The Marketing Plan Revisited

shutterstock_322110698What To Do When the Sure Shot Misses Its Target

At the time, that marketing plan probably sounded perfect. Whether fueled by a focus group, a deadline-induced frenzy or a long, painful process with an unending stream of coffee, at some point, somebody thought it was a good idea.

How’s that working out for you?

Marketing plans do go awry. It could be that the plan was fine, but there wasn’t the proper follow through. It could be that it was aimed at the wrong goals. It could be that the goals were good, but they weren’t measurable.

“I hate to use the word ‘failed,’” said Mandi Harris, director of marketing, Environmental Pest Service, LLC. “Even in the worst case scenario, you can learn from it—what didn’t work, why it didn’t work—and move on.”

Historically, standard practice is that marketing plans would be set for a year or so, and depending on the channel, it could take real time to measure penetration and success. Today’s digital world and use of social media, however, offers new opportunities to change course and gauge response quickly.

Jeff Fenner, partner, B Communications, now suggests updating marketing plans on a quarterly basis, especially since the pest control industry is seasonal. “You want to be nimble enough to shift resources as well as people and brainpower to address short-term needs,” he said. He points to the challenges of Zika in Florida as an example, and the way pest control companies can respond to concerns about mosquitos carrying the virus. “The days of locking things in for a year or two or three, it’s really hard to do that now,” he said. For most companies—especially those of small- to medium-size—it’s also hard to set aside time within the busy day-to-day schedule to formulate a new plan.

“It’s very challenging,” Harris admitted. But it’s essential all the same. Because the nature of pest control is so personal—“customers are allowing us to enter their homes, sometimes seeing situations that they may not want anyone to see,” she said—conveying the right message is an essential component of building trust and loyalty.

So how is it actually done? A recent article from the American Marketing Association of Las Vegas advises starting with the basics. That means knowing what the brand stands for, who the target audience is and what’s going on competitively.

In pest control specifically, the plan likely will focus on a company’s individual efforts. But it also can work toward raising a professional and positive image of the industry as a whole. Fenner and Harris each have tips to help that new marketing plan happen:

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By Fiona Soltes