Now that the new year is here, it's a good time to evaluate what marketing efforts are necessary to keep business moving forward. It's time to make a marketing plan. Unfortunately, the giant list of day-to-day tasks pulls most business owners in a thousand directions. This causes them to spend a lot of time working IN their businesses instead of ON their businesses. By not prioritizing the time necessary to plan your marketing roadmap strategically, you are setting yourself up to make reactive decisions about your marketing strategy. This can lead to poor communication with your target audience and a lot of wasted time and money.
Being Reactive is Hurting Your Business
In the book, Brandraising by Sarah Durham, she highlights the main reasons why businesses create their marketing plan on the fly. It almost always centers around the following:
Lack of Time:
Many small business owners take on a lot. This is entirely understandable, but not taking the time to develop your brand strategy can come back and bite you later. And finding the time to do the work yourself is almost impossible.
Lack of Budget:
There are a lot of expenses for the small business owner, and unfortunately, the marketing budget is typically pushed to the bottom. When it comes time to work with a creative professional and talk about a marketing plan, they are not prepared for the costs.
Lack of Expertise:
By not having someone on your team with the creative, strategic or technical skills to create a credible visual brand, website, ad campaigns, etc., you run the risk of your communication efforts failing as your business grows.
Signs that You've Had a Short-Term View of Your Marketing Plan
If any of this is sounding familiar, you may have experienced some of the following:
You felt your passion for your business was all you needed to create a brand, but now realize that you didn't strategize about what a growing business may require.
You do the marketing yourself, but feel guilty because you aren't consistent with your efforts.
Your logo and brand may have worked for a short time in the beginning, but now that you are growing, it doesn't represent who you are anymore.
You thought you could set up a website and be done with it, but you now discovered your site looks outdated and/or doesn't perform well on mobile and tablet devices.
You feel you are starting from scratch every time you create a marketing piece because no clear brand exists.
None of your marketing pieces quite match, and you have ended up with a mixed and cluttered message of your brand.
Being Proactive Brings Growth and Clarity
Shifting to a more sustainable and proactive view of your business will give credibility to your brand, but being proactive does require some planning to be effective. Start by doing the following:
Gather Your Team
As stated earlier, not having the expertise to create your marketing pieces can cause your efforts to fail. If you don't have the knowledge and/or time to do this work yourself, be sure to define who on your team will take on this role and work with you to implement your strategy. This might be someone in-house, an independent creative professional or an agency that you collaborate with to help you define and create your brand and marketing strategy.
Carve Out Time for Thinking and Planning (not just doing)
Busy work does not always move us forward. Sometimes we end up just going in circles without making any real progress. By carving out time for strategic thinking and planning, you can make the "doing" time much more efficient. Define that one big idea you want to communicate to your audience and create a marketing roadmap to keep moving toward your goals instead of in circles. Working with that expert on your team can help you with these plans.
Define Your Budget
Once you know where you want to go with your marketing, you need to find out how much money it will cost to get you there. Advertising, design, web hosting, printing, etc. can add up quickly, but it doesn't all have to happen at once. If your budget is tight, gather costs for the most important pieces and take on a phased approach to completing everything. Knowing the costs for phase two and three will allow you to budget appropriately and get everything done without feeling overwhelmed financially.
The Big Picture
With the giant list of goals we all have for our personal and business lives, it's hard to decide what needs to happen first. Just remember you can't get it all done at once, but being reactive with your marketing isn't going to get you any closer to your business goals by this time next year. Take the time to do what's important. Do what's urgent later. There will always be fires to put out, but if you don't carve out time for what's important, who will?
Ready to start being proactive with your marketing? Let's chat!