Build wings when there is no wind. When the lift comes you will fly higher. #BrandUp— Parker Brand (@ParkerBrand) April 3, 2013
We're planners, pre-planners, and worry-warts at the Parker Brand. We owe a great deal of our success as an upstart creative team to our obsessive project management process. We like to get our hands on each creative project early enough to really plan ahead, thinking out each scenario that we could run into, then work that into the final creative strategy. It's a lot of work and it pays off.
We encourage our clients to do the same. Plan ahead. It sounds like it would be simple, but if what we've seen is true it's a lot harder than it sounds. We don't think it has to be that way, especially when it comes to your marketing.
You don't have to have precognitive abilities to look ahead and put a plan in place. It doesn't matter what business you're in; the easy pieces are there. The worst thing you can do—and many do it often—is to do nothing.
Start with a calendar. Don't look at this month (forget that; it's too close), but rather look ahead to next month? What's happening next month? It doesn't have to be directly related to your business. Is there a holiday? Is there a local event? If you don't know, then just do a quick web search and see what you can find. Write those event dates down, then move to the next month and break it down the same way until you've finished out a full year.
Now you can go through your list of event dates and start striking through them, keeping those most interesting or related to your business in place. Sounds pretty easy, right? It is... and it's the beginning of your marketing plan.
The next step is identifying and deciding which communication resources you want to use. Some of that will depend on your budget. You don't know your advertising budget? Okay; it's not a deal breaker.
If you know how much you have left after your business pays its bills each month then you can begin to develop a budget. Look at your resources and decide how much of the remaining balance you want to put toward growing awareness about your business. It's not always comfortable doing this, so start with something that you feel you can comfortably absorb. That's your advertising budget. If it seems modest, don't worry. You're at the beginning.
So, you've got your event dates, you've got your resources, and you've got your budget. Time to get in touch with those advertising resources and see what you can afford to do. Your budget may not allow you to do everything on your resource list, or maybe you won't be able to hit every event date; that's okay too. Now you have an outline.
Start with the event dates that are the most important to you and your business. It would be nice to have advertising communications going out every day, week, or month like clockwork, but in the beginning it's okay to spend your time building smarter campaigns that will get you a better result.
Your advertising plan can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, but you have start somewhere. We believe that it's always better to start putting things in place before you need them. You'll put your brand in a position of deciding what you want to do rather than what you have to do. Your business will grow, awareness of your brand will increase and your advertising budget will get healthier as a result.
A final note of caution
If there is one thing that I've seen make rubble of a solid advertising plan time and time again over the past 18 years it's this; pulling the plug before you've really given your advertising a chance. Let is soak. If you've created a comfortabel budget for your advertsing and you've hired the right creative team then you will see results. Cutting your advertising altogether because you didn't see the needle move immediately can sincerely impede your brand's growth. Be patient and trust your plan. Most important of all, hire the right creative team to back your play.