Do You Have A Formal Marketing Plan Or Schedule?
Having seen some of the many problems you could face as a result of disorganized marketing, what can you do to build a more structured system?
The answer is actually simple:
Create a marketing schedule to plan out your marketing over a set period of time.
Despite the simplicity of this idea, few photographers actually have any kind of formal marketing plan. Perhaps they don’t know where to start, how to set one up, or maybe it feels like one of those boring tasks no one wants to do.
Whatever the reason, if you don’t have a marketing schedule, we’re going to fix that in the next lesson, and get you started on the path to success.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of creating a schedule, let’s go over some of the benefits of having one for your business.
#1: Provides Advance Planning For Targeted Campaigns
First up, an effective marketing schedule allows you to plan your campaigns well in advance of when they will actually happen.
Depending on how confident you feel and how much you know about the marketing you intend to do in the future, you can create a schedule to cover almost any period of time – anything from a couple of months to a year or more.
If this is the first time you’re putting together a marketing plan, it might be wise to start small with around 3 months.
You can always expand it to 6 months or a year as you gain more experience with the process
#2: Helps You Stick To Your Core Business Principles
A big downfall of emergency marketing is that your marketing ideas can stray too far from your core principles in a desperate effort to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.
For example, let’s say you’re a portrait photographer specializing in high-end wall portraits, but you’re facing a slump in bookings or sales.
If you allow yourself to get caught up in emergency marketing, you might find yourself tempted to offer digital files instead of wall prints, or offering mini-sessions that don’t fit in with your business philosophy.
Either way, your brand will become diluted and you’ll end up sending a confused message to your potential customers.
Because you have more time to set things up, a marketing plan allows you to create more appropriate marketing within the framework of how you do business.
#3: Eliminates Emergency Marketing
While we’re on the topic of emergency marketing, you should easily be able to wave goodbye to this nasty side of your business once and for all.
Imagine how much more in control you’ll feel as a result of knowing you’ve got your marketing all planned out in advance!
Enough said, right?
#4: Takes Up Less Time Overall
Have you kept track of how much time you currently spend on marketing each day or each week?
If you did, you’d be quite surprised at how quickly it adds up!
Right now, you’re probably snatching an hour or two here and there, or spending long evening hours brainstorming ideas and trying hard to get people to notice you.
Those hours might not sound like much in themselves, but when you take into account the time either side of those hours where you’re stuck in between tasks, or you take away the non-productive time at the beginning and end of your marketing time slots where you’re getting your head into the game, then it doesn’t seem quite so efficient, does it?
But when you devote time up front to work on a marketing plan, things are different.
Instead of spending lots of smaller time units on marketing, you can devote longer periods to planning your marketing, a process which takes up less time in the long run.
Less time on marketing can’t be a bad thing, can it?
Plus, it gives you more time to spend on what you love doing.
#5: Reduces Stress And Anxiety
Much of the stress and anxiety you endure from your current marketing is a direct result of feeling out of control.
Not knowing what to do, or which way to turn to find the next client, can cause a lot of unwanted worry and stress.
In contrast, planning your marketing in advance restores a sense of control.
Taking care of all the hard work, thinking up and creating new campaigns before you have to create the actual marketing materials, generates more confidence and stability, and eliminates much of the negative stress.
#6: You Always Know What You Need To Work On
After you’ve produced your marketing schedule, and completed all your planning, you still have to create the actual marketing materials needed to run each of your campaigns.
However, the plan is always there to act as a guide and prevent you from missing important delivery milestones.
As long as you trust the process and follow the plan, you’ll always know what you need to work on and when the end results are expected to be complete.
#7: Deadlines Don’t Come As Surprises
When you have a plan to work with, there are no longer any excuses for missed deadlines!
After all, you set these deadlines for yourself, so you only have yourself to blame if you miss them.
Without a plan, deadlines have a nasty habit of creeping up on you, and making themselves known at the worst possible time.
But when you follow a plan, you know what’s coming up soon, the projects you’re working on, and when you need to have them completed.
No more surprises!
#8: Ideas Flow More Naturally
This is a follow-on from #5, and a direct result of lowered stress and anxiety levels.
I’m sure you know from experience that creativity is one of the first victims of unwanted stress and anxiety. When you’re worried and in a panic about trying to get something out fast, it’s as if your mind goes blank and all you’re left with are the crappy ideas based on knee-jerk emotional reactions to the current situation.
But when all the stress is removed or greatly reduced you begin to feel your creative juices flowing again, you’re more relaxed and in control, and new ideas come to you far more readily.
#9: Increased Chances Of Success
The culmination of all these benefits manifests itself in much better chances of success in your marketing efforts.
Because your marketing is created in a controlled environment, at the right time, and with enough space to develop it correctly, it has a much higher chance of working.
Your marketing copy will most likely resonate more with your ideal clients, resulting in higher conversion rates.
In short, why in the world would you not have a marketing plan when you take all these into account?
In the next lesson, we’ll start building your plan.
In preparation for the next lesson, come up with 5 (or more) marketing campaigns you could run over the course of the next 3–12 months.
What assets would you need to make them work effectively?
Who would you target your campaigns at?