In business, every decision to take action should always have a purpose. Our processes, procedures and ideals govern our intent and should yield measurable results so that we can track, review and make minor adjustments to yield better results as we go along. However, before we even get to see results, or even implement our campaigns, we first need to develop a strategic plan to achieve the results we are after. That is why we’re sharing our best marketing practices with you, so that you’re better able to plan your campaigns and set up realistic and achievable marketing tactics.
Clarity of purpose
Becoming clear on the purpose of your marketing strategy offers far superior results when executed with an intense singular goal. Having one major objective leaves little room for error, allows for a concentrated point of effort and optimizes the use of resources by eliminating anything that isn’t contributing to those goals. Think of it as focusing the sun’s rays with a magnifying glass. With one point of focus closely zoomed in on a target, we are able to harness a greater level of energy in a defined area and thus, access a better burn rate. If, for some reason, we have a multi-focal magnifying glass: energy and resources are diminished exponentially because they now need to be shared between these different areas of focus.
When developing a marketing campaign, a singular purpose affords us an opportunity to zoom in, identify the variables that need addressing and formulate better plans of action to solve those issues. Here are a few areas of focus that we’ve noticed offer the best results when setting up a strategy:
- To educate and inform: In the history of marketing – to date – no single aspect of marketing has had an impact as educational information marketing has – which has seen a spike in more recent years (with the re-imagining of the eBook, interactive email newsletters, animated video explainers and infographics). Educating our audiences about our industry enables them to not only make better purchasing decisions related to our products and services, but it plants a seed for them to think about how our products add value to their lives or businesses – a thought which they might not have had before.
- To create awareness: It is physically impossible for us to sell to new audiences if they don’t know that we exist. Therefore, structuring our campaigns around reaching untapped markets and educating them about the value that our products and services could add to their brand, creates an opportunity for us to position ourselves as industry experts, directly in front of consumers and businesses who didn’t even know that we offered such services.
- To solve a problem: Problems can be attributed to two main groups. First, we have internal problems (Those we are face in our own businesses). Any form of marketing is closely linked to the functional areas of our businesses like finances, sales, operations and customer service. The way we market our businesses and the outcomes of those efforts could radicalize and change the way in which we do business altogether. Marketing could change the way we interact with customers, how we sell, how much money we make, or even how our processes are executed. Secondly, it could also solve an external problem. These are generally problems that have been longstanding within the industry due to a resistance to change. For example: As more and more people transition over to digital media, print publication is becoming a less effective media form due to limitations in reach, costs of manufacture, as well as the sheer effort and time it takes to get from inception to the end user. As a result, more and more news outlets are moving over to a blogging/vlogging platform and are using marketing (like social media and email newsletters) in tandem with those platforms, so that their audiences are up to date as stories break.
Building a goal trajectory
Let’s face it, simply stating that we’d like to increase traffic into online store is not enough. Why? The bottom line is, we’d like to move more people through our sales funnel – which we’d then convert to paying customers and improve our profitability (In case you haven’t noticed, this is a goal focused on solving a cash-flow problem). Sadly, we can’t wave our magic wands and ‘poof’, we’ve got more paying customers. Constraints such as how much time we have available, as well as, the resources we have at our disposal are always in a constant state of fluctuation. This impacts how we’ll execute our strategy.
constructing a trajectory forces us to think about what it will take to accomplish our goals, both in terms of the time and resources we’d need to get there. It also helps us to prioritize our goals and optimize the process so that we’re using our resources most effectively. Not to mention that it puts an expiry date on our projects, which pushes us to get things done. How then, do we lay out this aforementioned timeline so that we’re executing our strategy at its peak?
- Be realistic about what you have at your disposal. We often over-estimate the amount of resources we have to expend on our projects because of the expectations we’ve placed on ourselves. We want to lead rich, fulfilled lives and businesses like the billionaires we see plastered on every blog, motivational website and best-seller list. Most of the time though, the lines between reality and what we expect from ourselves become a blur. If we’ve only got X amount to spend over a 3-month period, be clear about it not only to your team, but to yourself as well. Over-committing resources you don’t have will only be detrimental to your project – because in truth – we can’t expend resources we don’t have. Once we run out of willpower, money or time, it’s over. So it’s best that we keep our project within those parameters.
- Be realistic about all challenges you might face. In business, overcoming challenges is a daily feat. Those challenges filter through the rest of our business and constantly change the trajectory to our goals. While it might be a good idea to spend money or time on marketing now because they seem to be available now, we might face a challenge down the line that would be better suited for the expenditure and as a result, cause the marketing campaign to suffer. For example: Most businesses are seasonal and suffer dips in their productivity between November and January. Being realistic about it, spending time, effort and money on marketing won’t make much sense in October just before the seasonal dip starts. It would make sense to defer that expense to February or March when finances are more stable. Better still, if we can forecast that challenge, it would make much more sense to start marketing in August, so that we have a buffer period for leads start converting around the time of the dip. It gives us enough time to balance our businesses against the expenditure, but also, to minimize the actual challenge that would otherwise tie us down. Planning is key to identifying any possible challenges you might face.
- Be realistic about what you’re willing to do. In the heat of setting goals for our campaigns, it’s commonplace to become riled up and overvalue what we’re willing to do in relation to what we’ll get out of it. Being realistic about how much of ourselves we’re willing to invest into our campaigns almost always ensures the success or failure of those campaigns. Yes, we can delegate this to someone else, but they will never be as fired up about those campaigns as much as we are, being the person who birthed the concept. the more we put in of ourselves on a consistent level, the more our team puts in of themselves, the quicker we’ll see results. it’s that simple.
- Be realistic about the results you’d like to see. Based on what we have at our disposal, the challenges we might face and what we’re willing to put into our campaigns, we expect to see results. However, expecting more, or less, than what we put into our projects is far too common. Ever heard of the phrase, “What you put in is what you get out?” The same applies to marketing. Putting in little to no time, with no budget; or if we’re not investing any energy into the project, our campaigns can’t yield results that our biggest competitors are achieving. Heading back to our magnifying glass analogy, if the rays from the sun aren’t strong enough, no matter how we hold our magnifying glass, we won’t see any burn. Much the same, if we’re investing too much time, effort or money, and the results don’t line up, we have to re-evaluate our goals, the people we work with or how our strategies are being implemented
While we haven’t even scratched the surface yet, execution of these objectives is just as important as their planning. However, by becoming as clear on the subject as possible and setting a goal trajectory, implementing our strategies become a sure-fire set of steps with minimal hiccups and maximum efficacy. Planning correctly ensures a path of least resistance which makes our marketing campaigns that much easier to implement, to see results from and to grow.