they just don’t get the response they expect. So they decide newspaper or magazine advertising doesn’t work.
Sometimes, it might not be the tactic at all. Think of your marketing as the driver in a car. And think of your marketing tactics as the engine of that car. Once behind the wheel, if you know where you want to go and how to get there, your marketing tactics will help you get there quickly and efficiently. But if you’re driving without directions or a map, then it doesn’t matter how finely tuned your engine is or how many horses it has.
Think of a marketing plan as that map. Without an effective marketing strategy, you’ll never achieve the results you want, no matter how much time and money you spend (or how many horses you have under the hood).
A marketing plan can take the shape of an overall marketing program, or it can be broken into a tactic-specific plan. For example, a high-profile radio ad campaign won’t help you grow your business unless it includes a timely message that will attract the specific needs of your target customer. An article written about you in the newspaper or trade press can bring in new clients or be a worthless conversation piece. Outbound email messages can either end up in your prospects’ delete bins, or they can prompt them to contact you.
So what are the fundamental principles of a sound marketing plan? The following are some of the basic elements we include in our marketing strategies. Your particular situation will always prompt even more specific elements.
1. Target Audience. The most basic of all elements, but it is amazing how many marketers take this information for granted. Truly know who your customers are (both demographically and psychographically) and why they buy.
2. Key Competition. Always know every purchase option your prospect has and what these competitors are saying to attract your prospect so you can offer something better or different.
3. Key Benefits. Why is your product, service or offering better than the competition, and how does this relate directly to the needs of your target?
4. Objective. Define your success. What does this marketing plan or tactic have to do or deliver to be successful?
5. Strategy. After you’ve answered items one through four above, what needs to be done to make your definition of success a reality?
Before you begin any marketing tactic, be sure you know what success needs to look like. And before you decide a particular tactic doesn’t work, make sure that the strategy was a sound one.
Until next month…