Yes, one has to come before the other. Too often, we choose the wrong place to begin.
Setting a goal to market your business, or a new product is definitely important. But focusing on what you'll do as opposed to the outcome is kind of like putting the pedal down when you get stuck in the mud. The tires are spinning but you're not getting anywhere.
Deciding the end goal, knowing your product, your customer and your organization, and understanding what success looks like must come first. Can you see the difference?
Let's dive in to this. The difference may seem like semantics, but it's not.
When "planning to market", typically you'll talk about the following:
I need to do a better job on Facebook
My emails aren't getting a good open rate and I worry that I'm losing my customer's trust. I need to improve that
I need a new website so that people can see a better representation of who I am, or what my business does
I'm going to start writing blogs. I'm going to start a podcast. I'm going to start a YouTube Channel. I'm finally going to learn a Tik Tok dance (that's my favorite!)
My logo is old.
I'm going to hire a marketing team this year, because I'm tired of doing this myself
Can you see where planning to market focuses on the tools needed to go to market, rather than the desired outcomes. "Planning to Market" includes best intentions, and probably initiatives to accomplish a goal. Where these kinds of goals fall short is that they are the plan, rather than outcomes of a plan
When creating a Marketing Plan, however, here are the conversations you should have:
Who is my target market? Am I reaching them?
Who is another target market and why am I not reaching them.
What industries am I not serving, which could provide an immediate lift if I can reach them
What do people who buy my product/service care about, before they even realize I am a solution
What does success mean for my marketing initiative. Do I need 3 new customers a month or 300. How does that affect my marketing activities
What are my plans to keep my current customers and have them come to buy more?
Now, can you see where your focus is on your customer and their needs, tied back to how and whether satisfying those needs would actually impact your business?
From a Marketing Plan, you can identify 2-3 main initiatives, and then identify the tools and strategies to accomplish those goals.
Now, you can "Plan to Market". But this time, the conversation looks like this:
I can reach Target A with focused Facebook ads, targeting specific populations
I need to clean up my email list and improve my headlines to raise current customer sales revenue. Let's test to see if open rate improves
I don't need a new website, I need a focused landing page for my targeted Google Ads campaign
I may need to hire an expert to help with 1-2 of my tools, specifically one experienced with a vertical market/industry.
Can you see how planning to market gets better when it's based on a marketing plan, as opposed to a "plan to market"? Planning to market leads to activity and being busy. A Marketing Plan leads to success.
They are not the same.
Have someone lead you in a Marketing Plan exercise. You'll spend more efficiently, see measurable results based on goals, and set yourself up for long and short term success.
Bryan Lefelhoc is a 32 year marketing veteran, owner of Bryan Media Strategies. Bryan Media Strategies is a "company of one' marketing firm designed to serve small businesses with back to basics brand awareness marketing. For Brand Building Strategies, done "On Target, On Budget, and On Purpose", schedule some time to talk.