One of the best ways I know to meet people is to join groups and volunteer. That's how I became a speaker at various events. It's also how I am quickly building my network in my new location in Raleigh, NC. Before I even moved here, I joined the AMA and was invited to be a judge on a virtual panel for Marketing Jam. Marketing Jam was a team competition of college students who competed to help out various local non-profits. It was a win for the students to learn and use some marketing chops. It was a win for the non-profits because they got some free actionable advice. And, it was a win for me because I was welcomed in and people got to know me.
The one thing I could say is that the students did an amazing job and offered up some killer ideas. Unfortunately, those ideas will remain just that, ideas, until they are implemented into an action plan. Having worked with many non-profits in the past, the biggest hurdle they have to overcome is resources. If they want in for free, someone has to dedicate or donate the time. Otherwise, they have to find someone they can afford and pay for that to be implemented.
That is what I call the Strategy vs. Plan Conundrum. A strategy without a plan has no action. A plan without a strategy has no purpose (or measurable outcomes). You need both to succeed.
Meeting of The MINDS
I was invited to take a role in the local chapter of the AMA (American Marketing Association). Before I accepted, I decided to have a meeting with the man that invited me to join the organization in the first place.
Chuck Hester is a PR Pro and owns his own agency A Purpose Partnership. We originally connected via my podcast, and he asked me to join his Pay It Forward Tuesdays group. I loved the idea, so I did. He was also the one who encouraged me to join the AMA Raleigh Triangle Chapter which started the ball rolling.
When we discussed meeting, our goal was to bring a strategy and plan to the table. So we both went to our corners (offices) and sketched out our ideas. Chuck was assigned the Strategy and I was assigned the Plan.
Chuck was already a member of the board as the VP of Partnerships so he had a great idea of the intended audiences, goals, and resources. He was in a perfect position to understand the desired outcomes.
I have executed successful plans for clients, so I could bring that to the table and see how it fit with the strategy. If we agreed (which we did) we had what we needed minus the resources to execute the plan to match the strategy.
A strategy is defined as a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
All too often I have seen people work very hard on defining goals and setting a plan of action, only to fall short on the action part. Also, a goal without a due date or measurable outcome(s) is a wish. Wish marketing is all too often what people try to build their marketing plans on… “If I could only get (insert wish here) I will be successful.”
Here are the key parts of the strategy that Chuck brought to the table:
Key Audiences: Who are the people you want to market to?
- Keep in mind you will have different audiences.
- Each audience needs its own content and distribution channels.
Objectives: What are the desired outcomes?
- Each audience needs its own defined outcome.
- Each outcome should not be dependent on another for success.
Strategies: What is the point of doing this?
- How do you define success with each audience?
- What do you expect each audience to do?
Tactics: Define the process from start to finish.
- What steps need to be taken?
- What measurement tools will you use?
- How can you document this for others going forward?
Channels: How will you deliver the messages?
- How will you create the content to be delivered to the audiences?
- What platforms will your use (Email, Social, Video, etc.) to deliver it?
- And why?
A plan without a strategy is often a lot of action with no aim in mind. This often leads to either using too many or too few distribution channels. It leads to following the trends du jour. “TikTok is hot… so let's try that!” The only problem is your audience A might be on Tik Tok, but audiences B, C, and D don't even have accounts.
This is when I have mentioned the Marketing Trifecta before.
Home Base: Usually your website is where people can take action.
- This is where you house the content you create for your strategy.
- Each piece of content should have a call to action that leads to your strategic goals.
Content Distribution: These are the platforms (email, social media, video, etc.) that lead people back to your home base.
- They should be short and interesting and make them want more (to click through).
- The content should match the style of the platform (Facebook = Fun, Linkedin = Informative).
Analytics: This is how you measure the engagement
- Websites will tell you page hits but also time on the page.
- You can also measure the activity from distribution channels.
Bringing it ALL Together
As I stated before, a plan without a strategy or a strategy without a plan is often doomed to fail. But even if both are honed to perfection, you need resources to execute it all. As I said, non-profits are often cash-strapped, which is why they rely on volunteers or donations to survive. That's the same with for-profit businesses.
Money can be either unavailable or misappropriated. I have seen many an organization spend thousands of dollars on advertising, without the desired results. Another example (which we can all relate to) is the cobbler who has holes in his (or her) own shoes. They can be too busy making money to invest time in executing a plan to earn more.
The next step is laying out and agreeing to all the content that needs to be created, where it is to be distributed and measuring the success of each activity. We need to either find volunteers to agree to accept and complete a task, or we have to find someone who can do it (and pay them for their service).
The death of a great strategy, and plan… is often waiting until all the pieces are in place before you begin to execute. So you have to roll up your sleeves and get to it while finding people to take over and carry the ball farther and faster than you can.
You don't always need two different people to create a strategy and an action plan, but it sure helps to have others to bounce ideas off of. It's especially important when you are counting on volunteers. Each of us can bring a pool of connections to try to fill the voids and needs to actively achieve what we started out to do. Find and communicate to our perfect audiences, and get them to take action.
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
– Pablo Picasso
Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about how you plan to market your business in 2023. Do you have a strategy in place? Are you too busy doing to strategize? What resources do you need to make your strategy and plan successful?
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast