The marketing process is essential to creating integrative marketing communications to achieve your goals. It has three main steps, but the short list is deceiving compared to the amount of time and energy you will invest to do it right.
The three steps are:
That’s a nice short list, but they are time intensive. That is part of the reason companies hire a marketing agency to help. Let’s start with the marketing planning process. Many different agencies and text books will give you different options, but we like to look at it as a 3-step planning process.
Step 1: Assess the situation.
To create an integrated marketing communications plan, a full understanding of the company, industry, customers and products is needed. Some people start by looking at their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, more commonly known as a a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis is a great place to start, but we prefer to use a simpler format that will lead to the analysis. Here are the two questions we begin with and why we like to ask them:
- What’s going on in the industry? We like to do a bit of research. We like to use IBIS World Research to get a good grasp on what is going on in the industry. The IBIS World report provides us with performance information for the industry and provides us strong insights into the factors that will drive success.
- What’s going on in your company? This is best done with an interview. Sometimes when you ask someone about their company they will say, “Everything is great.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t help, so we need to delve deeper. We want to know if we are growing, shrinking, starting up operations, etc. We want to understand who our customers are and who our competition is.
Step 2: Set goals.
Be sure to use the well-known SMART format. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. What do you want to achieve with marketing? Is it leads, sales, or brand awareness? No matter your goal, make sure it is SMART. I always enjoy the conversation with prospective clients when they say “I want to double my sales by starting to post on _____________(Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc).” Do you think that is realistic? It may be for your business, but odds are not likely. So be sure to make sure you are realistic in what you want to achieve.
Step 3: Create a plan.
We now know what our goals are and how we are going to be measured. So let’s ask ourselves how can we move the needle to support our business goals. There are a million tactics out there and they all have pros and cons, but what will work best for your business will be unique to you. Here is a list of some to consider:
- Print Ads
- Social Media Ads
- Search Ads
- Social Media Posts
- Blog Posts
- Case Studies
- Direct Mail
- Marketing Automation
- Guest Blogging
How do these all come together? Well, that will happen in implementation, the focus of our next blog.
While this may seem overwhelming, and it can be, if you work through it step by step, you will appreciate the results.
If you don’t want to do this on your own, consider hiring a marketing agency. The fresh perspective can sometimes provide insight you wouldn’t otherwise have.