The Big Picture

Why do you do what you do?
As you prepared your business for the new year, you probably sat at your desk and reviewed your business objectives, looked at your growth strategies, and are now launching your marketing activities for 2015. Marketing plans include a lot of process, things to do and steps to take, but they also require having clear objectives and setting specific goals. Let’s look at some questions to consider as you roll out your plans for 2015.
“START WITH WHY” is an excellent book by Simon Sinek that is a perfect read for the new year. Sinek explores the key concept of knowing why you do what you do. What is the inspiration that got your business started and what keeps you going every day? In the hectic pace of running a business, sometimes we forget about the why as we tackle the daily duties and responsibilities of our job. Sinek is not talking about the why in regards to the need for making money, although that is an obvious component of why you work, he is talking about the core beliefs that are the foundation of your business.
The why provides the context for what you do, clarifies your goals and objectives, establishes your brand personality, and determines your company value system. As Sinek states “People don’t buy what you do, the buy why you do it.” Think about the reasons why you are in business, what got you started and what keeps you motivated at this stage of your business. Then share that information with your employees, customers, and community to clarify your vision and encourage people to collaborate with you based on common goals and beliefs. Your inspiration can inspire others. You can see Sinek’s TED talk on this topic here on TED Talks.
The “what” addresses the things that you want to accomplish for this year and in the longer term. What you plan to do is based on your business goals and those goals will lead you to layout the steps needed to achieve them. Give yourself time to really think this through so that you can be prepared with the people, materials, budget, and time you will need to move through each step. One of the great perks of planning ahead is you can see the process and work out any problems that show up in the progression, as well as identify additional business opportunities that may appear as you accomplish goals and develop new capabilities and relationships. 
Your plans will of course need the time and attention of your staff. Take a good look at your people and see them with fresh eyes. If you have people that have been with you for a number of years, they have most likely grown and evolved and may be ready for new challenges. You also might discover that there are a few people not capable of the work they have been assigned. It is difficult to take an unbiased look at the team you work with on a daily basis, but it is imperative that you have the right skills in the right places if you are going to accomplish your goals.
Also think about the people outside of your company that you will be working with to market your business. These will include your colleagues, vendors, business associates, media professionals, and members of your community. Be sure to contact them early to let them know your plans and keep in touch with them throughout the year.
So, where will you be marketing your business this year? We all know that the marketing channels have expanded and that getting in front of your clients and prospects is more difficult. Today, your customers are fragmented by their preferred media channels and you need to figure out how and when to be in contact with them. As you know, the power is in the hands of the customer and they have access to as much information as you do. They can research products, compare prices, and buy in your brick and mortar store, or purchase online from your website or other ecommerce websites. Where you allocate your time, money, and resources needs to evolve as online channels continue to change the way  consumers behave. Every marketing plan should include some quality research into what channels have the most potential for your business. Real research with data that you can use. Every business is different and not all cannels are going to be worth your time and effort.  
Deadlines! Without them you can’t build from one step to the other and make progress towards your goals. Setting realistic and ambitious deadlines and making everyone responsible to meet them is the only way to move forward. The best way to meet your deadlines is to build out a marketing calendar for each media channel. Include your online marketing projects such as website updates, broadcast emails, social media plans, content development, and paid online advertising. If you are planning traditional marketing events these should be fully thought out as well. Print ads, radio campaigns, and TV advertising all need to be pre-scheduled so you can book the best times for your campaigns. If you have a retail store, you will certainly have a full schedule of events, sales, and demos and these should all be planned ahead so you have plenty of time to promote them. Don’t forget to  include public relations, as PR can often be more effective than paid advertising. Early preparation for PR is the only way to provide the lead time media will want  in order to cover your story. 
Answer these questions with honesty, clarity, and intent, and they will provide a great foundation for your marketing this year.

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