Marketing without a plan is about as effective as building a house without a blueprint, if not less effective.
A right hand points to a blueprint on top of a desk that also contains other blueprints, a computer, and a hard hat.
Our family has recently undergone a significant house renovation. Our experience is ongoing; nearly a year has passed and we have yet to receive a working kitchen.
We began by soliciting bids from general contractors and subcontractors. Each and every one of them desired plans, drawings, and permits.
My husband was of the opinion that this was a complete waste of time and money. As a result, I was officially designated as a “general contractor.”
I began recruiting vendors, coordinating projects, and attempting to learn everything I could about home construction along the way. I was successful. I focused on one project at a time and did everything I could to complete it.
Despite the fact that I had my own strategy in mind, I had no actual understanding of what I was doing, and as a result, my plan swiftly came crashing down.
We’ve had to pay to have work done (such as painting) on our house a number of times. In the end, we didn’t save any money, and we didn’t save any time, either.
In light of this, what exactly does any of this have to do with marketing?
I’ve worked in marketing for more than 20 years, and I’ve seen firms attempt to approach marketing in a manner similar to the one I described above time and again.
Marketing activities should be carried out in the same manner as building a house (or remodeling an existing one).
Five steps to create a marketing strategy that generates a return on investment
1. Define your primary marketing objective
First and foremost, define a clear goal. “Get this product launched” or “prepare this trade exhibition,” for example, are not long-term objectives to pursue. I’m referring to a goal that is aligned with your company’s objectives.
So, let us take a step back. Is there a vision for where your firm wants to be in three years, five years, and ten years that you can share with your employees?
Do you have specific key performance indicators for how you want to get there? Do you have a clear understanding of how your idea fits within the available market opportunities?
Your marketing strategy should be aligned with the objectives of your organization.
2. Create a marketing strategy for your company
Once you understand the market opportunity and how your company’s goals align with it, you can create a blueprint to help you achieve your objectives.
You should start with a solid foundation and have the end goal in mind at all times when creating your blueprint.
Everyone will be working from the blueprint, so it’s critical that you think through as much as you possibly can at this point. You may need to make some adjustments to the plan as the project progresses.
3. Lay the groundwork for your marketing strategy
Do not begin construction until you have completed the fundamental components of your marketing strategy. Everyone enjoys seeing progress and seeing things being done.
Anyone can’t get enthusiastic until they see the walls going up, but skipping over the steps that ensure a solid foundation will lead to disaster later on.
Without a solid foundation to work from, you will be unable to begin implementing your marketing strategy.
Some of these responsibilities require time, and marketers, in particular, are prone to becoming upset in this area.
However, if you do not have the fundamentals of marketing from which to grow, you will end up spending more time and money in the long run.
Every successful marketing strategy is built on the foundation of three key elements:
- Having a firm grasp of your marketing strategy
- Documented messaging based on the problems of the target population
- A clear picture of the tools you’ll need to use to carry out the plan’s fourth step. Put Your Emphasis on Functionality
- Making things look beautiful is pointless if they do not function properly. The tiling of the bathroom would not begin prior to the installation of the plumbing (well, maybe some of you would) (OK, maybe some of you would).
Too many marketers are preoccupied with making things look lovely rather than understanding how they function and fit into the overall marketing strategy.
Don’t start building your website, designing collateral, creating advertising, or preparing emails until you’ve determined how they will fit into your overall strategy.
4. Maintain Complete Concentration on Your Plan and Objectives
Consider how each component of your plan contributes to your overall goal. Use your core elements to ensure consistency and efficiency in your work by measuring twice and cutting once.
Once your strategy is in action, avoid taking too many detours or becoming distracted.
Too much change is costly in terms of both time and money, and it can frequently result in you losing sight of what you were aiming for in the first place.
“I wish I would have done this differently,” you could think to yourself after you’ve completed a project, even with the best blueprint.
Many components of marketing are completely out of your hands. Perhaps the market has shifted, the customer hasn’t reacted as expected, or the company’s objectives have shifted as well.
If you don’t start with a plan, the right resources, the essential experience, and a goal in mind, you’ll find yourself constantly pivoting and not making progress.
Alternatively, you could end up with a slew of marketing “things” but little return on your investment, like I did with my makeover without a kitchen.