Are You Overcomplicating Your Marketing Plan?


In the January edition of our monthly breakfast seminar series, Kaufman Rossin Presents, I presented The 10-Step DIY Under-Complicated Marketing Plan.  The attendees were entrepreneurs from a wide range of industries, from insurance and real estate to hospitality and consumer products. The session offered one overriding message, expressed beautifully by one of the participants in our post-seminar survey:

“… pick what is realistic. The smallest accomplishment is greater than the grand one that does not come to fruition.”

Marketing isn’t something you can do at random, in your spare time. Buying an ad in a local chamber of commerce guide just because a friend asks you to, or setting up a Facebook page because your competitor did is not smart marketing. Spending time and money on tactics that don’t reach the right audience or on messages that don’t differentiate your company is a frustrating waste.  Even the largest multi-national companies recognize that — despite their many-million-dollar marketing budgets — they must choose their marketing strategies wisely. Middle-market and smaller companies like those in our January seminar audience have the additional challenge of limited resources, both financial and human.

If you don’t have a real plan with a budget and goals and metrics, you’ll never know if you succeeded. In our session, participants learned 10 basic steps to an under-complicated marketing plan.  A few that really resonated follow.

Select your target audience carefully

Even though your widget might be useful for everyone in America, you have neither the time nor the budget to convince all 300 million of us to buy it. To select the right target audience, try profiling your best customers. Can you reach more people like them? Or perhaps your product meets the need of a well-defined group that’s not being served elsewhere. Whomever you target must be an audience you can reach directly, within your budget, and probably more than once. Can your widget be proven to prevent dolphin deaths? If there are enough people who care about dolphins, and there’s a social media group, a magazine, or a TV show they follow religiously, maybe you’ve got a viable target.

Your brand is what you own

It’s not your logo.  It’s not your product name.  It’s what people think and feel about you, based on what you tell them and show them. Everyone knows Volvo stands for safety – and that brand identity will last for a long time, despite Honda’s sweet Bruce Willis ad during the Super Bowl.  Figure out what you can really own for your target audience, and then start telling them and showing them.

Reporters are people, too

Media relations is about relationships.  It’s not about sending dozens of press releases to the right email addresses.  Find reporters or editors who actually cover the topic you want to be known for.  Read what they write.  Follow them on Twitter and share their work.  Reach out to them personally, when you actually have something new or different to say.  They don’t care that you launched a new product – but those who write about technology might care if you’re the first in South Florida to manufacture robots designed by high school students in an engineering magnet program..

Everyone needs to be on social media – but not everywhere

Consider what you have to share online that could be valued, then think back to your target audience. Which social media sites are they on?  If you are a professional services firm targeting business clients, Facebook might not be the right medium for you. But if you’re trying to recruit young professionals or you’re targeting moms with genius teenage kids who participate in robotics competitions, it could be great. 

Based on the post-seminar survey, the most popular tactic among attendees is currently social media, and more than 75% of respondents are going to look at branding in the next 12 months. My best advice:  pick two or three strategies that can reach your target audience, select two or three tactics you have real resources to execute, and get to work!

Janet Altman is a Marketing Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.

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