Implementation – the essence of effective marketing

Marketing is nothing if you don’t actually talk to people. You may think this is obvious but marketing implementation is essential.

Communicating your proposition to your target audience is the essence of effective marketing. The problem is that taking the plunge and putting your message out there also exposes a business to failure. What if we don’t get the response we hope and planned for?

It’s the same as the old story about the sales rep who never lost a sale. Actually, they never closed a deal. Sure, they never lost a sale – but they never won one either!  The fear of rejection was so great that they were happy never to win an order – so long as no prospect ever turned them down. The outcome was inevitable. They lost their job. Somehow this can be put down to being on the receiving end of someone’s else’s decision. Not my fault. I couldn’t do anything about it.

This is the world of marketing in many SME businesses. There is a lot of planning and other ‘marketing development‘ but actually pushing the button and doing something can be a long time coming.

New ideas are great – but beware

An attractive distraction from getting on and doing marketing can be to learn about marketing tools – maybe there is a better option for my marketing communication?

Don’t get me wrong, learning about new are alternative marketing tools can be really useful and give insight into how you might go about your marketing but don’t let your learning distract from the business marketing fundamentals of what and why. You can get drawn into how good something looks without really considering how it will benefit your business

How will it help you to reach your goals?

If you are talking to a marketing services supplier about their great new offering, be careful to stay focused on your own business needs rather than being diverted to the needs of your potential supplier – to sell you their services.

You can find yourself committing to moving ahead with a new option (and the expectations of what you hope it can achieve) as avoidance of looking at the real priorities – i.e. what are your core business goals and how do you aim to achieve them – i.e. what is your PLAN?

Implementation and meaningful learning

I started this post by saying marketing is nothing if you don’t actually talk to people. This is the heart of it. Yes, you need a plan but a plan is not a document on a shelf it is a set of joined-up ideas and actions focused on achieving a defined goal.  Marketing come to life when you do stuff and take action; when you implement.

Get out there and communicate your proposition to your target audience. Your activities may not be perfect but you are doing something and that gets results!

Even if the results aren’t what you expected, you are learning from your market all the time. It is important that you measure what you do so that whatever the outcomes, you can explore why and how you are getting the results you are getting. Through this process, you will learn and your growing knowledge will help you adapt your plan and make it better.

Don’t be the sales rep who never lost a sale. Get out there and implement. Tell your market about your great products and services. What’s the worst that can happen? You never know, they might even want some!

What to make things happen? Give me a call

PIMMS – A joined up, practical approach to marketing

In our latest series of the Marketing Matters podcast we look at the planning process using the PIMMS methodology.

Over the next 5 episodes, we will discuss each of the P.I.M.M.S. stages in some detail, but I thought it would be appropriate as we start the series, to give an introduction to PIMMS, and a link to the more complete proforma if you wish to work through your planning process as we go along.

The PIMMS Process

In most SME businesses, marketing is either focused on planning or doing.

Rarely is it focused on both. Why is this?

I think it is because the marketing services offered to SME business owners are either focused on planning (i.e. consultants) or doing (i.e. design, web, search, pr, social, direct, e-mail etc.)

SME marketing is rarely truly joined-up marketing, focused on both…. But it should be!

Good marketing is joined-up marketing!

PIMMS is the BSA planning model which not only helps you plan your marketing but also creates a coherent, joined-up marketing process for making things happen – sustainably. Let’s take a look at the key elements of PIMMS – Plan, Implement, Monitor, Manage, Sustain

In Season Four Episode One of the marketing Matters Podcast, we talk about the P in PIMMS – Planning

PLAN

Your Goals

Planning is not about having a plan! It is about thinking through your goals and defining the processes you want to operate in your business to help you achieve your goals.

These processes must be practical and logical. Things you can and will do.

It is particularly important that you write down your decisions. If you don’t, it is easy to use the benefit of hindsight to massage your memory!

If you quietly forget the actual decisions you took and choices you made, it is impossible to reflect on them and consistently adapt to reflect the reality you find.

Never forget, it is impossible to foretell the future. Planning is about defining your best guess based on the information you have and using this to decide what actions you will take to help you achieve your goals. As you move forward, you are always learning. Used properly, your new knowledge can help you make better decisions.

Goals

Why are you in business? How do you want your business to operate? What do you want to achieve, for yourself, your family, your employees, the wider world?

Your goals are the endgame of the PIMMS process. Once you have defined them, you can then set out the path you choose to take to achieve them.

Remember to make sure your goals are SMART – SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed

Your Proposition

A famous quote from Peter Drucker:

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer”

To achieve this, you need to give your customer a reason to do business with you. This is your proposition.

Remember, customers don’t trade with you out of the goodness of their hearts, they do so because they get value from you.  You might solve a problem for them, or make them feel better? Maybe both?

By defining (and writing down!) your proposition, you crystalise it. This allows you to objectively test it in the real world.

Never mind what you think, do you really solve problems and/or make people feel better?

Unless you are lucky, you will also have competitors. Other businesses who are trying to solve the same problems, deliver the same benefits as you. How can you differentiate your business to show how you deliver benefit more effectively?

Try not to think in terms of what you do. Instead, put yourself in eth position of your customer. What do they receive from you? Your perception of what you do and your customer’s perception may be quite different.

Remember what Peter Drucker says; the business goal is to create a customer.

It is the customer’s perception of your proposition that is most important.

Your Target Market

Creating a customer is central to your business. Where are you going to find your customer?

Having a clear idea as to who is likely to be your customer makes it easier to find them and to make sure you are targeting your marketing in the right direction.

In practice, defining a target market can prove challenging as there is a flip side. By specifying who is your target market, you are, by default, also defining who isn’t!

By excluding some people or businesses, you are saying here is a group of people who could (at least in theory) do business with me. However, I am consciously not planning to market to them as I believe they do not represent a significant opportunity to create the sort of customer I am looking for!

What if you are wrong? Actually it doesn’t matter. You know enough about your business that you shouldn’t completely miss your target audience, and anyway, if you do miss some opportunities, you can target them later.

Marketing is a Process, NOT an Event

Also, remember that your target market will always split between ‘People who know you’ and ‘People who don’t know you’. A good customer will trust you and that means they will know you. Building trust can take time.

It can be helpful to accept that creating a customer is a process. To this end, building a database of ‘People who know you’ and using this as a CRM* tool to grow relationships can be a great way to create customers.

IMPLEMENT

Knocking on doors

Sooner or later, if you are going to create a customer, you have to communicate with your market. OK, maybe not actually knocking on doors  (though why not?) but you have to get out there and take your proposition to your market.

Deciding what to say and how to say it can be overwhelming. There are so many different options – and so many people trying to tell you how their way is the best!

The key is to make a clear, written action plan that you are comfortable with – and then make sure the actions happen.

Remember….

Marketing is a Process, NOT an Event

It doesn’t matter if your action plan isn’t perfect. What does matter is that you get out and do something. By having a written action plan it is much easier to manage your joined-up marketing process and when it comes to reviewing how things are going, a written plan is extremely valuable.

Here are some ideas you may find helpful.

  • Different approaches will be more suited to different types of customer. If you are offering personal/professional services, a more individual/one-to-one approach makes sense.
  • Have different approaches depending on whether it is someone who knows you, or not.
  • Don’t do too much
  • It is better to use one or two communication tools well than to try to do everything

MONITOR

Measuring the Process

By measuring response to your marketing communication, you can see what is working and what isn’t.

Remember though that it isn’t just about signing up customers straight away.   Good customers may take their time to decide to work with you. In fact, a customer who takes their time in the first place can often be a more loyal and long-term source of business. It is worth the wait.

Most digital marketing communication tools such as e-mail, search, social etc. have extensive analytics tools allowing you to measure how people are engaging with your marketing.

Using these tools can help you find opportunities to build conversations on a one to one basis.

MANAGE

Refining the Process

A joined-up marketing process does not just happen. It needs to be driven. This can be challenging because marketing is also the easy thing not to do.

Doing no marketing has no impact today or tomorrow. Not responding to customers or dealing with enquiries does!

It can be difficult to allocate regular time to managing your marketing, particularly if you don’t have a marketing process. You find yourself working from scratch – and this takes up more time. Another reason why it can be easy not to even start!

Having a planned process that delivers meaningful measurement of how things are going makes it much more likely that you will put time to marketing. Even a 10-20 minute weekly review of an established process can point to opportunities that drive real progress.

SUSTAIN

Stick at it

I have said it several times:

Marketing is a Process, NOT an Event

Don’t expect instant success. You might get it, and if you do, count yourself lucky. However, normally you need to work at it.

As someone once said, ‘…the harder I work the luckier I get…’

Actually, when it comes to joined-up marketing, I think it is important not to have to work too hard. If you do, you are more likely to stop.

It is worth making the time in the short-term to build your plan and getting your marketing process up and running. This will pay dividends later. A good process is much easier to manage!

Download the PIMMS PDF and create your own joined-up plan

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