I’ve been in the marketing industry for nearly 20 years. Though I worked for a traditional ad agency, I was the one always focused on digital. I always had a knack for tech. Getting my start in the traditional world and having a formal education in marketing, I’ve learned to focus the fundamentals.

This seems to be a missing piece in the digital marketing world. So many of my counterparts don’t really understand the basics of marketing. They tend to go after the shiny objects (the newest trends) without any regard for the customers’ desired results. There’s a lot of “let’s throw it at the wall and see if it sticks” mentality.

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As you can imagine this drives me crazy. So, let’s get back to our original question. Does your marketing pass the bullS%!# test? This can typically be answered by one basic question.

Do you have a marketing strategy?

In other words, do you have a written marketing plan with clear goals?

If not, well you didn’t pass the test.

Companies without a clear marketing plan often throw away thousands of dollars after being sold on the next big thing that promises the stars. Don’t be that business owner. Willy-nilly efforts with no defined strategy are a waste of time and money. Bad marketing can actually tarnish your brand.

Step back, think about what you are trying to accomplish and if needed, work with a professional to create a marketing plan for your company. It doesn’t have to be perfectly crafted, but you do need to get started with something. So, sit down with your team and figure out the basics.

After creating a marketing plan and establishing a marketing budget. You can look at the gamut of options at your disposal and put your marketing dollars where it makes the most sense for YOUR business. This may mean investing in web design, outlining a content marketing strategy, or ramping up your social media. Or it might mean, investing in some billboards and doing a postcard campaign. However, you really need to get to know your target audience, your desired outcome, and your marketing budget. After all, spinning up a campaign on Snapchat likely doesn’t make sense if you’re targeting baby boomers!

You also must consider your resources. Do you have the staff available to implement your marketing plan? If not, outsourced marketing may be a good solution. By outsourcing your marketing, you get a team that is experienced in all the various disciplines. Then all you need is someone on your team to interface with them and keep things moving along.

So what’s your next step? Here’s a link to a 12-Step Marketing Plan to help you get you started.