Last week we were contacted by a business who were looking for, ‘a marketing strategy’. A standard request, and it’s something that we do for a lot of clients – provide the roadmap for their business to then adopt and take their offering to market.
However – what was remarkable about this enquiry is that the prospective new client didn’t want to tell us anything about the rest of the business - nothing. ‘We just need a strategy’, was their reply when we asked them some fundamental questions about the company and what they were currently doing. If you aren’t following up to now, they were basically asking us to draw the best route on a map, without telling us where they were starting from, where they were going, if they would be travelling by foot, car or skateboard and without giving us a clue as to where the roads, rivers, mountains – or anything else were.
Long story short – we realised very quickly that these were not the right client for us, but it did get us talking about what we as marketing strategists need to know about a business before we can formulate the best roadmap for them. Marketing doesn’t just exist in isolation – and the decisions we make about how best to take a product or service to market, is dependent on a huge number of contributing factors. So, if you are ‘looking for a strategy’, here are some of the things the marketing people (in-house or external) are going to need to know before they deliver you the holy grail of marketing plans…
Pretty obvious – but if someone is going to market your business, they are going to need to know what you do, what makes you different and why people should choose you over the competition.
Again, this might sound a bit of a stupid question, but marketing isn’t just used to sell stuff (shock horror, gasp). It can be used to raise awareness, build a reputation, get people to engage – so the ultimate desired action of the target audience needs to be well thought out, as it will dictate everything from the activity suggested, to the KPIs put in place to measure success.
It is all well and good coming up with a mega strategy to drive enquiries into a business or transactions on a website… but if your business is not set up with the resource or infrastructure to deal with this, then you need to look at how big you can really go with the strategy. Ten thousand enquiries a month is great – but if you only have 3 people to respond, your reputation and ultimately your aim is going to be undermined. Get your house in order.
A big part of the strategy is going to come down to time. Are you looking for a long-term, 12-month plan? Or a seasonal campaign for a specific period of high activity? Is the strategy you need for a new product coming to market? Or an established product? All these things will dictate the plan of action.
This is a big one – because the best strategies are based off previous learnings – even if everything you have done up until this point has failed – knowing that is more valuable than having a blank piece of paper. On the flip side of that, anything that has worked well for you in the past shouldn’t be thrown out just because there are a fresh pair of eyes looking at the strategy, that activity becomes your safety net, and can (if you are brave) allow you to try things that you otherwise might not do if you didn’t have a tried and tested way of marketing your product or service.
In addition to knowing what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past, knowing what resources (assets and people) you already have to hand is so important. If you are selling a product that has no sales collateral whatsoever, then the time it will take to create those assets needs to be factored into the plan, as does the people you have at your disposal to create them. An in-house team will allow you to move quickly but having to recruit or outsource could potentially slow your start down.
The age-old question that no client has ever been able to answer in the history of the world… but it is probably the single most important. How much do you have to spend? Whether that be over a period of a week, or 12 months, it is vital information for whoever is putting your strategy together. The difference in cost between a full-scale attack across all marketing channels, vs a targeted online campaign, is vast, so even if your figure is ballpark – it would really help to have a steer.
Obviously, there are more than these few questions that will come out of a client discovery session, however, the above gives you a good idea of what you will need to share, (or if you are the person putting the strategy together – what you should be asking!)
If you are looking to shake up your current marketing strategy, or implement a new one, then get in touch, we would love to hear from you…
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