When I moved into the position of Marketing Director for International Minute press I was so excited to execute new and fresh marketing strategies. So, I tried everything! New email marketing campaigns, lead generation, networking, customer appreciation, direct mail, SEO, social media adds, blogging, referral incentivizing, online reviews and door to door sales. However, most of these strategies weren’t working as well as I wanted them to.
Through the process of spending lots of time starting and trying “innovative” marketing ideas I always felt discouraged. I would read the books, listen to podcasts, and ask for help from the experts. Why couldn’t I find a scalable marketing strategy that worked?
Feeling discouraged and wasting my time was not the worst of it all. The worst part was that marketing costs money, and most of my marketing ideas were barely paying for themselves, if at all. I kept on like this for a while, and through trial and error I learned an uncomplicated way to come up with marketing plans, vet the ideas, and scale them. I want to share this simple, and straightforward 4 step process with you so that you don’t have to continue waist time, money and resources, like I did.
Step 1 – Make a plan
“if you fail to plan, you are planning on failing” – Benjamin Franklin
Don’t worry, I will teach you how to do this step efficiently. Here is a picture of my Plan for the month of January
Go to http://bit.ly/2DS0a4W and print out a monthly calendar. I would start by planning out a one quarter of the year at a time, this gives you time to plan effective marketing strategies without being overwhelmed. The second benefit to planning one quarter at a time is that it gives you an opportunity to adapt. If you plan your entire year right now, you won’t be effective because marketing requires a business to adapt.
This should not be a very detailed plan, and should not overwhelm you. Start by putting your current marketing strategies, that are effective, on the calendar. Really think about what you do to grow your business. I run into a lot of business owners and marketing professionals who don’t really know what marketing is. Marketing is simply promoting and selling your product(s) or service(s). Don’t overthink it, put down on this calendar the things that you do, or want to do, to sell your company’s products or services.
Usually when I have people do this process there run into 1 of 2 problems.
- There calendar is almost empty.
- They can’t fit everything on to the calendar.
If you are in category number one, this is not a hard problem to solve and can often be a much easier hurtle to address than the other problem. The 2nd most rewarding part of marketing is coming up with innovative ideas (the first most rewarding part of marketing is watching your ideas succeed). If you fit into category number two you need to either look at your data to see what is working most effectively, or you need to start collecting data so that you KNOW what works effectively. Marketing should not be a guessing game.
Step 2 – Split Test
If you have no current marketing plan or you have hundreds, you need split testing. Split testing is a painless process of testing marketing ideas while reducing wasted spending. This allows you to fine the most scalable strategies. To explain split testing, I am going to use an example.
The beauty of split testing is that it works for brand new ideas, or ideas that you have been using for years. Even your most successful marketing strategies can usually be improved, and in most cases split testing is the best way to improve them. You can even use split testing to see what networking events work best for your business. For example, if you want to know if your time is better spent going to ribbon cuttings of new businesses in your area, or attending your local chamber of commerce functions simply make sure you spend the same amount of time each week doing both, then track how many leads or customers you get from each. At the end of the month you will know how to use your networking time most efficiently. Therefore tracking your marketing campaigns is vital. If you can’t measure your ROI on a campaign, then how do you know it was worth it?
Step 3 – Follow Through
If you have read any sales books, or listened to sales experts, the phrase “follow up” is probably ingrained into your head. Statistics like “The average sales person follows up with a potential customer 7 times before the first sale is made.” This is true, and follow up is vitally important to marketing. However, from a Marketing planning or strategy stand point, the problem is usually that they did not follow through on their plan to follow up.
If you sit down and plan out your marketing strategies, it is easy to make sure your plan has plenty of follow up in it. I highlight different groups of customers or potential customers I am targeting so that I can make sure that I am staying in regular contact with every potential sale. This works for me and I would suggest you try it.
The key to make sure that you follow through with your plan is to look at it regularly. Plan should be very visible on your desk or on a wall near your desk. This piece of paper should look like a used napkin because of how many times you have handled it in the three-month period it will be in use. Look at it every day! If you thought that the items were important when you planned them, they are important.
Step 4 – Scale what works
Most marketing ideas are either not scalable, or not worth scaling. Successful marketers are experts at finding what works, and then scaling the already proven concept. Here is an example, you start experimenting with Facebook ads. After learning the ins and outs of it with lots of trial and error you finally found a campaign that was successful. You spent $100, and had a 5% conversion rate (What percentage of viewers that buy the product). So, you scale the same add with a $5000 budget, maintain the 5% conversion rate. That is how you grow a marketing idea, to a marketing strategy.
Now the next question that comes up is what if I just have not found an idea that is worth scaling yet. My answer is keep trying, talk to industry experts, go to seminars, and look at what your competitors are doing. Then keep trying, and you will find something great
The bottom line is that Marketing a business successfully takes planning. Plan your marketing as if your company is a fortune 500 company with hundreds of millions at stake. There are only 4 steps and only you can make them happen.