The answer is yes, a plan is needed for any kind of marketing program a business will embark on. The plan must include goals, objectives and budgets. Without a plan and direction the effort that will be made will be time consuming and will most likely not achieve goals or impact a business positively.
The buzz today is all about social media marketing. Many business people are focusing all of their attention on this, taking their eye off the ball and forgetting about other types of marketing. Social media will become a more integral part of marketing but traditional marketing, advertising and media relations should not be forgotten or put aside. Although the internet and social media marketing can drive sales and be a fantastic tool for brand building it will not work for everyone. What is really disturbing is that most people don’t really know how to use this kind of marketing effectively. Social media marketing can be time consuming and if done improperly will not achieve the return on investment desired. The return on investment for any marketing program should be measurable.
At Corbett Public Relations I regularly work with clients to create messages, set marketing goals and determine what image clients want to have with their target audiences. I would venture to guess that most people who have Facebook pages or Twitter accounts and are using some form of social media marketing did not and do not think twice about the image that they were seeking to convey to the general public as well as potential customers. This is a huge mistake and a topic for another blog entry. Most people dabble with social media sites and post information ranging from what they had for lunch to some type of new product or service they are offering. These mixed messages don’t work and confuse followers. Followers don’t care about these types of posts and that’s the worst thing that can happen, if they don’t care they will stop following, probably forever.
We saw in the early and mid 1990s the growth of the internet. Businesses started to create websites and the “Field of Dreams” movie quote “If you build it they will come” was often used. We found over the years that this is the farthest thing from the truth. The truth is that if you build it they might come but probably won’t. Search engine marketing and optimization has helped with this for websites. People can now find what they are looking easily on the internet. Businesses people now also understand that websites for the most part are marketing and branding tools, not direct business generators. Social media also allows more businesses and people to have a presence on the internet but just because you are doing it does not mean anyone is following or even cares what you have to say. This is why you need to have a marketing plan.
A marketing/social media marketing plan will help to remedy the situation of no one following your or caring about what you have to say. A plan will set goals for pushing out messages, acquiring followers and branding your business (or you personally). Each of these efforts requires planning and the use of the proper tools and having the right creative message and image. Simply put if you do not have a clear image or brand to promote your social media marketing or any marketing program is likely to fail.
Social media offers many opportunities, but how these opportunities are taken advantage of and used is the key. Do it right and do it with a clear plan.
I am compiling a long list of tips for social media marketing and will eventually publish this with comments and best practices for small businesses and individuals seeking to build their own brands. If you are interested in a copy of these tips feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will be writing over the next few weeks about creating the right online image and brand. This will be followed by how to communicate with prospects and friends to generate a buzz and business.