Finding the Marketing Balance – A Real Life Story
Let me tell you a story. It’s a story you may be familiar with. I worked with a client once who wanted me to create a marketing strategy for them. They had big growth plans and wanted me to help them achieve their goals. But while they had a three year plan and knew where they wanted to be, they also needed sales right away. They needed to have some sort of immediate lead generation that would give them the budget to be able to sustain their business and fund their growth plans. They needed marketing to be able to do marketing.
This is something that many businesses face. Building a strong brand takes time. There are no short cuts. But in the meantime, while all that solid marketing work takes effect, you can’t not have any leads. You still need customers. So this is where short term and long term marketing plans need to work together.
As detailed in my previous blog, if you have the short term only, you’ll never create a solid brand, build the right trust in the market, become a voice that people listen to. People will forget about you easily. But if you only have the long term plan, then it can take too long to drum up that business you no doubt desperately need. So both are vital for real success.
Let’s go back to the story. I knew what the client wanted, but I couldn’t start anything without some basic questions answered first. You should never start any sort of marketing without really understanding these things:
· What is it you want to achieve? – I mean exactly: how many leads, how much turnover, how much customer retention etc
· Who are you selling to?
· What are you selling to them?
· What is your brand position/differentiation – i.e. why should someone buy from you?
On day one I got all these questions answered. And no matter what activity I performed after this point, I never swayed from these key elements. This is your strategy and is your main focus whatever you do.
Long Term Thinking
As with any detailed marketing plan, I needed to kick start with some discovery; that is put together a marketing audit. Fortunately a previous marketing person had done a lot of the work here, so I just polished it up ensuring it gave me everything I needed. Decisions should always be objective. Remove gut instinct from your marketing, and never think “that business does it, so it will probably work for me.” Know for sure it will work for you.
Once I’d got my facts together, I realised the following things:
· The brand was generally unknown and the company name confused people (I can’t say more here to protect my client, but we quickly found issues with the brand name)
· They had much better customer service than competitors, but they were rarely given a chance to show it because they were unknown
· They were very competitive on price, but busy customers weren’t taking the time to get quotes. They were sticking to what they knew
· Previous marketing had been ad hoc at best, so there really was a blank canvas
From here, it seemed simple. We needed to create a massive brand awareness campaign. We needed lots of content across a range of media, covering every touch point we could think of. We needed to blast the market and make a statement. We needed to appear bigger than we were and encourage our busy customers to wonder what they’re missing out on, so they’ll deliberately make the time to investigate – playing on that human emotion of curiosity and the fear of missing out.
I knew what needed to be done, but this was going to take a lot of planning and a lot of time. The long term successes could be amazing, but the company also needed leads now.
Short Term Decisions
I used some of what I’d learned in the audit to make some quick decisions. We couldn’t risk any of the short term marketing contradicting the long term marketing, but we didn’t know yet what the long term was, therefore we had to be careful. So we put together some very basic direct mailers. Simple messages that were totally focused on the customers’ pain points followed up by a very simple quoting process. We sent out three direct mailers and a covering letter. We then followed that up with two emails and finally telemarketing so that everyone who was mailed got an introductory call.
It worked well. Really well. We were starting to drum up interest. People didn’t really know yet what we stood for, nor did we believe they’d remember us in the long term. But we got a few people asking for quotes, and that was enough. We caught a few people who were frustrated with their current supplier or who were at the end of a contract, and we converted them. It was enough to get us going, and then I left the telemarketing team to get on with it while I focused on the serious long term marketing.
What does your marketing look like? Are you all about short term wins, or are you suffering from long term marketing that is yet to take hold? How often do you chop and change messages, or try something new? When was the last time you took a step back to think about your activity? Maybe now is the time to consider how short term and long term plans coming together could be the secret to your success.