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Do I really need a Marketing Strategy? Sounds like a lot of fluff and nonsense…

We fear that there will always be people with this kind of entrenched mentality. And that’s fine. You do you and all that. 

But what about the people that are running an established business and trying to find ways to grow that business or ways to sustain its existence, perhaps even with reduced presence of key personnel. It is these people that will find the most value from a marketing strategy. It is for these people that this is written.

Firstly, let’s get to what marketing really is, or should be…

Peter Drucker was an Austrian/American Management Consultant, Professor of Management and Winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. So a clever guy, and important to note, not a marketer. He said:

“Marketing is so basic (fundamental) that it is not just enough to have a strong sales department and to entrust marketing to it. Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialised activity at all ... It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is from the customer’s point of view.”

Peter Drucker

In short, Peter is saying that the role of marketing needs to be present in every area of business where a customer could interact. Not just making promotional material but all stages of product development, customer service, sales, aftercare, and loyalty.

You see, marketing is not just a set of adverts or making stuff look pretty. Real marketing is a mindset. It is the role of always seeing things from the perspective of the customer, understanding human behaviour. It is the constant jostling between being the professional that knows much about the business and the unknowing that can transfer themselves into the mind of the customer to look after their interests, which should really be the ultimate interest of the business.

Can’t I just throw enough shit at the wall and see what sticks?

Well you could do that, and plenty do, but perhaps you would reconsider this stance if you imagined the wall was your customer, the very thing that decides if your business flourishes or flunks, and that the shit is your wording and delivery choices. 

So, using that context, what type of person do you like to meet? The open, friendly person that speaks your language, is interested in hearing what you have to say and engaging with that. Or the person on transmit only, spouting seemingly random, inane babble at you, with an apparently endless supply of spittle. We know the answer.

What this ridiculous analogy is trying to show is the difference between a business with the confidence to know how to behave to attract the kind of customers it wants and one that is blindly, nervously guessing. Or a proper appreciation of marketing to a plan vs thinking it is just a game.

OK, but I’ve gotten this far without a Marketing Strategy, why do I need one now?

The position you find yourself in is undoubtedly born from tremendous effort, untold stresses and persistence. Often this will have come from the sheer will of personality of an individual or collection thereof. Long days of endless work and a passion bordering on obsession. The key difference between businesses that outgrow their founders and those that don’t is strategy. Specifically, a strategy that delivers; Diagnoses. Guiding Policy. Coherent Actions.

Diagnosis. Setting Goals. Action Plan

Skipping any of these stages will result in something that is not really a strategy. Not building a strategy in this order will likely result in something not very good.

Diagnosis is all about taking a step back to properly survey and appreciate the situation of the business, from the perspective of the customer. This should involve research, and lots of it. This is the part where the bulk of our work is undertaken, including delving into the history of the brand, competitor research, updating audience segmentation, interviewing loyal customers and observing actual customer behaviour, both in person and online.

Setting Goals is the part where we identify and articulate the strategic goals to drive a result. Any strategy that includes a goal to grow sales or make more profit should quickly be disregarded as guff. 

More sales, profit or market share are all results of well plotted and followed goals. The goals should be set as the things you need to achieve to drive the result, e.g. it may be that you need to increase the brand’s presence within a certain audience segment that offers good commercial promise. This goal is a precursor to finding new customers and more sales. 

Action Plans are the tactical plays that will realise the Goals. All strategies we produce include a comprehensive tactical plan that any reasonably informed marketing team could pick up and run with. Every element of these plans have a clear bind back to the Goals and Diagnosis.

HR Strategy. Sales Strategy. IT Strategy. So many strategies…

These all have a role to play but can they really all be strategies? 

At its core, to strategise is to choose. To choose what you will and will NOT do. To choose which of your strengths to pit against the most opportune areas of opportunity. 

When we work on marketing strategies we are unashamedly nosey, delving into any and all areas of the business to build understanding, to give us the tools of finding competitive advantage, before then working out how to actually achieve it.

We have to live the Peter Drucker mantra by ensuring any touchpoint where customers could interact is considered. This is why you may be surprised to find us wanting to know about staff and workplace culture. Staff conduct and attitude is a huge marketing touchpoint that decides whether you get the pay off or not. 

We like to think that all these other strategies are more just considerations that feature in the diagnosis, setting goals and action plan of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

So do you really need a Marketing Strategy?

Well, you tell us. We will say that there is no point going into it with half measures. 

Creating a strategy takes commitment to challenge accepted beliefs, putting yourself into the minds of others and hard work. But rightly so. A cleverly thought through Marketing Strategy can be transformative. It shouldn’t be easy.