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.
Every new product, software, system or process must have a purpose. It must solve a problem or else it has no value and no one will buy it. By deeply understanding the problem your product solves for your customers, you can stay focused on what features will deliver the most value.
For example, if I was designing a new computer keyboard, I would need to consider...
Likewise, you must always stay focused on your marketing's purpose.
I always say that creating a marketing wish-list is easy – it's prioritising it that's the hard part. That's why I use the Watertight Marketing methodology with many of my clients. It's a logical and structured approach to prioritising your marketing activities to get the best return on your investment.
Using this approach, you "traffic-light" the "leaks" in your marketing processes and address the red leaks first, in the right order.
But it's not a once-and-you're-done activity.
I recommend clients review their leaks every six months or so, to stay focused on their priorities and on track to achieve their long-term goals.
As you might imagine, after working on addressing a red leak in your business, hopefully it will turn orange and then eventually green. However, that doesn't always happen. Why? Because you are working towards a constantly moving goal-post.
Most people who aren't marketers think of marketing as "getting your name out there". That if you want more customers, then you just need to tell more people about your product or service.
This assumes two things:
1. That as soon as people hear about you, they'll just "get it" and immediately understand the benefits of your product.
2. That the decision to buy is an easy one that doesn't involve too much thought.
If you sell an impulse-buy, like cupcakes, chocolate bars or jewellery, those assumptions are probably correct. So a marketing strategy that focuses on promotion (or "getting your name out there") is probably correct.
However, for most businesses I work with, at least one of these assumptions is wrong.
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