Warning, I am going to be controversial – I believe that a high proportion of the marketing activity that is being executed today is NOT underpinned by a solid strategy. In the many conversations I have with marketing teams, what I see is a ‘marketing plan,’ but not a ‘marketing strategy.’
OK – bold statement, and my intention was definitely not to antagonise you, but to challenge your thinking; let me explain.
Most marketing teams have or had a strategy, the problem is this strategy is often derailed, outdated, or does not filter down to everything that is done. It gets derailed because marketing is one area where everyone else seems to think they are an expert and as such, bombard you with ideas, instructions and in some cases, orders to do things that distract you from your strategy.
Your marketing strategy can quickly become out of date as business priorities and your competitive landscape changes. If you haven’t reviewed your marketing strategy in the last 90 days, it is likely to be out of step.
But the biggest issue is the disconnect between strategy and what is executed. Even the best strategy is ineffective if it is not operationalised. You have an overall marketing strategy – this is great, but do you have a strategy for every element of activity you do? You probably answered yes to this – but think again, be honest and ask do I have a solid strategy for my website, my social, my campaigning, my marketing automation, and more importantly, do these strategies contribute to my overall marketing strategy?
I would guess you have some doubts; we all do, but this is where being brutally honest and questioning everything drives great performance and significantly increases effectiveness.
Marketing Strategy Is About What, Why & How
These are the fundamentals of a solid marketing strategy. What does the business need, what are the outcomes we are looking to generate, why do we need to do this, why is it so important and how is the best way for marketing to do this? – The strategy.
By focusing on this we get clarity on the marketing strategy and objectives, and then everything becomes far easier to measure, analyse and improve.
You need to start with the business objectives. What are the priorities of your business? These will be a combination of – achieve new business sales of X, increase customer revenue by Y and improve customer retention by Z.
Your aim is to precisely define how Marketing is going to contribute to this. We are going to generate X marketing qualified leads that will deliver Y new business revenue; we are going to engage with A, B and C segments of our customer base and increase the average number of products and services consumed from X to Y. We are going to increase customer engagement and advocacy from X% to Y%.
With clear goals, you can then develop the strategy and how you are going to achieve this. What you need to do is define the role that each element is going to play in this. i.e. X% of new business enquiries are going to come from PPC activity. We are going to increase customer engagement through segmented and personalised email communication, etc.
Operationalising The Marketing Strategy
Let’s be real, there is no shortage of things to do in marketing and this is why we need to be laser-focused on doing the right things. Operationalising your strategy is a great reason to declutter. Take everything out of the marketing draw and then only put back what aligns with your strategy and contributes to your objectives. If it doesn’t then don’t put it back in the draw.
The next step is to roll your strategy down. How is Inbound PPC activity going to generate X marketing qualified leads? What is your PPC strategy in terms of audience personas, proposition, engagement and qualification? Again being clear on objectives and strategy on each element removes the fuzzy edges and drives focus and performance.
Great Theory, But It Is Not Easy
I accept this; been there, felt the pain. But addressing what is difficult produces the greatest return and brilliance does not come from ‘hope’ as a strategy. I would always recommend getting some external help. Two minds are definitely better than one and an external perspective brings loads of fresh ideas and proves to be a great tonic.
Putting in place a coach or mentor who can work with you can move the dial. The right person will bring some structured frameworks to shape your thinking, challenge your approach and open up new perspectives, but most of all, set a rhythm to ensure that addressing your marketing strategy is not something you plan to do, but something you are doing and something you have nailed.
If you have gotten to this point of my blog post, then my thoughts are obviously resonating. I am more than happy to have a chat over a virtual coffee to listen to your specific challenges and hopefully provide you with some pointers on how you step things up. You can reach out to me at Cremarc on 01932 856158 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.