Random Acts of Marketing (RAM) – Your biggest enemy next to overfitting and over-optimization. What are RAMs? They’re actions without strategy. Tactics in search of strategy is a waste of money. Strategy without good tactical implementation is a waste of time. A marketer comes with a great new idea and decides to try it out without first examining where that action fits in the bigger picture, or what the overall objective is is. Without strategy, without understanding the marketing “why,” you’re throwing time and resources down the drain. In short, you need to corral your RAMs.
The Three Levels of Marketing Function
From high level to low level, a breakdown of marketing structure:
Campaign (Vision, or Why, or Bigger Picture)
The campaign is the sum of your efforts to meet a specific goal. Is the campaign to get more Facebook likes? Drive more traffic to your website? Increase sales of a certain product? On the marketing tree, this would be the trunk that everything branches off of and is aligned to.
Plan (Strategy, or How, or Big Picture)
The Plan is all the different ways you plan to meet the objective of your campaign. Is your campaign to increase Facebook likes? Then your plans would revolve around what you’re going to do – run a Facebook promotion, add new social sharing options to the blog, send out an email encouraging Facebook likes, etc. Plans are the branches of the marketing tree.
Action (Tactic or What)
These are all the individual tasks you have to perform to put your plan into action. Is your plan to send out an email encouraging Facebook likes? Then the actions would be to draft the copy, revise it, choose a Call to Action to include, segment contacts into an appropriate list, etc. You guessed it – these are the leaves of the marketing tree.
Why Actions Without Plans Are So Damaging
“Shape without form, Shade without color, Paralyzed force, Gesture without motion;” - T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men, 11-12
Eliot had it right – action without intention is hollow.
If your tactics cannot be directly traced all the way back to your strategy and vision, then you are losing revenue. The reason is simple: you will not be making informed decisions. That doesn't mean you won’t see improvement if you switch out the call to actions on your website on purely a whim, but it’s a bad habit to get into. If you force yourself to tie all actions to greater plans and strategy, you will find you have a reason and a why in your marketing message and your overall success will be far more consistent and duplicable.
Are you about to launch a new print ad? Then what’s the objective? Don’t think of a print ad as a campaign – it’s a plan, and all your plans are part of a greater whole. Do you want your print ad to simply generate leads? That may be a little broad, but try and think about it in the context of all of your other plans that lead back to that campaign goal. Is your website meant to generate leads? (Your answer should be yes.) Then use the print ad (branding strategy) to send visitors to your website (inbound strategy) with a strong call to action and QR code (mobile marketing strategy). Are you running social media (social strategy) to try and generate leads? (Your answer should be yes.) Then make sure you’re displaying your social media accounts on the print ad.
The point is to think of the bigger picture in all things you do. Start looking for the relationships between your plans and actions, look for underlying meanings, look for ways to integrate everything. The more holistic your marketing is, the more efficient and effective it will be. That means Return on Investment, and if any function of marketing does not in some way lead to ROI, and does not have thought behind it, then it is a Random Act of Marketing.
We’re talking about “SMART Marketing” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timebound)– two words that should be tattooed on your forehead. I’m willing to bet that at some point in your life your parents have told you to think before you act. We’re more of a nerdy friend than a parental figure, but seriously – you’ll be amazed at what happens when you force yourself to link tactics to strategy to vision in everything you do. It’s the foundation of Return on Energy®, the communication methodology we use to get results – and it’s the way to make your marketing smarter.