When it comes to marketing, there are endless tips and tricks, new tech platforms, up and coming media and ever-changing trends. It’s important to follow the direction of the industry and be up to date on the latest craze in case it presents a great opportunity for your business. But the secret to successful marketing goes deeper than that. It begins with your approach and with four simple rules that, if followed, will help you become a consistent, successful marketer.
Make a Plan
Planning for your marketing efforts may not sound like much of a secret. In fact, it probably sounds like a general guideline or even common sense. But what exactly does your idea of planning entail? Some people over simplify. If your plan looks something like this, “Grow our social media following this year by posting cool/interesting content,” you are missing some serious details. How are you going to get this new content in front of new people? Will you have a hashtag strategy or influencer program? Will you have content series that change every week? Every quarter? Right now you have a goal, not a plan. Go deeper. A fully thought-through plan will lay the groundwork for a successful campaign.
Find a happy medium in your planning. A marketing plan that’s too detailed can be just as dangerous as one that’s too simple. If you’ve already created a rigid plan for daily content throughout the year, you miss an opportunity to strategize based on which posts are performing the best with your audience. A great plan has room for flexibility. Strategic pivots throughout the year (even if they are detours from your original plan) will ensure performance continues to improve over time.
Stick to the Plan
If your marketing plan is flexible enough, you should be able to confidently stick to it all year long. When things change, you should allow for strategic variations, but try to avoid being reactive. Don’t panic and throw your whole plan out the window. Chances are, when you created your plan you had a clear head. So resist the urge to do anything drastic and keep your sights on your long-term goal rather than a short-term fix.
Creating deadlines is project management 101. The most common mistake here – after failing to establish deadlines at all – is failing to establish interim deadlines along the way. You can set a final launch date for a new website, but if you don’t set and follow individual deadlines for each particular section, you probably won’t make the launch date. When is the initial site map due? When do you take photos for the site? When is the home page design due? Primary nav pages? Secondary pages? First round of copy? The list goes on and on.
When it comes to large projects, you must create a deadline for each and every function and element. That will keep you on track to meet the final deadline (when the entire project is due) and ensure nothing falls through the cracks – even if the project takes months to complete.
Stick to the Deadlines
Not all deadlines are do or die. The milestone deadlines we mentioned above? They’re flexible. That internal deadline your team set for the first draft of your marketing plan? It could be pushed back by a couple of days. Whether you’re under the gun from other projects or you’re just uninspired, it can be tempting to miss those soft deadlines. Just remember: You set those deadlines for a reason.
First it’s a couple of days, then a couple of weeks. It’s very easy to get off track when you decide that missing deadlines – even the soft ones – is acceptable. The truth is, it’s not. Not if you want to succeed.
The key to successful marketing is strategic planning. And the secret to strategic planning is making the time to actually be strategic – in other words, think things through thoroughly. Figure out what you want to accomplish and set some deadlines that will get you there. Once you’ve done all this — you have a solid plan with achievable deadlines — you’re well on your way to producing effective marketing. Trust the plan. Set the deadlines. And stick to them.