I am a firm believer that we make our worst decisions when we make them out of fear and a lack of transparency–personally, professionally, and organizationally. As marketers, we often don’t ask uncomfortable questions of ourselves because we don’t want uncomfortable answers that will force uncomfortable actions, moving us away from what we’re used to and maybe even putting more work on our plates. Side note: There’s that fear rearing its ugly head already, and we’re not even two paragraphs into this blog post.
2017 Social Marketing Planning Guide
But it is this very “time-to-stop-being-polite-and-start-getting-real” process that creates real change, shifts thinking, and sparks the marketing evolution that builds brand health and revenue. I’m sure you’ve done a lot of research and planning, but I bet you haven’t asked (or answered) these tough questions about your marketing program in 2017.
1. What Haven’t You Been Able to Explain Yet?
Go stream-of-consciousness here. Make a list of everything that you haven’t been able to:
a) Understand about your brand, target personas, and current customers: For instance, “I don’t understand whether people see our brand as X or Y,” “I don’t know whether we’re focusing on the right target persona because that campaign didn’t go as expected,” “I don’t know why we’re losing current customers.”
b) Explain to your target personas and current customers, segmented by channel: For instance, email vs. social, Pinterest vs. Facebook.
If you find yourself writing massive lists in each of these categories, you’ll have to prioritize your problems. There are only so many hours in the day. That means it’s time for step 2.
2. What Needs to Be Explained About Your Brand?
Not what it would be nice for people to know–what is the essential information that your target customer needs to know about your brand, its mission, and the value if provides? What lies at the heart of your brand?
List as many things as you can think of. Go crazy. Don’t just guess–do research using whatever listening, monitoring, and/or attribution software solution you have access to.
But, when you are finished, be sure to rank your essentials in order of importance so you can put together an action plan at the end of this exercise.
3. What Are the Things You Are Afraid to Admit About a) Your Brand and b) Your Marketing As It Stands Today?
List as many as things as necessary. Be as specific as possible. You don’t have to show this list to anyone at all, though if you lead a team, being transparent about these facts can help build strength, honesty, creative feedback channels, and team unity.
Whether you make this list public or choose to stay private, keep track of it. Then, in the same document, write a new list at the beginning of next month. And the month after. What has changed? What hasn’t? This exercise will help you keep track of the progress you are (or are not) making. Examples include:
- Competitor X does a better job on Instagram than we do, even though we’ve poured a whole lot of resources into that platform
- We don’t have a solid measurement and reporting solution that we feel comfortable using, so we aren’t making informed decisions
- We don’t have enough time to do a good job at marketing
- Unless we have resource X, we will never be able to improve our marketing, no matter what our leaders expect
4. What’s the Worst Thing That Could Happen If You Take That Risk?
Chances are, by being brutally honest with yourself in answering the questions above, you’ve come up with some pretty risky ideas and uncomfortable truths. That’s okay. Ask yourself this final question, which is really three questions:
- Prioritization: If you took action on the three biggest problems you faced in the questions above, what would those actions be?
- Facing the Facts: If you took those actions, what would be the worst outcome for each action?
- Making a Choice: Is the possible reward worth the risk for each action?
I hope these questions have been helpful for you in retooling your marketing thinking for 2017. Ready to take the next step? Download the 2017 Social Media Planning Template and Checklist below.