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Stuck in a Marketing Rut

Stuck in a Marketing Rut

We have all been in a company, or maybe your own, where we have the same start to each year, “This year is going to be the year to achieve all the company’s goals. Moreover, perhaps more precisely our marketing is going to get done this year, triumph and victory will be ours!” Then business happens and your best-laid plans sit halfway done, or they stay tucked away in the storage cabinet of your mind. Your business is stuck in a marketing rut.

However don’t fear yet, before we get too far into the year there is still time to conquer the year’s marketing goals and become the thought leader and voice of reason you want your company to be. First break those goals into three simple steps Plumb likes to call the “Ready, Set, Go.”

Ready

 Get ready to construct the annual marketing plan. Yes, this information may seem redundant, especially to experienced marketing executives and veteran entrepreneurs. However, marketing plans are not just for big corporate companies or to tuck into a good business plan. Marketing strategies should be evaluated at a minimum on a quarterly or biannual basis to keep pace with the ever-changing market.

When building a marketing plan, identify the company’s current situation, also known as a situation analysis. A situation analysis determines how the organization and its products or services stand against the competition. During your analysis, identify the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to build a stronger plan guaranteed for success.

Next, establish the year’s marketing goals. Goals can be anything from increasing the use of “ABC service” by 20 percent by 2018 to capturing over 200 new B2B customers by October 2017. Marketing goals must be strategic and unique to the organization to ensure company health and longevity. By addressing the goals, companies can determine who will consume their products or services and establish how to reach those potential consumers.

After the marketing goals are developed, the company must start an annual examination of the organization’s ideal clients or target audience. The corporate market shifts on a daily basis, with revolutionary technology and innovative thinkers that know how to streamline products and services, it is imperative that organizations be highly familiar and ultimately understand their target audiences. During the annual client review, thoroughly explore the client’s daily life, hobbies, and interest; in essence, take a walk in their shoes.

Once the company is more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of their target audience, construction of the perfect message to capture the client's attention begins. Many businesses may have more than one ideal client or target audience, remember to create a variety of themes that attracts each customer.

When developing your messaging strategy, it is important to choose the best marketing platforms to reach ideal clients and to target those prospects at all stages of the sales cycle. During a sale cycle, cold prospects may respond well to web and print advertisements, public relations, and direct mail campaigns. Warmer prospects are more likely to answer to permission-based emails, loyalty programs, and customer appreciation events. Hot prospects are attracted to interpersonal sale contact (phone calls, face to face meeting, and personalized emails, and thank you notes) to close the deal. The marketing communication strategy outlines where to best broadcast each target audience’s messages and in turn attract them to the products and services addressed above.

Last, based on your goals and chosen strategy determine the year’s marketing budget. The cost of each project or campaign, the cost to outsource certain aspects of projects to contracted help, and the overall hourly cost on the company’s employees will determine if certain marketing projects are feasible or will yield any return on investment. Companies with more disposable income should be careful not to blow the entire budget on marketing ventures that do not work. Choose the campaigns best suited to the organization's marketing goals and will attract ideal clients.

Set

 “The best marketing is situational… Be aware that marketing is a journey, not a destination, and use it how you need to in the moment." -Jennifer Kendall, account services manager for North Caroline State University Communications

The master marketing plan is now assembled, it is time to set the marketing plans into actions. There are numerous ways to breaking down an idea into tangible steps within a marketing schedule – do what works for the team and guarantees execution at the end of the day. A primary marketing program should keep the team organized, maintain everyone’s role within the project, and highlight campaign and project deadlines. A thoughtful marketing program has the project campaign name, the start and end dates or each project, and outlines each projects steps and overall goals. Know the current marketing calendar is not set in stone and will change. When making changes to the schedule, ensure they are strategic to the original marketing plan and keeps the team on track.

Go!

 “A marketing plan cannot be a document that’s thrown on the shelf and not allowed to brief.” -Jennifer Kendall, account services manager for North Caroline State University Communications

The plan and the schedule are established, and it is time to go hit the ground running through execution. Ensure project completion by having the right team member on each the right project – do not give the website guy the job of the graphic designer or content writer, it does not work! Also, understand the organization and the team’s personal and time limits – if Jessica loves to write, make her the content writer and social media manager, if Henry is great at sales and marketing, appoint him to move your marketing projects forward. Most of all, always hold the team accountable for assigned jobs and duties. Checking in the progress of a project on a weekly basis will encourage the team to move projects forward and work together.

Ready, Set, Go…get your marketing done this year!

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