How focus will keep your marketing plan alive and well
by Rachael Wheatley
We’ve recently done a small bit of research and found that people’s main frustrations with marketing is that there is not enough structure or focus in the marketing plans they have.
But how does this show, what are the implications and how can you keep focused to ensure your plan moves forward?
How lack of focus shows up
There are several ways that a lack of focus and structure in marketing plans are demonstrated:
- No marketing plan which sets out what you want to achieve and the activities you’ve committed to
- You’ve not done the strategic marketing thinking and planning before diving into the tactical plan
- Marketing activities are still scattergun even if there is a plan
- You’re struggling to set aside any time to do the activities you said you would
- The activity plan is not regularly brought front of mind – in meetings, in your working space, in your calendar
- You’re not holding yourself or others accountable
- You’re not meeting your business objectives or targets
- The intention is there but you don’t feel there’s enough to show for it!
If any of these sound familiar, rest assured you’re not alone.
The problem is, if this remains the case you’ll find it hard to either progress the plan or achieve what you set out to do. And there’s a real risk that the time and money you do spend on marketing will be wasted. Which in itself undermines the motivation to be involved in marketing, because of lack of evidence that it makes any difference.
The starting point
In order to gain the focus you need, the starting point has to be some kind of plan. Preferably a strategic one first (What should be in a good marketing plan), which links to your business objectives. Having done the thinking behind this, you’ll be clear about the context for your activities – e.g. the target audience, the marketplace, the proposition, the messages you’re communicating, which activities will support which part of the buying process. Once this is in place, then you can come up with a tactical activity plan.
Armed with this activity plan, this is the thing you need to keep the focus on. If you want to achieve your objectives, whether growing this part of the business or developing relationships with those clients, or gaining awareness and interest in this specialist area, what’s more important than this plan?
Keeping on track
Over many years of working with colleagues and clients, there are some typical ways in they’ve found to keep on track. Here are some of the ones which have made a real difference:
- Be clear about WHY you are doing this – and then keep that in mind to underpin your motivation. (For more on this, see my guest post on Watertight Marketing: You're not Watertight-ready if you can't say why you do it)
- Have regular BD/marketing related meetings at which you go through the plan and get updates from people
- Publicly commit to actions. Agree with your team or someone else what you and others are committing to and, crucially, give them permission to chase you if you haven’t delivered
- Set aside time weekly – block it out in your diary. Go to a different place to be quiet and unavailable to others so that you can concentrate. If you get distracted easily or are tempted to put a client meeting in the diary – reschedule that time.
- Develop your own personal business development/marketing plan. Then set up meetings with someone else (your manager, someone in the marketing team, a colleague) on a monthly basis, where you’ll talk through what you’ve done. Coach each other – ask those difficult questions if you’re finding it hard to keep on track: what’s the problem, how can you overcome this, what do you want to do about it
- Ask for help. If the reason you can’t stay focused is because you don’t feel comfortable undertaking that marketing activity, ask for help from someone who does – call them, meet with them. Or ask from some coaching from someone in the marketing/BD team or someone outside the business.
- Overcome the lack of time trap. If the reason you can’t stay focused is because you feel you lack the time, consider whether it’s an actual lack of time (in which case can you get help from someone) or a perceived lack of time which might indicate something else (lack of confidence in this area, see point 5; lack of motivation) and consider what's holding you back and how you might change this.
There’s no question that having a structured marketing plan is the single most important first step. And that staying focused – consistently, month after month – is hard. But if you’re keen to avoid the marketing yo-yo diet (which usually results in peaks and troughs in income), then keeping focused is the thing you need to crack.
© Bluegreen Learning Ltd
Related post: How an outsourced director service helped one client to focus
Want help to keep on track?
Call Rachael for an initial chat on 07810 866288 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org