As a smart, savvy business owner who’s well on your way to a successful business, you’ve got your Marketing Plan all set up, right? If it’s on your to-do list but you’re not quite finished yet, perhaps our previous posts in the Marketing Plan series, can help guide you along the way. If you have a plan already, you’re in a great position to realize your business goals!
In any successful business, the day-to-day running of operations can be time consuming to the point where things don’t get done. This is both a good and bad problem to have. Yay for success, but it can be easy to put off some of the more abstract dealings for the next day in favor of making that one last sales call or placing that supply order. Staying on top of it all can be overwhelming, so things like planning a new ad campaign or working the social media portion of your marketing strategy can fall by the wayside.
Do you work for your marketing strategy, or does it work for you?
Your marketing plan is there to help you grow your business, but it must be a strategy you can implement. Falling behind doesn’t mean you’ve messed up, or have failed at marketing and should chuck the plan you have and start over. It simply means the plan doesn’t work as well in practice as it might have seemed to on paper.
Ask the following questions about why the plan has been difficult to keep up with:
Does the budget allow for the steps in my marketing plan?
Oftentimes, changes in the running of the business can impact our finances in such a way that advertising we thought we’d be able to afford isn’t actually feasible. So perhaps consider changes to the marketing plan that can be implemented on a lesser budget. That could be a greater online campaign or an uptick in social media activity and less money spent on print ads or radio spots.
Was someone on my team responsible for that step and they didn’t do it?
Perhaps your marketing person is overwhelmed and they could use an assistant to help them carry the workload. Maybe it’s in your budget to hire a second team member, which has the added benefit of someone with new potential marketing ideas.
Is the responsibility clear?
Maybe your marketing team isn’t sure who’s doing what, and something fell through the cracks. Consider implementing a new system of keeping track of team responsibilities, something as simple as a checklist on a dry-write board or as complex as planning software that seamlessly integrates with sales data, such as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) program.
Is everyone confident in the Marketing Plan in the first place?
If not everyone believes in the ideas, they could be avoiding steps of the plan they fear may turn customers away. The best marketing plans leave everyone—including clients—with a sense of confidence, the feeling your team and company have the business under control. Doubts from the team members translate to doubts with customers, and that’s not a very good plan to implement.
A good marketing plan has alternatives.
Chances are what you’re behind on are the steps that aren’t a good fit for your business. By setting up your plan with the knowledge that it’s not perfect, you can build in adaptations to evolve as you see what steps work with room to discard the ideas that don’t. Over time, the items you fell behind on are likely the ones that needed to go anyway, and you’ll grow your marketing plan in such a way that it works for you, not the other way around.
Automate as much as you can. A lot of marketing in current times revolves around the internet and social media. Platforms like HootSuite and Buffer exist to automatically update your social media accounts. You can schedule retweets or shares in chunks of time rather than getting bogged down by hours spent online. Just remember, organic interaction is critical, too. Engagement is good, talking at people instead of to them, not so much.
Word-of-mouth is the kind of advertising you cannot buy. People trust recommendations from their friends above all the marketing speak in the world, so getting your happy customers to speak on your behalf has more benefits than can be counted. It costs you nothing in terms of time for your customers to pimp your company. Build into your sales processes actions that make it easier for your customers to recommend and review your business. Conduct online surveys that only take a minute at the end of a purchase transaction, or ask for reviews when a customer has completed a service with you. If they’ve had a positive experience and it’s immediate in their minds, many people won’t mind saying so.
If you get behind in your marketing strategy, don’t despair. And most importantly, don’t throw the whole thing out. Adaptations make for stronger strategies, and learning from what doesn’t work can be just as helpful as learning from the steps that do.