Please! Don’t Jump… into Social Media Without a Marketing Plan!

Dear Small Business Enterprises (SBEs),

I never thought I’d even think the following sentence: I enjoy Tweeting.

In fact, of all the Social Media platforms, I enjoy Twitter most.  Every post is an intellectual and creative challenge to draft engaging thoughts—and in such small confines!  All designed to entice fellow Tweeters to my content, competing against a stream of other finely crafted, engaging thoughts aiming to drive me to theirs.  A veritable super-highway of business Haikus.  (“I will never use this again!” I remember complaining when faced with writing Haikus for 8th grade English.  Who knew?)

And where else but Twitter can you find such a plethora of content on running an SBE?  Does any other platform link you to a greater bounty of content than Twitter?  Especially links on how to use Social Media in your business?  Just run this search: “Tips on Using Social Media.”  Tweet after Tweet after Tweet after Tweet…

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there…”   Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

After watching my Twitter Timeline fly by, the thought hit me that folks might be learning to use various Social Media tools without even thinking about how or if it fits into their Marketing Plan.

Or, why or how to tailor their Social Media efforts to meet their marketing objectives.

And if it’s true, as some pundits say, that everyone should blog, what blog content will serve your targeted clients best?  And, how does that fit into your Product or Service Marketing Plan?

To leverage author Lewis Carroll’s thought, if you don’t have a marketing plan, social media—or most any marketing effort—is “any road” leading you nowhere.  You simply cannot answer these critical questions or make sure you’re properly investing your time and resources without a Marketing Plan.

If you’ve never developed one, or if you’re not sure of the process, click here for a great post by Bob Smith (Bob, fresh from a Sr Executive Management & Board position of a$5B tech company is a fellow consultant at The Allasso Group), aptly titled: Developing A Marketing Plan.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”  Alan Lakein

As a part of my consulting practice I speak with small business owners most every day.  The majority tell me they do not have a formal Marketing Plan.  The majority are using Social Media.  The majority do not see tangible business results.  Which leads me to the following generalization:

We want a quick and cheap way to solve our revenue problems, and Social Media is “the next big thing” to cure our ills. 

But, alas, it does not.

So then, what’s wrong with Social Media?

Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are ultra-seductive because we’re painfully aware that millions of people use them.  But these platforms are only tools leading you to potential ruin if you’re using them without a well formulated plan.

And like any technology, learning to use these platforms properly takes a considerable investment of time… Your time, though it doesn’t appear on your balance sheet, is the most limited and valuable asset of your business.  Treat it with respect and use it wisely!

Social Media is great for attracting customers, IF you know what market segments you’re targeting, what messages to send, and what tools to use to deliver what specific content.  And though answers to some of these questions may seem obvious, all the answers can be determined only AFTER you invest time in constructing a plan.

For your business to succeed with Social Media you must first do two things: 1. Perform a thorough Market Planning/Market Analysis process, and then, 2. Perform a Product Marketing Planning Process.  Sounds dry, but do it and it will save you from wasting time and precious resources.

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”  Thomas Edison

The most success I’ve had running an SBE was Mentor Communications Group, where we launched a software product called Mentor®.  The idea for Mentor came to me while I was contracted by Wall Street firms to perform Communications Consulting with large companies doing IPOs, Secondary & Debt Offerings.  And I had a number of successes selling Mentor as a custom solution.  As a result, I developed a set of ideas on how to best position and sell a Mentor product, and which markets to attack first.  But it wasn’t until I spent a few days sequestered with my senior staff (with Bob Smith, Mentor’s EVP, leading the session), that I truly understood the best ways to capitalize on the opportunity.  (BTW, some of my positions were proved wrong, while others were dramatically improved. Mentor, not accidently, wound up selling over 14million product licenses and, including custom contracts, serving over 50million users).

A few notes on “Developing a Marketing Plan(click it… it’s a link!)

  1. You can’t skip around! Follow the step-by-step process in sequence.
  2. This is the process we went through, not the techniques we used to capture information on each step in the process. I highly recommend you:
    a. Create the “weighted scores” described in the MARKETING PLAN
    b. Trust the process.  If you’ve taken enough care, the best opportunities will have the highest scores.
    c. Evaluate the “Highest Scores” against your market knowledge
    d. Take action!

Why am I practically begging you to do this?  Because entrepreneurs as a whole are understaffed and overworked.  We don’t take enough vacations.  We don’t spend enough time with our families.  And we don’t take enough time to decompress at the end of each day so we can perform at our best every new day.

If that’s not persuasive enough, how about these benefits?  A Marketing Plan will:
1. Stop you from wasting time and money on the “wrong roads.”
2. Help you identify the sweet-spot of your target market and the ideal customer profile
3. Sharpen your value proposition
4. Help you determine the products, services, and resources required to succeed in each segment
5. Help you identify your unique strategic advantage
6. Help you develop the correct product/service positioning

It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backward.   Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

I’m certain if you learn how to develop a marketing plan, then actually go through the process and work it, it will pay huge dividends for you, now and well into the future.  In addition to the linked Marketing Plan Process (click here), I’ll update this blog with a few books, blogs, and articles on the topic.  Feel free to send me the best ones you’ve read, I’d love to check them out.

SBEs are a journey… Be safe!

Danny Gallo
Social Media Director & Small Business Advocate, Supplier-Connection
Managing Director, The Allasso Group


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