- The need to expand awareness of propositions, products and services with clients and prospects
- The need to drive new business enquiries over the next two or three years
- The need to enhance brand trust, to warm the market, and help with conversion rates and cost of sale
- The need to educate partners and internal teams on how to sell the portfolio (not just the sales team)
The Wrong Answer (in our view)
It is so easy to feel the pressure of the number and want to crack on with doing ‘something’. Sometimes, quite miraculously, the management team all become marketing experts, overflowing with suggestions on how to fix the pipeline challenge.
However, most often short term, tactical, reactionary activities just don’t work. Marketing activity without thought through commercial rationale is simply wasted time and budget, and will fail. In turn, sales and management become understandably cynical about the role and value of marketing, are disappointed and ill-disposed to support future activity and spend…..and reality is, you have just given the competition that much needed head start to boot.
Random acts of marketing (as we call them) fail because they:
- Are not aligned to specific, well-informed and agreed business goals
- Are not designed to leverage or push a defined well articulated value proposition
- Fail to line up a unique value proposition with the right target audience or market
- Are built on a lack of understanding of customers’ REAL wants and needs
- Go unmeasured…..how can you know what constitutes success or say whether it has worked or not?
Slow Down to Speed Up
There is a better way but it does mean taking more time at the outset to get some foundations in place so that you can deliver better, faster and more cost efficient business oriented marketing outcomes later on.
Step one: Build a plan
- Ask yourself - What are your mid to long term business goals and sales targets and in what order can you realistically achieve them – It should be more than just increased sales or footfall
- Have your goals been built on solid market insight? Are they specific? Are they documented?
- How should marketing contribute to increasing your sales pipeline, brand preference, education and warming of prospects, sales tools etc?
- What measurements can be put in place to track success? Is it the right time to invest in automation to track customer interaction and help them through the sales cycle? How will value add be measured?
- Who are your audiences, what are their personas? what are they (really) interested in? and what are the marketing mechanisms or channels that can best reach them?
- What is the competition up to and how are they doing it? How can you be unique?
Challenge yourself hard before you invest: Do your marketing plans really help achieve your business goals? Do your customers really think what you think they think? Does that programme really add value to your resale channels? How are you TRULY different?
Step two: Build Foundations
The next step is to review and where necessary build the foundations for effective marketing activity. There are four core areas to consider:
- Visual brand – Does the way you visually present your business reflect how you wish to be perceived?
- Value Proposition – This is critical to get right. We suggest that you define this in detail looking not just the company, but at each of your products and services as well as the market trends that are affecting or will in future affect your customers. Document it and communicate it across your business and with your partners. This written articulation of your unique offering will form the basis for all outbound (and support internal) communication.
- Messaging/Content – Be different and think about educating your customers. So much so called unique positioning is overdone. For example in a recent survey in the US 161,000 companies claimed to be ‘leaders’ in their field and 30,000 were unique…. allegedly. Try to tease out what REALLY makes you different (a tip – look to your people and culture and think carefully about what is special about them).
- Measurement – Measurement – ensure you have mechanisms in place to track and report on success; management KPIs, sales engagement tracking, automation if you are ready, lead-source to sale (lead conversion) tracking if not.
Step three – Deliver
Ok, now you are in a position to crack on.
With clear goals in place, audiences understood, a strong well-articulated value proposition in place and messaging to support communication activity you are ready to reach out. Draw up a timeline and tightly project-manage a skilled delivery team. Monitor, report, observe, learn, refine and improve based on strong foundations and you will deliver the value that will justify future spend.