When a house is being built, do carpenters start with the shingles?
Don't feel like reading? I've got you. Sit back and watch/listen as I read this blog post.
With a new house build, have you ever seen the carpenters begin with laying shingles? Probably not, after all what would they attach them to? The roof hasn’t been built yet, or the walls, or the floor…or the foundation. I’ve spoken with a lot of people over the years, and this is almost exactly what happens in marketing - they start with the shingles, so to speak - by saying we need to have an ad in the paper, or can you advertise this on our social media, or can you
put this on our home page? My question is – is the house built, and you are laying the shingles on the roof, or are you laying the shingles on the dirt?
In addition to that thought provoking question, here’s a few more for you.
As a marketer, do you ever find yourself doing things that you’ve always done, simply because it’s what you’ve always done? And when asked why you do that particular campaign and then asked how it links to the company’s current goals, you are not quite sure how to answer?
Do you ever have a co-worker, boss, (or even yourself), bring forward a new marketing initiative and say let’s run with it? Oh yeah, and we need it up in a week. When this happens (you know it does), do you know what needs to give so that you can bring this new initiative in? And does it line up with the current year business priorities? Is it worth it?
Now, let’s think on when the campaign is done. How do you determine success? Did you have metrics in place from the start that you checked in on regularly throughout the campaign, so you could know what to adjust along the way? And at the end of the campaign when asked ‘was it successful?’, can you answer (other than saying yep, we got all our marketing collateral placed in market)?
If any of these questions stumped you a little bit, read on friends, this next part could help you out.
The solution to these challenges is to take the time to build your marketing strategy. In doing this, you will:
Be in a proactive, not in a reactive, state of marketing.
You’ll know when a new idea comes forward, if it’s something to grab onto with both hands because it aligns with your business goals and audience.
Helps you assess if what you’ve been doing - for how ever many years - makes sense to keep doing.
Lines up your marketing spend to the business goals (this includes actual dollars spent as well as the human resource time, creative development, technology costs, etc.).
Have marketing metrics and goals in place that each marketing initiative throughout the year will support.
All right. Now let’s make sure the ‘shingles are being laid on the roof’ by starting with building the foundation. In an earlier blog post, titled "Get ready for 2023...now" I wrote on 5 steps to start your strategic marketing plan. These included the process of taking an internal look at your business, the macro environment, and research. I also spoke on the importance of having a crystal-clear understanding of the business goals and priorities for the coming year(s). I then led into marketing goals and strategies. I encourage you to have a read through that post, as the following is like the next chapter.
Once you have all the above in place, you will want to have a clear definition of who the people are in the neighborhood – this is your audience. What do you know about them? Where do they live? What activities do they like to do? How do they absorb information? What do they value? By having this in place, it will help you to determine how and where to position your marketing tactics.
Then you’ll want to really understand your competition. How do your offerings stand apart from theirs? What benefits do your wares have that theirs doesn’t? How can you succinctly put that into words or images to relate to your target audience?
Are you a 1-person show? If not, you’ll want to understand how the rest of the organization’s cogs are running. What are their objectives for the year? How can marketing support their initiatives so that they are successful? By taking this step, it also helps to not get repeatedly ‘hit from the side’ with requests, because you’ll know what’s coming and they’ll know the lead time you need.
Now you are at a spot where you can start to map out the next 12 months. What campaigns and initiatives will you do that support the business goals and priorities? When will these happen? This will give you a 10,000-foot view of what the year ahead looks like.
Let’s not forget to take stock of how you’ll get your messages out. It’s good to list all the traditional and digital means and platforms that you have. This way, when you are getting into the actual campaign build (this happens outside of the strategic plan), you have your library of resources to easily access and pull from.
All right friends, now let’s take the budget you have and distribute it amongst your marketing goals and timeline. Do you have enough to do everything you wanted to? Any wiggle room? Need more budget? If you need more, having a well-thought-out plan can give you the fuel you need to justify the added spend.
Let’s not forget to set metrics. This is the final step. You know what you’ll be doing for the year, now think on how marketing will support it. How many marketing-sourced leads will you create? How will marketing influence revenue? How will marketing support sales initiatives? How will marketing measure brand awareness? Defining and setting metrics such as these (and ways to measure them) will keep you on track throughout the year and prove that marketing has a direct line to the bottom line.
This is an outline of how I approach building a strategic marketing plan. It’s a powerful and incredibly useful living document that is accessed and referred to continually throughout the year.
If you are interested in learning more about building your strategic marketing plan, I would be so happy to connect.
Keep on being amazing,
With a drive to accomplish high-quality results, the marketing work Lyanne has spear-headed in business has been recognized and awarded nationally on several occasions. In addition to this, she proudly holds the Chartered Marketer designation through the Canadian Marketing Association.
After serving 28 years in corporate finance, she emboldened into new territory by striking up a business marketing consulting practice that exists to lighten the load of marketing leaders. Having been a leader in marketing, she appreciates the complexities of the job and the many demands that come with it.
Whether you are interested in learning more about how blue dragonfly can help your business, are interested in joining or learning more about Mastermind groups, would like to chat about a speaking engagement, or just want to meet with Lyanne, this is a great way to get started. Connect today.
Cheers to the beginning of a great relationship.