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Look before You Leap: Don’t Orphan Your Marketing Tactics

06.14.2011 / Posted in Articles, Strategy

We’ve seen it, you’ve seen it: Marketing efforts abandoned. Blogs that have two posts—two years ago—and nothing else. Newsletters we get once, maybe twice, and at random times, that we never get again. (Of course, in many cases, we might be thankful for that.)

Guess it seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe the tactic was the buzz at the moment—blogs are definitely one example, as are Facebook fan pages and other social media attempts—but no one bothered to consider what was involved in executing the effort or even whether the tactic of the hour was suited to the company, product, or service in question. (For more common marketing mistakes along these lines, read our bad habits article.)

In these cases, tactics aren’t abandoned because they didn’t work: They weren’t done in a way that would give them a fair chance in the first place.

Let’s say you know who your audience is, what you need to say to it, and where to find it. Let’s say you know that the tactic in question will work for you. You still need to understand the needed resources to determine whether and how to execute it.

Let’s think through a few examples:

Social Media

Facebook! Twitter! LinkedIn! YouTube!

They’re FREE! And people have made MILLIONS from using them!

Deep breath: Social media magic is a myth.

Okay, not entirely. However, the idea that all you need is a Facebook page or a Twitter account for people to flock to your business and fork over a ton of money without you needing to spend anything at all truly is a myth.

Every social media method is not right for every organization. The demographics of the people using different social media are continually evolving, as are the ways these media are being used. There are numerous tools out there to help you gauge which social media options are most likely to speak to your ideal audience, and you’re likely to find a number of best-practices articles about how to employ each one to your advantage. Use them. Read them.

In doing this research, you’ll realize that social media is not free. In fact, it takes a considerable amount of time, and time is money. In fact, social media done well takes so much time that you may find the cost of the activity is not worth the return on investment.

Having a bare, neglected social media presence—a YouTube channel with two videos, a Facebook page with stale posts and only a smattering of “fans,” and a Twitter account with two followers and two tweets—are more embarrassing to your organization than not having a social media presence at all.

(Shameless plug: We have a Twitter account and a Facebook page at FrogDog. We’d love it if you followed and liked us.)

Newsletters and Other Publications

At some point in every company’s life—and likely at multiple points—someone is going to have the newsletter idea.

You’ve experienced this. Someone within the organization decides that a newsletter should go out, and someone else agrees, and it is decreed that there should be a newsletter. And likely there is, and maybe it goes out a couple times, and the content is somewhat random.

Finis. Exeunt newsletter, at least for the time being. (Because, yes, someone will have the idea again in time, and the cycle will repeat.)

Newsletters are fantastic. They work for a number of organizations. They likely could work for yours. But they aren’t one-time deals. Newsletters need to go out consistently, and they need to be on message. That means that someone needs to “own” the project, they need to have an editorial calendar that outlines the content of each issue (and ensures it’s on message and ideal for the target audience), and they need to have the resources to execute it.

What resources? Some way to send it out, sure: a mailing list or an e-mail list and an e-mail marketing program. And, probably, reliable resources to design the newsletter, to ensure it marries with your company’s brand. (Please tell us you’re not using a generic software template.) Neither of these things cost very much—a newsletter doesn’t need to be a major capital expense.

But, more than that, a newsletter requires time and management. The person who owns the newsletter should be allowed the considerable number of hours it takes to oversee the content development and the production of each issue on schedule and on message. He or she also needs to have the support of leadership in ensuring that the content is developed with the help of others in the organization. Invariably a time will come when the company will think something else is more important than a newsletter article. And invariably the owner of the newsletter project will need to stand up and insist that the article gets written despite other pressing matters. That has to be okay—in fact, it has to be encouraged.

(Shameless plug, part two: We publish an e-mail newsletter once every other month, and it has great research and articles. Sign up to get it here.)

Advertising

No matter how you advertise, doing it once won’t work.

In fact, doing it twice won’t work.

We can’t emphasize this enough: Advertising is about repetition.

And yes, advertising is expensive. You feel like it’s a lot of money, so you want to try it out before you invest heavily in it. The problem? An ad running once or twice isn’t giving advertising a chance. Spending a few thousand dollars when you know it won’t work—or when you should know it won’t work—is crazy.

If you can’t stomach the cost of letting an ad campaign run at the recommended frequency in the right placement in the right publication, then don’t do it at all. And please come to this realization before you’ve thrown a few thousand dollars out the window.

In truth, each of these examples highlights the principle that wasting resources to embark on a marketing tactic without the requisite research and planning is folly. Better to do nothing than to do something that wastes money and time that could be used to good effect elsewhere.

And these are just a few examples—probably every possible tactic could be listed as a case study. In each of these examples,

  • the time, effort, and cost of the tactic weren’t considered until after the fact, when the magnitude of the project daunted everyone and killed what could have been a good idea, and
  • the strategy under which the tactic needed to work wasn’t fully fleshed out, making the reason for the activity hazy and making the effort seem aimless. (For more information on what a marketing strategy can do for an organization, you can read a couple FrogDog client case studies by clicking here and here.)

When this happens, it seems like marketing doesn’t work. Not true. Effective marketing takes concerted, coordinated, consistent effort over time to get results. And the results are cumulative. Plan your tactics, ensure they’re couched in a well reasoned and researched marketing strategy, and spend the time and effort where needed. Otherwise, you’re wasting time and money—and missing real opportunities.

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