Oftentimes, the desire to demonstrate marketing success in a short period of time can put executing tactics ahead of creating a marketing strategy. While this approach may yield short-term success, it is difficult to sustain a cohesive, multi-channel marketing campaign that reaches all target audiences and supports overall business goals without a guiding strategy in place.
Before you begin executing marketing tactics for the year ahead, consider these five key reasons to first develop a marketing strategy:
Alignment with business objectives
A strategic marketing plan identifies how various marketing activities (e-communications, public relations, social media marketing, inbound marketing, etc.) can support a business as it works to achieve its overall goals. For example, if your business plan for 2014 identifies 10% revenue growth as a target, the plan will outline marketing strategies and tactics that support revenue growth, be it tradeshow marketing, email marketing or an aggressive inbound marketing strategy.
Even with the best of intentions, the hectic pace of day-to-day business can push marketing to the back burner. An effective marketing plan will assign roles and responsibilities while setting a realistic plan of action suited to the bandwidth of those executing the plan. A charted, bandwidth-conscious approach ensures businesses can close the year having demonstrated marketing success.
At the onset of social media marketing, it was common to see a business establish a presence on every platform only for the majority to go dark due to lack of content and bandwidth. A marketing plan both ensures a variety of marketing activities that reach all target audiences. It also outlines a content creation strategy that ensures one doesn’t tweet ten times per day for two months and go dark for the subsequent ten months.
Balance and variety
Communications preferences tend to vary widely among target audiences. While this poses a unique opportunity to diversify the channels through which your business communicates, it also poses a significant challenge. The very nature of communicating with multiple audiences with differing preferences can mean one audience could go two or three months without being reached were a strategic, multi-channel communications plan not in place.
Defining short- and long-term success metrics
Effective marketing isn’t about a “one-hit wonder.” It’s about conceptualizing and implementing an ongoing marketing program that can be refined as needed. That is to say: if the January campaign yields minimal results, future campaigns can be tweaked appropriately. Further, it means that monthly activities build upon one another, yielding an outcome where the sum of the year-long campaign is greater than the individual parts.
Success metrics should align with an overall business strategy. In short, marketing, business development and communications cannot work in silos. An integrated approach ensures strategies and tactics are working together to achieve common goals and the success metrics should reflect this alignment.