If you’re marketing without a plan, you’re just doing “stuff”

By Chris O’Shea, Business Consultant

A lot of entrepreneurs are doers, meaning that tactical execution trumps everything. Head down, get it done, on to the next thing.

But tactics without strategy leads to the old joke, “Half my marketing dollars are wasted. I just don’t know which half.”

If you jump headlong into tactical execution of “stuff”—buying ads, putting up social media posts, sending out emails, etc.,— it’s super easy to spend a lot of money and not see any benefit to your business. That’s not a good place to be.

Entrepreneurs have tools today that our predecessors did not. We have analytics, dashboards, conversion rates and the list goes on. But the common denominator for all of those tools is you have to use them right. By right, I mean going through the effort to determine exactly what you want to accomplish, determining goals that reflect those things and then putting a plan in place to achieve them.

Getting on the right track

Goal setting is easy:

“I want to get $XX dollars in sales in the next quarter or ## new clients in the next month.”

Planning is harder:

“I need to spend $XX dollars in Google AdWords at YY% conversion rate to achieve $ZZ dollars in sales in the next month.”

Strategy is the hardest:

“My target audience is females aged 34 to 45 with a post-secondary education and 1.5 kids who spend $XX dollars on my type of product each month. These females typically spend a large percentage of their time on social media platforms A and B.

Therefore, I should be creating content to introduce them to our new product lines with a focus on our value proposition and a special offer for new customers at the key decision stage of their purchase journey. This includes spending YY% percentage of my overall marketing dollars accessing these individuals with an expected conversion rate of ZZ% that we will measure through the analytics on our targeted campaigns.”

Plan first, execute second

When times are tough, the marketing budget is typically the first thing to get cut when it should probably be the last thing to go.

If you have a marketing plan in place there will be a propensity to keep moving forward, to act on the plan. Without that plan there’s a good chance you’ll fold your tent and stop pushing your brand and message out to your customers. Or you’ll continue to spend that precious marketing budget with poor results. Either way it’s not good.

So, how do I build a marketing plan?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

We’ve created a wonderful template to lead you through the process of building your own plan based on some good fundamental questions and great best practices. Take a look at what we’ve come up with and download your free marketing plan template here.

Key takeaways

When you’re planning, think about your customer and what they want from a company like yours. How can you reach them? What channels? What messaging?

Also think about your brand. Who are you? Why do you matter?

How much should you be spending on marketing? (My post on the Lifetime Value of Your Client can provide some insights.)

Pull it all together in your marketing plan and then budget, execute and stick to it. If the plan isn’t working, change it but don’t stop.

Do you have a marketing plan? How does the process work for you? We’d love to hear more and so would our audience.

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