So, if you have ever done archery you know that there are several things involved... a bow, an arrow, and usually a target on a hay bale with a red center. However, there might be other factors involved as well, wind, rain, the distance between you and the target for example.
If you were to set out with a bow and arrow and no target you would be fine just shooting the arrow and watching where it landed. But you wouldn't have any idea if your shot was good or not. It would just be a shot, in the dark. I think you know where this is going. But I'll continue.
When you set a target first, you have something to aim for. You can create a plan based on the the type of bow, the type of arrow, the wind direction, any other weather events as well as the distance which would affect the ultimate path of the arrow itself. It is the same with marketing.
The very first thing you have to do before deciding what tools to employ is set a target. And it should have a bullseye or sweet spot as well as rings emanating from that. Once you have clearly identified what the target looks like and where it is, then you can determine how to reach it with whatever tools you might use. While this may sound simple, very often people will ask, should I use social media? Should I advertise in this magazine? Should I send direct mail? I won't be able to provide guidance until I hear a clearly defined target. It may be that one is better than another, it may be that they are all appropriate when used correctly. But before you begin with any marketing program be sure to very clearly define your target audience, once you identify the sweet spot you can figure out how to hit it.