PAUSE!!! Put Your Marketing and Communications Plan Together.

So as I have been taking courses towards my masters in Integrated Marketing and Communications at West Virginia University I began looking at all the businesses in my life and say “Hey wait they do not have a marketing and communication plan!” It is amazing how social media has changed the whole game and has put the tools available to only those largest corporations with the biggest budgets in the hands of the smallest mom and pop. David Rosen as a person is now able to catch the eye of a million people. Where as years ago that was not even thought of. Now this is actually in my eyes changing the business market. Mixing the availability of marketing tools, the poor job market, and the stagnant pay rates in America, people are starting to build their own businesses and becoming self sufficient. Almost frontiersmen… I love this but with all this at your finger tips, what you need to do first is decide what tools are going to work for you, and how you are going to use them. There are just way too many tools out there for it to be effective for you to use all of them.

Where do you start!

Most businesses and people at first blush go to where their audience and community reside. But do you even know who your people and potential customers are? Do you even know what types of media they prefer to consume? You really don’t know much do you?

Develop your plan!

I have found that plans are ever changing and morphing now a days as technology changes and as communities grow but you need a clear concise starting point. You need to start this plan buy building your SWOT Analysis Wikipedia defines at SWOT analysis as follows
”SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieve that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies. A SWOT analysis must first start with defining a desired end state or objective. A SWOT analysis may be incorporated into the strategic planning model. Strategic Planning has been the subject of much research.
  • Strengths: characteristics of the business or team that give it an advantage over others in the industry.

  • Weaknesses: are characteristics that place the firm at a disadvantage relative to others.

  • Opportunities: external chances to make greater sales or profits in the environment.

  • Threats: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business.
Identification of SWOTs is essential because subsequent steps in the process of planning for achievement of the selected objective may be derived from the SWOTs. First, the decision makers have to determine whether the objective is attainable, given the SWOTs. If the objective is NOT attainable a different objective must be selected and the process repeated.”

I find this really is a way to hear what is going on around you. Looking internally and understanding what you do well and what you don’t is very therapeutic. I know I am not a very good writer but I am very good at design, photography. While my wife Cari Rosen (@plumwv) might not be as good in graphic design but she is amazing constructing with her hands and has a unique ability to understand style and trends. While looking externally you will see what techniques and tools the competition is using successfully and where they are beginning to overlap into your market. Also, listening externally will allow you to understand frustrations and needs of your customers that you can begin to address. At this point in my life I think your SWOT analysis should be updated quarterly to ensure that you are keeping in touch with your environment. Once you have heard all that is going on around you, decide what opportunities and strengths overlap that you can begin to work towards solving. Write it down in a clear and concise goal and put it somewhere visible.

Okay, now that you have your goal and what you plan on achieving in your sights your need to narrow down your strategy to something that is manageable. So first setup your central location for all communications. I have Creating Itchy as my central location but I could see down the road become my new home. Now that you have your core all that you do in other forms of media should direct users to that content… whether it is is print, on twitter, facebook, youtube, whatever it is work to refer them to your hub.

Ok so you have your hub now you need to establish what tools you are going to use to get people to your hub. Most companies use facebook, twitter, and youtube as their sattelites to get people to their hub but during your SWOT you have listened and you now know where your community is and what is the best way to reach them. Now like my post yesterday “tips for small business marketing with social media” make sure you are not a push marketer but mix it up. I would say for every 10 to 15 posts on twitter of facebook or whatever, refer to one of your posts on your hub. This is probably your best mix and actually will give you quality of content rather than being me centric. Remember that interaction with your community is how you build new contacts and new ways to reach new customers.

Here is the part that I am beginning to do, but I really see as the essential component, is develop a contact list, a database of sorts of all the people interested in you or your business. Large associations and corporations that I have worked with like AASLD, ASAE, or SHRM use a tool called a CRM (Customer relationship management ) while small business like PLUM use tools like constant contact. Why you ask? This is where the gold is. If you have a new event new offering or whatever it might be this is who you know is actually interested. They will be the people you go to speak with to find out what their issues are and how you fit into the solution.

You did it!

So now you have your plan and you know what you are actually going to do to achieve it. You no longer will waste your time and effort on fruitless efforts but will be able to take advantage of all the tools out there to reach new contacts and customers in a concise method. Now understand this is something that should be updated on a regular basis to insure you take advantage of shifts in technology and your customer base.

What tools and methods are you using?

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