On the surface, marketing looks to be a pretty complicated discipline. Just think about it: marketing plans, strategy, branding, positioning, social media, advertising, e-mail, direct mail, analytics, content, SEO, CRM, MAS, etc., etc. Whew!
Unfortunately, because it looks difficult, many firms just sort of “play” at marketing. They’ll throw up a Web site, maybe make a few posts to their blog, tweet occasionally, take out an ad in a directory and call it a day. And then they complain that their marketing isn’t working!
The fact is, effective marketing is not all that complex. It’s about creating a good plan and then executing it. But execution requires discipline, persistence and focus. In short, it requires a little hard work. And that is why many companies fail at marketing: They won’t do the little day-to-day things necessary to be successful.
Here are a few examples where execution falters and marketing often breaks down in a company.
Scenario 1: Running an ad
Let’s say that your plan calls for a little banner ad to be posted in a Quirk’s e-newsletter. Simple, right? Yes, but not easy. Take a look at some of the steps necessary to do it right:
- Understand the deadlines from Quirk’s.
- Understand the ad specs from Quirk’s.
- What’s the content of the ad? Who’s writing it? Who’s approving it?
- What’s the design? Who’s designing it? Is the design consistent with your other marketing?
- If the designer is outside your firm, do they have the ad specs?
- What does the ad link to? Is that page updated?
- Will Web site visitors have the chance to download something? Is that prepared?
- How are you measuring the ad?
- What’s the follow-up plan for any leads generated?
And a dozen other questions you need to think about.
Are you going through this kind of planning? Do you have all of the bases covered? Are you taking the time to think through and work through these details?
Scenario 2: Hosting a blog
Blogs are a great way to engage the marketplace in relevant dialogue. They help tremendously with SEO and position the author as a subject-matter expert.
Unfortunately, most blogs that I see are very poorly managed, primarily because of content (“What am I going to write about today?”). The author plans to blog once a week, for example. Then it’s once every two weeks, then once a month and then once in a blue moon.
The problem is not the blog. The problem is that no thought was given on the front end to the strategy behind the blog or the planning of its execution. Some things that need to be considered:
- Is there an editorial calendar in place? How and why are the topics chosen? How far out does it go?
- How often do you plan to post?
- Does your content integrate with what’s going on at your firm?
- What sources do you have for content?
- Do you have backup writers?
- Will you invite guest writers?
- Do you allow comments? If so, how often are you checking them? Who’s responsible for responding?
- How are you measuring the effectiveness of your blog?
Like the ad scenario above, or with any marketing tactic, there is always a lot to consider. Are you taking the time to do it?
The bottom line is this: Success in marketing is in the execution of the details – in doing the little things day-in, day-out and in thinking through all that needs to be done and making sure it happens.
Where it breaks down for most firms is in two areas:
- Not thinking through and planning for all those details
- Not having the discipline to follow the plan every day
It comes down to focus
How do you fix this problem? It generally comes down to focus. At many firms, the responsibility for marketing is often in the hands of someone who already has a full-time job (e.g., the president/owner, a project director or business development executive who does marketing on the side, etc.). When marketing is handled like this, it’s rarely successful because the jobs that they’re getting paid to do always come first.
To be successful, someone at your firm must have primary responsibility for the execution of the marketing plan – not that they will necessarily do it all themselves but they will make sure it gets done. They serve as the bulldog, the taskmaster. It doesn’t have to be their full-time job but it must be recognized as a key element of their job description. They must be allowed to spend time focusing on it and they must be held accountable to it.
Light years ahead
Marketing is simple – but it ain’t easy. If you take the time to plan and think through your efforts and then dedicate someone to making sure they happen, you will be successful … and you’ll be light years ahead of 90 percent of the firms out there who are just winging it.
Good luck and good marketing.