Top-Shelf Tip No. 193:

"Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers."

Seth Godin

Five Questions To Ask Before Writing A Marketing Strategy

Yesterday, Promotional Consultant Today provided a snapshot view of the key elements of a go-to-market strategy. This is the process for addressing and managing your market opportunities.

Today, we are going to examine a subset of a go-to-market strategy; that is, your marketing strategy. Marketing has one job—to generate value through producing qualified leads that sales can convert into customers. So how does a marketing professional or business owner go about putting together a marketing strategy? Consider beginning by answering these five questions from marketing expert, Tiffany Sauder.

What business objectives does the marketing strategy need to support? It seems simple enough, but it's overlooked nearly every time. Define the end game. Marketing moves businesses toward a different place than it sits today. To a larger market, to serve more customers, selling more products or delivering additional services. If the business has not defined what it's trying to sell to whom, then the marketing strategy has no chance of being successful.

Begin by clearly defining your business objectives in a quantifiable manner. Here are some examples:
Increase revenue from $100,000 to $150,000
Maintain profit margin of 12 percent
Complete 200 new installations of our software

2. What metrics determine success/ failure? Before you begin, ask yourself how you are going to determine if what you've done (or will be doing) has been successful. And then make sure you have the tools in place to report on that information.

For example, If success is defined as the number of new customer generated from your email marketing program—and yet there is no CRM, no process for documenting the origin of a lead and no appetite for segmenting lists and creating content—then you are never going to be able to answer this question. Before executing, determine the scorecard. It's very difficult to measure progress if you haven't set up the system ahead of time to include measurement. Invest in your measurement tools so you can be smart about your marketing strategy as you begin to implement.

3. How much should I spend? Business owners and marketers alike get paralyzed about finding the perfect number and end up spending nothing at all. Or, worse yet, they spend randomly, and nothing is integrated enough to have any real impact. The short answer is— spend what makes sense for your business. How do you figure that out? As a rule, 10-15 percent of your overall budget should be spent on planning and measurement tools. Include the cost of utilizing internal resources for things like content creation, list segmentation and customer feedback, and budget for it accordingly.

4. What resources (people) are available to assist in implementing? Take an inventory of people inside and outside your organization who can assist with implementing your plan. Allow your resource availability to guide your strategic marketing plan. There is no sense in creating a strategy for which you don't have the financial or human capital to execute.

Get creative. Outside of company staff think about bringing in the expertise of industry thought leaders, key partners, vendors, clients and interns. How can you leverage all of these individual contributions to support mutual goals? The primary reason great ideas and strategic plans go unexecuted is because no one thought through who was going to do the work. Seems simple enough, right?

5. Who is going to make the decisions once we begin implementation? Marketing is as much about momentum as it is about consistent execution. If there is not a clear decision-making process set up in advance of the "creating stuff" part of marketing, then your best work and greatest ideas will get caught up in an internal mess of unresponsiveness and/or "I have an idea/ opinion." Have one person trusted to be centrally responsible for approving all creating and content. The more complex this process is, the smaller the chances are that you will have a successful strategic marketing effort.

Before you craft your next marketing plan, use these key questions as your guide to build a cohesive, measurable approach.

Source: Tiffany Sauder is the principal of an Indianapolis-based marketing firm, Element Three. For Sauder, businesses are built to grow people, not the other way around, and Element Three exists to fulfill that vision. And as clients and employees grow, so does Element Three itself.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson



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