Trust the Process - Marketing is a Marathon not a Sprint

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What's your morning routine? We all have one. 

Even if you are not a morning person, you still have a routine. It could be hitting the snooze button 3 times, checking your phone the minute you wake up, playing with your dogs, or getting your kids out of bed. 

What happens when your routine is interrupted? You feel rushed, maybe you forget to brush your teeth (not that I have ever done that), or you end up running late because you keep thinking about that thing you forgot. 

Your routine is your process, and when you follow your process, your morning starts off right. 

The same is true for marketing, there is a process that leads to success. Bad things happen when the process is broken. Yet, most people don't know what that process is and they become frustrated when they don't see results. I have witnessed this numerous times and decided to encourage those who know marketing takes time. 

"Think progress, not perfection" - Ryan Holiday 

The first, and maybe most important, thing to realize is that excellent marketing takes time. 

Your YouTube video is not going viral, your website will not be on the front page of Google the day it launches, and frankly, nobody outside of your close contacts cares about your product or service when you open your business. 

That's perfectly fine.

Your video going viral would actually be a bad thing because you don't have a process in place and would end up a one-hit wonder. Your website making the front page of Google could be bad if your site wasn't tested properly, imagine your e-commerce store crashing because too many people came to your site or you couldn't fulfill orders. 

The process is what saves you from those initial disasters. 

So what should your process look like?

Always Start with Research 

Let's say you own a business or are in charge of a specific department and you want to launch a marketing campaign. Where do you start?

You always start with research. Any marketer who says otherwise should immediately be fired. During your research, you should look to uncover the following: 

  • What are our goals?
  • Who do we want to reach?
  • Do we have a marketing budget, and if yes, what is it?
  • What resources do we have access to?
  • Who are our competitors?
  • Who in our industry is successful in marketing and what are they doing?
  • What does the market look like as a whole, is it growing or shrinking?

That is a small sample of questions, yet should get the point across. Your first step in your marketing process is to do research. You then move to the next step when you have baseline data.

Strategy is the Most Difficult AND Important Part of the Process 

With your data in hand, you can move to strategy. Be warned this is by far the most important part of the process and the one most people get wrong. 

The reason strategy is poorly constructed is rather practical. Too many people want to decide what to do without the experience of ever doing it. 

Let me unpack that statement.

I have years of experience running campaigns from my time as a Director of Marketing at a non-profit organization. Since we were a non-profit, our budget was minimal. That meant I had to learn how to code websites, design graphics, measure campaigns, write copy, and more. I did the manual steps in marketing campaigns which gives me knowledge on how to set a proper strategy. 

Compare that experience to a newly graduated MBA who has never overseen a campaign and is given authority to set a strategy. They always say outlandish things that have no basis in reality. 

I want our campaign to go viral

We are going to be a lifestyle brand (what does that mean!?!?!?)

Those are not strategic initiatives, those are wishful thoughts of someone who has never gone through the grind and seen their campaign fail miserably. Oh, BTW, all you MBAs calm down. I have an MBA and have seen the above statements first-hand. 

A real strategy dives into the nitty-gritty. When you think about your marketing campaign and the process, work out a timeline that goes into minute detail. 

Look at your goals from the first part of the process and determine how long you have to run your campaign. Clearly establish who on your team is responsible for specific items, for example, written copy, website maintenance, graphic design, project management, etc. 

It would take me hours to go into all the strategic steps, yet the overall point is that you need to outline everything.

  • The software you will use 
  • The channels where you will promote
  • Team member responsibilities 
  • Your milestone dates
  • Setting up your advertising (Google AdWords, social media adverts, etc.)
  • Unforeseen items that might come up and how you will deal with them

Go through your strategy over and over and over until you are ready to execute. 

Execution is the Fun Part 

If you have done proper research and set a solid strategy, execution is not only fun, it's easy. 

For all the campaigns we run, we know exactly what we are doing every single day because we set a detailed strategy. It's our process. 

Every day I wake up and look at my calendar. Sometimes I need to do website maintenance, other days it's graphic design, and there are days where I am just looking at data and analyzing why a campaign is behaving a certain way.

All I am doing is executing the strategy. 

The problem arises when people break the process. They don't follow the process and get upset because they are not seeing results fast enough, Yet, if they looked at the research and strategy, they would realize the results will take time. The strategy needs to be executed to completion. 

If you begin a workout routine, you don't weigh yourself daily. You put in the time to exercise and eat healthily. Then you check your results at specific milestones to make sure you are on track. 

Marketing is no different. You execute and don't worry about the results until it's time to analyze the campaign. You have no concerns because you know your strategy is sound and you are executing daily until your goal has been achieved. You are following the process.

Don't Break the Process 

The above is a basic breakdown of a standard marketing process. There are more steps, including, data analytics and maintenance. You can learn more about those steps HERE

My intention was to explain the essentials of the marketing process. As you can guess, the process takes time. You can't do research in a day. It takes weeks to set a proper strategy. And execution can take months depending on what needs to be created, for example, part of your strategy might be to build a new website or app, both take time. 

Yet, the process should be something that is liberating. You completely recognize that marketing takes time and don't worry about seeing results immediately. Instead, you put in daily work and know you are building to something great.

If you are struggling with this process, feel free to contact us and we can walk you through how to properly execute a campaign. 

Matt Avery
Elisha Consulting
Founder and Chief Strategist