Put on Your Marketing Hat
Does every manager and team leader understand the marketing strategy for your company? Some owners of companies challenge me when I ask this question. “Why does our IT manager need to know our marketing strategy,” they ask. A concise marketing strategy is the basis that drives activities, decisions, and investments in sales, client service, operations, and finance, as well as marketing.
Set the Foundation
A marketing strategy is the foundation that defines the purpose, the mix of products and services, and the audience segments. Many companies don’t have a dedicated marketing team. The marketing person most likely wears many hats. Their role may include creating web and social media content, assisting the sales and client services teams with presentations and supporting the management team. All one-off tactical tasks. These marketing activities, whether they are done by one person or a team, will produce better results when they are connected to a defined marketing strategy. Strategy - the why and what — drives the marketing plan - the how we are going to do it.
So much has changed in the last year for clients across all verticals. A well-defined marketing strategy drives alignment across departments and good decisions. What should it include?
Know Your Customers
Know your customer segments. Who is your ideal client? Who buys your products and services and more importantly, why do they buy from your company? Are your customers vertically aligned in industries like non-profits and pharmaceuticals? Or are your services best sold to horizontal markets with buyers in functional roles - like heads of marketing or training departments? In defining your strategy, ask the questions:
- Why do our current customers buy from us?
- What business problems do we help them solve?
- What results do our solutions enable?
The answers will begin to provide clarity on defining your ideal attributes for new customers.
A clear strategy will define ideal customers by more than their industry segment. Other relevant data includes their function, average company size, age of the buyer and any other data you can validate. The more you know about your current customers the more specific your lead generation strategy can be. A strategy will take into consideration how to identify new potential customers and provide personalized messages across appropriate channels. These programs and marketing activities will be defined in your marketing plan.
Print service providers often tell me they have clients in many different verticals. I’ve been told by several C-level people, “marketing just needs to generate more leads because all kinds of companies need print services.” At some level this may make sense. Yet, this approach doesn’t drive an informed, consistent marketing strategy.
Do the Research
I recommend doing the hard work of researching, analyzing and interviewing current customers to find out everything about them. With this data you can then narrow the scope to define the attributes and segments for your ideal and most profitable customers. Your marketing strategy will then validate the best new customers you want to attract and retain.
Know Your Competitors
Another key component of a marketing strategy is a detailed competitive analysis of your major and minor competitors. Many print service providers have anecdotal information on their competitors. Often there is a lack of detailed competitive analysis which clarifies competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, positioning, and marketing approach. Without this information sales team are left guessing as to how best to approach competitive situations.
Position Your Strengths
A well-defined marketing strategy will include positioning. Positioning means articulating how your mix of services and capabilities are different from your competitors and how you create results for your customers and prospects. Positioning then drives specific messages for your products and solutions. Messages that are used in marketing campaigns, sales communications, website content and other marketing programs.
Lead Generation is a Process
According to Marketing Donut, 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months — and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy. This means marketing activities must include ongoing relevant communications and content to create awareness and engagement over the entire buyer’s journey.
Strategy drives clarity and consistent messages drive engagement. Looking for better results from your marketing programs? It may be time to revisit and refine your marketing strategy to execute prospect generating marketing programs.
Need some assistance in defining your marketing strategy? Leave a comment or visit my website to connect at High Rock Strategies.
Input for this piece was provided by Mark M. Fallon, president and CEO, The Berkshire Company:
Mark M. Fallon is president and CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting firm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. The company develops customized solutions integrating proven management concepts with emerging technologies to achieve total process management. He offers a vision of the document that integrates technology, data quality, process integrity, and electronic delivery. His successes are based upon using leadership to implement innovative solutions in the document process. You can contact Mark at email@example.com.
Lois Ritarossi, CMC®, is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at highrockstrategies.com.