Staying on top of the evolving social sphere, increasing internal mindshare, putting out fires, and managing information overload are just some of the challenges we face as marketers. As a result, it can be a struggle to maintain a sharp focus on priorities, make quick decisions that are effective, and strategically prepare for the future.
Here are five “overarching” principles that will help guide you in your efforts to focus, plan, prioritize, justify, and make rapid-fire decisions about all your marketing endeavors.
1. Map your marketing plan directly to your organization’s mission and business plan goals – This principle is #1 for a reason: It will insure that you’re always on the right track. It will also help you focus and prioritize.
2. Maintain a customer-centric focus in everything you do – If an idea, program, or strategy is not “customer-centric,” then scrap it. A “customer-centric” focus is one that is based on customer beliefs, wants, behaviors, needs, desires, feedback, conversation, etc. Note: Be sure to include a definition of your “customer” (which can include existing, prospective and former customers) in your marketing plan – even though this might seem like common knowledge within your organization.
3. Make data-based decisions – Don’t make decisions without data, if possible. Data-based decisions provide much-needed validation and justification, and require less time for deliberation. “Data” in this case can mean anything ranging from an industry research report, marketing book or blog, and program analysis to pinging a colleague or committee for feedback and surveying your customer base.
4. Measure and track programs – Executing a program without knowing the results is like throwing budget dollars into the wind. Setting up a mechanism for measuring and tracking programs may take extra time up front, but the payoff is invaluable. In the end, your new process will save you a great deal of time and spare you from guesswork when making decisions. Also, knowing the results of your programs is a key factor for determining ROI – which, in turn, will help you effectively plan your budget. By analyzing your results you can also better plan for the upcoming year. Note: Be sure to establish a “baseline” metric before launching any new programs and initiatives.
5. Make it a habit to ask “Why?” – Don’t be afraid to ask ”Why?” and ask it often. This will open new channels of communication, windows of opportunity, and access to interesting and valuable information. Some of your biggest surprises and insights will come from asking this tiny question – whether to yourself or others.
NOTE: This post is based on my original response to a question on LinkedIn about “avoiding marketing mistakes.”