Five Steps To Start A Marketing Program

I start a new position soon. How fun is that? Part of the fun is bringing in new ideas and plans learned and developed from previous experiences, both professionally and socially. For better or worse, my fingerprints will be all over this new position and marketing program. While there are many pieces that need to be addressed, from starting a blog to using Facebook as a PR tool, I am thinking about this from an even earlier viewpoint. In other words, what do we need to get out of every marketing campaign/process/discussion to know whether it's successful?

Here are five fundamental steps that we're using to establish this marketing program:

  1. Metrics - The very first thing that needs to be addressed.  Even before the discussion of what makes a campaign/process/discussion successful is the ability to review metrics around these campaigns/processes/discussions.  Go to Google Analytics and drop in the tracking code into your site(s).  It's free - Do this right now.  
  2. Dates - Next comes dates.  Go grab a Google Calendar, make it private, share it with your team, and start gathering all kinds of events and their dates of any significance to your product/service/company/industry.  Create a few Google Alerts to keep track of industry events, competition, etc.  Ask everyone - colleagues, partners, customers - if there's an event you should know about.  This is a great way to build relations with the folks that will most likely be helping to drive your campaigns.  And don't worry about sounding silly - the earlier you ask this question, the easier it will be (Hey!  I'm new here!).  
  3. Structure - Now that a few things that time will not wait for (See 1 & 2 above) have been established, we'll need to start structuring the marketing program.  This can be as simple as grabbing a Google Doc and outlining different segments depending on your company's needs.  For example, we created two main segments (Internal & External) then segmented each of these even further based on the audience.  This will help us prepare and deliver better...  
  4. Content - We'll need to figure out everything there is to know about content, from style guides to distribution plans.  The three topics above will help provide some ideas on how this content plan is built, and so will Chris Brogan's excellent Build Ecosystems for Your Content post.  The important thing here is to build a plan that will stand different content types (ie, website, email marketing, print ads, etc.), different content distribution channels (ie, press, print, electronic, etc.), and that will stand the test of time.  Yes, the content plan may shift from time to time, but it should not be a hinderance when publishing any type of content.  
  5. Open - Open in the sense of keeping an open mind.  Open in the sense of who sees the plan (and content and metrics and ...).  Open in the sense of being flexible if something needs to change quickly or drastically.  While we're operating under the assumption that we're starting this marketing program from scratch, that's likely not really true.  A few executives have probably toyed with some ideas, and other folks may have even started a Twitter account to start getting the word out.  Make sure you keep an open mind about these incumbent ideas, and remain flexible and patient.  

The five topics provide a fundamental guideline on starting a marketing program.  Now it's time to roll up the sleeves and get to work!