Two diametrically opposed axioms govern the marketing world. First, marketing is easy and all of the tools, tactics and tricks protect even the worst of marketers. Second, marketing is hard and without ten years of experience and a masters degree, you will never succeed.

The beauty of both of these axioms is they each have a percentage of truth and a percentage of false. Sounds like a lot of marketing messages.

But whether you are new or old to marketing and whether you are good or bad at it, you absolutely must accomplish these two things to increase your chances at success.

  1. Set a SMART goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Truth be told, many marketers don’t even have goals for their campaigns. They have a budget to spend and their goal is to spend it. So, if you have a goal at all, you are ahead of the curve. But if the goal is too lofty, too loose or too long-term, it will be hard to decide if you are on a path to success.Think through how you would like the marketing to affect the business. Is it more sales? Is it more leads? Is it a 5 percent increase of sales of one product over another? Is it brand or product awareness? Setting a SMART goal will allow you to choose marketing tactics that are built to accomplish the goal. Whether you share the goal with your partners, employees or bosses is up to you. But not having a SMART goal is a surefire way to wonder if the budget was worth it. And if you are wondering, so is your boss.
  2. Assess the past, present and future. For a variety of reasons, marketing planning is done with an eye to the future. The budgets are set ahead of time and the goals are focused on a future outcome. The whole system is pointed forward.But a myopic approach to marketing is dangerous. Past marketing efforts have generated oodles of important knowledge about audience engagement with your messaging, your brand or the tools themselves. Without assessing what happened in the past, you are doomed to repeat failure (and not even realize it).The present is also a key view. Past marketing has results but questions should be asked about current audience habits or current tool adoption to make sure your next marketing plan isn’t too tied to old data. Meanwhile, the next big marketing thing might not be the right place for your dollars yet. Assess the present to be sure you aren’t ahead of your skis.

Having a plan and then determining if the plan takes advantage of the wisdom of the past and present is the best route to spending your limited marketing money wisely.


Don’t miss the Ag Marketing in the Digital Age conference, March 24 in St. Louis. To hear more about it from Chief Digital Officer James Arnold, listen here. To read more about the conference, click here.

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