A guest post by Megan Effertz, President at Agency 128
Marketing is generally one of the last things to be added in a business with owners taking on the burden until they can hire. If you are at the point you’re ready to hire a marketing person or if you’re still doing it all follow these 6 tips for the most marketing success and the least amount of headaches.
1) Start with a plan.
I see more often than not, the person responsible for marketing constantly reacting to requests instead of executing against a strategic marketing plan. Marketing plans should be aligned with the business, especially sales, and have clearly defined goals that can be measured. When developing the plan reach out to key leaders to get their input and understand what they need from marketing.
Create a marketing plan that is reasonable and achievable. It’s okay to move some ideas/goals into the following year or request more resources to fulfill a lofty plan once you’ve collected input from leaders on their needs for marketing support.
Developing the plan with the leaders you support will make it easier to stay on track when you get requests that don’t coincide with your marketing plan. You’ll have the support to say “no” to reactive things that don’t provide strategic value or at least set those requests aside until you have time to complete them.
If you’re not sure how to create a strategic marketing plan? Hire a marketing consultant to help you bring key leaders together, gather input and create a plan you and your team can execute against.
2) Share plan progress.
Once you develop your plan, make sure you share your progress with key stakeholders. There is a lot of work that goes into marketing but most people only see tangible results such as a new web site or a social media post.
Track your progress towards the agreed upon goals. Report out on a monthly basis to leadership and stakeholders. Even if you don’t think anyone is paying attention to your progress reports it will keep you accountable. It will also help you know where you are exceeding or where you need help.
3) Course correct.
If you’re not achieving goals or have fallen off track spend some time to understand why. Nine times out of ten it’s because you’re responding to requests that have nothing to do with the plan. If those requests are truly mission critical you will need to update your plan. Make sure to get agreement from leaders and stakeholders to reset their expectations of marketing. Set boundaries and clear expectations of what can be accomplished well and what will need to wait until the following year or when resources become available.
4) Say no.
I repeat say no. If a request doesn’t fit or it’s a distraction, it’s okay to say no. Remember you got buy-in from your leaders because you put together a very thoughtful plan to help them achieve their goals. Now it’s your job to stay focused and execute the marketing plan to help the business meet its goals.
5) Have a support group.
No one person can do it all. Marketing is a very broad and covers many diverse skill sets. Be clear about what you can do and where you need support. Then set up your support group. This support group should include internal resources in other departments, independent contractors, and agency partners. You should also consider supplementing marketing with temporary creative staff through local companies like True Talent Group. This strategy is cost effective to get marketing projects completed without the commitment of hiring full-time staff.
6) Be a good partner.
When you’re a one person show you’re going to need to call in favors – a lot! The best way to get people to jump through hoops for you is to be a good partner. How do you do that?
- Pay people fairly for their work. You’ll get their best work that way and they’ll want to work with you in the future.
- If you ask for ideas, use them (assuming they’re good). Asking for ideas that never get used is frustrating for those giving ideas and time consuming. Eventually, you’ll stop getting good ideas.
- Most importantly, say thank you. Yes, you paid them to do work but when push comes to shove people want to work with those that appreciate their work.
- Build strong relationships. The more you can work with a partner, the stronger your relationship will become. You won’t have to teach them about your business and workflow becomes more efficient on every project. They’ll know you and your brand so when you’re in a pinch they can move fast and still deliver quality work.
- Remember you’re one person and no one expects you to be an expert in every area of marketing. Knowing how to set expectations, juggle projects and manage partners is the key to succeeding. Create a plan, stay focused on it, trust and rely on your support group until you can hire someone to run marketing for you or grow your marketing team.
Megan Effertz is an entrepreneur, business and marketing consultant and President of Agency 128, a 40+ year old strategic marketing firm. Prior to becoming President of Agency 128, Megan held executive, sales, and marketing roles in a variety of industries including health care, manufacturing, marketing technology & services and real estate.