Early on in any engineering design process, there's always a period of fact-finding.
Apply the same process to your marketing.
In previous blogs I've talked about the real purpose of marketing and about how to create a specification for your marketing. The next step to engineering your marketing is to brainstorm ideas and prioritise.
In an engineering design process, this is usually the most creative part. It's fun to brainstorm new features that you could add into your product, system or service. And it's always a useful exercise to do because you might come up with ideas that are quick and easy to implement while adding value to your offering. Even so, there will always be features that would cost more to realise than they'd recover in increased revenue.
If it'll be prohibitively expensive to include every desired feature in your product, you need to prioritise.
Which features are essential because the product won't function without them? Which are highly desirable? And which can be added into future versions or premium editions of the product?
In marketing this is often where business owners find themselves overwhelmed.
Every business owner I've ever worked with can write a list as long as my arm of the marketing activities they could do if time and budget were unlimited. But how do you know which activities will pay off? How do you know in what order to do them all to get the best ROI?
An unprioritised wish-list is overwhelming and stressful.
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.
How long does it take to buy from you?
This sounds like an easy question. But, it actually has 3 different answers depending on what you want to do with the information.
You might be talking about elapsed time, accrued time or your welcome window. Here's the meaning of each time-period and when you should use it in your marketing strategy.
Last month I posted about how to do your own strategic marketing. It's not an easy process which is why most ambitious business owners get a consultant in.
I've worked with a lot of businesses who have worked with a consultant before me. But many tell me they've not been very impressed with the results. The reason is invariably because the consultant was thinking tactically and not strategically. For example, they were focusing only their area of expertise such as social media or PR.
Unless you know what to look for, this can be difficult to spot. The impact might not be felt until it's too late, when a lot time and money has been spent.
I'm writing this list in the hope that my clients will keep me accountable to it. If I'm doing one of these things then my standards are slipping and I don't want that to happen. So hold me to it!
Here are the signs to look for:
"I need to work out what my 'killer message' is".
The myth of the "one killer message" still runs deep across a lot of business advice, especially online. And if you sells something that would be considered an impulse purchase, then it might be true that you could create one emotive message that would compel people to buy on a whim.
However, most of the businesses I work with do not sell impulse buys. In fact, more often than not, they sell things at the other end of the buying spectrum: "considered purchases". If your customers will take their time to think about their decision before they buy then you sell a considered purchase. And your customers will therefore need a number of different messages to convince them to buy.
That's not to say that marketing messages are no important - on the contrary! Creating and honing marketing messages is always a valuable strategic marketing exercise. That's why I've picked out a few of my favourite blogs on the subject from my archive and from the Watertight Marketing blog.
Today I'm going to show you exactly what I do as a strategic marketing consultant. I’m going to share the 6 steps that I would take you through in creating a robust marketing strategy. If you do all this then you won’t need to spend a penny on a consultant like me.
But why on earth would I do this? Am I trying to put myself out of business? Far from it!
I’m prepared to bet that the kind of ambitious business owner I’d like to work with will take one look at this and say, “That’s an awful lot of work Ros, I don’t have the time and besides, I need an outside perspective to do this effectively. Why don’t we talk?”
So, here’s your complete guide to doing your own strategic marketing. If you find you can't or don’t want to do this alone - do give me a call.
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