You’ll have often heard us banging on about the importance of having ‘a proper, written marketing plan’. Today I want to decode that phrase a bit because I know the idea of having a written plan is sometimes overwhelming. Here’s why it doesn’t have to be….
When we say ‘proper’ – we mean well-thought out and researched. What we don’t mean is: ‘fancy’. It doesn’t have to be carved in a tablet, or written into a book format, bound, with an accompanying video. Just get some decisions made and get them down on paper – a two pager is fine.
When we say ‘written’ – we mean actually written down, not in your head. It’s all very well having an idea of what you want to do, or a ‘mental plan’, but imagine how would it go if you were to hit up Waitrose on 23rd December with a ‘mental list’ of what you need for Christmas? Disaster, distraction and baked beans for Christmas lunch. It’s the same for your marketing. Get it on paper – commit people.
Because, three things happen when you have a ‘written’, ‘proper’ marketing plan. Here’s what they are…
This is the key to marketing. Like learning the violin or brushing your teeth, marketing requires a long-term approach and consistency. You simply have to stick to your guns and keep going for the long-haul. Try one activity and stick to it for a good long while. If you decide after only a month that it isn’t working for you and change course, your audience will be confused.
Don’t get me wrong here, you should definitely be tweaking and refining what you are doing based on your results, but flip-flopping between strategies and different types of marketing tactics will always get you a bad result.
Why is this? Well, you have to keep doing and saying the same thing over and over for a long time before it gets into the head of your audience. You might think you’re repeating yourself sick, but unless you’ve said the same thing at least half a dozen times, it won’t have even started getting into your audience’s head, because, they aren’t paying attention to you all the time. You just aren’t that fascinating, I’m afraid. This is exactly why you’ll see the John Lewis ad 35 times between now and 25th December. Repetition is key to getting someone to understand and recall your marketing message.
If you don’t have that structured marketing plan to follow, the latest hot new marketing ideas are all too tempting, and it’s easy to abandon what you are currently trying and move onto the next thing.
When you have a plan, all you have to do is follow the steps, review your results and tweak where necessary.
When you are undecided on various elements of your marketing strategy, it’s hard to move forward with anything at all. It all seems to confusing and muddled. Taking the time to audit what you’ve achieved so far, the results of your work, and what could be better will help you to get focused on what you want in the future.
When you lock yourself into a sealed room, in an effort to focus on nailing the key elements of your strategy, the answers to questions such as precisely what is included in your service, exactly who you are selling it to, when to offer discounts etc, will become clearer, giving you a bedrock from which to begin making other decisions and start taking action, and the cumulative effect of this will be…
Once you’ve written (or sketched, or spreadsheeted) your marketing plan you know what you are doing and when.
Then you’ll be able to pick off a few of the simpler tasks to get you moving. You’ll make progress on them, and then you’ll start to feel momentum.
When this happens, you’ll soon start to get some small wins. This will feel really good and it will help you to keep going, build your confidence, help you to get beyond challenges, and make everything else in your plan seem more manageable. Suddenly you’ll have a marketing system in place.
Imagine how good that will be? No more questions, no more circling around the same issues and no more ‘wing and a prayer’ marketing.
If this has been the kick up the butt you need to create a mini-marketing plan – HURRAH! In our humble opinion, you could certainly do worse than use our 20 questions for writing a marketing plan as a starting point.