So, you’ve taken the time and effort to research, compile and write a marketing plan. You and your team (if you have one) think it’s great and the way forward. But are you actually going to stick to the plan, and if you don’t, does it matter?
Here are three reasons to, “Stick to the marketing plan”.
1. To avoid the exhaustion of yo-yo marketing
For most businesses, the reason they reviewed their marketing and wrote a marketing plan is because they were tired of bouncing around in what Bryony Thomas, author of Watertight Marketing, calls ‘yo-yo’ marketing.
Yo-yo marketing is when your company “does” marketing, then bam! It works! Wow! You get work in and it’s all hands to the deck, heads down, making sure you deliver this piece of work brilliantly, so that you are absolutely going to have a happy, satisfied client. The only thing is…you drop the ball on your marketing.
It doesn’t matter though, does it? You’ve got loads of work. And we all know that this marketing stuff doesn’t always work and we’re never sure which bits of it do work anyway.
This is where the “yo-yo” marketing happens. At first you don’t notice it but then you look up from the “big” piece of work and your pipeline is dry. Because you stopped following your marketing plan. So you rapidly dig out that marketing plan, you need some business and you need it quick, and off you go again! Doing some marketing…you get the next big piece of work in and…rinse. Repeat. It’s emotionally exhausting and terrible for your company’s cash flow.
There’s an easy way to avoid yo-yo marketing: stick to the marketing plan. Even when busy. Stick to the plan. That way, you will have a nice, steady stream of work coming in all the time and you can get rid of the feast and famine ride.
2. To achieve the results you want
Your Tactical Marketing Plan sets out clearly what your organisation has to do to achieve its Strategic Marketing goals (goals around turnover per segment, market share etc). If you don’t stick to that plan, you won’t achieve those goals. It’s that simple.
So why, like dieters reaching for the double chocolate biscuits, do we so often stop sticking to the plan?
It’s because we lose sight of the link between doing the marketing activities we set out to do and achieving our goals.
It’s because we become busy and overwhelmed and, like the dieter, we think that one chocolate biscuit won’t hurt so we shave small bits off our plan at a time not noticing how it adds up.
It’s because marketing is a long term thing – and we are in a society of instant results and gratification and when it doesn’t work quickly we become despondent and feel like it doesn’t work.
If we want the results that our marketing plan has set out to achieve, then we have to stick to that plan and follow it through. Even when we feel that it isn’t working or we’ve forgotten what we’re doing it for. We need to stick with it.
3. To stop being distracted
Your organistion’s marketing plan provides a framework to operate within. The Strategic Marketing plan gives the framework for which markets and segments you’re operating in and which products you’re selling to them. The Tactical Marketing plan provides the framework for the detail of how you are going to reach and sell to your customers. You need to stick within the laid out frameworks and not get distracted.
Typical strategic marketing distractions include:
- diverting resource to sell to a new market or segment because an opportunity came along
- diverting resource to create or sell new products because of an opportunity.
A typical tactical marketing distraction is:
- wanting to use a new marketing tool (e.g. the latest social media tool, something you saw another organisation use and thought it looked awesome).
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be grabbing opportunities but it should be done within the framework laid out by your marketing plans.
Think of it as being like going on a mountain hike. You know which peak you want to summit (strategic). You have planned your route (tactical). Then something happens. Perhaps the weather closes in and gets rough. Or you meet another hiker who suggests you pop for lunch at that altitude cafe known for its views. So you alter your route plan according to the circumstances but you are still aiming for the same mountain peak. Your overall goal has not changed.
Changing your strategic direction is a big decision and should be made in full knowledge of what it will do. Changing your tactics can be a really good thing in response to the environment you operate in but you still need to check that it works for your clients. Stay focused. Stick within the plan.
Your organisation has invested time, money and thought into designing a marketing plan. A plan designed to get you the results you want. Stick with the plan. It’s worth it.
By Kara Stanford, an award-winning Strategic Marketing Consultant who helps businesses review and plan their marketing – and then stick to it.
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