A client recently summarized her marketing like this: “Essentially we have been throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.” She added that not much “sticks.”

Could this be you? Probably. Surveys consistently show that businesses large and small have marketing initiatives underway but few have a strategy that guides their efforts.

The secret to marketing success is having a strategy or plan. If that sounds cumbersome or complicated, you are not alone. But stick with me and get to the end of this post before you dismiss the idea.

Strategy is not complicated, it will save you precious time, and you will have more marketing wins. Your strategy is how you select your destination and develop the map of how you will get there. Without it, you are just wandering.

Not having a plan leads to wasted resources with few results to show. It’s time that we all stop experimenting and start being strategic.

Strategy isn’t only applicable when you are starting an imitative. It is fundamental for success at every stage of your marketing effort.

Define a Goal

Being on social media or sponsoring an event isn’t a strategy. You must set a goal and work toward that goal. Maybe your goal is to increase awareness of a product, service, or issue. Maybe it’s to develop a following of interested people. Or, it could be to influence something.

There are many worthy goals. You need to define the goal you are working toward. And you need to focus, because trying to achieve multiple goals will really get in the way of making any progress.

Start with Research

Look at what you have done and analyze your successes. Look at what your competitors are doing. Sometimes inspiration is right in front of us – we just need to look up from our daily tasks and take time to notice what is happening around us. Developing a strategy is a great time to look at the larger context of what you are doing and what you want to do.

A Strategy Must Be Written Down

I’ve had many conversations with companies that assert that everyone knows the strategy only to find out that each person in the room has a different idea of just what that strategy is. Worse, I have seen people reprimanded for not following strategies that are not documented.

You can’t assume that everyone is on the same page if there is no reference to work from. Write a plan and make it available to everyone.

Get Down to Specifics

It’s tempting to be big and broad, because you don’t want to miss any opportunities. However, this instinct is not one to follow. If you try to speak to everyone about everything you end up speaking to no one and having no impact. Focusing on specific audiences and speaking to their needs is a significantly more effective approach.

Your plan should include the specific things you will do to move toward your marketing goal.  It should list specific targets and how you will work toward them. Define the resources needed, human, financial and otherwise.

Assess and Adjust

Take time to periodically assess your progress. Are you implementing all the elements of the plan? What is the impact.

Don’t be afraid to discontinue ideas that just aren’t getting you toward your goal. Likewise, spend more time on efforts that are yielding desired results.

You plan should keep you focused, but it is not a rigid document that prevents you from leveraging opportunities.

For more about marketing strategy, follow the blog “Communication in a Web Saturated World.” The posts will help you to develop and implement your winning marketing strategy.