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Should your marketing strategy feel like you are training for a marathon? Yes. Because a marketing strategy is a lot like training for a marathon and here’s why.
As a marketer and someone who is also training for a ½ marathon, I was fascinated by the parallels of the two. On the surface they are completely irrelevant to each other. But when you dig in and look under the hood, you begin to see the incredible mechanics of it all. It’s really a beautiful thing when you see two different worlds come together and/or share a commonality.
The power of this lies in its simplicity. There’s history and truth. When something has been tried, tested and proven you know there is weight to it. If innovation works and is successful in one place and time, what’s to say we can’t extract the core elements of that and apply it to something else.
I believe innovation happens in part on an intuitive level. Whether or not we are consciously aware of it, we are being influenced and inspired by other sparks of innovation.
If you’ve been struggling a bit and questioning your work. Or it feels like your marketing efforts are more like training for a marathon, don’t stop now. That’s actually a good sign as long as you have the basic mechanics in place.
What is a marketing strategy?
Well a marketing strategy is a lot of things. There are also a lot of things a marketing strategy is not. It’s easy to get caught up in what a marketing strategy should look like based on how you perceive what others are doing. Don’t get stuck in the ‘grass is greener over the fence’ mentality.
The more important question you should be asking is ‘what is my marketing strategy’? Your marketing strategy should serve you! It should serve a specific purpose that is directly relevant to you and what you are trying to achieve.
I know this might seem obvious but it isn’t always and not to everyone. When you are busy running your business or a number of marketing initiatives it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day. We sometimes end up making knee jerk reactions based on what we think others are doing.
One of the things I like to do is kind of reverse engineer the outcome. I’m a bit nerdy that way but it helps me stay focused and create a clear plan. Yes, I will often need to pivot and adapt but my plans are always strategic and scalable. When you think about that end goal you have that as a focal point for your work.
This is what you want in a marketing strategy – something that is directly related to you and your business goals and outcomes.
This allows you to create measurable goals based on benchmarks that were derived from your metrics. This is essential to measuring your success. And if you’re not measuring performance how do you know if you’re successful? You need benchmarks.
The marketing strategy
Your marketing strategy is a lot like training for a marathon. If you’re doing it right, your chances of success are much higher.
Here are the 3 essential techniques you need to help stay on track and make your strategy achievable:
Set goals but not just any goals, you want SMART goals. Whether you’re running a marathon or creating a marketing strategy your goals need to be:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant/Realistic
T – Timely
Your goals need to be clearly defined. If it’s not clear to you then it’s not clear to anyone working with you. Rather than saying this is what I am hoping to achieve why not go after a specific goal that is tied to a metric. If you’re just starting out and have no baseline then this technique will provide you with one.
Perhaps you’re the type of person who needs more, you’re an overachiever and thrive on adventure. You like to push your boundaries and you might be thinking SMART goals are not enough. If that sounds like you, you are not alone. You’re in good company with people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Richard Branson. They are all classic examples of innovative thinkers pushing traditional thinking.
Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to have science on your side. In this case you will want to learn the science secrets to setting and achieving your goals. Science shows us how to treat our brain to achieve those goals. Each day take a step, no matter how small, towards meeting your goal.
The best way to hold yourself accountable and to those around you, such as stakeholders, is to be honest with yourself. I know some people try to avoid accountability at all costs. Mainly out of fear they could fail. I’m not someone who likes to fail either but I sure do like to win. Accountability is what pushes me and allows me to measure my success.
Goal setting works the same in a marketing strategy as it does in training for a marathon. It’s perfectly acceptable to adjust your goals as you progress. Sometimes you need to take a step back and sometimes you need to push harder. Pivoting is actually a good thing as it shows you’re paying attention.
Before you can develop a plan you need a baseline. We all need a baseline. In business, marketing and training for a marathon.
When I made my commitment in my February blog post Can Exercise Boost Brain Productivity to run a ½ marathon I actually started my unofficial training in January. This allowed me to experiment with a few strategies, iron out the kinks and create a custom plan that made sense for me. When my official training started in February I felt more prepared as my plan and the goals I set were more personally meaningful.
Now with just 7 weeks to go before I tackle my first ½ marathon run I’m working with a 6 day plan that takes me right down to the day of the race. I’ve done my research, I got advice from the experts and now I am following through on my plan. I know exactly what I am doing and how far I need to push myself each day.
I have my core SMART goal but each day also has its own subset of goals. Each builds on and supports my main goal. They are all specific, measurable, attainable (most days), relevant, realistic and timely. They are milestones that help take me closer to my end goal.
Your marketing strategy needs the same thing. It doesn’t have to be complex but it needs to be worked out in a way that allows you to see it every day.
You’ve heard it before and I know I’m about to sound cliché but consistency is key. Like a marathon consistency is key to your marketing strategy success.
The best way to accomplish consistency is by setting goals and having a plan. Otherwise consistency will be hard to accomplish. Maybe you need to create a roll out plan when you are in the execution phase. Incorporate tools and technology whenever possible.
A wonderful tool I just recently came across is Kanban Board by CayenneApps. This app allows you to help create a calendar of actions. What’s really cool is that you can transform projects within a SWOT analysis that further breaks it down to goals and tasks.
One of the barriers that hold us back from success is lack of commitment and consistency that comes with it. While consistency is one of the most essential ingredients of a marketing strategy, you don’t want to forget about balance. We never put all our eggs into one basket.
While consistency is key in a marketing strategy… we never want to put all our eggs into one basket
My training for instance would be a total flop if all I did was run every day during my 6 day plan. I have to mix it up with strength training, short and long runs, hills and other various aerobic exercises.
My point here is consistency doesn’t mean you do the exact same thing every day. Create a game plan that supports all aspects of your marketing strategy. Then balance out your efforts in order to best support your goals.
After the long run is done you will want to bask in the moment. Just don’t forget to enjoy the milestones along the way too.
Think of your marketing strategy like a long run. That is the marathon. Your marketing campaigns are essentially spin offs from your core marketing strategy. These are more like your sprints. Each brings a specific purpose, unique value and opportunity.
You’ve put countless hours into preparing for your marketing strategy. While the end goal is what you’re working towards, you want to enjoy the journey too. Get as much out of it as you put in.
Should your marketing strategy feel like you are training for marathon? Yes. Because a marketing strategy really is a lot like training for a marathon and if you’re doing it right you will cross that finish line.
Diana Davies-Harju, Marketing at InnovaMap
InnovaMap – we use the science of marketing to connect you with your target audience.
Contact us to learn more on how to start integrating techniques for engaging the brain into all your marketing strategies.