If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve probably noticed our undying emphasis on strategy. Regardless of the size or shape of your organization, whether B2B or B2C, or even which type of industry you hail from, your marketing needs a strategy in order to effectively drive the results you’re hoping for.
Plain and simple, “A strategy is a course of action carried out to achieve a specific objective.” Now, this differs slightly from a Marketing Plan, but there’s a strong relationship between the two. What differentiates a plan is that it should outline all the deliverables and actions that reflect your marketing strategy. Or support it. See how these two work together? #RelationshipGoals.
They’re perfect together, and one should never be without the other.
But today, we’re going to focus on the importance of having a solid strategy before you decide to grab the coattails of the latest marketing fad. When you start with a strategy, you can expect to save money and time, and gain focus.
In today’s modern age of fidget spinners and kitten videos, the whole “gain focus” aspect should be enough to keep you reading.
A Marketing Strategy, Who Needs One?
Truth be told, there are a large amount of business owners who don’t see the benefit of investing in a strategy early on. Fast forward a year later, and you’re likely to find them wondering why their marketing efforts aren’t working. When you’re constantly trying to make your marketing work with little success, it could simply be that there is no clear strategy in place that takes into account:
- Who you’re talking to
- What your message is
- What your competitors are doing and saying
- And how to communicate your differentiator to the masses in a way that strikes a harmonious chord
For Marketing Managers and CEOs, a shared and common pain is lack of time. Busy schedules, moving parts, and spinning wheels are all a part of the game – it keeps that daily grind exciting! On the downside, however, it can be difficult to step back and really assess the health of your marketing initiatives. Unless, of course, you have a strategy set in place.
The main benefits of developing a clear and well-crafted strategy are plentiful. Consider how much easier life would be if your business had a focus and direction all geared around the best opportunities worth the investment. This means no more wasted dollars on platforms where your audience doesn’t chill.
A strategy will save you time by identifying which tools, platforms, and types of deliverables to focus on and will garner the most market share. Communications will be easier with a clear focus – and the public digs that. Plus, a strategy challenges you to explore what really sets you apart from your competitors and sing that loud enough that the people can hear you.
You don’t need to worry about anything else, or rush from platform to platform trying new things in hopes they pay off. You just stick to the game, put your most authentic foot forward, and the people will come. “If you build it, they will come” – Kevin Costner forever.
You Got the Concept, Where’s The Example?
This is always our biggest qualm. People talk, talk, talk away about how important a strategy is but with nothing to illustrate its value. It’s all well and good to say “this will save you time and money,” (because it will) but does it ACTUALLY work? For real businesses or organizations like yours? The answer, is yes.
We’re not all talk, this is kind of our jam.
Make Accounting Count Again!
Take, for example, DMCL. These chartered professional accountants have been crunching numbers since the 70s, and while they’ve become on of the largest mid-sized firms in Metro Vancouver, their marketing initiatives weren’t paying their dues. Something was missing.
What could it be…
Oh right! A strategy.
In order to develop a marketing strategy that would allow their firm to garner more qualified leads and guide desirable clients through their doors to meet with partners, we first had to delve into the research. This involves a whole lot of questions. It’s good to start by assessing the competition and what they do good and what they do… not good.
Some clients quite enjoy this exercise.
The finishing touch was asking the same questions of their own firm. You have to be able to take an honest look at where you excel and where your pitfalls seem to be. It’s no easy task, my friends, and trying to differentiate multiple accounting firms with identical services and expertise, as well as strikingly similar messaging – finding that key differentiator took time and energy.
DMCL was confident, however, that they could beat out the competition in responsiveness. That meant quicker response times, accounting questions answered on a dime. And when it comes to your money, accessing expertise in a pinch packs a punch.
Then, we needed to figure out exactly who their target was. And it can never just be general. You have to close your eyes and visualize your best customer. The one you wish you had a zillion of. If you could clone them, you would. If you could lay them on a xerox and print off a few extras, you’d be at Kinko’s by now. You get what we mean.
We sat around their massive boardroom table, and knocked heads trying to find out what this target reads. Where is he getting coffee, where does he like to park his yacht? When was the last time he really pampered his wife? What matters most to him? Even the strangest details can result in a better, more solid marketing strategy – so keep that in mind.
Sometimes we get the sense people think we’re just joshing around – but we actually would really like to know where your target is getting coffee and what he’s reading.
We take all this information back, and compare that key differentiator with the target. How can we say this value proposition in a way that’s going to make the target take notice. When you figure that all out, your strategy is suddenly beginning to appear. It’s taking shape! It’s alive!
But we digress.
It’s important that every single marketing initiative you put forth stays true to the key message that resulted from the research. We knew that DMCL’s target valued responsive expertise from an advisor he trusts. Therefore, when we approached their website, we needed to make sure the design, copy, and overall flow was a direct reflection of this strategy and message.
Now, we found out through our conversations and research that this target is the kind of man who wants a personal relationship with his accountant. It is a relationship based industry, as you know. Therefore, it was crucial that the whole of the website would guide the target to get in touch with a partner. We made unique contact forms for every partner in the firm, and emphasized the ‘Our People’ page. We also made their partners look exceptionally swank in a stunning photoshoot.
With clear call to actions, and a strategy in place to drive the target to contact partners directly, and softly singing the siren song of “responsiveness’ – how could it fail?
Well, it didn’t. Since the launch of their new website, and as they have stuck to their marketing strategy, DMCL has received a record number of qualified leads and their website transformed from archaic and outdated, to a dynamite sales tool. Bazinga! Thank you strategy.
More Strategies That Made the Grade
You can check out a number of our case studies that demonstrate how leading with strategy result in success such as Made in Strathcona case study, Robson Street case study. It’s hard to fail when you have a plan and a focus. It means you can focus on the areas that are really going to drive you to the results you want, be it awareness, sales, brand clout, or donations. Yeah, I see you non-profits!
Ok, if you’re not totally sold on the value of a strategy, we should talk. Seriously, why don’t you pop in and we can mull it over together. We’re confident we can sway you. We’ve got a strategy for that.
If you want to learn more about specific key elements of an effective marketing plan, read our 50+ page booklet on How to Write A Strategic Marketing Plan That Yields ROI – complete with explanations