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Ah, the New Year.

The season for looking back and striding forward. For seeing old mistakes with new resolve for better tomorrows. For setting goals and embarking on fresh starts.

Basically, the season of admirable platitudes.

No matter what’s on your list of marketing goals for 2016, there’s one thing you must NOT do:

Don’t let your marketing get lost.

The 5 most likely ways your marketing will get lost this year

The sad truth is that it’s discouragingly easy for your marketing to get lost, and it happens to almost every business.

Marketing tends to slide off the rails in one of 5 typical ways:

  1. Procrastination: No matter whether you intentionally put off your marketing or it slips by accident, procrastination kills great opportunities and amps the stress of getting things done on time.
  2. Side-tracking: With the perpetual increase of new technologies, new ideas and new opportunities, it is all too easy to get off on a marketing tangent and end up wasting time and money on the wrong projects.
  3. Scatter-gunning: When your ‘to-do’ list of marketing items is long and everything is urgent, it’s tempting to jump from pressing thing to pressing thing. This fire-fighting style keeps things ticking, but inevitably spreads thin your marketing efforts and leaves projects in a state of disarray.
  4. Set-and-forget: Setting up all your marketing activities as a once-off and then leaving them alone is the equivalent of planting a garden but never bothering to water it. Marketing is an ongoing process which requires on-going effort, analysis and adjustment to reap reward.
  5. Measure-less: Data is the life-blood of good marketing. If you don’t have a way to measure and analyse the results of your marketing activities, then everything you do will end up being a crapshoot.

If you’ve spotted a sin or two you’re already committing in that list, don’t despair. There’s a simple formula that can help you avoid all of these pitfalls all year long.

The 2-part, 3-step trick to keep it from happening

How does one keep from getting lost?

With a map and a navigator of course.

No joke.

Avoiding getting lost is as easy as having a map (i.e. a marketing plan) and a navigator (i.e. a marketing manager).

Then, you just follow these 3 steps:

1. Follow the plan: Call it a marketing strategy, a marketing plan, a marketing action plan or any other name you like. The point is, you need one. And, you need to actually follow it. Having a plan helps get the most out of your marketing and it also draws the necessary boundaries you need to avoid tangents and overspends. Forcing yourself to follow the plan keeps you focused on the right stuff and commits you to the schedule you need to succeed.

2. Have a monthly marketing meeting: Even if you are a company of one person, or are acting as your own marketing manager, have a dedicated monthly marketing meeting. This isn’t a set time to ‘do’ marketing (you need that too, but that’s a separate thing). This is when you review what’s been done, what needs doing and what needs adjusting. Locking this in as a dedicated part of your business operations keeps you accountable to the plan (bye-bye side tracking), forces you into measurement of efforts, eliminates the chance you will set-and-forget and helps focus to avoid scatter-gunning and procrastination. If you can, have someone other than yourself fill the role of ‘navigator’ for these meetings. Just like a personal trainer will help keep you honest and on track at the gym, a dedicated marketer will make these sessions far more beneficial to growing your business.

3. Tweak as you go: Life happens, things change, and no matter how carefully you laid it out, your marketing plan and activities will both need adjustments. Yes, you need to stick to the plan, but not blindly. If things have changed, or the results of the measurements you have put in place suggest you need to adjust, do it! By accepting (and expecting) that you will be making tweaks as you go, you will find the balance between following the plan and actually navigating it.

By following the above three steps, you will be able to keep your marketing from getting lost this (and every) year.

May your marketing resolution be one you never break!

Ready to make this resolution a reality? The team at Baker Marketing can help! Learn more about our marketing strategy and marketing management services.

Image by Jane Rahman on Flickr (CC by 2.0).
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