Last week we talked with Fluid IT Services CEO Wade Yeaman about how they have leveraged the practice of marketing to help their brand and online presence grow.
This week, we want to talk to you about how our team approaches the strategic process, and ultimately reveal how effective planning helps business leaders plan their marketing voyage.
CHARTING THE WATERS
The first step in any journey is ‘charting the waters’ – or assessing the situation. It’s imperative to understand the challenges ahead if you’re going to create an effective strategy. Referring back to last week’s analogy of the marketing iceberg, it’s important to ask some questions when you’re charting out your waters.
How much of the iceberg have you seen? A lot of the time we can get distracted by what’s above the waterline and forget to ask ourselves what lies underneath. Sometimes it’s these variables that are just out of sight that can catch somebody with limited marketing experience off guard. Understanding how these variables can impact your business can sometimes be the difference between a little bump or tearing a hole in your hull.
GETTING READY TO SET SAIL
If you’re a novice sailor and don’t have a knowledgeable crew to back you up, getting started can be incredibly frustrating. At Marketing Refresh we assess 5 fundamental areas for all of our clients. Assessments are done at the beginning of our engagements, and continuously throughout the relationship to ensure proper alignment between business objectives and marketing initiatives.
Area 1: Branding. Any journey begins with identity and branding.The focus here should center around what makes you unique like your name, logo, and design elements. These are the factors that make you identifiable, and set you apart from your competition.
When a business owner clearly understands their business strategy, the branding process can be smooth sailing. But often times, working on company branding reveals gaps in the business strategy that need to be worked on before investing too deeply into branding, or any other areas.
Area 2: Messaging. Once the branding and identity is established, it’s important to make sure your messaging properly conveys your unique value offering. The focus here should lie around competitive positioning, tone of voice, and key message points that should be woven into all of your marketing materials.
Messaging builds on branding. The more they are aligned, the easier it is to build all of your foundational marketing materials.
Area 3: Foundation. Do you feel like you’re drowning yet? Not uncommon by the time you’ve waded through branding and messaging. Getting this far can take a lot of work with little ROI but now it’s time shove off! You should start to feel some wind in your sails in this step as you establish yourself with a website, brochures, letterhead/cards, and trade show appearances.
Ultimately, you want the experience and interactions with these materials to reflect a person’s experience with representatives of your business, as well as with your products and services. All of these items should align.
Area 4: ‘Eyeballs’ or Leads. Now that you’ve started to make your way to deeper water, it’s time to bait the waters. You’ve established your brand, constructed effective messaging, and built a foundation to support it all. Though it’s very tempting to move directly past the first 3 Areas, they are critical to your success.
Now it’s about getting eyeballs on the great materials you put together. Baiting the waters with blogs, SEO, social media, email, paid search, trade shows, and speaking opportunities is how we’re going to generate leads.
Set your bait in multiple places where you know the fish you want to catch are swimming around. Try different types of bait and keep track of what works and what doesn’t.
Area 5: Engagement & Revenue. This is the stage that most business owners are tempted to jump to because it has the highest ROI.
What we as marketers run into most often is that business owners want to skip the first few steps and focus on the ‘payoff’…or should I say potential payoff. There isn’t a shortcut to profit.
Imagine you were actually fishing, found a giant pool of fish, tried to pull them into the boat and your net broke. This same thing happens all the time with marketing communications. You put together a professional email, attract a potential prospect to your website, but what they see doesn’t match the quality, messaging, or value conveyed in the email campaign. The net will break. The prospect will lose faith and close the browser. By now you can see why we can’t skip the first few steps but here we need to focus on our communication.
IT’S ABOUT LONG-TERM SUSTAINABLE RESULTS
Make sure you partner with a marketing firm that is looking at these 5 fundamental areas, and is continuously prioritizing your marketing spending in a strategic way. An experienced firm knows how to create some quick momentum while building a solid foundation that leads to long-term sustainable opportunity to growing your company.