6 Effective Marketing Action Plan. 7 Reasons Why Most PR and Marketing Fails.

Why Most PR and Marketing Fails

Marketing horror stories. You’ve probably heard them. You may have one yourself. These are the stories about how someone tried a marketing technique, sent out a press release, or ran an ad, and “it didn’t work.”

I’ve heard plenty of these stories. And as with most urban legends, there’s usually more to the story than meets the eye. If you’re reading this book, you’re a coach, consultant, speaker, author, or owner of a small business, and you want more from your marketing than you’re currently getting. You may not be marketing at all because your business is new, or because you’re afraid to fail. Or it may be that your marketing is chugging along with mediocre returns or muddled measurement.

Take heart. Marketing isn’t mysterious, and once you understand how the pieces fit together, you’ll be in a better position to market your own company or to oversee someone to handle marketing for you. Let’s start by looking at the seven most common reasons that marketing plans fail.

  1. No planning. Many marketing efforts fail because there is no link between the marketing actions and the bottom-line business plan goals that drive revenue. Decision makers get caught up with a vivid, creative idea that isn’t accountable to the bottom line, or because they take a “great deal” offered by a salesperson for a media buy. Marketing without a plan is a disaster waiting to happen.
  2. Inappropriate actions. If there is no plan, then marketing actions may conflict with each other. It’s unlikely that scatter-shot actions will support a business plan goal. Disappointing results come about because of a “ready, fire, aim” approach where actions aren’t anchored to business objectives and target audiences. Attempts to copy what a successful competitor is doing without understanding why (or whether) the action is working for them is also a dangerous approach.
  3. Lack of clarity about the target market. Blasting out marketing without a clear target is wasteful and unsuccessful. You can’t hit a target if you haven’t identified it. There is a “sweet spot” of potential customers who could become your ideal clients. You’ll need to get to know them to win them.
  4. Lack of clear goals. Not only do your marketing actions need to be linked to specific business goals, but each marketing action should be measurable. Build in measurability up front so expectations are clear.
  5. Unreasonable expectations. Many people become disillusioned with marketing because they don’t understand the benchmarks for successful programs. For example, most direct mail professionals are thrilled to get a 1-percent response rate. One percent! Yet many small businesses send out a postcard mailing and quit in disgust, expecting a response of 20 percent, 30 percent or more. It’s important to have realistic expectations so you recognize success when you see it.
  6. Unclear on how marketing works. For many people, marketing is a lot like a DVD player. They don’t know (and don’t care) how it works. Your odds of creating successful marketing are slim without some knowledge of how the pieces function and the process required to pull the pieces together. On the Internet, new tools are emerging almost daily. Understanding what makes marketing tick is essential whether you’re doing it yourself or delegating it to someone else.
  7. Lack of patience. Did you know that marketing research shows that it takes between seven to 30 “touches” to make a sale? Customers won’t buy until they have an urgent need. Until then, all you can do is create name recognition and a good reputation. That’s the value of the Rule of 30. Marketing has a lot in common with farming. You wouldn’t plant seeds one day and go out the next and dig them up in disgust because full grown plants hadn’t sprouted overnight. Seeds take time to sprout. Marketing seeds also take time to grow.

Creating a PR and Marketing Action Plan

Your action plan is the key to the rest of your 30-day success because it’s your compass and checklist.

Your action plan takes all the pieces you’ve put together so far and creates a way for you to make them happen. You won’t achieve every item on your action plan in 30 days, but you can lay the groundwork to achieve them, and make real progress toward your goal.

To be successful, your action plan needs to be detailed. Vague goals such as “I want to bring in more business” are not helpful, because they lack the detail to enable you to take action toward making the goal a reality.

Action plan items must also advance at least one business plan goal by addressing that goal’s target audience. You’ve already attached marketing actions to each goal/audience. This is a good time to look at those marketing actions and break them into smaller steps. That will give you a better idea of the time and money—and specific actions—necessary to make them happen.

For example, perhaps your top business plan goal is to get more visibility about your products and services. You’ve identified the target audience, and you’ve decided to use the Internet to reach them. That’s a step in the right direction, but not enough to really get you going.

Let’s break “use online marketing and PR” into several action steps.

  • Identify the Websites, blogs, and online news and entertainment channels that your ideal prospect is already reading. These may be good for your PR announcements.
  • Understand what circumstances or events trigger your customer to make a purchase. For example, if your customer values product reviews, it makes sense to put effort into getting your product reviewed by a reputable Website.
  • Determine what kinds of social media and smart phone applications your customer is already using. How much do they use the Internet and devices such as cell phones in their daily routine?
  • Build on the e-mail list of your current opt-in customers. What can you offer new prospects to encourage them to opt-in to your newsletter list?
  • Take a look at your ability to process transactions on-line. Do you have an online shopping cart and does it give you room to grow?
  • Think about how you are currently promoting your events, special offers, and other news. Are you taking full advantage of new online media?

Do you see how action steps take your marketing from being a great idea to something tangible? Don’t just write down marketing ideas, turn those ideas into step-by-step action plans and attach them to the appropriate prioritized business goal and its target audience. This one step will make an amazing difference in the results you see from your online marketing and PR, because it will make it clear what you can do every day to make your goals happen.

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