With today’s digital advances, marketing has become more accessible and immediate, easier to implement, test, track, understand results, tweak and improve. This is a good thing, but it also raises expectations for quick results from disjointed activity such as sending a couple of emails, writing a blog or doing a few posts on Social Media.
It’s rare that such ad hoc activity will garner sustainable results. In a recent study from Focus Vision “The average B2B buyer’s journey now involves the engagement and consumption of 13 pieces of content”.
That is no easy feat for any business to achieve, especially one without an integrated and agile marketing strategy and plan, that is aligned to achieving the wider long-term business goals.
Sadly, many businesses skip this critical activity and dive right into the ‘doing’ of marketing and are left dissatisfied and disillusioned by the results. So today I’ve complied my Top Six on how businesses can benefit from developing, adopting and reviewing their marketing strategy on a regular basis.
1. Business Agility
As we have seen with the Covid pandemic, business agility has never been more critical. In such unprecedented times, business survival is at the forefront for most owners and managers, but as with any threat, how you deal with it, impacts the results.
I personally like the definition below for marketing strategy, which infers the process as a fluid, ongoing workable activity, rather than a one-off tick box exercise, which sadly it is often relegated too.
“Marketing strategy focuses on understanding continuously changing markets to build a competitive advantage; maximising opportunities to develop products and services that deliver both customer value and high profit potential.” Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
Businesses with in-depth knowledge, understanding and insight into their markets and customers, together with robust plans and review mechanisms are much better placed to make agile decisions and not only survive, but thrive through these difficult times.
2. Clear Direction
As I previously confessed in my Marketing Must Haves blog, marketing strategy is at the heart the work I do with my clients. I love the whole process, from the research, analysis, insights and learning achieved through to developing goals, objectives and tactics, providing a clear direction and desired outcomes. It not only defines your marketing activities but helps influence your wider business decisions.
Marketing strategy outlines a company’s overall high level, forward-looking game plan to promote and sell its products or services and contribute to sustainable success and growth.
As Richard Branson states, "Failing to plan for the long-term and thinking about the possible risks and opportunities could make all the difference to the success of your business.”
3. Informed Decision Making
Yes, ‘gut instinct’ is important – its how many businesses get established and operate in the early years. But to be sustainable and grow, better informed decision making needs to come into play.
The development of marketing strategy gives you the opportunity to research, analyse and understand all aspects of your business, your markets, competitors, products and services, stakeholders and customers. This important process gives you the confidence to move forward with new ideas and business opportunities.
4. Business Collaboration
Developing a marketing strategy is a great way to initiate, engage and empower your marketing team to work towards a common goal. Allowing them to contribute to the process will bring early buy-in and understanding of what needs to be achieved and why, all key to fostering good team work.
I always find it surprising that in so many organisations, marketing seems to operate in isolation. Bringing other business function representatives into the strategy planning process not only brings new perspectives, information and ideas to the table but fosters wider team collaboration, learning and commitment to helping deliver successful marketing.
"86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures." Salesforce
5. Better Organisation
A marketing strategy helps you define clear goals and SMART objectives that you can work towards on a daily basis. This helps keep you motivated and focused on activity that is aligned and works towards achieving your wider business objectives and goals.
A well thought-out and clearly communicated marketing strategy defines roles, responsibilities, tools, processes and tactics, critical to delivering successful marketing campaigns.
6. Improved Return on Investment
With marketing budgets curtailed in our current economic climate, optimising marketing spend and return on investment is under the microscope more than ever.
Having a well thought through strategy and integrated marketing plan, with clearly defined goals, resources and budgets will help prioritise and focus activity on the most cost effective and impactful marketing campaigns and activities, to get the results you need .
Next week we will dive deeper into the process of developing marketing strategy and how it can help deliver smarter decisions, improved activities and results.