Are you satisfied?
Can you honestly say you're doing what it takes to win when it comes to marketing your business? How about developing the leads to help your sales force sell more? These two questions can be easily ignored when you're busy. But then again, you're probably always busy. Running any type of business takes time and effort. Building one takes even more. You probably intend to focus on marketing activities just as soon as you get a break from focusing on operations and helping close that sale to a key client. But the time never comes. There's always just one more thing to finish before getting into marketing. So the question becomes, what are you going to do?
Marketing is a must.
Marketing is an investment that's critical to activating and achieving your vision for a bigger, better and more profitable business. It takes time and effort to establish a marketing strategy and money to implement it in an ongoing and effective way. If not budgeted for, it becomes an unplanned effort and unmanaged expense. How much are you willing to invest in achieving your vision?
Not your father's marketing plan.
Even if you've found the time and established a budget for marketing activities, the tactical choices for marketing to and engaging customers have become more complicated and much more technical in nature, with new mandatory efforts including mobile web sites with landing pages to support your Google key word purchases, trackable email blitzes and interactive mailings. Gone are the days when business cards, a folder and a few sell sheets were a good basis for marketing and selling your products and services. The good news? You now have the ability to track, mine and analyze myriads of data to help you continuously refine your efforts and maximize your investment. Do you have the experience and understanding available to take advantage of todays digital choices/interactive communications channels?
Do you need help?
Even the most savvy and energized business leader will turn to someone for help when it comes to marketing. It's just too close to the perimeter of their scope of efforts. Most desire to hire because it feels more like an investment in the company and its future. But hiring a marketing person can be tricky in itself. Do you hire someone with a lot of experience and a salary to match? Someone who understands that marketing is the entity that connects and prioritizes product development, launch planning and the annual sales meeting? Or, do you go with young and more affordable? Someone that can build your website and upload videos to Youtube? Or one that can get product photos taken and produce your sales catalog and your trade show booth?
With so many things to do, can your one, two, or even three-person marketing team really keep up with the ever increasing need to master new tactics enabled by the internet, like researching and gathering competitive and customer data, analyzing it and turning it into strategic insights and an evolving plan to win?
And, who will put effort into developing good content, like trade articles, white papers, blog entries and conference presentations and reports that help position you as a thought leader and innovator in your industry or market?
What are your choices?
Until now, you had just a few options for enhancing your marketing efforts:
- You could build from within. Of course, this meant hiring a qualified and capable person (or persons) to, plan and implement your strategy. You will also require the services of experts, consultants and freelancers to execute the many specialized tasks necessary for success.
- You could hire an agency. But should it be an advertising, promotions, branding or PR agency? That's a good question. The more specialized the agency, the more refined the effort is and hopefully yielding better results, right? Larger agencies can handle a broader range of services but usually key on negotiating ongoing contracts that promise a certain amount of time from their various departments, each with its own time-consuming bureaucracy. Their motivation is to "spend time" on your projects, not necessarily deliver them to completion.
- You could just continue to do what you're doing now. Doing nothing is equally as dangerous as doing something that's not effective and hoping that it brings better results over time. Either way
After working with companies of all sizes over the last 20 years, we believe you need more options. We've experienced the results of too much and not enough. We've worked with large global companies having vast, complicated marketing organizations where too much effort is spent without commensurate results. We've experienced not enough with companies that have no formal marketing effort, or lacking the strategy, planning and resources needed to take advantage of marketing and move their efforts to the next level so that they can realize their vision of success.
Take advantage of Forward Thinking
We believe there are three fundamentals that contribute to an effective, and efficient, marketing effort: planning, tools, and effort. These basics form the foundation of an ongoing program to optimize development and sharing of your marketing messages. They apply to companies of every size and type and only vary in depth of application.
We also believe that marketing efforts are best measured by their influence on sales (not branding). Branding theories can be applied to enhance your marketing activities and results but are not the essential effort. Branding offers a framework to help understand what makes your company or it's products and services special and relevant to your target audiences. Branding invites you to understand and communicate the value proposition that differentiates your offering from your competitors. But over 20 years of brand building for our clients has crystalized our understanding that branding in NOT the ultimate goal. A brand is a tool that smart companies leverage to influence relationship-building and ultimately sales. It can be far more beneficial to invest in developing and refining your product or service to better meet customer needs or refining your message, than in redesigning your logo or brochure to make it look cooler.
You probably never thought you'd hear that from a branding firm. There's more, because we've done it long enough to call bullshit when we see it.
Forward Thinking Articles
We will be posting articles (the links on the right side of this page) that will help introduce you to our unique approach to branding and the "Forward Thinking" methods that we have used successfully over the last 20 years helping our clients define and create better brands.
Together, we explore what you do that makes you special, uncovering opportunities and insights that are not immediately obvious. The Proprietary Assets of an organization provide potential sources of differentiation versus table stakes of the category and the "reasons to believe" a brand's promise and value proposition.
Please enjoy the articles and let us know if you need any Forward Thinking for your brand.