Marketing Plan 101: Grab a Shovel

How a Plan Can Help You Dig a Hole—and Hit Your Marketing Goals

Author: Val Reddemann, President, wants to adopt all the dogs

A few months back, I dug a hole. 

Marketing Plan Hole

It was one of four holes for our new outdoor patio structure, but this one? 

It was all mine. 

The goal was pretty clear: a hole 2.5 feet square x 3 feet deep. 

The method was straightforward: dig.

The result was…a crap ton of dirt (50 wheelbarrows full for the entire project, to be exact).

Here at Blue Flamingo HQ, our internal marketing plan motto is “persistent and consistent.”

Turns out it also applies to digging a really big hole.   

I live on top of some of the most fertile soil in the world.  Here in the north Sacramento Valley, we grow a significant amount of the country’s walnuts, almonds, rice, and stone fruits. The soil is soft, fluffy loam allowing the tree roots to move freely as they grow strong and vibrant.

It’s also really easy to move this type of earth–once you actually get to it.

The challenge lies in that to reach this fluffy loam, one must first dig through a few feet of clay shelf.  But this isn’t just any clay. This is the stuff that makes backhoes cry. 

And I had to dig through it with a shovel. One rock-hard, half-inch at a time. And, it was 98 degrees outside. At least it was a dry heat.

As I rested my arms between wheelbarrow loads, I looked over and watched my husband digging hard, the dirt flying out behind him as fast as a labrador excitedly burying a bone. It hit me that: 1. I clearly need to up my cardio training to match his energy, and

2. Digging a hole is a lot like marketing: It requires a strategy

Creating a plan keeps you on track. Even when digging a hole. A plan provides a road map to get you from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. It also helps you quickly determine the best way back to your main route if you find yourself faced with a detour. A plan provides clarity as it forces you to think things through and what resources you’ll need along the way to hitting your goal. 

HoleMarketing Plan
Goal:  Dig 4 holes to specific measurement to meet the concrete requirement for steel postsGoal: Drive 50 new leads for the sales team through a targeted landing page + drip email campaign
Time frame: 1 day to keep on schedule Time frame: 6-week campaign
Measure & mark hole locationSelect Target Audience
Gather resources + strategyDesign, Write, Create Materials
Execute: Dig like there’s no tomorrowExecute: Deploy campaign
Measure + AnalyzeMeasure + Analyze
They both utilize existing resources

Measuring out the hole with marking paint before I started digging gave me a clear area of focus. We had rented a trencher for another project and decided to use it to help get things started. Aligning the trencher with the marks, we loosened things up along the edge.  

In marketing, this is akin to using templates for graphics or email campaigns. Why start from scratch when there are tools available to help make things easier and efficient? No need to reinvent the marketing wheel.

Challenges can be opportunities for discovery

Turns out a 2.5 feet x 2.5 feet square doesn’t provide a lot of working area once you’re about 2 feet down (can we say sardines?!).  Trying to dig deeper with the shovel was becoming tedious. I needed a new approach.

Taking advantage of a smart solution discovered by my husband (who of course was starting on hole number 2 by now), I grabbed the garden weasel (the tool, not the fuzzy animal) and gave it a good twist.  Sure enough, dirt comes up. Twist, twist, twist. Shovel. Twist, twist, twist. Shovel. It was slow but it worked.  Marketing tip: don’t be afraid to pivot and try something new. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Metrics don’t lie

Those last 2 inches were painful and pushed my patience to its limit.  I had a 3 ft round steel stake to use as a depth gauge. It seemed no matter how much or how fast I dug, that pole never got any deeper. At one point I tossed it aside, convinced it was too short, and grabbed a tape measure. My husband watched amusingly as I confidently (and with much flair) extended the tape measure along the length of the pole, squinting in the afternoon sun to read the result. 2 feet, 10 inches.   

Son of a …

I climbed out of the hole with a huff and threw the tape measure to the side, swearing between every word as I declared that it was clearly defective and asked if we had another one. Rob quietly handed me another tape measure and calmly asked if I wanted him to finish digging. 

NO.

As expected, the measuring tape was correct. I knew I had to simply stay the course to hit my goal. Consistent and persistent. If you have reliable metrics in place, they’ll keep you focused and on track. And accountable. 

While some areas of marketing (such as PR) are tough to accurately measure impact, there are plenty of ways to see if your tactics are working. Determine these metrics when creating your marketing plan, and you’ll find yourself in a much better place of problem-solving should a challenge arrive during the process. 

And if you’re wondering: Yes, I did eventually hit the 3 ft mark. 

It deserves celebrating

The walls and floor needed a bit of work to square it off, but it was done.  One piece of advice to you, dear and patient reader: stop and enjoy the sweet smell of success, even if the project didn’t go as perfectly as you envisioned. Too often in our professional lives, we’re trained to always be looking forward to what’s next. In marketing, oftentimes you’re only as good as your last win. Take the time to stop, be present, and celebrate the victory with your team. It’s a good culture builder, and it’s good for your soul.

P.S. Sometimes a celebration looks like an icy cold G&T. That zesty lime never tasted so satisfying as the one I sipped on while admiring my work. Cheers!

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