It probably won’t surprise you to hear that not every business in existence has a marketing plan. But the question is: WHY NOT?
The honest answer is the fact that many of us have an aversion to the word PLAN. It immediately scares and intimidates us. Also, who knows exactly what needs to go in it and how you pull it all together?
Hard questions, but I think once you dive in and identify your goals and pinpoint your target market – you are ready to examine what is actually the toughest part, the marketing mix. Sometimes we can get overwhelmed with so many options, but here are some of my favorites and ones that I suggest to get my clients.
These are a mixture of online and offline marketing tools – ‘mixture’ being key. Notice that there are 10 items on the list, not 1. A marketing plan includes a blend of different tactics….not putting all of your eggs in one basket.
1. Email Blasts: Email blasts are great for getting your information in front of your target audience on a consistent basis. Make sure that they are packed with good information and that you schedule them on a regular basis.
2. Article Marketing: A great way to increase SEO and awareness is to share your blogs and articles on article marketing sites. Make sure that they are keyword heavy and really show off your expertise!
3. Advertising: While not an option for everyone, advertising in the media can reap wonderful benefits. Whether it is a free ad placed in Craigslist or a two page center spread in Fortune magazine, advertising is a wonderful way to get your message seen.
4. Social Media: PR is offline public relations and social media is its online sibling. While a relatively new addition to the marketing mix, this powerful medium not only helps you engage on another level with your target market, but humanizes your brand. It is a great way to engage your audience in real time.
5. Content Marketing: This is a very important, while widely ignored, aspect of the marketing mix. At the end of the day, if you have nothing to say or share – what reason does anyone have to listen to you. Press releases, blogs, articles, blurbs, announcements and the rest need to be a part of your strategy so that you have enough wonderful content to push through your various channels.
6. Public Relations: Another tried and true method of getting your brand name in front of the masses is through a media centric public relations campaign. Using talk radio, television, newspaper and magazines to get your content and brand out there is a wonderful way to grab attention and get more people interested in you and your message.
7. Video Marketing: Video is one of the greatest ways to engage with your audience. After all, YouTube is the second largest search engine (after Google). The biggest problem? The myth that it is expensive and time consuming. As more and more videos hit the web, there are more companies coming along, offering seemingly cost-effective solutions. Also, the technology for video is so advanced that you can even buy a couple pieces of equipment and hit the ground running yourself!
8. Contests and Promotions: These are very important aspects of your marketing mix as they drive traffic and interest like wildfire. Make sure that these “customer grabbers” are part of your strategy and be careful to not overuse them!
9. Podcasts: These are another one that, much like video, people tend to shy away from. But with sites such as iTunes and BlogTalkRadio out there….it is simpler than ever before. By following the instructions you can have yourself out on the airwaves in no time and into the iPods and speakers of your target audience.
10. Events: There are two sides to this one. You can attend an event or hold an event. Make sure to take part in events that are cost effective, not cost prohibitive. If you are going to spend $15,000 for a three day exhibition, have the average customer bring you $150 and think you can score 5 new clients – skip it! Brands like Sony and Simon & Schuster can handle it, but if you are a smaller business, make sure to do your homework and count the cost before!
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many more things that you can throw into your own marketing mix. In order to make the perfect marketing plan, look at the 10 items listed above (in addition to your own suggestions), put them against your strategy and objectives and then match them up with your budget.
As a lifelong marketer, I know how small these budgets can be. Anytime I hear “marketing budget” I’m always reminded of something a fellow marketer said to me once. “My boss wants me to create a Taj Mahal campaign for 50 cents.” Pretty much sums it up right?
So start off with the least costly items and then add in the rest. These are not written in stone so if something stops working, drop it and plug something into its place. Just make sure to never replace a successful activity with an unproven one. If your $25,000 quarterly advertising spend is garnering $100,000 in business…..keep it going! I’ve known many companies to jump at the latest marketing activity to the detriment of their successful marketing activity.
To end here, planning is not something that should bog you down and is also not something that can only happen at the beginning of the year. As the landscape for us marketers is constantly changing, be adaptable and be informed. An educated flexible marketer is a successful one!
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