There’s an old adage – to someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That’s why radio companies don’t ask “What does this business need to grow?” They ask, “What radio ads can I make for this business?” Advertising agencies want to make ads, search specialists look for chances to develop SEO campaigns, and designers always think your logo is the key to success.
The thing is, they’re all sometimes right, and all often wrong. As any decent marketer will tell you, these disciplines and media choices are useful tools in your marketing toolbox. None will do the job alone – and often you won’t need to use all of them. What you should invest your money in comes down to the unique pressures facing your business, target audience and industry, alongside what you have to spend and the overarching goals for your business.
Figuring all of this out is the domain of the marketer, a marketing strategy, and a plan that steps out the specifics. Here are some of the reasons you need to talk to a marketer before making any moves.
What your customers really want
Any good marketing plan will start with a research period to uncover who your customers are, what they’re influenced by and what they really want. The results may surprise you. Maybe you’ve been targeting the wrong people, pushing the wrong message, or ignoring a potentially lucrative group. Discovering the truth will form the foundation of a truly successful marketing push – you’ll be sure that you’re going out with the right messages in the right places to get best results.
No vested interest
For the most part, a marketer’s only interest is about getting results. They’re not trying to push a particular medium, or line their portfolios with clever ad pieces – they don’t have sales targets to meet. Marketers are judged on their ROI alone, so when they recommend a marketing strategy and a plan to go with it, you can trust that it’s a solid course of action – not one driven by other motivations.
A good marketing strategy works as an ecosystem, with elements and campaign tactics spring-boarding one from the other. Carefully timed and positioned in the market, messages will be reinforced at just the right moment with the right people. That means you can often expect to see short-term sales spikes and long-term growth. Working together, your marketing activity will be stronger than the sum of its parts.
A structured marketing plan doesn’t just make each tactical activity more effective – it also limits inefficient spend. Every few years there seems to be a new silver bullet. In the nineties, email marketing was going to solve all your issues, social media and SEO were the big things in the 2000s, and now people are chasing the dream of growth hacking and big data. The truth is that none of these on their own will achieve sustained growth. Without a marketing plan, you’re far more likely to believe the hype, leap at too-good-to-be-true offers from media companies, throw money away on ad hoc, reactionary campaigns, or continue to invest in activity which has delivered little or no return.
Quantifiable returns, continuous improvement
Implementing one-off campaigns, or launching ad hoc tactical pushes gives you little information about what it is that’s making the phone ring. A good marketer will create systems for measuring the impact of each activity, and of the overall spend. This means that at each review period you can expect your marketing plan to become even more refined and efficient. Based on real data, your marketer will recommend you increase or reduce spend in some areas, tweak communication pieces or remove media channels altogether.
Short term spikes with long term gain
Grabbing the low-hanging fruit to deliver cash-boosting sales spikes can be made at the expense of long-term brand loyalty. A marketing strategy and plan should leave room for both, with each push carefully supporting your overall brand goals. It means you get the best of both worlds – satisfying (and much-needed) sales spikes, and overall year-on-year growth.
Advertising effectiveness expert Peter Field suggests, since the global financial crisis more and more companies are focussing on “strategies that work most powerfully to drive short term sales now.” That means those brands who still consider and invest in the long term will win a significant competitive advantage.
Peter recommends using emotional sales messages, that will make next year's sales results easier than the last.
“…because people have started to really like my brand and warm to it, and they want to buy it. I don't have to keep selling to them all the time, they actually want to buy.”
Make a plan
A marketing plan might look expensive on paper, but the money it will save you – and earn you – in the long run will make that spend look miniscule. With a plan, you’ll minimise waste, maximise return and build your brand for the long term.
Spending too much on marketing, with too little return? Talk to the team at The Selective for a marketing strategy to help you accelerate your growth.