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What am I looking to accomplish? The most important marketing question of all.

I read a great blog the other day that featured a story about a film director who ordered his production manager to source a giant blue disco ball for a crucial scene in a movie. The order came down the chain of command to the Assistant Producer who duly obeyed, or tried to, for giant blue disco balls were hard to source.

The deadline loomed, brows sweated, a fabrication supplier was eventually sourced; a lot of money changed hands. The day arrived, the shoot had to go ahead. The disco ball was conspicuous only in absence while the Director panicked and screamed at people.

At the last minute, a calm-headed studio property master asked the Director what he was looking to achieve, came up with a simple, free solution that could be delivered there and then with available props and a little bit of basic technical jiggery-pokery – and executed it. Shortly after, the $10,000 disco ball finally arrived, unwanted, a waste of time and money – and the agent of a valuable lesson.

What was the difference between the Property Manager’s attitude and the Assistant Producer’s? The Property Manager asked the question, “What are you looking to achieve?” The Assistant Producer sourced a blue disco ball because his boss told him to.

In any marketing activity, if you don’t ask yourself what you’re looking to achieve you might end up buying a $10,000 disco ball when you could be simply sending an email.

Understanding your own objective

Having an objective for a marketing activity doesn’t have to be about direct financial return on investment (although it often is). The measures you apply can be determined by the tactic or activity. Some organisations will expect to get bang for their buck from Twitter, whereas others will simply wish to grow their following over a period of time, perhaps before starting to use the platform to promote products or services, or simply to increase their influence or share of voice.

In this particular case, your objectives will be determined by what you want Twitter to achieve for you; if you’re simply embracing social media because your competitors already have, that’s fine, but you should be prepared to remember that this was your original motivation if you’re ever asked to justify why you or your staff spend time on Twitter.

Social media is a tactic, so it is important to understand from the outset why you’re adopting any platform, how you will measure it, which outcomes will make you happy and which will make you unhappy.

Our objective in setting up In The Box is not to sell Disco Balls, but to provide judiciously-created marketing toolkits for businesses who don’t have them, fill in the gaps for those who do, or act as a marketing communications department for larger organisations. We want to grow with you and your marketing, so please get in touch with us, and let’s see how we can help.

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