The best marketing plans have just the right mix of tactics across multiple platforms—digital, traditional, social, and direct… but not necessarily what’s trending that minute.

Remember when you were a kid or, better yet, a new-on-the-job marketing manager, and you wanted to do something just because “everyone” was doing it and you didn’t want to get left behind? And then your mom or dad (or CMO) asked you if you would jump off a cliff just because everyone else was doing it?

And you “jumped” anyway?

That’s FOMO 101. The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on the next big thing without any regard to your core values or goals… or better judgment.

It’s very tempting to jump on the bandwagon of every promising new marketing trend, especially if your competition is on board already. However, if your customers are over 50 years old, then Snapchat is not going to be your go-to social media outlet. If lead generation is your number one marketing goal, organic search optimization will probably not get the job done, unless it’s part of an overall digital marketing strategy.

If you haven’t updated your website since 1998, it’s a problem. If you aren’t live streaming your last company outing, it could be just as well. So, do you know how to choose the right platforms?

  1. Do your homework.
  2. Create and implement a strategic plan.
  3. Evaluate your performance.
  4. Learn from your mistakes.
  5. Share your successes.
  6. Measure your ROI.
  7. Go back to the drawing board when necessary.

All good marketing speaks to its audience with consistent messaging that helps to build loyalty and trust. It meets specific goals and stays within budget. It also gets people talking and thinking about your product or service.

Old School in the New World

Even the most sophisticated marketers can get confused or overwhelmed by the endless options available today. How can you choose the best marketing channels for your product or service? The old-fashioned way. With a marketing plan that pinpoints your audience and highlights a clear set of goals, a realistic budget, a reasonable timeline and meaningful metrics. The marketing strategy should carefully outline and define strategic and touch-point tactics based on research as well as intuition—and a strong understanding of the behaviors and preferences of a target audience.

You start by building a foundation that includes a website and other fundamental marketing tools, and you go from there. Never stop testing, measuring, adjusting and enhancing your tactics as they relate to your goals.

Stay on top of the trends but don’t get blindsided by them. Give Snapchat a try if it makes sense. You may even want to throw in some experiential marketing, just for fun. Wouldn’t it be great to transform your office space into an interactive video game? Especially if your company produces VR software and you are kicking off a new product? You would definitely want to live stream that event.
If live streaming and virtual reality don’t make sense for your brand, you might want to stick with more old-school marketing: running print ads in local magazines, billboards on major highways, and patient newsletters. And then you could support this brand awareness with newer, more measurable digital tactics, such as a website landing page to support a pay-per-click campaign. Better yet, get to work on a reputation marketing campaign to land your business on a list of the nation’s top companies in your market.

Is your head spinning yet? Let’s break it down.

  1. Start with the Basics. The Must-Haves:
  • Optimized website. You know you need a website. It’s how people find your business, and where they go to check you out. You can also use your website to generate leads, collect emails, boost Google rankings and, most of all, tell your story. Make sure to optimize your website with relevant keywords in page titles and throughout the content.
  • Google business page. This will put your business on the map. Literally. Add your business to directories and relevant review sites such as Yelp as well.
  • Professional business card. Don’t skimp here. It’s your first impression. Now get out there and network!
  • Social media presence. You don’t need to be on every platform. Most businesses have a Facebook page, and most professionals have a personal LinkedIn profile. Beyond that, go where your audience is and don’t spread yourself too thin.
  1. Expand Your Reach: The Nice-to-Haves
  • This is a great way to keep the content on your website fresh, in front of your audience and popular with the search engines. Share your blog on your social media and in emails to increase awareness. Use it to build your credibility as a thought leader.
  • Sponsored content. Repurpose your blog in local papers as an “advertorial,” or pay to run it on social media and reach a target audience.
  • Brochures, flyers and newsletters. Yes, you still want some printed materials.
  • Paid digital marketing. Boost your website’s traffic with targeted pay-per-click and retargeting campaigns.
  • Email marketing. Keep a list of email contacts, and distribute company news or helpful information to your clients and prospects.
  • Direct mail. Breaking through the digital noise with a physical mail piece is a great way to make additional impression with your targeted audience.
  • From full productions to quick uploads, research confirms that engagement increases substantially when there is a visual component to your message. People don’t have time to read all of your content. Stop them with your video. Targeted YouTube advertising can be effective and fairly inexpensive as well.
  1. Create Your Own PR: The Add-Ons
  • Sponsor or host events
  • Pursue speaking engagements and interviews
  • Publish white papers
  • Connect with industry thought leaders and influencers on social media
  • Attend trade shows and conferences

At the end of the day, no matter how creative, up-to-the-minute or award winning your marketing efforts might be, if they don’t produce the results you’re after, you’ll waste time and money. To make sure that doesn’t happen, choose your platforms wisely, don’t spread yourself too thin, and don’t be like everyone else. Be smarter.