It took almost three months to complete the digital marketing plan. Now it’s all laid out, in detail. Everything from objectives and target markets to content strategy and management guidelines.
Yet, it’s still not working. Somehow all that work amounted to diddly. The sales aren’t pouring in. The unique visitor numbers haven’t tripled and the website is still not in the top position on Google.
Sounds familiar? Enter the marketing reality.
The Execution Gap
There’s a space between developing a strategy and doing the work. It’s a valley of death where plans and dreams go to die.
You know that diet book that is sitting, collecting dust somewhere on the shelf? The one that promised killer abs in 90 days? Well, I as sure as hell don’t have a six pack yet.
A plan is nothing more then some words on paper. Just like that diet book, or a user manual, or even a map. It’s meaningless on its own, just sitting there.
No amount of planning will make the register ring. This whole marketing game comes down to crossing the gap and executing. Consistently.
The Starting Point
Something happens when you first put your plan in play. It collides with the real world, all the realities of emotional decision making, brand loyalty and social pressures.
Maybe you thought through every possible possibility, every customer question or sales angle. Maybe your plan is 200 pages long with a comprehensive decision making flowchart.
But – what if your “viral video” doesn’t go viral? What if that Google AdWords campaign doesn’t bring in a hundred hot leads every day?
Your work begins when The Plan collides with the real world. So, all we’ve done is started. Began the journey – now you must listen, adapt and iterate.
I love this quote by Zig Ziglar, from his book “See You At The Top“:
“Imagine a pilot is flying from New York to Los Angeles. After the plane takes off for LA it encounters a major thunderstorm which was not on the radar before takeoff. Will the pilot give up and turn back to New York? Of course not! The pilot will adapt, adjust the path accordingly and move on towards the target.”
And so should you. This is where measurements and milestones come into play. Do you have a way to understand how well your plan is working? Can the things you’re measuring illuminate a new path for your marketing strategy?
On the other hand, you may have to give you plan some time to breathe. We’re used to quick wins and immediate gratification. And if this is what you expect of your marketing… your money will be better spent on advertising then digital engagement. Engagement takes time. So does content marketing. For an article to filter through to Google, it may take a week (depending on how fresh / authoritative your website is). And it make take even longer to start showing up for relevant key terms, if it ever does.
But you put the effort in, check against your metrics and correct course. Eventually, it pays off in dividends.
There isn’t a plan that exists, that will magically turn a business around… and we’ll never get it just right, because things change. But even a mediocre plan with diligent execution will yield some results.
This isn’t meant to discourage. It’s meant to light a fire under your ass and mine. To do the work. To execute. To iterate. And I’m right there with you.