My wife sent me an email joke today that I found particularly funny. It also has some valuable lessons.
Here’s a paraphrased, shortened version of the joke:
Four “A” college students took a road trip one weekend near the end of their semester. They got back so late they missed their final exam on Monday. So they lied to their professor, telling him a flat tire caused them to miss the exam.
The professor let them retake the test but he put them in separate rooms. Their exam had two questions. The first was worth 5 points and was something they all easily answered because they had studied.
The second question was worth 95 points. It simply read:
Besides the obvious lessons about being responsible and being honest, this story helps us see the risk of poor planning. The students might have gotten away with their sham if they had done a little planning and discussed which tire had “gone flat.”
The same problem can happen with our marketing.
Too often our marketing efforts fail because we don’t put enough forethought into them. In our “get it done” culture it’s easy for us to jump straight to the “action” part of our action plans. But then, it’s just as easy to forget the “planning” part.
When we fail to plan we increase the odds that our actions will be ineffective. We risk spending our time, money and energy doing the wrong things. Or we do the right things but we don’t do them well or often enough.
To be clear, I’m no advocate of over-planning. Too much paperwork and too many meetings give me a headache.
On the other hand, if you shoot from the hip too much you might end up missing everything you target.
Here’s an easy little exercise you can do to help you plan your marketing efforts better. It takes a little time and a little effort but it’s worth it.
Before you implement your next marketing activity, answer these questions:
1. What is your objective? (What result or outcome are you looking for?)
2. What’s your budget? (How much are you willing to invest in time, effort and money to accomplish your objective?)
3. What is your timeframe? (When do you want to see your objective realized?)
4. Who is your target market? (How do you define or identify them?)
5. What do you do for them better than anyone else? (And why would they be interested?)
6. How can you connect with them? (What media or methods can you use to make contact with your target market?)
7. Who in your organization will be responsible for implementing the marketing activities? (And who will hold them accountable?)
Use these seven questions as your planning framework whenever you want to start or improve a marketing effort. Be sure to put your answers in writing and keep them where you can see them.
Do this and you’ll see better results from your marketing. I guarantee it!