All operational areas of a company will have the greatest chance for success when there is a plan for what you want to accomplish. A few fundamental ideas should drive your intentions and help you achieve what you really need to see in your organization, regardless of the area of focus—whether it’s Marketing, Sales, Service, or Leadership.
For this article, we’re focusing on Marketing as the operational area.
Asking the tough questions
It’s tempting to get started with marketing efforts and hit the ground running. But before you do, you need to ask yourself several questions:
Where are you now?
Evaluate what your current marketing efforts look like and understand what foundational elements you have in place. (We’ll give you some help below on areas to evaluate.)
Where do you need to go?
Think through your intentions of what you want your program to look like. Make notes and start to form the image in your mind. Download our Marketing Plan template for help with this one.
How quickly do you need to get there?
It’s common to think that everything needs to be in place immediately, but that can be unrealistic. Consider how much time, money, and team buy-in you have to accomplish the plans you’ve identified.
Why is it important that you get there?
This final question may be the most critical. If you don’t have proper motivation to carve out the time, money, and resources to do the necessary work, you significantly diminish your chances of sticking with it.
Discuss these questions internally and figure out where your commitment lies when it comes to marketing your benefits business. As you consider where you are today, review each of the following areas for a well-rounded evaluation, think about the answers to each question and give yourself an honest rating of where you currently are (on a scale of 1-10).
Strategic execution for an ongoing marketing effort
Consider how well-prepared you are in approaching the idea of marketing and if you are just winging it—or if you have a plan and resources to make it happen. For instance:
- Do you know what you want to accomplish with your marketing program?
- Do you have a written plan with goals and metrics to track your progress?
- Are you using technology to help execute and track your activities?
Knowing your target audience
Reflect on your target client and how well-developed your ideal client profile is and how well your team sticks to the profile when selecting new clients.
- Do you have the ideal client for your organization defined and documented demographically and psychographically?
- Do you understand your ideal clients’ views and values as an organization?
- How intimately familiar are you with their struggles, frustrations, and challenges?
- How prepared are you to address the various conversational needs with the people who make the decisions, the ones who influence the decisions, and the ones working to block you from coming in?
Reaching your audience with content
Whether you’re producing content right now or not, it is important to understand what message you want to communicate and be clear in how you share it with your audience. After you have clarity on your message, it’s time to evaluate what you’re creating and if it’s consistent with your message:
- Do you have your company brand messages documented and shared with all team members and used consistently?
- Review the copy on your website, sell sheets, presentations, and social posts – is it all about you and what you do? Or is your content about your audience and their challenges?
- Are you creating content that captures the buyer’s attention while exploring their business challenges? And then creating content to help them evaluate their options?
- And finally, how are you actively getting and putting your content in front of that target audience?
Marketing enables prospecting and selling
It takes both prospecting and marketing efforts to get the pipeline filled up, and marketing greatly enhances a producer’s ability to make meaningful connections with buyers. Some of the enablement efforts will be from one-to-one activities that producers engage in, and some will be from one-to-many activities from your marketing efforts. Think about the following:
- How readily are you making yourself available through various mediums for buyers to see you regularly? This is how you build trust, familiarity, and a reputation in the market.
- How active are you on social media? As a crucial driver of developing name familiarity, take time to evaluate both your company presence and your contributors.
- What tools are you using to gather information about your buyers, build a profile of them, and gain insight into their interests? Are you aggregating information that helps gauge when they may be ready for a conversation with the sales team?
What’s your plan?
After completing the self-reflection on your current marketing program, the next step is to create a marketing plan around the resulting answers. You likely need to focus on establishing the foundation in the first year. It’s the behind-the-scenes work that’s not very sexy or outwardly exciting—but if you don’t get it done, you’re building a house on sand, and at some point, you’ll likely need to go back and start over.
Take the time to do it right. As you’re capturing ideas, you can immediately begin putting them into action – start using your new ideas in sales conversations and see how they resonate. Try them out on social posts and see what type of repose you get. Allow people to become familiar with new messaging or content right away. You don’t need to wait for everything to be perfect because that will never happen, but you do need to get started.
Take the first step
Download our marketing plan and ask yourself the tactical questions of where you are right now on each essential activity, what you want to accomplish over the next year, and who will participate in each one. Keep it simple.
When you feel good about having a solid foundation for your marketing efforts, then the following year, you can add on to it and get more outwardly engaged with your whole program.
If you find clarity in each of the four areas above and execute the plan consistently, you’ll make incremental progress in multiple areas year after year, and it will compound into significant results. You can do this!
Having help getting it all done may be the correct answer as well. If you’d like to talk to us about conducting a marketing assessment for your organization, reach out and set up a time.
Photo by sabthai