If you own a business then undoubtedly you need to figure out how to manage your marketing, but how to resource this can often be a challenge.
What does your business actually need? Marketing strategy, marketing plan, implementation of the plan, delivery of the materials, administration of day-to-day activities…? There’s a lot to do and it’s almost certain that your business could benefit from a combination of all of the above, and more. The difference between a practical marketing plan and an overarching strategy is often confused.
A marketing plan is a working document that organises your marketing into actionable, measurable activities that become increasingly relevant, the more you do.
A marketing strategy defines the parameters of your marketing, providing focus for your plan – outlining what you’re selling, in which markets, when and where.
If you already have a marketing person you’ll know that the scope of what’s required can be varied. Often, a marketing director feels like one financial commitment too far, whilst a marketing administrator feels too junior … many organisations plump for something in the middle … a marketing manager, deciding that they should be able to do a bit of everything – but, not so!
With limited budgets, the immediate marketing requirements are often implementation and delivery – getting things done – leaving strategy for later consideration. If you already have a marketing manager you may find that without support, they’ll easily get drawn into day-to-day fulfilment and find it difficult to move back up the ladder to strategy – even more difficult to maintain a strategic view and influence at board level.
Whether you already have a marketing person, or are thinking about recruiting somebody – it is unlikely you’ll be able to do everything in-house. There will always be gaps – whether this is about time or skill – where you are unable to create exactly what you want using your internal team. In these instances there are a few ways you can work with a good external partner to deliver what you need or boost the effectiveness of your internal team:
Marketing strategy – no matter what size, most businesses would benefit from having a clearly defined marketing strategy. Without commitment to both, marketing is more likely to fail, resulting in activities that feel erratic and ultimately wasting any marketing investment.
Creating a successful strategy is hard – even inconceivable without the trust and engagement of senior management. The person responsible for the strategic direction of marketing needs to have in-depth knowledge of every facet of the business and be able to spot opportunities to market your services that are aligned with commercial objectives. You might assume that strategy is best done from within … not necessarily.
Finding the headspace away from the daily pressures of delivery is hard. Being able to see the business clearly, moving legacy clutter aside, is often best done with a fresh pair of eyes from outside the business.
Marketing delivery plan – your plan should contain clever and thought provoking activities … how they’ll be produced, who’s responsible for what, how much they’ll cost, when they’ll be completed and what the anticipated outcomes are. A good plan will be full of thought provoking ideas, that align your marketing with operations – considering where you have capacity, so your marketing communications make most effective use of resources.
Marketing implementation – delivering successful marketing draws on a diverse set of skills, for example to create the best materials you might need access to: photography, copywriting, social media management, e-marketing, web development or seo. It is not practical or economical for most businesses to maintain such a varied skills-base in-house. Overspend on your internal team or pushing people without the necessary skills to create marketing materials will inevitably reduce the quality of your outputs and disappoint your customers.
Marketing administration of day-to-day activities – whether it’s a pile of shiny new brochures, social media updates or an e-newsletter, content is nothing unless it reaches your target audience. Good administration means making sure that the right content reaches the right people at the right time.
Not everybody creates a budget for their marketing (crazy fools!) but if you are one of the sensible ones … don’t waste it. Think carefully about what you need and consider how you can top and tail your internal marketing resource with some external va va voooom to add quality and maximise value!