By Alex Blyth, Editorial Director
The first step in any successful agency marketing plan is to put in place a plan. In most cases it’s also the most important step. Know where you want to get to, develop a clear plan for getting there, and put the right people and processes in place and chances are it will happen.
Yet, it’s a step that’s all too often skipped or skimmed over. We rush to decisions about channels rather than carefully considering where our audience is and where we’ll perform most strongly. We make broad assumptions about who our audience is and what they’re looking for. We rush to put people in place, we skip over process details.
We fail to plan. And we all know where that lands us.
It’s easy to understand why it happens. Design is a competitive sector. We operate on tight margins and even tighter deadlines. Investment in marketing needs to deliver results and it needs to do it quickly. If we’re sure in our own minds that we’ll get results from a better website, or some high profile speaking engagements, or a paid-for Linkedin campaign, or a newsletter, or an email and phone based new business campaign, or whatever it is that we’re pre-disposed to believe is the right solution we’ll jump to that.
It doesn’t help that there are very few advisers who begin from the strategy perspective. Most simply advocate one approach or another. You need someone who can give you impartial advice on how to grow your agency; you don’t need another person selling you a solution they offer.
So, how to do it? It begins with figuring out your audience and how you interest them. It then looks at the media you own – your website, social media channels, presentations, case studies, and so on. It works out the content you can create to engage them, and maps that against channels. It assesses the capabilities needed to deliver and then sets out a plan for plugging any gaps.
This process is the starting-point for all the marketing programmes we implement for our clients. From there we help them with the implementation – whether it’s defining and articulating positioning, copywriting, social media engagement, editorial strategy, content creation, media outreach, email and phone outreach to decision-makers, networking at events, conferences and awards, or another part of the marketing mix, we’re not tied to one approach, so we recommend what will produce the result for our clients.
But we always begin with strategy. And crucially, this strategy involves timings, targets and financials. Everyone knows what they need to do when. Everyone knows what success looks like and the contribution they’re expected to make to that success. And ultimately our clients know the return they can expect for the investment they’re making.