Working with the swirling realities of digital and social media marketing can feel like trying to quietly tread water in a really nasty river rapids that never ends….and then there are the rocks to avoid. As a business owner it’s hard enough. As a marketing professional, it is mind-numbing at times….still, that’s part of what I do and I confess to a kind of the same excitement as that metaphoric water-treader.
I have recently started working with a client who floored me by having something I have not seen in a long time at similarly-sized businesses: an actual Marketing Plan
The business owner pulled it up on her laptop and I wanted to hug her…
This isn’t to say that other business owners haven’t spent time thinking about their marketing, but this owner had taken the next step and mapped it out for the next year….and even looked beyond. I identified a number places in the plan where I can add tremendous value (hence our starting to work together…), and we began to discuss the goals, measures and value we can bring to the business. I am totally psyched to begin this project!
Our discussion emphasized to me a couple of challenges that so many small to medium businesses encounter when they spin up whatever digital marketing they employ. They are:
- Drawing the line from their efforts in digital and social media to explicit business and marketing goals, and
- How all this online work reaches into the IRL (In Real Life) of their VACC (Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community).
Once you get past the obvious business goals (Make enough money to live comfortably, pay my employees, “be a success” and so on…), you need to get to some more specific ones. These can include expansion of the business, adding new products and services, addressing specific new markets, percentage of revenue growth over time, peace of mind, etc. Taking those and establishing the marketing objectives
that will assist in getting you there is important, of course. Newer businesses can have a more inclusive view as to how they use digital marketing, even if they are not keen on the strategy or specifics…..they just know that they need to do it, and sometimes jump into the wild and woolly world of the Internet without the upfront work. That can be painful.
More established businesses can sometimes have a harder time of it due to the “this used to work really well” processes of their existing marketing. Many times we talk about the effectiveness and costs of these processes and uncover some inconvenient truths. While realizing that it’s not a “binary” (that is, just one thing or the other…) decision between the established methodologies and digital, they honestly admit that the existing ways are not delivering the prospects or sales like they used to. The pipeline is harder to maintain, and the resources needed to keep things coming in that way are increasing. Intrigued by, and at the same time intimidated by, the seeming magic of digital marketing seems to good to be true. Most of the time, when it comes to the way they are thinking about it, it is. The idea of getting a page on Facebook and “posting some stuff about our products and how great we are”, resulting in a steady stream of new customers and sales, is rivetingly seductive.
Sadly, very little, if any, research or strategic planning goes into this effort. The resultant failures cement their fears and disdain for the online channels. Frustration and helplessness result, unless they realize they need expert help and get it.
- Enhance Branding and Awareness
- Protect Brand Reputation
- Enhance Public Relations
- Build Community
- Enhance Customer Service
- Facilitate Research and Development
- Drive Leads and Sales
Don’t be tempted to take on more than one (or at the VERY MOST two) of these. How you execute for each is different enough. Also don’t be tempted to go STRAIGHT for “Drive Leads and Sales.” Without building visibility, credibility and relationships online, leads and sales are, at best elusive.
So, implement one of these seven things, then:
- Set goals your company wants to focus on
- Create measurable objectives within each that accomplish your goals
- Produce strategies or concepts to execute that accomplish your objectives
- Create tactics to tasks that accomplish your strategies or concepts
- Build measurement systems to evaluate the implementation of your plan
It’s not hard to plan. It’s hard to remember, or take time, to plan. Execution can be challenging, but it’s not hard.
Designing the processes and systems to be able to evaluate the IRL execution and effects of your process will differ from business to business. Still, your VACC lives and operates in the world we all walk in, so you have to not only make sure that you can draw the line from your online to their online, and then to their off-line. There are almost as many ways to do this as there are kinds of businesses, but the challenge is well worth the work. How else can you know if all your efforts, not only in digital but in the integration with your other marketing, are paying off?
This can really overwhelm business owners. Even if you have a marketing professional on your team, they are not likely to be deeply versed in the intricacies of all aspects of the marketing universe today. Digital marketing, as I mentioned, is so fluid that bringing a real expert in to focus on that area with you and your team can only help you manage the evolution of marketing to your business’ advantage.
Frustrated? Intrigued? Tired of trying to figure it out yourself? Call me
and let’s discover how we can work together to get to those goals you have for your business and your life (this is what the business is supporting, right?).