I was telling a friend the other day that when I was still pretty new to the online world, I had a conversation with someone about how they were advising companies to just jump into social media full throttle. I said I didn’t really think that was a good idea. Having a plan and seeing how you could work social media into an overall marketing strategy seemed like a much better idea to me. The response I got has stuck with me. “But plans take such a long time.”
It’s true. Creating a plan takes a lot more time, on the front end, at least, versus simply just jumping into things. I say on the front end because without a plan you are bound to experience a lot of problems. Those problems can take a long time to fix, and more to the point, if your marketing campaign is plagued with problems you’re not going to find a lot of success anyway.
How do you sit down and make your marketing plan? Well, that’s a big question, and we can’t give away the “secret sauce.” However, we can give you five tips that can send you in the right direction.
1. Start with Objectives: This may seem obvious but it bears repeating. Before you can establish a plan, you need to have objectives. The more specific the objectives, the easier it will be to make your plan. If you want to increase sales by x percentage, that will require a very different plan than if you want to increase the strength of your brand. Know where “true North” is before you start setting your compass.
2. Set a Budget: Once you know what your objectives are, set a budget. Too often, companies start plowing ahead with a plan and then are told to cut back when they present the plan to their bosses. We see this happen a lot. The whole company needs to come to a marketing plan with an understanding of how the company’s budget is being segmented and how much of that budget marketing will receive.
3. The Best Tactic for the Job: There are often tactics ideally situated to help you reach your objectives. Lead generation is not going to result from a big investment in banner ads. Brand awareness is not going to happen if you advertise with a single ad in three publications. With your budget and your objectives in mind, find the tactics that will give you the most bang for your buck.
4. Integrate Integrate Integrate: Don’t just think about one tactic at a time. Rather, think about how everything you are doing can intertwine. The editorial focus of issues you’re advertising in can also provide content cues for blogs or e-newsletters. Videos can be fed to your website, to YouTube, to print ads, and to social media channels. Think circular. Think ripples in a pond.
5. Get Contributions From Everyone: A marketing plan is no longer really a marketing plan. Sales should be part of the process, indicating what they feel works best in the field. Everyone should be offering perspectives on the company’s mission statement, the brand, what the company hopes to accomplish in the next year, and more. Marketing can lead the charge and can offer tactical advice, but everyone should be a contributor. Buy-in should be company-wide.
Of course, there are intricacies to formulating a marketing plan that these five tips do not cover or even begin to approach, but we feel these five tips are fundamental the process. Without these five factors, your plan is bound to run into trouble.
We hope these tips help. As always, if you have any questions just let us know!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivanwalsh/4489002140/ via Creative Commons