Essentially, their marketing strategy and advertising plans were to hope for success.
At this point, it’s impossible to forecast their future. They may get lucky; their hope may pay off. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against them. From the start, they’re already behind where they should be – and would be – if they were marketing and advertising according to a well-defined strategy.
Marketing and Advertising and All Things Strategic
In business – especially in marketing and advertising – it’s extremely risky to rely on hope. That’s true of the big things such as your company’s brand identity, media plan and public relations, as well as for the smaller things such as the way you answer the phone. It’s important that all aspects of your company big and small work together under a unified strategy according to your strategic plan.
Take your print advertising for example. Before you select the images in your ad or write the first word, you should have a clear branding objective in mind. What customers do you want to attract with the advertisement’s design and headline? What do you want that target customer to leave with? A changed perception of your brand? Curiosity to learn more about your brand? A burning desire to do business with you? After they read your advertisement, do you want them to call your company, buy your product or just know your name? When you’re working from a solid, effective marketing strategy and well-structured advertising plan, these questions are answered before you begin the advertising creative process.
Now consider your business. A company needs strategic direction in order to move forward, grow and succeed. Some small companies get by with a vague strategy that lives somewhere in the mind of their leader. Unfortunately, this approach almost always fails (which is why over 50% of all business failures is due to lack of effective strategy). If you’re a business owner or top level officer, here’s a quick test: Do you have a copy of the company’s business plan? Does that plan include your marketing strategic plan? Does that marketing strategic plan include a clear and focused advertising strategy? If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” or “I don’t know,” you’re in danger of relying on hope.
Let me say here that I honestly consider hope to be a good and positive thing – it’s just not the way to run a business. A business needs to follow a clear and concise marketing strategy that includes clearly stated goals and objectives for their brand identity, marketing and advertising activities. Why? Because a strong marketing and advertising strategy focuses activities and spending to reduce time, control costs, avoid mistakes and increase your company’s success.
Making Your Marketing Strategy Happen
We’ve all heard stories of people (and businesses) that were lucky enough to have success simply happen to them. Luck does happen, but it’s far more fickle than the weather. In the great majority of cases, success is solidly based on planning and hard work. The hard work is up to you, but here’s some advice on the planning.
Consider getting help. Most companies choose to hire a marketing strategy consultant who knows how to lead the strategic process and has a track record of successful marketing and advertising strategic planning. A marketing strategy consultant brings an objective viewpoint to the development of your brand identity, marketing strategy, advertising campaign and other critical activities. The right marketing strategy consultant also brings a range of experience and skills not typically found within your company. He or she will steer the project forward step-by-step without being subject to business demands and interruptions. Their focused task is to develop for your company a solid, clearly written branding and marketing strategy that provides direction and tactics that will empower your company to accomplish your business goals.
On the other hand, if your budget or other circumstances won’t allow hiring outside help, here are some steps you can take to develop a branding and marketing strategy on your own.
First, take a hard look at where you are now. Analyze your company, brand and product to understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then look closely at your current customers and your potential customers. Get to know and understand as much as you can about all of them – attitudes, opinions, needs, social groups and other information. Determine who are they, what they want and what marketing message will resonate with them.
Second, assess your environment and your competition. You can’t possibly know everything, so just focus on the important stuff – those things that will (or might) impact your marketing and advertising success. Decide which of these factors you need to consider within your marketing strategic plan and get to know all you can about them.
Third, set your goals. Make sure you’re specific – don’t say “we want to grow,” but rather, “we want to increase sales by 50% over the next year.” Do this for each marketing and adverting goal and, although it’s good to aim high, make sure your goals are attainable.
Fourth – and this is the really fun part – put all of this information together and develop your branding and marketing strategy. Make your strategy as detailed as you can, covering all of the branding, marketing and advertising factors that apply and keeping your goals constantly in mind. If your marketing strategic plan is for internal use only, don’t worry about grammar and style. If it’s for outside use (such as seeking capital), grammar and style are critical, as are layout, information flow and other considerations. In this case, it’s advisable to get assistance with the writing of your marketing plan.
Finally, once your marketing strategic planning is done, you’ll use your marketing and advertising strategy to move forward in all aspects of your branding, marketing, advertising and public relations. It should provide you with clear answers on what you need to do, when, and how. You’ll be working strategically toward your business goals with every marketing and advertising activity in line with your plans as you move toward your objectives.