With so many choices to get your message to the masses, it is easy to get lost in the abyss that is the marketing mix. Mapping is just a fancy way of saying “Marketing Plan.” I hear it all of the time: “I’m not sure how we got lost in our marketing and I’m not sure what is working.” For starters: Do you have a plan? Do you follow your plan? Everybody puts together a marketing plan of some kind when they start a business (to get a loan at least–because that banker/ investor wants to know how you are going to make money). Once the business gets going, they throw caution to the wind. It is easy to do. You have a plan then you either get busy running the business, or magically, something better comes along (or at least the salesperson says its better–I’ll touch on that later).
How should a marketing plan look? There are several different approaches to choose from: spreadsheets, SWOT Analysis, or any number of long forms you can find on the net or in books. I say keep it as simple as possible. The choice here is really yours. What works for some, doesn’t necessarily work for others. And be flexible. Just because the layout of the plan works for you doesn’t mean that it will be clear to a board of directors, investors, or C-Level executives. In the simplest form, your marketing plan should answer the following questions: Who are you trying to reach? Where are they (the customer) located? What is the message? When is the buying cycle? Why is your offer better than others? How are you going to get the message out there? (How should also include: How much will it cost?)
Is your marketing plan set in stone? No. Leave yourself some budgetary leeway to experiment with new forms of media (or new avenues to you that is). The point is to have a map. You can take different routes and detours along the way to your destination. However, your destination is a perpetual round trip. Remember, your generating revenue here. Tweak your route along the way. Analyze what worked and what did not work while continuing along your route to your next destination. (Revenue generation is your destination in case you didn’t know).
Oh yeah. I almost forgot. You have your plan and something better comes along. Why does something better always comes along? Because the salesperson tells you it is better. It is OK. They are good at what they do. What exactly is it that they do? They transfer emotion from themselves to you. Proper planning allows you to take the emotion out of the media buying process and allows you to stay focussed on your goals. Remember, you have left yourself a small budget for trying new media. If you fall prey to the transfer of emotion, use the funds that you have earmarked as “experimental.”
Is your map getting you to your destination? It is never too late to plan. And if you made a plan in the beginning, dig it back out and knock the dust off of it. Make the proper adjustments and execute.