Having been fortunate enough to have received marketing training from several blue-chip companies, and a well-respected business school, developing and agreeing the marketing strategy has always been my top business priority. However, in recent years it seems the discipline around this traditional approach may be being lost.
Marketing strategy is identifying where we will play and how we win in business. It requires market research and customer insight, allowing segmentation of the market, so we can decide which areas to pursue, and how to position our brand and product/ service offer for optimum success. Once this is complete, clear objectives can be devised for each segment, with measures of success.
Only once this is done, is the tactical plan created, with the specific tools that may be employed, and the timescale for execution. There are a multitude of possibilities to be considered, from printed materials and PR to award entries and public speaking. What is important, is that the tools selected are used in an integrated way, to communicate to the target audience.
The increase in the number of digital tools and techniques over the past decade, together with the increased splitting of marketing into separate digital, PR, social media and events roles, can result in overly tactical managers. They have selected the tools they will use long before any research or strategy work has been carried out, because these are the ones that their job description includes!
In smaller companies with stand-alone marketing managers, the same trend seems often to exist. The marketing manager tends to focus on the tactics that they believe are their strengths, without clearly defining their targeting and positioning, or how their approach will deliver. Small, growing companies without in-house resource, are often aware that they need marketing support, but not what they need, or how it should work. A social media or digital freelancer persuades them of the value in their expertise, and they sign-up to a programme without a clear strategy or deliverables. It is only when the results are not what they hope that they start to question whether they are heading in the right direction.
There are some great digital techniques available, but compelling content generation is equally important. Content gives a business and its brand a personality and character, and allows you to engage with potential customers at different stages of their sourcing journey. Identifying when and how to use the various marketing tools to achieve maximum impact is key and this can only be done once you have your strategy in place.
Birch Marketing provides part-time marketing services to help businesses develop and implement their marketing strategy. To discuss how we can help your business, please get in touch.