If you're like me, your aspirations are big as you dive into the new year. You're ready to climb mountains. You're sure you can achieve anything.
Maybe you've resolved to do something seemingly simple like blogging every day for the entire year. Or it could be something more difficult, like implementing a comprehensive marketing plan for the first time.
These aspirations are good. But you also need to handle them with care. Here's why: strategy is one thing, execution is another thing entirely.
Follow Through Is Hard
If you ask our technologist Jacob about what makes direct marketing agencies great, he'll give you a predictable response. Getting direct mail campaigns out the door on time and on budget on a consistent basis is an uncommon skill. We could learn from their discipline. It's underrated.
Most of us don't have their follow through. Things will start out fine and we'll stick to our guns for a few weeks or a couple months. But eventually, our grandiose goals will catch up to us. As the wheels begin to come off our marketing effort, all forward motion will stop.
Then, when we come back around to new years next year, we will once again resolve to be better. We'll utter familiar words: "This year we'll execute on the marketing plan, seriously."
It's a vicious cycle. It doesn't do anyone any good: not your morale, not your business, not your bottom line.
Inconsistency In Marketing Hurts Your Business
An inconsistent marketing program is better than no marketing. But, it won't move the needle far. Here are three simple reasons why:
Most people need to hear something six times before doing something about it: Repetition matters, especially because most of your customers aren't paying close attention to you. Consistent communication about things they care about creates traction. Dabbling doesn't.
It takes time to build trust: Like any business you have your core customers. They love you. They'll come back to you whenever they need what you're selling. New customers are a different story. It takes time for someone to make their first buying decision. You need to be with them every step of the way.
Without consistency it's hard to optimize: One of the important principles of marketing is that it's easier to improve on something you're already doing, than to start something new. This is impossible to do if you can't maintain consistency.
Do 3 Things
Years ago I read an article in The Harvard Business Review that said successful business executives write down the three most important things that they need to accomplish the following day each afternoon before they stop working. Then, the next morning don't do anything else until those three things are accomplished.
We recommend doing the same thing with your marketing program this next year.
Choose three things to focus on for the next year. Make sure these three things make sense for your business, and aren't just some marketing trend. Then stick to it.
As you faithfully execute on these three things, keep the following in mind:
Focus on your customers: You don't think like your customers. You're too close to your work product. Ask customers what they think, get to know how they approach problems, and use these insights in your marketing.
Be Consistent: High frequency isn't necessarily the key here. Consistency is. If you can only do something one time per month, do it every month, even if you wish you could do it every two weeks.
Measure and Optimize: Marketing can only improve if you know how you did. Measure your efforts, and use those results to then make small improvements with each subsequent effort.
This principle may seem over-simplified, it may even seem somewhat reductionist, but it works.
Focus on following through on your three things in 2018, and you'll look back amazed at what you've accomplished rather than wondering if 2019 is the year you can start doing some real marketing.
Bonus Note: If blogging is one of your three things, we recommend adding editorial planning to the list to. Check out this post to see how to get started.