This famous quote by Chinese military strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu sums up the detrimental effects of throwing ill-considered tactics to the wind perfectly. As well-intended as these tactics may be, tactical execution without the guidance of a strategy, will often end badly. In the world of marketing, these bad results will resemble ineffective marketing spends that end up costing you money when they should have been driving your business forward, writes Jane Hillsdon from Dragonfly Marketing.
Tactics before strategy is the noise before defeat – Sun Tzu.
Even worse, ill-conceived marketing tactics that yield sub optimal results will ultimately lead to a lack of confidence in the importance of marketing to an organisation. This then leads to reduced resource allocation for marketing as it is pushed down the list of business priorities.
To ensure that your small budget marketing generates a healthy gain, it is vital that you have a robust marketing strategy in place to guide the tactics necessary to build sustainability for your brand as well as drive short term returns.
Comprehensive marketing strategies will include important information about your product, pricing strategies and distribution. They will assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and review your competitive landscape. They will include information around your brand position, key messages and they will of course outline defined promotional tactics for a set period.
However, a simple marketing strategy just has to include four key components. These include; what it is you are trying to do, who it is you are trying to sell to, what makes you different and exactly how you will measure your success.
1. Marketing objectives
Marketing objectives mean more to an organisation if they are inextricably linked to your business objectives. For example; if your key business priority for the next 12 months is to increase your revenue, then your marketing objectives need to focus on helping you do exactly that. Depending on where your business is at, your marketing objectives to support this objective may include;
- Increasing sales from existing customers
- Creating awareness of your business with new customers
- Increasing word of mouth marketing
- Increasing the increasing the number of conversions from lead to sale
These specific marketing objectives will help guide which tactics you choose to invest in to achieve these.
2. A detailed description of your target audience
Achieving the best bang for your marketing buck is so much easier when you are directing that spend at the right type of customer. If you are using your marketing budget to generate the wrong type of customers, you will end up with a lot of noise followed by no results.
Put simply, the more information you know about the right type of customer, the easier it is to reach them, engage them and ultimately convince them to buy from you. And by knowing them well, we are not talking about knowing their age and gender. We need to know what they believe in. What do they desire? How do they want to feel? What do they want to avoid? Who do they trust? These are the emotional drivers that we need to understand if we want to correctly craft our marketing messages and confidently select our marketing channels.
3. Complete clarity about what makes you different
This vital piece of information is what takes your business from being forgettable to being remarkable. Don’t let this be a perfunctory statement that sits on your marketing plan for the sake of it. Don’t let this be something that your competitors can easily copy or claim. Do make sure that this is linked to what your customer cares about. And of course, do demonstrate what makes you different at every possible marketing and customer touch point.
4. A robust measurement framework
One of the biggest reasons why non-marketers don’t trust marketing is because they don’t know if it works or not. When people don’t know if their marketing spend is generating a return, they start to drop it from the list of financial priorities as their confidence waivers in the effectiveness of the spend.
The best way to turn this around is to build a simple and robust measurement framework that links your marketing activity to bottom line activity. Correlating marketing metrics and revenue metrics that have been set by your marketing and business objectives is essential to proving the effectiveness of marketing strategy and tactics.
By collating and analysing these metrics regularly, you also get the opportunity to optimise your tactics along the way.
Ensuring that a business understands the significance of marketing and how integral it is to heling a business achieve its goals is as simple as executing carefully considered and strategically planned tactics. If your marketing tactics are driven by well-defined objectives, designed for a specific type of customer, communicate your point of difference and are regularly measured and optimised, they will be sure to not only bring you noise, but to bring you sustainable business success.
The original content was submitted to Australian Marketing Institute by author Jane Hillsdon. To learn more about how to grow your small business with strategic and clever marketing solutions that deliver results, order a copy of Jane’s first book; How to do Marketing – A Comprehensive Guide For Small Business.