Happy New Year!
As we enter what will surely be an exciting and eventful year, we at BottomLine Marketing wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on why marketing really is all about the Bottom Line; and what you as leaders of your organizations, should be considering to ensure your marketing investment brings you the greatest possible returns.
While most, if not all, large organizations create and implement approved marketing plans, we’ve found that many smaller to mid-sized companies are in perpetual “execution mode”, implementing random programs and campaigns outside the framework of an overall plan. In this blog, we strive to guide these smaller to mid-sized organizations in how to think about building plans that ensure they’re investing behind the right marketing strategies and tactics, which will ultimately generate both significant short and long-term ROI.
Key Questions Drive Better Marketing Decisions
But, per some of our earlier blog posts, before you develop those strategies and tactics, it is critically important to first ask yourself the a few key questions:
Do I have a deep understanding of my customers?
- Their needs and wants
- Their pain points
- How they make decisions regarding products/services like mine
- Where they seek/consume information for products/services like mine – both on-line and off-line and through social media channels
Do I have a deep understanding of my competition and the dynamics of my industry?
- Their strengths and weaknesses
- Management changes that might influence their business strategy
- How they position their brand and communicate their value proposition
- Threats from non-traditional competitors (e.g., think Blockbuster and Netflix)
- The implications of industry growth trends, consolidation or behavioral/attitudinal shifts (e.g. Coke and Pepsi’s reaction to the rapid decline in diet soda consumption as consumers are concerned about artificial sweeteners)
Do I have a deep understanding of my product/services and why my customers should care?
- What about my product/service is highly differentiated AND meaningful to my customers?
- In what way(s) must we continue to reinvent ourselves, product or service-wise, in the coming year?
Marketing Planning = More Effective Execution
After you’ve sufficiently answered these questions, you will have the key underpinnings for a sound brand strategy (brand strategy development to be more fully addressed in a future blog) and you’re now in a position to develop your marketing plan. When thinking about your plan it is important to include strategies and tactics that will impact both the short and the long-term. And, it’s critical you have the right metrics in place to ensure you’re measuring both the short and long term impact of your activities:
Each of the short-term metrics can be tracked from your sales transaction database, customer database or CRM system on a daily, weekly or as-needed basis
Most of the long-term metrics can be tracked by implementing a simple quarterly, semi-annual or annual on-line survey – you may need to purchase a customer panel to get qualified prospects. Customer engagement can be measured by tracking your social media following (likes, followers, etc.) and blog and/or YouTube video views
Discipline and Planning Go a Long Way Toward Success
Now, all of this may seem intuitive and overly-simple, but it’s amazing how many organizations start spending marketing dollars without a plan and with no understanding of their customers, their competition or how their product/services are differentiated; AND they don’t have metrics in place to understand if they’re achieving what they want to achieve with their marketing activities. Then, when the CEO or CFO doesn’t see an immediate return on their investment, he/she throws his/her arms up in the air and exclaims “marketing doesn’t work” and “it’s a waste of money”.
All it takes is just a little discipline and process to develop the right plan and to start to see stronger returns on your marketing investment, so let’s all commit to being a little more disciplined in 2014!