Too often people look for the Magic Wand of Marketing – the perfect process for delivering results. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. As a result, in many SME businesses, marketing tends to be an on-off-on process. there is no consistency.
The value of a plan
We have said it many times but a plan gives a framework for your marketing where your actions – and their results – can be put in context. It is important to see the big picture and to relate this to a practical action plan which sets out specifics that you can actually do today. If all you have is a big picture, you have no defined path to achieve your goals. In the words of Del-boy Trotter… In the words of Del-boy Trotter…
This time next year we'll be millionaires....
…not if you don’t know how do get there you won’t!
Embrace some flexibility
While it is important to relate big picture goals to ‘do-able’ actions, the world we live in is punctuated with uncertainty. Rarely do things work out exactly as you plan them. Embracing flexibility and sometimes allowing things to take their course can open opportunities but again, this is where the context of a plan is vital. When an opportunity comes out of left field you may need to quickly decide whether it is a good opportunity or not? I talked about the idea of context earlier. By considering the new opportunity in the context of your big picture plan, it is often easy to see how well it fits, and so, how valuable it might be to you.
Doing Stuff is Good
I have spoken before about the marketing value of ‘Just Do Something!‘; that it is more productive to do something than nothing and if all you do is develop big-picture strategic plans but never actually take any action, you might as well not bother. Your plan might look great on paper but without action, you will never know if it will work. Anyway, things are extremely unlikely to play out exactly as you plan them!
Embrace (some) Granularity
Regular readers know that I like joined-up marketing; a planned process of linked and measurable actions leading to a goal. This may be all very well in theory but real-world uncertainty ensures it is not how things work. Sometimes it can be good to do something where even though you can’t necessarily see how it fits as part of a joined-up marketing process, you can see how it can help in the context of your overall goals. Take the ultimate fundamental of marketing – communication and engagement with your target audience. You may have a plan which sets out your focus as building a prospect database via your website and social media and then developing awareness, relationships and business opportunities via email and direct contact. Then, all of a sudden, you meet someone who invites you to talk at a networking session. It isn’t part of your plan but (so long as the audience is your target audience) the talk can be a great opportunity to spread the word. The talk may be a one-off – a bit granular – but if the opportunity fits within the context of your plans, why not?
The value of content
Being asked to give a talk can be a great opportunity but it can also be very time consuming if you need to prepare your presentation from scratch – even to the point that you choose to decline. This can be the case with many one-off marketing opportunities; the time and effort you would need to prepare it just isn’t worth it. Such a shame! However, if you are regularly producing good quality content for your planned marketing – and we all are, aren’t we! It can be easy to take exisiting material and repurpose it.
A reliable content archive is immensely valuable
When you do stuff, stuff happens
I have been in business over 30 years and through all of that time, this has been my mantra! Too often, simply being out there and engaging with my customers and contacts has allowed opportunities to arise or problems to be solved in ways that it would’ve been impossible to plan for. Even if there is no obvious or reliable connection: When you do stuff, stuff happens. Let me finish with an example from the early days… Back in the close of the 1980’s when I was a newbie, things weren’t going quite as I planned. To be honest, I was struggling. I was naive, but I was passionate. I had a plan (of sorts) and we were doing what we could. At the heart of this was a real focus on doing a good job! Even so, we just weren’t getting enough work to cover costs – then it happened…. A client of ours had a meeting with an advisor from the fledgeling Manchester Training and Enterprise Council (remember them?) who happened to mention that they were looking to do some marketing, and our client happened to mention BSA. One thing led to another and the TEC awarded BSA a 6-week contract….which ran for 4 years! The rest (as they say), is history! Be out there, keep marketing, deliver value. When you do stuff, stuff happens!