Achieving Balance in Marketing and Life
Mar 20th, 2012|
By Sara Furlong, Copywriter
As the New Year settles in and resolutions fall to the wayside, people repeatedly give the same reason for not exercising, eating healthily, spending more time with family, or knocking books off that classics list: they don’t have enough time. And, let’s be honest, if you own or run a business you probably don’t have enough time to add any new goals into the mix.
If you manage a company, you’re probably also constantly resolving to improve your marketing. But that’s easier resolved than done. Marketing today is complicated. Long gone are the days when you could write a check for a few billboards and run some print ads and a clever radio spot and be done with it. Accomplishing a balanced marketing plan that integrates both conventional and new media is an absolute must, but it takes time – and lots of it!
To accomplish your business goals, stay sane, and have enough time for the other important things in life, you need to make a plan and stick to it. Below, we offer some tips to help you get there. These general approaches were inspired by psychologists’ tips to achieve balance and simplify your life. However, they can also be applied to help you make the most of your time and energy in the planning and execution of your marketing strategy.
Don’t ignore important elements.
The trichotomy of body, mind, & spirit may be cliché but there’s no denying that each needs to be nurtured if you’re going to achieve balance. Likewise, to accomplish a balanced marketing plan you can’t leave out any of the three big pieces: traditional media, online marketing, and public relations. An integrated approach isn’t just important – today, it is necessary for survival.
There is no magic formula for determining which media you should use in what amount. The balance of media you employ and the amount you use of each will, of course, depend on who your audience is and where they are most likely to go for information. The keys are always to make sure you are reaching your target audience and that you are testing and measuring your results to continually improve your ROI.
Although millions of people today are getting their information from online and social media, traditional media such as television, radio, newspapers, and magazines are far from obsolete. These sources are still extremely important for your marketing because millions of people still rely on them. That’s why you don’t want to completely abandon traditional media campaigns. To get the best results today, you need to need to embrace a combination of online and offline media.
Online Marketing (Including Social Media)
This year, more than 75% of Americans will be online and more than 2/3 of those will use social networks. Facebook will reach 143.4 million US users. You can’t afford to not utilize these tools – especially since many of them are free.
There are loads of benefits to developing a strong online marketing strategy, but the proper execution and maintenance of such a campaign is time consuming and often requires much more dedication and diligence than traditional media campaigns.
With mobile devices and social networks on the rise, the public is constantly connected to the media. Public relations, therefore, has never been more important. PR remains the most cost-effective and trustworthy way to manage your company’s image and handle crises. After all, it’s free to submit a press release to your local paper – and your audience believes what they read in the news.
Take some time for self-reflection and prioritization.
Make a list of all the marketing activities in which you’re currently engaged. Now define a metric that will allow you to classify each activity as successful or unsuccessful. Is there a way to save any of the unsuccessful tactics? If not, cross them off the list and don’t do them anymore. Then identify the five activities that yield the greatest results. Put them at the top of your priority list and make a plan for devoting more time to them – even if it’s someone else’s time. Which brings us to…
Learn the art of delegation.
Now make a list of all the tasks necessary for you to market your business successfully and the amount of time you should allot to them each week. How much time do you actually have left to do your job, see your family, and take care of yourself? If the answer is ‘not much,’ then it’s time to start delegating. (And if your answer is ‘lots,’ you need to step up your marketing!)
First, pick the tasks you’re most passionate about and assign them to yourself. Do you love researching and writing about the latest trends in your industry? Put yourself in charge of article writing and blogging. Do you prefer to personally address any negative mentions of your company? Put yourself In charge of monitoring and responding to what people are saying about your brand online.
Now think about those chores you dread, the tasks that sap your energy, the jobs you’re most likely to procrastinate or, even worse, skip all together. As soon as possible, assign those tasks to someone else.
The key is to identify your company rock stars. These are articulate employees who are enthusiastic about your marketing and social media efforts, who understand your brand, and are knowledgeable about your offering. If you’re not sure who these people are, hold some marketing brainstorming meetings to discuss various aspects of your strategy for the year. Make sure to get everyone to talk in these meetings. Slowly, you’ll know who you need on board.
Of course, if your employees are just too busy with their usual work to play a role on your communications team, you can hire a marketing assistant or an advertising agency to ensure your head stays above water.
Develop standards and guidelines.
Throughout life, we develop a set of internal standards that help us to simplify our decisions and define who we are. These include our morals, values, and rules of etiquette and they make life go more smoothly. Similarly, identifying a set of standards for your company’s marketing will help to guide the efforts of employees involved in communications.
The more time you invest into defining standards and guidelines for those team members who play a role in brand expression, the more uniformity you can count on and the more comfortable you will feel delegating. Developing a brand standards guide will help you to give up control because it will provide peace of mind that your team knows how to do the job correctly.
Here at Cowley we often find ourselves developing brand standards guides for clients outlining everything from logo usage to appropriate wording and mission statements to the designs, colors, fonts, and sizes to be used in communications materials and web updates. Once you develop such a guide, your job will be to oversee the materials produced to ensure employees are following standards.
Get creative to be consistent.
Once your basic brand and style guidelines are established, you can take that uniformity to the next level by breaking your marketing efforts into separate campaigns designed to deliver specific messages and results. Developing an overarching creative vision can simplify your communications and help to keep everyone on the communications team thinking along the same lines when crafting their materials. For example, spokespeople can be a great tool for creating a consistent, familiar, and trustworthy voice for your brand. And if you create a colorful enough spokesperson, this character could even drive the direction of your social media efforts and traditional advertising. Some great examples are the Old Spice guy and Progressive’s Flo. Check them both out on Facebook for a little fun and some insight into how a campaign like this works.
Many companies develop creative marketing campaigns in-house but hire an advertising agency to help on a consultative basis to ensure consistency and provide strategy guidance and unbiased, expert feedback on their plans. Others let us do it all.
Use the right tools.
A strong marketing tool set can save you and your team a great amount of time and hassle. There are countless tools out there to help you organize and simplify your communications. Below are just a few applications that can make your marketing life easier:
A Quality Content Management System (CMS)
A great content management system will simplify your web activities, increase your update frequency, and improve the quality of your content and the consistency and strength of your brand online. Without one, employees must produce page and code html by themselves, making the update process extremely tedious, time-consuming, and stylistically inconsistent. Therefore, when developing your website, take care in selecting your CMS. Below are some tips for choosing a good one:
- Make sure the CMS is intuitive and uncomplicated. Employees should be able to learn it in a half hour.
- Choose a CMS that allows employees to paste text from Microsoft Word without losing formatting.
- Ask for references from other companies who use that CMS.
- Make sure the CMS comes with a detailed manual.
To measure the effectiveness of your online campaigns and understand customer behavior, you need to track your web traffic. This is often as simple as installing Google Analytics. This powerful (and free) application works with almost any website and allows you to track your web traffic so you can continually improve your online marketing efforts. You’ll receive a wealth of information such as where visitors or coming from, how long they stay on your site, and what keywords they use to get there. You could easily find hundreds of articles outlining the benefits of a good analytics program, but your time would be much better spent getting started and installing (or rediscovering) Google Analytics today.
Social Media Dashboards
If you’re serious about social media, you need a strong social media management tool to assist you in coordinating multiple campaigns and analyzing the data from these. HootSuite & Tweetdeck are free, easy-to-use applications that allow you to handle multiple social media accounts simultaneously. They provide functions that will keep your content organized and calendars so you can pre-schedule and automate posts and tweets so you can perform these tasks on your own schedule. They also provide customized campaign tracking and reports to help you gauge the effectiveness of your efforts.
Learn to say no. Don’t take on too much.
Of course, the number one tip for achieving balance in any area of your life is never taking on too much. Thankfully, Cowley Associates can help you out with any of the details listed above. From social media management to web and CMS development to campaign planning, our services are available when you find that you just have too much on your plate in running your business.
To learn more about how we can help, call (315) 882-1166. We love helping business owners and managers to simplify their marketing and find the balance they need to lead more fulfilling and profitable careers.