Are you marketing “strategically” or just “marketing”?

We frequently come across brands that are rather frustrated with the results their marketing efforts generate. They may experience some progress in terms of brand recognition, footfall, and what have you, but they are not all that thrilled with sales and profits. Other brands experience even none of the above and get really frustrated.

The reasons are manifold. Some can be traced back to marketing that lacks strategy, while others are the result of inconsistency, a non-integrated approach in communicating messages, or simply impatience.

Strategic Marketing

A critical prerequisite for effective marketing is strategic planning. By that, we mean not only planning which marketing activities to launch and when (which is tactical), but concentrating, focusing, and structuring your resources in a long-term approach to increase market share, sales, and achieving sustainable competitive advantages.

Strategic marketing begins with a lot of homework, and which is where the hard part begins. You’ve got to research and analyze your market, competition, and a host of other elements very thoroughly. In parallel, you will of course be analyzing your own organization in context of the market, competition, and business environment as well. Once you analyzed all of this, you will have a much clearer understanding of the market, its consumers/ customers and what they need and want, how well they are served by your competitors and yourself (or not), where areas of opportunities exist, and how you can take advantage of those by building unique competitive strengths and advantages.

Empowered with knowledge, you will now segment your market and design a corresponding marketing mix that builds your competitive edge over competing brands. This means that you will design your products, packaging, pricing, channeling, and promotional tactics in a fashion that is most appealing and compelling to your targeted market segments. In many cases, companies end up with a set of products and services that are entirely different from what they started out with, but much more effective and successful. And this is what marketing is all about.

Tactical Communication

The mistake that many brands frequently make is that they skip the strategic planning process and jump right into designing tactical communication activities. Because they are not quite sure why and how their products/ services are any different from competitors and/or because those may not be offered in the most suitable and appealing approach, their results may fluctuate and commonly not be satisfactory. In other words, these brands are practicing “ad hoc” marketing, which can go either way.

But this will not happen to you of course, because you’ve made the effort and given your marketing strategy a lot of serious thought. Your core task on hand now is to decide how you will reach your target audiences with those appealing and compelling messages about your brand and its values. This is where your team needs to be creative and resourceful.

Most importantly, your approach needs to be integrated, even more so than creative. Armed with knowledge (from research), you know where to find your target audiences. As such, your brand has got to be there. And by that, we mean everywhere. This is why for example social media marketing in isolation of other activities will most likely not produce the results you desire, no matter how much your invest in this particular vehicle. At the same token, print ads and billboard will require quite an investment and won’t be all that effective if your target audience spends a lot of time online. But when you’re adequately present on both channels, your target audience starts to see and acknowledge your messages, and which is exactly what you want to accomplish.

Patience and Persistence

You are now marketing strategically and in a comprehensive and integrated approach. Your marketing is very focused, you know exactly what you need to do to produce results, and your implementation is on schedule. But hold on for a minute. You’re not quite there yet.

You now need to train yourself to be patient and persistence. Remember, there are tens – if not hundreds – of other brands competing on attention and recognition, and the mind can only process so much at a time. They say it takes a message nine times to penetrate the mind before a buying decision is made, and it takes the mind to be exposed to the message three times for it to register. So if your marketing activities do not produce the results you hoped for in a week’s time don’t panic and switch directions. You’ll only confuse your target audience with conflicting messages. Hang in there, give it time, and be patient. The rewards will be worth it.

 About the Author

Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.

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