Marketing with a PLAN

Picture yourself in the driver’s seat of your dream car, ready to go—but the windows are all painted black and there are no gauges. You turn the key and the engine roars. You push the pedal to floor and away you go!

You’ll end up somewhere, but it won’t be pretty.

Many businesses operate their marketing efforts in much the same way. They send out a few postcard campaigns and direct mailings, invest in a website, make signs and counter displays—oh yeah, and don’t forget about the pretty brochures with a picture of their building, their logo and tons of content with no call-to-action. And they’re surprised when they end up in the ditch.

“Now hang on,” you say, “I’m not a marketer; we have a department.” Let me assure you that marketing is NOT a department…it is a way of being and everyone has to “get it.”

I hate to see good money being tossed down the drain because there isn’t even a basic marketing plan in place. Or maybe there’s a plan, but it’s being implemented without tracking, testing or measurable benchmarks for improvement. It lacks not only vision, but even a basic view of the road ahead.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen companies take last year’s budget, make a few adjustments, and call THAT planning. Budgeting is not planning—and budgeting does NOT create results. Never has. Never will.

But you know that. Otherwise you’ll be like the 95 percent of companies who limp along with a plan and execution process that allows for nothing more than marginal results. And right when the economy is culling the herd. But that’s not you, I’m sure.

Is it? Oh dear.

Strategy clarifies how you will operate your company, your department, your marketing plan.

Speaking of which, I’m sure a marketing plan is part of your overall strategic business plan—right? Please tell me it is. Generally speaking, developing a marketing plan is undertaken as part of the yearly planning process. It should also be used when you want to introduce something like new products and services, new markets or a new location, or when you’re trying a new strategy to fix an existing problem and improve sales.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day process and lose focus on the outcome and on tracking results. When you support your marketing plan with a marketing calendar and performance benchmarks, it helps ensure you’re on track and producing positive results.

Avoid crashing – this is your map, your vision and your gauges all rolled into one!

Spreading the vision

• Create a vision for every important project. For example, you might tell your graphic designer that your vision is to have a brochure that pops as bold and cutting edge and inspires action.

• Encourage intense pride in the work. Tell your direct reports that you want “Every project to be a work of art that you can write home about.”

• Make a game of spreading the vision to customers. Tell your frontline customer service employees to try to so overwhelm customers with the quality of service that they walk dazed into the front door on the way out. Give the first person to manage it a day off.

Quick tip
Create a profile of your ideal customer. For ideas, look at your best current customers.

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