This is a question that not enough business owners are asking themselves before diving head first into their marketing…
A lot of business owners know they need help and assume they need a consultant. But do they really? Or do they need a coach?
So what’s the difference between the two?
Strategic marketing planning takes time.
And, if like me, you’re running a business, time is probably in short supply...
It’s easy to think that it’s better to just get on and do some marketing, even if it’s not as effective as it could be, and work on improving it incrementally using an agile or ‘test and learn’ methodology. Taking time out of your business to plan can feel excruciatingly wasteful. After all, once you’ve spent all that time planning, you’ve then got a long list of marketing activities to do and even less time to do them than you had before.
So can’t all this planning be skipped? Can’t I just work out my marketing strategy as I go along?
Well… let’s explore that with an analogy.
Without buy-in from everyone involved in executing your marketing plan, you'll never be fully successful in implementing it. And I don’t just mean your marketing team here either.
Marketing should never operate in a silo. Their activities impact sales, customer service, product development, product/service delivery and operations and more. Your marketing strategy needs to fit within the context of your business growth strategy and work in collaboration with each departmental strategy.
But how do you get buy-in from all these different people? Especially when you have people who are not at all familiar with how marketing actually works.
Here are my top 5 tips…
I disagree with a lot of marketers on this question. I don't believe a business necessarily needs to spend weeks (or even months) creating a strategy.
Don't get me wrong, if you're running a huge corporation with a marketing budget of millions then it'll take time. You'll definitely need to spend a while getting your strategy right before you start implementing it.
But I work with small businesses who want to see results as quickly as possible. Do they need to take weeks out of their business before they can start taking action?
I say 'no'.
In my last two blogs I’ve been taking you through the buyer’s journey, looking at how excellent marketing needs to support our buyers at every step.
If you missed part 1 and part 2, read them here:
Encouraging the first purchase
To reduce the perceived risk at this point in the buyer journey, your customer needs to feel what it’s like to be a customer before they buy.
A product ladder is a series of offers and products that lead from one to the next so people can build a relationship with you and get a sense for what it’d be like to be a customer before they commit to something big. It’s all about reducing perceived risk.
In my previous blog I explained how we all go through a number of stages when we make a buying decision.
Excellent marketing supports our buyers at every stage of their decision-making process so they can move forward.
To do this, you need to have mapped out your customer’s buying journey because it’ll be different for different markets and products. Once you’ve mapped out your customer’s buying journey, you can then look at how you can reduce the perceived risk at every stage and build trust throughout the journey. By reducing risk and building trust at every stage, it becomes easy for customers to decide to choose you. And if it’s easy for people to buy from you then sales will inevitably increase.
If you haven’t read part 1 yet, where we covered the first stages of the buying journey, click here: Part 1
Building buyer’s interest
Once your buyer is aware of you, you need to let them get to know you in their own time. Build trust by providing regular, quality, short-form content such as;
The aim of marketing and sales is to take people on a journey from never having heard of you to being raving fans who buy loyally and tell all their friends. So if you want to understand what marketing excellence looks like then you need to understand how your customers make that journey. And the journey will be different depending on your business, your product and your market.
Some buying journeys are quite short and buyers make their decision quite quickly. Others are longer, involve more stages, and require more support from marketing and sales.
Marketing excellence supports buyers at every stage of their buying decision, all the while building trust and reducing the perceived risk of moving forward.
In engineering, you'd probably prototype and test a product before investing in expensive tooling.
Likewise, in marketing you want to avoid wasting large sums of money on activities that don't pay off. When trying any new marketing activity, it's always best to start small and scale up.
In the book 'Lean Startup', Eric Ries talks about building a minimum viable product (MVP). Think of your marketing in the same way - start with a minimum viable marketing operation (which is your prototype) and then expand on it. If you need a piece of marketing to fill a gap, then start with something that works and fulfils your basic requirements and build on it later.
Your prototype marketing activity should be used to test three different things.
Marketing often gets a bad name because marketers fail to demonstrate ROI. There are two parts to this issue: one is in the planning and the other is in the post-campaign measurement.
In this blog I'd like to share how I work out whether a campaign is going to deliver ROI. If I can't demonstrate that it has a high chance of success - before we start planning the actual activity - then it's scrapped. Even if it sounded like an amazing idea when it was first floated.
This process applies for almost all marketing activities and campaigns, whether it is advertising, email, direct mail, an exhibition or event, PR, or social media. Here's what you do...
In my last blog ("What's the point of marketing?") I discussed how the first step in engineering a new product is to establish its purpose. In marketing it's the same, you need to establish the purpose of your marketing and how it needs to support your customers at every stage of their buying decision.
Once you've done that, you need to define your specification.
An engineering specification or functional design specification will typically include everything you want the product to do, how it should work, how it should be manufactured, timescales, cost restrictions and any other pertinent requirements.
In my last blog, I used the example of designing a keyboard. In this scenario, I'd need my specification to describe...
It's always tempting to sidestep this phase or start with a rough outline of what you want to achieve, However, the consequences of this approach can be costly.
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