I once described the definition of marketing as the implementation of effective branding in order to create name and/or product recognition. I argued that people didn’t buy Apple products so much because of clever ad campaigns, but because of name association. You hear “just do it” and think Nike or “loving it” and think of McDonalds. Marketing builds rep and establishes trust.
Of course, the person who asked informed me I was wrong, and that the definition of marketing is sales. Nothing more, nothing less. To this I still say no. Marketing is a sales tool, and the two often work hand in hand, but marketing is a much different beast. In order to prove my theory, I set about to do something my company had never done before: create a marketing plan.
I previously worked on international marketing strategies for Irongrip Barbell and Slotline Golf as an intern. Additionally, I worked as a graphic designer for a billboard advertising agency. I wrote my first business plan at the age of 16, and felt my strengths as an analyst served me well in creating an appropriate strategy for my company that would work in the 21st century.
Any good marketing plan begins with a thorough survey of the current industry. This means understanding current trends, market demographics (and target audience), and conducting evaluations of competitors. This also means identifying current company strengths and weaknesses, and using data to create a vision for where you want to be as a company in the next 5-10 years. Research is king and correctly interpreting data is the difference between success and failure.
Once I laid a proper foundation, I was able to formulate an appropriate strategy that would unfold in a series of well thought-out phases. Like Kenpo, where every belt builds upon the one that came before it, each phase of the marketing plan builds upon itself like a stack of blocks.
Of course, I started with a social media marketing campaign that began with a redesign of the company website, proper execution of SEO, and a complete social media overhaul. At the same time, I worked on an updated design of the logo, and a swath of new material: bi-folds, pamphlets, flyers, business cards, and mailers. I also identified all key conferences to attend, and which ones would be ideal to sponsor. In addition, I updated the event material and mapped out a plan to create a stronger conference presence.
I don’t want to go to into too much detail, but other elements of the plan included press releases, redesigned quarterly reviews, a company newsletter, and new ways to create a tighter sense of community between us and our clients.
I was even allowed to implement portions of the strategy, tracking stats via Google Analytics and other metrics. Data is king, and because I was already becoming versed in data analytics, it proved to be a major factor in moving forward with a proper implementation of my strategy. The results were strongly positive.
I have always felt that a good marketing strategy needs to remain fluid and dynamic. If something isn’t working, you must have the flexibility to adjust as needed. So what are the results of my marketing strategy?
I laid the foundation for a strong social media presence, had several press releases published, wrote a successful newsletter, revamped much of the company’s stale marketing material, and managed to produce an uptick in metrics concerning e-mail blasts.
While I ended up transitioning into intelligence and investigative analytics, the strategy I put into play is only still being realized, years later. It’s crazy to think how ahead of the times it was. A marketing plan that predicted the future of the industry would be almost entirely digital and would be founded upon data. Years later, and that’s exactly where we are. I consider that a massive success in and of itself.
From this project I learned the importance of research, the gathering of data, the proper interpretation of data, and using data to create effective strategies and accurate prediction of market trends. It also became another exercise in the value of strong writing ability as I put together an effective marketing plan, marketing material, newsletters, and press releases.