It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily work, the very work that needs to get done to pay the bills and keep the boss happy. Everyone has been there at some point or another – bogged down, behind on emails and focusing so much on the work currently in the hopper that the big picture gets lost. But when it comes to marketing, and ultimately driving sales, the big picture must never get lost.

Where do you want your business to be six months, one year or three years from now? This is the single most important question when it comes to developing a solid marketing strategy. Do you want to start selling your product online, launch a new product, break into new markets or maybe just grow sales by a certain percentage? Once your goals are set, it’s time to work backwards and figure out what will be necessary to achieve those goals.

What’s working and what’s not?

Before you decide what to do going forward, you need to figure what has and has not worked in the past. Here is a broad list of marketing tactics – make a list of these or any others that you’ve tried:

  • Website redesign and search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Mobile marketing
  • Market and competitor research
  • Traditional advertising (print, radio, TV, billboards, etc.)
  • Online advertising (pay per click, retargeting, display, search engine marketing, etc.)
  • Logo redesign
  • Brand updates
  • Social media
  • Trade shows & events
  • Public relations
  • Direct mail
  • Face-to-face sales
  • Signage

Once you have your list, take time to analyze the results of each tactic. Did sales go up? Did you generate interest but not convert? Or was it a complete flop? Things like market conditions, competitors, technology advancements, timing and employees can greatly influence if and when you’ll succeed. If something works, strive to make it perform even better. If it doesn’t work, don’t stop there, just because something wasn’t successful in the past doesn’t mean it won’t work in the future!

I’ve met too many people that spent thousands of dollars having a new website designed only to have no gains in traffic or sales, because the site wasn’t strategically built to achieve long-term goals. It wasn’t because the idea of a new website was bad, but rather the site wasn’t optimized properly to be found in search results, content wasn’t relevant, photos were not visually appealing or the site simply provided a poor user experience. My favorite thing about marketing today is the access to specific analytics that paint a true picture of how people are receiving and using your content. With this data in hand, it’s easy to pinpoint which tactics are working best and how to adjust them for even better results.

Putting Your Strategy In Motion

With a list of tactics that can be used, it’s time to set benchmarks and start planning your overall marketing strategy. Break up your long-term plan into three to six-month bursts of individual goals and projects. This will keep you from feeling backed into a corner throughout the year and will allow you to keep a close eye on your situation and always be looking for new opportunities. Technology, customers and competitors are changing on a daily basis so it’s important to be agile and change with them, as necessary.

Each time you move into planning for the next three or six-month burst, re-evaluate your success and always ask yourself how the short-term plan is going to help achieve your long-term goals. If you don’t know how to effectively use analytics software, figure out ROI or simply don’t know where to start, be sure to ask questions or have someone familiar with the process review your data and make recommendations of which tactics are working, which ones show potential and which ones should be kicked to the curb.

Establish long-term goals, make sure your marketing strategy supports your vision for the future and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it!