6 Ways Your Marketing Strategy Should Be Like a Healthy Exercise Routine
I’m a gal who loves to work out. The gym is my happy place, I don’t mind getting sweaty, and I love seeing the progress as I lift heavier and run further and faster. Embracing exercise as a healthy habit involves a particular mindset, one that doesn’t always come easily. Many people struggle to find an extra hour in their day to get out for a jog, or they don’t want to add an extra line item to the budget for a trainer or gym membership. Sometimes they just don’t know where to begin. But without these things, including that mindset, they’re missing out on a critical tool to benefit their health.
Marketing and communication holds a similar place in business. Many business owners and executives know they need marketing, but 1. Don’t have the personnel to handle it, 2. Don’t think they have the budget, or 3. Don’t know where to start. But, much like exercise, without a good marketing plan your business is missing a crucial piece to its overall branding, credibility and potential sales capability.
Below are a few parallels between a good exercise regimen and a solid marketing strategy:
Maybe you’ve done marketing yourself for a while, but it feels disjointed. Perhaps your internal marketing team needs some extra support. Or, you’ve always gotten customers by word of mouth, and need to put together a more formal marketing plan from scratch.
Each of our clients comes to us in a unique position and with specific needs. That’s where we shine! We’ll meet you where you are and put together a custom plan that supports your business goals, just as a personal trainer meets his or her clients where they are in their fitness journey.
If you don’t have a “why” you want and need to exercise, you’re going to have a hard time establishing a positive, determined attitude during your workouts. Everything will seem more difficult when you’re not putting in the work for a specific reason. The same goes for marketing and communication.
Why are you in need of a marketing strategy? Is it to start from scratch, to diversify your products and services, to support your sales team, or to eventually sell your business? Depending on the “why,” setting goals to help you reach that pinnacle is important. And small goals are just as important as big goals.
Your main goal may be to complete a triathlon, but to get there, you must first improve your running form, brush up on your swim skills and learn how to confidently ride a bike in a race environment. To build a successful marketing campaign, you must first choose your intended audience, select platforms and channels to reach them, and develop creative messaging and design to draw them in.
Sometimes, if you’ve been doing the same thing for a while and you hit a plateau, it’s a good idea to mix it up.
There are some marketing and communication tactics that consistently work, especially within certain industries. But developing a well-rounded marketing plan is key to truly flexing your brand’s muscles. If you spend most of your time on the elliptical, you’re still moving your body and getting the benefits of exercise. But think of how much fitter and stronger you would be if you added resistance training, swimming and yoga to your routine. Your cardio would get even better, your strength would increase and your mobility and flexibility would round everything out.
The same goes for marketing efforts. You might have a nice brochure that you hand out at the equally nice trade show booth you set up at industry expos. Your website might be newly updated and has a steady stream of traffic. But, think about how you could expand upon those tools to maximize your communication efforts and reach your entire target audience.
You could promote your trade show appearances before shows, and send a branded introductory email to new contacts after the show. That email could link to your website, where users could then download a digital product sheet or watch a branded video. From your website they could visit your social media pages and follow you for more content, and there they might see the article you were recently featured in thanks to public relations efforts. Brand credibility? Check! Potential new customer? In the pipeline.
You need to have a solid fitness base before you move up in weight, and make sure you can walk before you run.
Sometimes the basics feel boring. But if you start lifting heavy weights with improper form, injury is bound to happen. Focusing on technique, proper movement patterns and starting with lower weight will make it easier to lift heavy down the road. In fact, you’ll see results faster if you take the time to set a foundation upfront.
In the marketing world, it can be tempting to dive right in with a hodgepodge of tactics. There are countless to choose from, after all! But, if you rush into tactic execution without conducting initial research and setting a plan, you run the risk of failing without knowing why you failed. Spend the time to research and audit, use that information to develop a well-rounded strategy, then deploy your carefully selected tactics (and watch the results fall into place). When it comes time to measure how they perform, you’ll know exactly what went into their execution and can adjust quickly if needed.
I’ll be honest here. There is a LOT out there about exercise and diet, and it can be hard to sort through the clutter to determine what’s trendy (and not necessarily healthy) and what’s backed by science. It’s likely that you’ve encountered this when seeking marketing advice as well.
It comes down to this – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Immediate results in the marketing and PR realm are few and far between. It takes time to allow a new website to be “found” by search engines. Social media followers should not be “bought” or coerced. Purchasing targeted email lists is a no-no.
Typically, when trying something new, we tell our clients to allow for about three months of testing (of tactics chosen based on that all-too-important research!) and analysis before diving headfirst into a full-blown campaign.
Working out alone can be great sometimes – I love a good run or walk to listen to a podcast or gather my thoughts. But, it’s always more fun with a friend, accountability buddy, group class, coach or personal trainer. Plus, working with a coach or trainer can help you stay focused on your goals and encourage you to try things that might be out of your comfort zone as a way to stay motivated. They are experts in their field, and will do everything in their power to keep you safe, on track and feeling your best.
Similarly, marketing and PR professionals serve as both a support system and as experts in their specialties. Especially when working with an agency, your account manager will help you determine where your brand is, where it could be, and how to get there through strategic marketing and communication. They are with you each step of the way, encouraging new efforts based on market analysis and research, developing creative content, measuring progress and making adjustments as needed to help your business reach its marketing goals.
A great marketing plan, from strategy to execution to measurement, is a marathon, not a sprint. Adopting a healthy understanding of its importance to your business is the first step to helping your brand hop off the couch, get moving and flex its muscles within your industry.