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Creating a Marketing Strategy for Your Career Center: Part 1 - Understanding Your Plan

Mapping out your marketing plan process is critical to the success of your campaigns. As your marketing strategy evolves, so will your plan, which is why it's important to have a plan written down so you can easily make adjustments along the way

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You've done your homework and decided to add a job board as one of your member benefits. Great! But, now you have to get your members to use it and employers to buy ad space to post their open positions on the job board. "So, how do I do that?", you might be asking yourself.

Don't worry, we've got you covered! In this blog series, I'm going to break down the phases you'll go through in order to create and run a successful marketing strategy. For part 1, we're going to start with defining and understanding your marketing plan.

Define Your Plan to Meet Your Goals

Before you start jotting down notes about how you're going to market our job board, ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Do you know what your goals are?
  2. Do you know who your target audience is?
  3. DO you have a marketing budget in place?
  4. Do you have the resources to manage your marketing strategy?
  5. Do you know what success metrics to use?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you develop the perfect plan for your marketing strategy.

Understanding Your Plan

The most important part of creating your marketing strategy is understanding your plan from all angles. When you clearly map out all the elements of your plan, you can easily visualize what you want to do, why you want to do it, who will own it, how you'll implement your plan, and how you'll measure your success or failure.

Start With Why

In any marketing plan, you first need to understand why you're doing what you're doing. Why do you want to market your job board? Do you want to increase non-dues revenue, advance the industry that you serve, or provide a powerful member benefit? The answer here is all three. And understanding why you want to market your job board helps you plan the next phases of creating a marketing strategy.

Know What You Want to Do

Now that you know why you're marketing your job board, you need to know what you want to do to carry out your goals. This is where your answers to "Do you know your target audience?" and "Do you know your budget?" come into play.

You need to know who your target audience is in order to effectively market to them. Your message should resonate with what they're interested in and how your job board will solve their problems. The main audience you'll be trying to reach are your members, who are looking for jobs (be sure to think through the different titles and career levels within your membership), and employers who are looking for qualified candidates to fill open positions. The messaging to each audience will be very different, as each one has specific needs they want fulfilled.

Next, you'll need to look at your marketing budget, or create one if you don't have a budget in place. This will help keep you on track and mitigate any potential problems that could arise as you carry out your plan.

Once these two pieces to the puzzle are in place, you then have a better idea of what you want to do with your campaign strategy. Do you want to use targeted email marketing, social media campaigns or host networking events? Knowing your target audience and budget allows you to plan out what you want to do in the most efficient and effective way.

Managing Your Marketing Strategy: Who Will Own It?

There are many pieces that go into planning and executing your marketing strategy, so you need to have someone or a team in place that can carry out your plan. Generally, this would be your marketing team, but if you're a smaller association who doesn't have a marketing department, you need to decide on which staff members will be able to take over that responsibility.

The responsibilities you'll need to delegate to your staff is content writing, social media posting, event planning, sales, and anything else you need done to support your marketing initiatives. This may seem like a lot, but when you put together a collaborative, hard-working team, it will be easy to get the job done.

Implementation Strategy

Implementation is mapping out the steps you'll take to market your job board to your target audience. Once you have all the steps planned out, your team can efficiently carry out the implementation process and start promoting your job board. Planning out your implementation strategy in advance lets you create a timeline so you can stay on track and get your messaging out in a timely and relevant manner. You don't want to just throw out a few social media posts without any planning behind it or it can hurt the success of your strategy. This also helps mitigate any problems you could run into in the future, like technology issues or if a staff member is out, someone else can easily take over their tasks for the day.

Measuring Your Campaigns' Success

To fully grasp how effective your marketing campaign in, you need to have metrics in place that will measure the success of your strategy. You'll definitely want to calculate your return on investment (ROI), but there are other metrics you'll also want to consider. This can be anything from click-through rates or open rate on your emails, your social media interactions (likes, shares, followers, etc.), the number of new job seeker profiles, number of job posts and positions filled, and any other metrics you think will help gauge your success.

However, don't be afraid of failure during your campaigns. It's common and bound to happen, but it helps you determine areas for improvement for your next campaign. You can learn a lot from failure that will make every campaign better than the last.

Mapping out your marketing plan process is critical to the success of your campaigns. As your marketing strategy evolves, so will your plan, which is why it's important to have a plan written down so you can easily make adjustments along the way. Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series where I'll dive into defining and measuring member engagement analytics to help form your strategy.