Let’s face it – most marketing efforts implemented by companies fail to provide any material results. Far more corporate growth can be attributed to favorable condition in the economy than can be attributed to any direct efforts from a company.
Traditional marketing (and the plans that support it) is dead. All one need do is look at the economic results delivered by companies that practice traditional marketing to realize that marketing attempts are not driving improved results (take a look at the stock market, gross & net margins, wage stagnation, true growth rates, etc.).
The reality of this hit me as I was reviewing the marketing plan that a prospect had just completed. They had engaged a marketing firm to help them, and they asked us to review it and determine how we could help them execute it. In my review, I was quite disappointed with what was done – it was a plan that would thrust my prospect further into the commoditization trap.
So I asked Mike Pawlak, my Client Experience Director, “Why do most marketing firms fail to create compelling plans? Are we missing something, or do they just not get it?” As Mike and I discussed this, we realized that we focus on five critical principles when developing a marketing strategy. I must review hundreds of marketing strategies a year, and my experience proves that the vast majority (I’d say 90%+) of marketing efforts to not follow these principles. Here they are:
The 5 Critical Principles to an Effective Marketing/Growth Strategy™:
- Focus on what the business needs to become, not what the business is.
Most marketing firms look at a business as what it is – who are their customers, what does the business do, why do people like them – as opposed to what it needs to become. This results in a static, “me-too” message, where the company is forced to “explain” themselves.
- Do not use “mass-marketing approaches” if you are not a mass-market business.
Most small and mid-sized businesses use traditional, industrial-age based mass-marketing strategies and tactics. It’s a pretty good idea that you are doing this if your marketing plans call for the creation of “top-of-mind-awareness” in your market. Top-of-mind-awareness costs millions to billions of dollars (just ask McDonalds, Wal-Mart or GE). What you want is the right awareness at the right time. Use “micro-marketing” strategies and tactics, unless of course you’re a $3 billion, consumer products company – uh, wait, just look at Proctor and Gamble and take a look at how their marketing is becoming more 1:1, rather than top-of-mind.
- Make sure your marketing plan is tied in directly and fully integrated with your sales execution plan
Too often, marketing and positioning plans are created in a vacuum from the underlying sales process. Remember, the entire purpose of all of your go-to-market efforts is to INCREASE SALES WHILE REDUCING COST OF SALES AS A PERCENTAGE. Traditional marketing is compressing margins, so if you want to expand them – don’t use traditional marketing plans.
- Make sure your plan is an “Outside-In” plan, rather than “Inside-Out”.
When it comes to your “go-to-market” actions, there is only one opinion that matters: YOUR CURRENT AND POTENTIAL BUYERS. If someone can't write you a check, then their opinion is not relevant in marketing efforts. I must look at a hundred or more marketing plans that have been created by companies every year. 98% of them look at the world from the company’s eyes, rather than from the customer’s. Don’t make this mistake.
- Make sure your plan is designed to create demand rather than to fulfill it.
“If I had asked what people wanted, I would have created faster horses.” – Henry Ford
The vast majority of marketing messages out there require the potential buyer to already know what they need, putting the marketer into a commodity selling position. Your job is to create demand, to enable people to come to realize they have a need they didn’t know or understand – when you do that, margins expand and sales cycles get faster.
Following these five principle will force you to view the world from you customers' eyes and further, it will force you to find new ways to solve your customers' new and old problems. While difficult, excelling will make you a “Best-In-Class” company. The failure to excel will make you a “me-too” company and the ills of commoditization will continue to erode your efforts.
If you’d like help in making this transition – let us know.