Want Marketing Success? Then Avoid the Ready, Fire, Aim Mindset

This is a guest post by Troy L. Scheer. Troy is the president of MarketingIntel. MarketingIntel utilizes both inbound and outbound marketing channels to deliver effective marketing based on sound planning and desired outcome. Their tagline is” Opportunities Identified, Problems Solved.” Troy can be found on Twitter @troyscheertmg.  If you’d like to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

So, what’s the latest and greatest new marketing tool, tactic or channel out there today? Surely something shiny and new is available today to make marketing easy and successful. Oh, and it will be cheap, or better yet, FREE.

Yes, I’m being a bit harsh, but only to make a point. Marketing channels and tactics have become ever-increasing. There is Content Marketing and Social Media with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and so on. Email marketing, blogging, mobile, local, event marketing, experiential, inbound, outbound, direct, radio, television, billboards, and the list goes on.

The questions I get are always, “What do we do?” “Should we blog?” “Do we get on Facebook?” “We need a Twitter account don’t we?” “Should we do a television commercial?” “What app do we need to create?”

The answer I give to all of these questions is, at least at first, I DON’T KNOW. Now I realize being the marketing guru I am, (I hate that term by the way.) I should just be able to magically answer those questions. Just right off the top of my head, I should have all the answers.

Instead, I have questions…

  • What are your business objectives?
  • What outcomes are you trying to achieve?
  • Are you looking to increase new customers?
  • Are you looking to retain existing customers and increase what they are spending with you?

Without having those targets in place and having a very specific outcome you want to achieve, you can be guaranteed you’ll hit what you’re shooting at. The problem there is there may be a lot of collateral damage simply because you weren’t on the target.

By not understanding who customers and prospects are and how your business can best meet their needs, the result is customers who are interrupted instead of engaged. Dollars and efforts spent may well be having the complete opposite effect of what you wanted and needed to happen. Instead of increasing the lifetime value of a customer through a targeted, outcome-focused approach, aiming at anything may well end the customer relationship on the spot.

Believe me, I well understand that companies want to get the most from their marketing investment whether it be a small business or Fortune 500 company. The rub is little of that investment is focused on clearly identifying what the real target it, what the outcome should be, and what to do when a tactic is ultimately seen to be off-target. To continue on with the target shooting analogy, businesses are willing to invest in the gun and ammunition, but lose sight of what is needed to make sure that those tools are focused on a clear target that can accurately and effectively be reached.

So what is the answer, you ask? Focus on the outcome. Develop an outcome map for your marketing. Start with the target and work backwards. Instead of diving into a myriad of tactics that may or may not help you reach your objectives, dive headfirst into what you want to happen. Oh, and be specific. Make sure outcomes are tangible so you can measure and understand what is working and where adjustments need to be made.

It’s a mapping process, a targeting process that can be achieved in a few steps:

  1. Establish 3 or 4 (no more) business outcomes that you want to achieve in a given year.
  2. Develop your measurable objectives and the key performance indicators that let you know whether or not you’re on the right path.
  3. Lay out strategies (not tactics) for achieving your objectives.
  4. Now focus on programs: online, offline, mobile, event based, etc.
  5. Finally lay out and execute tactics – here is where you decide if a mobile app, Google+, Facebook, Blogging, Content Marketing or traditional media are the correct tools to help you achieve the outcome you want for your business.

So the next time you feel the urge to ask your marketing director, marketing consultant or marketing team those off-target questions, stop yourself and think about what you want for your business and who your customers are. Placing value there will help you continue to align your sights on a clearly defined target. Remember, you may not hit it at first. Just gather intelligence, make adjustments and you will soon than later be on target.

Or continue to aim at nothing. I guarantee you’ll hit it on your first try.