Before we delve into this subject, allow me to say up front that it absolutely kills
many marketers to admit – marketing process is the key to making your marketing successful.
As people who can be dominated by the left side of the brain (the creative side), the fear is that even the mention of ‘process’ is enough to banish any creative thought from the mind.
And marketing, branding and advertising is largely about finding creative solutions, isn’t it..?!
Well, actually, that’s only a small part of it. Once you’ve developed your marketing strategy and built a marketing plan to make it happen, only then do you get onto the creative part that brings it all to life. And following that, you’ll be analysing and optimising your impact –lots of right-brain activity ahead!
To be honest, a lot of marketing is pretty repetitive.
It’s doing the basics, doing it well, and doing it consistently.
And especially these days, the basics tend to be day-in, day-out stuff. So it’s really important you’re efficient at execution. Here are five key big-picture steps that will help you stay on track, and prevent your marketing from driving you bonkers.
Marketing Process Step 1
Setting budgets & realistic deadlines
There’s always more on your to-do list than you’ll realistically have the time, resources or budget to complete. And if there’s not, quite frankly, you probably haven’t put enough thought into it.
So before you begin, decide how much money you have to spend for the year, or what’s left of it. And if you’re not sure how to figure that out, we’ve written an article about it right here. Hint – 7 – 12% of your revenue is a good starting point. (Pre-Covid spend averages can be seen in the chart below).
Marketing Process Step 2
Make a plan, break it down – and stick to it
With your budget locked away, firm up your plans accordingly.
Your marketing strategy will be fairly long term, but your marketing plans should take a much shorter period of time into account. Make a list of what you’d like to achieve in the year, break it down into quarters, and then go into a bit more detail for the next three months. That’s all you need to begin with. Try to make sensible determinations of how long everything’s going to take. It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion on this too. Another business owner, marketing professional, social group or a business coach if you have one, just to act as a sounding board.
Make sure your marketing strategy is aligned with your business strategy, of course, and then as time goes by, make sure you stick to the plan. Don’t be dazzled by the latest bit of marketing technology, don’t be fooled into pouring all your advertising spend into the ‘next Facebook’, and don’t, whatever you do, suddenly change all of your messaging without a darn good reason to do so.
Time and again, we’ve seen business owners, and even seasoned marketers simply get bored of their advertising, because they’ve seen the same message so many times. I can tell you right now, categorically, that your target market is not getting bored of the messages you’re sending out. They’re only seeing them a fraction of the time that you do. And mostly, it doesn’t even register. Like water off a duck’s back. When they happen to be in the market for what you’re offering, suddenly they’ll notice, and your message will hit home.
Ever think about buying a red car, and suddenly that’s all you see? Same thing.
If something isn’t working, then slowly, methodically figure out why, and address the problem directly. Further details on figuring out what’s wrong with your marketing right here, if you’re interested. In the meantime, stick to the plan.
Marketing Process Step 3
Plan and set the right skills and resources
No plan is going to happen without a capable owner to drive it.
Our long experience in SME marketing confirmed that you need a person on your team with significant experience. Helping solve that for you is what’s what the Inside-Out service is all about!
Sure, you might be tempted to try and save money by trying to is to do everything in-house with a junior or existing member of staff to co-ordinate, but you’ll likely fail if you rely on that – you’re always going to get a better result using a seasoned professional. And, you’ll save your own time, which is probably one of the most valuable resources you have.
The various approaches to putting the right resources in place is discussed more here.
Of course, once you’ve got the right skills on board, it’s important they follow due process. Here are a couple of doozies …
Marketing Process Step 4
A full and proper brief
Learning how to complete a great brief that gets the most out of your team and/or suppliers is a central part of the process that leads directly to productivity and effectiveness.
A brief should balance thorough information and insight with a sense of your expectations. However, if you’re too restrictive, don’t expect an enthusiastic the response – and the corresponding results may suffer accordingly. But if you’re too loose in your brief, they might go way off track. You’ll end up wasting time, and probably put a few noses out of joint too. You want to balance instruction, inspiration and creative freedom.
Our advice here would be, yes, you’ve guessed it, put a process in place – a simple briefing template – ensuring everyone agrees on what needs to go into it, to get the best results.
If you use an external agency, insist they provide a briefing form that works for them and if they don’t have one, RUN!! Then ASK them what they think a great brief looks like. (Of course if you’ve put the right skills in place as per step 3 above, this won’t be your job at all).
Marketing Process Step 5
Management & reporting
Now you need to monitor what’s going on and measure the response to your marketing efforts. Sales are the ultimate measure of success, of course, however, there’s lots of indicators you can monitor on your way there.
Online, of course, there are more than enough data points to be dealt with. We’d suggest sitting down with an expert and going through your analytics in detail, before deciding what you actually need to see on a regular basis – and what’s just noise. Then set up a regular report that’s actually meaningful, and use it to gauge your progress and optimise your efforts. Which simply means doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
This should be done in every area you can manage. Even good old fashioned print ads can be monitored for response if the CTA is a specific web page, or a phone number that’s registered to that specific ad. And if you’re building a series of reports into your marketing process, try to ensure they’re comparable across the reporting platforms.
Once you’ve set all of this up properly, you can start to pull some levers, and make incremental improvements along the way. A few percent here and there, can make all the difference.
Now the final part of all this is, of course, is managing the whole process, but if you stick to marketing process steps 1 – 4, then you’ve got the basics right and you’re not going to have any massive problems.
And if you do, feel free to give us a call, we do this all the time, and we’d love to help.