New Year’s Resolutions and Marketing Activities: Success or Failure Exactly the Same
By Rodger Roeser, APR
Here it is just a few weeks after the New Year started and already those resolutions are fading away. Well intentioned efforts to lose weight, get in to better shape, quit smoking, stay more in touch with family – perhaps already things of the past. It got me thinking how similar these resolutions are with marketing and public relations. Regardless of the economy, marketing activities are not flash in the pan, quick fix options, but rather long term, sustained programs and campaigns that actually yield positive results.
Experts will tell you that the reason most resolutions fail is because it involves sustained commitment and effort. Also, they are often unrealistic in nature – so folks give up altogether. Similarly, good public relations and marketing activities take time and are not a quick fix to your business ills. Finding good publicity angles, creating image and article opportunities, reaching out and sharing that company story or profile all take time, patience and stick-to-itiveness.
It also takes time and effort to achieve realistic results. One push up will not make you thin or build your biceps. All too often, I see business executives simply increasing sales numbers because excel allows them to plug in a 25 percent in widget sales – for no apparent reason. It seems solid research and market realities have given way to just plugging in numbers and storming the gates. This is bad practice, and leads to frustration and a lack of business clarity and focus among the employees. Don’t be that executive who says say you want X amount of articles in the newspaper or just any other number that appears to be pulled out of thin air, and when those numbers aren’t hit, you’re disappointed. These types of business mistakes are not productive, and surely not good for morale.
A good marketing executive or agency can offer much better and more realistic guidance to these types of numbers, and advise best ways to achieve those goals. And, like a good personal trainer, help keep you motivated and on track. Here are four simple steps to a successful 2009.
1. Get a Plan!
If you don’t have a marketing or marketing communications plan, get one. Do yourself and your business a favor, hire a good firm, and get a plan developed. The investment of just a few thousand dollars may be the best investment you make this entire year. The plan will have realistic goals with realistic prices. You do yourself no favors when you believe you can do a national advertising campaign for $500. A good plan will lay out strategies, tactics, timelines, goals and budgets that should be very easy to follow. The firm should be able to implement the plan with skill, or work with you to share in the implementation duties. If you don’t have a plan, this is the first and most important step you can take for your business.
2. Stop with the Magic Bullet
We all play Monday morning quarterback – and surely if you’re the coach, you likely know more about football than most. It doesn’t stop people from wanting to share their “ideas.” Same holds true for marketing – rarely are folks short on “ideas,” but recently it seems there is this great new invention that will revolutionize marketing as we know it and cause all other forms of marketing to wither and die. Social media. For some godforsaken reason, all the Monday morning marketers are jumping on the social media bandwagon and putting up any manner of information on facebook, twitter, plaxo, myspace and others – and waiting for the sales to roll in. While social media and having a good social media plan is important, it is not THE answer. It certainly can be integrated into an overall marketing plan, and blogging and tweeting and friending and updating are all smart – just be realistic and be smart about it. If I hear one more time, “we’re not going to do much marketing this year, we have a blog now” I may have to send out the Marketing Police.
3. Keep at It
Regardless of whether your marketing program is grand or modest, continue doing at least something. Now is a great time to purchase paid media, billboards are at great prices and public relations and direct mail is a simple, cost effective way to stay in touch and further solidify the brand. While you must be smart and you should certainly scrutinize every dollar invested, now is not the time to “stop.” I recently had a client that, for all intents and purposes, stopped their proactive marketing outreach last June. Now, they have no pipeline, no leads, and no revenue. They’re lack of consistency in their outreach has likely caused yet another business to go under. Invest wisely, be proactive, and keep at it. Again, a good agency is your best friend here.
4. Change up the Routine
Just like working out, changing things up a bit can yield some quick and dramatic results. Now may be an excellent time to do something different – perhaps an event, a new sponsorship, a cause marketing initiative or a podcast. Properly positioned and integrated, new programs can attract entirely new segments of consumers or prospective business partners in a fresh way. When is the last time you wrote a thought leadership article or submitted an opinion piece? Take a look at where you may have some holes, where opportunities may exist and capitalize. Again, if you don’t know all the opportunities you may have, consult an agency. There is also a great online radio show called “That Marketing Show” that has a top marketing genius as a guest each week sharing one great tip and idea after another.
By taking some simple and proactive steps, and looking into hiring an affordable yet quality expert or agency, businesses can look forward to bright 2009. Now is the time to get out there, stay focused and keep aggressive. Ideas and options are a good thing. Now, go make some waves.