I see so many marketing consultants giving advice to small business owners that are focused purely on marketing tactics, without any thought to marketing strategy. They jump straight in making suggestions on how to improve your website, or design of your advertising, or how to improve your direct mail or even suggesting various social media tools. To be clear, these are all tactics.
For some business owners the marketing team is themselves, and they suffer from a terrible disease called “Marketing Idea of the Week”. They come in on Monday mornings and say to their staff, “How about we try… ”. More tactical promotions and guess work.
To be fair to the business owners, they don’t know any better, however the marketing consultant is either being lazy or incompetent. Your first step must involve defining your marketing strategy, which consists of 3 critical elements.
First, narrow your focus – stop trying to be all-things to all-people. You can start by identifying your Ideal Customer, those who are profitable, and refer you, and then identify the common characteristics. Second, identify how you differentiate yourself from your competition, and third, determine how you can best ‘package’ your business to be attractive to your Ideal Customer.
Businesses who are clear on these 3 things find that their marketing tactics are much more effective. Without having a clear marketing strategy, you’re generally left doing ‘copycat’ marketing, which is basically saying the same thing as everybody else in your category. And when that happens, you’re typically left to compete on price, which is a terrible place to be. I can guarantee you there’s always someone else who is prepared to go out of business faster than you!
Defining your marketing strategy is not easy. The process does require some time and effort but as with most things in life, if it were easy, then everybody would be doing it. However businesses that do invest in this critical step reap the rewards.
Here’s a small business that is doing it right*. CrossFit Athletic (www.crossfitathletic.com.au), a new gym in Brookvale on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. They’re clear on their Ideal Customer – “We help active people discover the key to training success” (as taken from their website). They have differentiated themselves from other gyms and personal trainers by their unique approach to training – intensive, full-body workouts, that change every day to guarantee results. They even offer a 90-Day Money Back Guarantee. I don’t know of any gyms or personal trainers who do that. And they package themselves effectively to offer real-value for money – you get personalised group training for a flat monthly fee, so you can train as often as you like.
By defining their marketing strategy first, their marketing tactics have become much more powerful, and more effective as a result. They’ve only been open for 4 ½ months, and they’ve grown 292% since they’ve opened their doors, at a time when most gyms or trainers are experiencing a decline due to the cold winter months. I should add, their growth to date has been solely through word-of-mouth marketing but that’s another story.
The point is they spent the time and effort, and they’re reaping the rewards. Next time your marketing consultant suggests an ad, or a new website design make sure you ask them to explain what is your marketing strategy. If their answer doesn’t reference target market and differentiation, then maybe it’s time you fired them.
Do you have any examples of how a clear marketing strategy has helped improve your marketing effectiveness?
(*Disclaimer: CrossFit Athletic are a client of Boost Marketing)