“Where do you want to go today?” That was the slogan Microsoft used in its first global image advertising campaign. Too bad it’s also become the way many so businesses and organizations run their marketing and communications programs. You know — a quarter-page ad here, a Twitter post there, and a press release every other week because they’ve always got something “new” and “unique” to tell us about.
Does this describe your approach to marketing? If so, take it from Ice Cube: You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Let’s hop off the hamster wheel and use our brains for a minute.
Ever go to the grocery store without a list? Or worse yet, without a list on an empty stomach? Odds are you end up with a bellyache and a hole in your pocket, and no bread or milk to show for it. Do this often enough and say hello to type 2 diabetes and no cash to cover your medical bills.
The same applies to marketing your business.
You know you need to promote your product or service just like you know you need to eat. And to make matters worse, you’re hungry for immediate results. But without a plan and a bit of self-discipline, you end up wasting time and money on garbage advertising and PR tactics that provide zero ROI and produce a pounding headache to boot. So much for your dreams of making millions. Eventually, you’ll be lucky to make payroll.
If you really want to achieve your organizational objectives, then put some time and thought into the marketing process up front. Consider what you want to accomplish at the beginning of each year. Increased sales? More memberships? Greater support for your cause? Then make those goals measurable so that you can track your progress.
Next, conduct a little research to determine exactly where you stand in the minds of your target audience. (Hint: Research involves actually asking people what they think of you and how you might improve. If you’re too arrogant to solicit feedback because you think you already know the answers, then you shouldn’t be in business — and you won’t be for too long.)
Use the research findings to craft a campaign theme or a few key messages on which to center your marketing efforts for the coming year. Then compile a list of all the ways you can think of to capture the attention of the people who matter most to you. Print advertising, social media, earned media, special events, contests, giveaways – don’t limit the possibilities at this point.
After you’ve put everything on paper, narrow the list to include only the activities that you can realistically accomplish within your predetermined budget and time frame.
That’s it. Now just stick to the plan and measure the results.
Sound time-consuming? That’s because it is. But so is weekly meal planning, list-making and coupon-clipping. And in my humble opinion, that sure beats being a You-Hoo-drinking, Ho-ho-eating heart attack waiting to happen.