Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately and said this isn't working?
You sit down to review your marketing and feel lost, or you feel like you're moving but not getting anywhere, or that the momentum you have is about to die and you don't know how to keep that from happening.
It's hard to find the source of a marketing problem, and then figure out how to fix it, all while keeping your day-to-day operations going.
Fortunately, you usually don't need to look any further than one of the following causes:
1. You don't have a written marketing strategy
2. Your strategy wasn't built on data
3. You've lost sight of your strategy
4. Your strategy isn't keeping up with your customers
Write it Down
If you want your marketing to be successful, you have to have a clear plan and it needs to be written down. If your marketing strategy isn't written, it might as well not exist because the human brain simply can't hold all the information that a solid strategy requires.
When writing your strategy, though, keep in mind that you can plan and implement the greatest-ever marketing tactic and still have it fall apart if you don't know why you're using it.
What do you want to achieve with each of your marketing efforts? Your goals have to go deeper than "more leads" or "more sales" or "brand awareness". Every business wants those.
You want goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. If your goals are missing any of these elements, they won't be able to guide the creation of a strong plan, or sustain it over the long-term.
Get the Data
You have to have SMART goals to build a strategy, but you have to have data to make SMART goals. You can't craft a strategy in a vacuum, so here's the minimum data you need:
- Customer Profiles - traditional demographics
- Buyer Personas - preferences, motivations and pain points of those in your target demographic
- Industry Research - leaders, trends, averages, forecasts, challenges and opportunities
- Brand Analysis - who you serve, how you make their life better, and why you do what you do
The catch is that you absolutely cannot rely on what you think you know about your target customers, or your own brand, even if you've been in your industry for a long time.
If you do, you're guaranteed to make wrong decisions for your business. It's a mistake every business owner has made and none of us want to repeat it.
The most valuable benefit of a marketing strategy is that it keeps you on track during times of distraction, overwork or other brain-draining events; but it can only do that if you remember it's there.
You can have a great GPS in your vehicle, but if you forget to turn it on it’s going to take you longer to get to your final destination -- if you get there at all. The same goes for a business that forgets to look at its marketing strategy.
To help keep your strategy in the forefront of your mind, keep a printed copy in your desk and a PDF version on your mobile device. Then build the habit of referring to it every time there's a marketing decision to be made.
A marketing strategy is meant to grow, stretch and reinvent itself as your customers and industry change. Customer preferences, and
their related marketing trends, change constantly and you have to be able to keep up with them while not losing sight of your vision and goals.
At the same time, while your vision and goals are the benchmarks to measure all your future opportunities by, even they can change as your market evolves. It's a delicate balance between structure and flexibility, but that balance is critical to keeping your marketing relevant.
The biggest challenge in fixing a marketing problem is the amount of time that it requires. But don't be afraid to invest that time. It's an investment in your business, your customers and yourself.
Yes, it can feel unproductive to just sit down and think about your business or spend a few days gathering data, but all of tomorrow's activity depends on what you think and plan today.
Spend the time now so you can have plenty of work later.
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