All bark, no bite. That about sums up the average marketing campaign for a small business. A great marketing campaign isn’t just about planning. Nor is is all about taking action. Your best chance of creating a campaign that that works is by finding the correct balance between targeting, planning, execution and refinement.
Sure, sometimes it’s lack of effort that causes you to cede victory, but more often than not the first thing your should be looking at is your lack of focus – to achieve your goal (you have one right?) will require a single-minded effort that puts all your marketing resources into action at the same time and with the same target in mind.
That’s what we’re going to cover in this post. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working solo or with a small team. With a little effort, planning, focus, and execution, you can assemble a marketing campaign that actually has a purpose.
For our example, we’re going to reference techniques and terminology that are geared towards creating an inbound campaign. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take these principles and apply them to an outbound campaign, or even integrate them into a hybrid campaign that combines the best of both worlds.
We’re not really covering specific tactics per se, in this post. It more about how to tie together all the big pieces.
Enough waffle, let’s get started.
Simplicity Rules the Roost
Spend 10 minutes searching Google and you’ll soon find yourself facing information overwhelm. Every website you visit seems to have a slightly different version of how to put together the ideal marketing campaign. But is any one method really better than another? And what makes for a successful plan in the first place?
If you find yourself creating marketing campaigns that never seem to get off the ground or produce the desired results, you might be making things more complicated than they actually need to be. No fancy three-ring binders or 20-page campaigns here.
There is a lot to be said for creating a simple 1-2 page plan in point form. If you put aside the technical jargon and fancy tools you’ll find it easier. Focus on simplicity and before you know it you’ll have an actionable plan that is capable of producing real results.
Determine Your Objective
We’ve all heard of SMART goals, right?
Chances are you understand these well enough that there is no need dwell on them. Instead, let’s just cover a few key points that are important to remember.
First, while it’s a good idea to create goals or objectives that are specific, measurable and attainable, don’t forget to make sure they’re relevant as well.
That means understanding what’s important to your business. The campaigns you create should be focused on activities that will help you build your business. Specifically, new leads & new clients.
But what about building a social following? Sure, that can be valuable as well, provided your followers are also prospective clients. Creating a marketing campaign with the objective of increasing your social media status means nothing if those followers never stand a chance of converting to clients.
The second-point worth remembering is that you’re probably planning to be in business for the long-term. Yes? Most of the time, your marketing campaigns should reflect this. Accept the fact that attracting new clients is often a long, slow process which involves developing a relationship first.
Don’t set goals that are unrealistic or so time-sensitive that your campaign doesn’t stand a chance of being successful. If you create success, you’ll be able to build upon it.
Identify and Target Your Audience
There have been a few posts recently on the Elegant Theme’s blog that discuss picking a niche and developing an accurate customer persona as part of that process. This process is not something we need to cover again here in great detail. What’s more important is taking that information and learning to create a campaign that properly targets your audience.
Laser focused means knowing exactly who you’re speaking to. When you developed your personas, you likely came up with more than one. But don’t make the mistake of creating a marketing campaign that takes a shotgun approach. Instead, focus on a single, clearly defined customer persona.
For example, let’s imagine most of your clients are in the medical field. Dentists, physicians, surgeons, and chiropractors. Do you design a marketing campaign that targets Dr’s? No. Instead, you’d target:
- Plastic Surgeons
- Located in California
- Between the ages of 32 and 45
- Who have children under the age of 10
- Who have a business presence on Facebook & Twitter
- Who currently have a website that is out of date and poorly optimized
- Who don’t have the time to properly design, build and manage a digital presence
If you’ve been building WordPress sites for any length of time, you’re probably faced with choosing from multiple personas. There is no tried and true answer when it comes to picking the best one. But a good place to start is somewhere where you’ve already experienced success.
Why pick a new target if you’ve already found something that’s working? As long as you feel like there is still potential, stick with what you know.
The Importance of Planning
We all understand the importance of planning and there is no doubt that building a marketing campaign requires a healthy dose of just that.
In our first few steps, you identified who your target is and where they can be found (ie. Facebook & Twitter). While that is definitely a critical step, there’s still lots of hard work to do. You need to figure out how you’re going to grab their attention and hopefully move them into your established sales funnel.
Part of the challenge, when it comes time to execute your marketing campaign, is putting all of the pieces together. Make sure you’re doing the right things at the right time and that all your efforts are focused upon a single purpose. Proper planning can solve that challenge.
If we assume you’re going to stick with our original idea of creating an inbound campaign, you’ll want to make sure you’ve prepared the following before you launch:
- A method of capturing leads (ie. a web form).
- Any blog posts, articles or landing pages that are required.
- A content calendar.
- An offer that will entice prospects to enter your sales funnel.
- If you’re using an auto-responder, make sure you have a structured nurturing process.
- Create any social media posts that will be required – load your tweets and posts into a spreadsheet.
- Create any required graphics.
- Finally, make sure you have a system in place to measure your results.
As part of your planning process, you should decide how and when you’ll execute each step. When will you publish posts? What hours of the day will you promote via social? If outreach will be used, who, when and how will you target?
And, of course, you can change the type of campaign if you want – maybe outbound is more your thing. You’ll have to adjust the individual steps, but the process remains the same.
This is no different than making sure you’ve got all the pieces to a puzzle before you start putting it together. If you’re going to be focused in your efforts, you can’t be scrambling for a few missing pieces once the process has started.
Execute on Your Plan
In a lot of ways, unless you’re a huge fan of planning, execution is the fun part of the process. It’s where you get to put all the pieces to together and (fingers crossed) reap the rewards.
But just because it’s fun it doesn’t mean it’s time to let your guard down. The last thing you want to do is spend time creating a plan and then execute it poorly.
To avoid any unforeseen problems, now is a great time make sure you’re familiar with the tools you’ll be using. If you’re fan of Hootsuite or Buffer for your social media, make sure you’re comfortable with their functionality.
Tweeting a broken link or adding a group of prospects to the wrong watch list is no way to kick off your campaign. Neither is forgetting to turn on your auto-responder only to discover the problem a week after 5 prospects signed up for a lead magnet that never arrived. Check and recheck for any potential problems or oversights.
A highly focused plan means doing the right things at the right times. If you start each day unsure of what action you should take or what tools you should be using, you can expect your results to be equally scattered.
Measure and Adapt
Once of the worst things you can do when planning your campaign is to make assumptions. There is no hard, fast rule that tells you what will and what won’t work. Just because a competitor managed to pull off a successful twitter campaign, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do the same. And just because your customer persona was wrong last time, doesn’t mean it won’t be spot-on this time around.
All of these unknowns are what make the process of measuring and adapting so important. Step number seven above said you should have a system in place to track and measure your results. Until that system is in place, don’t do a thing.
You want to remove as many of your biases as possible and the best way to do that is by making decisions based upon numbers and data instead of gut feelings.
If you see that something isn’t working, never be afraid to make a change. That’s how the most effective marketing campaigns in the world are built – through testing, measuring and re-testing, over and over again.
What can you test? Everything. The copy and pictures you’re using in ads, the time of day you post to social media, the headlines on your landing pages and the color of your forms. Nothing is off limits.
We’ve covered some of the most important steps when it comes to creating a highly focused marketing campaign. One of the biggest lessons, hopefully, is that it’s not about the fancy tools or how you can automate the process.
It’s about standing back, looking at the big picture – as if it were a map – and knowing exactly where you’re going and how you will get there. Plan your route, then execute. But don’t forget to plug in your GPS because you want to know how far you’ve traveled with the ability to make corrections along the way.
What are some of the steps you take before launching a marketing campaign? Have you found that focusing your campaigns on a specific persona makes a difference? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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