I find the biggest mistake folks make with a new marketing effort is the failure to plan. To do the necessary strategy grunge work before they start the flashy, cool ideation/creative work. But you have to do the grunge if you want to have a basis for truly insightful, powerful marketing campaigns. The goal is to make sure you do the right thing, not just some thing. While basic, what follows is little more than a checklist really, I’ve had folks over the years tell me it is a very helpful checklist and I find it helps me stay focused. So, today I’m sharing it with you.
First, define the objective
Many times a folks want to start a project with an executional goal. They want to build an ad campaign, or an ad or maybe a Facebook Fan Page. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. Instead, push beyond to define the business goal you are trying to achieve.
Second, define the audience
Start by asking yourself whom you think you should talk to in order to accomplish the objective defined above. But we don’t stop there. Use research, even “down and dirty” research to further develop the target audience into more highly refined sub-segments. You want to truly know who they are as people. What’s going on in their life. How buying what your selling will improve their existence. Sometimes you’ll find that the folks you think you should be talking to aren’t the right folks at all. That’s when you’ll understand why it is necessary to do the strategy stuff first!
Third, define the marketing context
You need to fully understand what is going on in the world, the category, the target audiences’ world, etc. So often this step is overlooked in the mad rush to get a new campaign or marcomm effort to market tomorrow. You use this information to better understand what, if anything contextually can and will effect your campaign and its performance in the marketplace.
Fourth, define the budget
Everyone works with a finite budget and infinite goals. Therefore, proper budget management is not just a nicety but a necessity if you are to maximize this precious and always limited resource. To do this, go back to the business goal. Truthfully think about how much sales lift you think you can achieve over a specific time period. Then determine how much you can afford to gamble on trying to achieve that sales lift. That’s your budget.
Fifth, define the timeline
We live in a FedEx world. But not everything absolutely, positively has to be done tomorrow. Big ideas take time. Give yourself permission to have that time. Also, you need to think through how quickly you need to achieve that objective. If you need to increase sales 20% in the next month vs over the next year, that will generate two entirely different marketing solutions.
Sixth, define the approval process
Often times, how you sell an idea is more important than the merit of the idea itself. That’s why you need to fully understand the approval process and personalities involved. Think about what stakes they have in the outcome of the campaign, what level of involvement they want or should have in the process, whether they have any preconceived notions about the assignment and finally, how they process information. By understanding your internal approval/selling process and constituents, you can improve the odds you’ll gain everyones buy-in faster and with less hassles.
Seventh, define the box
This is an optional step. If you’re doing the campaign yourself, you know what you will and won’t be willing to do. But if you’re engaging someone like me to help you, the box is what you can envision you or your company MIGHT be willing to approve. You need to define the edges — your agency or freelance team will take it from there.
Once you have all of this down on paper, get started on developing those big, creative ideas.
Are there other steps I should be adding? Areas I should beef up? How do you do it? How do you get to go? Let me know. Comment. Talk back.
For more templates, tips and strategies to improve your marketing, grab a copy of my new book — The Invisible Sale.