Early and Often

How to plan today around the marketing results you are looking for tomorrow.

If you want to get marketing results today, when should you have started your marketing campaign?

We're often trying to provide broad solutions in this newsletter. Whether you are the marketing director of a large organization, the CEO of a small business, or starting your first marketing job after college, I try my best to be helpful to any reader. In this post, I'll try to help you answer the questions of when to get started and when to expect results, but we'll do so by thinking a little about several key stages of implementing a marketing campaign.

To start, you've probably already figured out that to get results today, you're too late. Instead of pointing that out, I'm going to work backward from the results you see today and talk about the important steps that have come before it. We won't be able to be specific enough to develop a true timeline, but you might be able to apply each of these stages to your business.

Nurture

Capturing leads from a campaign usually means that they have gone through several stages of the buying cycle. Customers are people who have taken action. Before they take action, they first have to have a desire. Before that, they will need to have interest and awareness before interest. You can nurture customers with content marketing, newsletters, free samples, or smaller purchases. The timeline of this journey will vary based on the nature of your product buying cycle and your brand trust. Before you plan on converting leads, plan to nurture leads that take interest but don't yet have the desire to make a purchase.

Measure

Before you can nurture leads, you'll need to optimize your campaign. The best marketing campaigns are usually the ones that have been adjusted over time. Getting leads on day one is a call for a celebration, but building them over time is more reasonable to expect. To nurture leads into customers, you will have allowed time to measure and evaluate performance so you can make adjustments along the way.

Simmer

To measure your results, you need to first collect some data. When we make a purchase, it is usually after repeated exposure to a brand, and that takes time. If you are reaching a new audience, you may need to reach them multiple times before your brand sticks. Before you measure and optimize, you will have given your campaign time to simmer.

Deliver

When you build a creative campaign, you'll need to be prepared for the time it takes to get your creative in front of your audience. If it's a direct mail campaign, you'll need time to produce print assets, get them in the mail, and give customers a chance to open them. If you're producing online videos, you'll need time to film, edit, and get them placed in an advertising schedule. Customers will only discover your brand because you spent the time getting your message in front of them, which takes time in rain, sleet, or snow.

Develop

Creative production is easy to overlook in your timeline, but it's unavoidable. More importantly, it's essential you allow time to get your message right. Filming your next Super Bowl commercial to air in February might start in December, or it could start in March. Regardless of whether you are producing a simple poster, producing a film, or creating a suite of advertising assets, you'll be able to deliver because you took the time needed to produce good quality creative.

Planning

Every good campaign comes with a good strategy by allocating a reasonable timeline and identifying the buyer journey from deliver to simmer to nurture. It can take some thinking time to do this, along with time to build buy-in from the rest of your team. If you develop good creative and deliver it to your audience effectively, it will be because you took the time you needed to plan it all out.

Goal Setting

Before you do anything, you'll need to establish your goals. Goals can be attached to many different things, but the most important thing is that they are not nebulous but straightforward and measurable. All of the above will be successful because you first built your plan on a clear set of goals, which serve as a foundation on which to build every aspect of your campaign.

How much time this takes will vary from one scenario to the next and depend on you, your team, the weather, shipping times, internet speeds, and more. Marketing doesn't start at the end when your campaign goes live. Plan early, plan often, and plan to be patient with the process.

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