Is Your Marketing Really Proactive?
Posted by Corey Smith on Aug 31, 2023 8:54:00 AM
I’ve been working in some form of marketing or sales for almost 40 years. Yes, I’m getting old, but I’m not that old. I sold newspapers door to door when I was throwing papers for The Press Enterprise in Southern California as a young lad. But when I was 16 years old, I really got my initiation into the industry by learning how to run a 2-color printing press for my father’s new print shop in Tempe, Arizona.
I learned how printing plates and the ink/water mix worked pretty quickly and could produce 2-color business cards, envelopes, letterhead, and the like that were every bit as good as the real pressman that Dad had running the four-color machine.
Don’t think I’m bragging and discounting the caliber of real press operators... a 2-color Multi is not a hard machine to run. But, the important point stands that I started in the industry producing print media.
25 years ago, I taught myself graphic design and began teaching as an adjunct professor for web design at the University of Utah.
Enter Reactive Marketing
I started Tribute Media in 2007 with a dream of being an amazing web development agency. If I do say so myself, we accomplished that. In 2009, we started offering web marketing services. We offered all the traditional services that all agencies offered (and still offer).
Yeah… I put links there as shameless plugs to our individual services. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you write a blog post. If you aren’t doing that for your own services, why not?
But I digress.
Back in the early days of modern internet marketing, it seemed as if there were only two qualifications to be a social media marketer:
- You had to have been fired from a job (it was in the midst of the great recession, after all)
- You had to have a computer
In the end, whether social media, search, email, etc., almost everyone was doing the same thing:
- Social Media Marketing: Get yourself 4-5 posts per week on the platform of your choice
- Search Engine Optimization: Get your top 10 terms to the top of the search engines
- Email Marketing: Create one newsletter every month
The most important thing that all of these contracts had in common was that the measure of success was a list of services. More often than not, this marketing approach leaves so much opportunity to chance because we almost never think about other things that might be possible.
Tactical vs Strategic Thinking
This little magical interlude is to call your attention to a post of mine from a couple of weeks ago titled “Is Your Marketing as Strategic as You Think It Is?” I add this here because a reactive contract has all the hallmarks of a tactically thinking marketer. It doesn’t have to be that way but it commonly is. More often than not when you hire someone to do something like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) they only think in terms of SEO. They don’t think about how Email or Social might fit into a broader strategy.
Another shameless plug for a prior blog post is “What is the Best Marketing Channel for Your Business?.” It can help give you a little more context on why one channel might be better than another (or does it???).
Proactive Marketing is So Much Better
I learned early in Tribute Media’s shift to marketing that proactive marketing is best. Every business needs three primary elements in every digital marketing strategy:
Everything in digital can fit into one of those three categories. The mix of which gets more of your effort, energy, or budget will depend on your company, your market, your audience, and a variety of other factors.
The real key to proactive marketing is thinking and planning ahead to do things before they need to be done. At Tribute Media, we call this Inbound Marketing. It’s about really thinking through how your marketing budgets are distributed. It’s about changing up the tactics if they aren’t producing the results you need. It’s about not being stuck in one marketing channel that isn’t performing well just because the checklist says you should.
There are many ways this can be done. Of course, I’m going to tell you that we are the only ones that do it the right way (because I wouldn’t be a marketer if I didn’t). But the reality is that there are many right ways. We plan quarterly sprints that allow for an appropriate amount of rigidity to our annual plan but also allow for an appropriate amount of flexibility to account for surprise needs (because you still need to be ready to react as needed).
Wrapping it Up
Take a moment and think about your marketing approach (or your agency’s marketing approach).
If one of the three key elements are left untouched (and your agency hasn’t at least asked you about them) then you are likely more reactive in your marketing efforts. If it’s difficult (for any reason at all) to reallocate budgets to shift marketing efforts as needed, then you are likely more reactive in your marketing efforts. If you feel like you are always playing catchup to opportunities in your market, then you are likely more reactive in your marketing efforts.
Now, if the opposite of all the above is true, you are obviously more proactive in your marketing efforts. But, the real tell-tale sign of being proactive is if you have a solid annual strategic plan and are planning your tactics quarterly to be well aligned with your annual plan. If you are looking for future potential issues and working to solve them before they become an issue, then you are proactively marketing.
Reactive isn’t necessarily bad… proactive marketing is just better. Work towards that.
Written by Corey Smith
Corey Smith is the founder of Tribute Media and serves as the Digital Marketing Strategist. He is also the author of "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter."