Companies large and small are now facing this uncertain future and looking for definitive answers. To get these answers we must ask the right questions and be prepared to think unconventionally (or out side of the box, in brain storming jargon).
This document outlines some key questions organisations should ask themselves when reviewing their marketing/communications strategy. These questions apply to well established companies as much as new businesses.
Where are we now?
Look at your turn over and profitability or if a new business what you project these will be.
Where do we want to be?
Where do you want to make the improvement; in turn over, profit or market share? How much improvement would you like to achieve?
Calculate the value of the growth and how much you can afford to invest to achieve this. Be realistic and have priorities as most of us are bound by financial constraint. The first rule of wise investment is spend where you will generate the greatest return.
Now you know what you are trying to achieve and how much you have to invest you must make the critical choices that will result in success or failure of these goals. To not commit to the level of investment required to achieve your goal is to have an unrealistic goal and to set yourself up for failure.
There is always a temptation to take on all activities internally to some how reduce cost. Sadly in most cases this is a false economy as hidden costs always arise and the result is the same or a greater cost for less than the expected return. This is a sad spiral that results in continued failure of expectations and probably a change in management or ownership as the business continues to poorly compete. In the case of marketing, unless marketing is a core strength of your company, use third party professionals who know their stuff.
Outsource and Partner
Marketing must be a partnership between the business and its communications, do not attempt to dictate to marketers, take advice, be open about your targets, budget and expectations. Ensure that there are indicators that can be reviewed to show the trend of response to the new efforts being applied.
Measurement of success is essential feedback to maximize the return on your investment and to review the success of your strategy.
The website your business must be the center of your communications world, it must reflect all marketing, reinforce and capture as much information and or custom as possible. From this information gathering, trends can be reported that will provide the greatest wealth of consumer feedback that can be achieved. Get help on how to achieve and interpret this information so that decisions and new steps can be made in time to matter to your bottom line.
Selecting a partner
Remember that marketing, company communications and branding are intertwined and heavily reliant on your ability to integrate your message in the digital domain. Marketers suggesting a primary focus on print and radio for instance with a view that the on-line effort is less important or somehow separate are clearly blind to the realities of consumer trends.
Pick a partner with a commitment to communications at its highest level, with good design skills and professional approach who can demonstrate success and a winning approach which can only be achieved through planned managed and measured activities. Equally if your prospective partners only talks technology and expect you to come up with all the marketing content you are talking to technologists (web site developers) and not to a marketing or better still business communications specialist. In which case it is best to turn and run in the other direction.
Your website is the final definitive truth about your organization and its services, ignore it at your peril, its quality will directly affect the success or failure of your brand and resulting business.
Tiers of competence
In selecting your partner you must bear in mind the fact that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys and there are a lot of monkeys out there delivering completely ineffectual marketing services to companies, year in year out. Alternatively there are large organizations with huge success and recognition but with costs beyond the reach of small to medium size businesses.
Top corporate advertising agencies, minimum spend /$50,000 per month great companies, great consultants, very expensive only cost effective for large scale operations.
Small to medium sized marketing consultants, good talent, proven experience handling marketing spend of as little as /$1000 a month. These organizations will have a number of good examples of quality work; they understand real business dynamics and fundamentally offer knowledge, experience and skills to enhance organizations performance.
Cowboys and Rogues represent this tier, offering you neither skill nor experience they will promise the world without a considered plan but invariably be the cheapest marketing services. Consultants ask questions and offer solutions, cowboys just say yes and take your money!