10 steps to successful marketing: Step 1 – Know where you want to go

mapIf you were going on holiday, would you book the time off work, arrange your travel insurance and foreign currency, and only then decide where you were going? Or worse still, get in the car and head north or south without a map, compass (or sat nav) with no idea where you were heading? Welcome to the holiday from hell.

And yet many SMEs (small and medium enterprises) do exactly that where their marketing is concerned. They agree to spend hard-earned revenue on promotional campaigns – often convinced by a good salesperson who assures them that only their magazine/radio station/website (delete as applicable) can deliver a high return on investment.

Before spending a penny on marketing and promotions, you must decide what you are wanting to achieve. Where do you want to get to? What will be an illustration of a successful campaign, and how will it be measured? Set goals, then plan to achieve these goals.

There are many acronyms to help you through this process (some of which we’ll be discussing in future blogs – why not subscribe to receive updates?) Your goals should be SMART. You can analyse the past and future using SWOT, PEST, ORID, GROW…to name but a few. Most SMEs have managers who float between operational and strategic roles. It can be quite difficult to drag oneself away from the day to day operations of the business and take a cold, clear-headed view of where you are and where you want to be. This is where an outside agency with experience of working with SMEs can help. It is much, much easier to see clearly with an ‘outside-in’ perspective. Consider working with a marketing agency who specialises in your size of business (such as ELK!) – the upfront cost will more than pay for itself in the clarity which you achieve in your plans. And clear plans lead to more cost effective marketing activity, which improves your bottom line.

The great American general George S Patton is famously quoted as saying: “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” This is undoubtedly true when you are storming the Normandy beaches or reacting to a desperate German winter counter-offensive in the Belgian Ardennes. It is not true when you are embarking on a marketing and promotional campaign. Best wait a week and make sure you have all the information to hand before you open your wallet.

If you’d like help with putting together a marketing strategy or a marketing plan, then why not contact us? We speak plain English, are not afraid to tell it how it is, but we like to think that we’re nice people as well. Go on, pick up the phone.