New year…new decade…same old marketing strategies?
Regardless of whether you actually kept your 2020 marketing-planning meeting on the books, all isn’t lost. The amazing thing is, the impassable mountain called “marketing” that’s sitting in front of you is actually an optical illusion; in reality, it’s just a bunch of smaller hills. Each is challenging in its own way, but each can easily be conquered with the right mindset, tools, strategies and teams.
Having the right mindset is a challenge unto itself. (To aid you, I recommend reading Ego Is The Enemy, by Ryan Holiday.) More generally, though, having the right tools, strategies and teams has become essential to your brand’s and your marketing strategy’s overall success.
Over the next year, those things are exactly what we’re going to talk about in the “Marketing AV” column. My goal is to ensure that, no matter how large an organization you work with, you have the right strategies, tools and resources to conquer your marketing challenges.
Your marketing—just like your home or office, or even a project plan—starts at a foundational level: the blueprint. Before you select window dressings or the type of carpet, you first must think about and document the dimensions of the space…consider its size and contours.
This is where we’re going to start—with the blueprint.
What follows are three ways to stay ahead of your marketing, starting from the ground level, so you can focus on what you do best: grow your business and create amazing experiences for your clients.
Create A Concrete Foundation
I once knew a creative director who always said, “Skyscrapers are not built in the sand.” That has stuck with me ever since. You have brand aspirations and goals to reach. You have customers to serve and shareholders to whom to answer. It’s important to reassure all parties that your brand, your business and your marketing strategies are all aligned.
These stakeholders in your brand have to know that it isn’t built on quicksand, but, rather, is built on a foundation of concrete—one that’s ready to withstand even the deepest reverberations.
When we talk about your brand purpose or true north, what we’re really talking about are the foundational elements of your brand and its ability to navigate back to center when it gets off course. If you create a foundation like this, your marketing will become the gasoline fueling your very own eternal flame.
Invest In The Right Teams And Resources
It goes without saying that today’s marketing can be a many-headed beast. Even the smallest organizations have to invest in the right internal and external teams to perform at the highest level. And let’s face it: More often than not, the job requires multiple people, running at multiple speeds, trying to deliver multiple positive marketing touchpoints.
To do this right takes more than one person. It takes more than just an intern or somebody’s friend who can run social media. It takes coordination, the necessary time to experiment and a laser-like focus on the end goal.
Ultimately, your marketing organization might become something like a sports team. The CMO or Marketing Director serves in the role of coach, navigating personalities, cultures and skill sets, while also answering everyone’s favorite business questions concerning return on investment (ROI), the financials and how to save money. All those factors, taken together with the latest technological advances and toolsets to explore, can be genuinely overwhelming.
At times, marketers can feel like a hamster scrambling on a wheel. Want to know how to get off that wheel? Don’t be swayed by bright, shiny objects; instead, stay focused on the tasks that are going to help you achieve your marketing goals.
I recommend starting with your core conversion points. (These might be email subscription or contact forms on your website and social-media channels, or they might tie into your live-event strategy.) Then, you should figure out the basic combination of tools necessary to achieve success.
Because toolsets—essentially, your “marketing stack”—can be overwhelming in their own right, it’s important to spend time talking to these companies and ensuring they (a) are aligned with your brand vision and (b) add real value and not just vanity. Getting wrapped up in “that’s cool to have” is exactly where brands get into trouble.
If you put the right team in place, using the right stack, under the right leadership, while adhering to the right expectations, you’ll be well on your way to creating a dynasty like the Chicago Bulls of the ’90s.
Think Like A Disrupter; Act Like A Scientist
A few years back, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said, “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.” That might be a great technology quote, but it can be an even better marketing quote.
After all, in the end, it’s a straight-up, scrappy, startup-like “all hands on deck” mentality that works. This mindset—one in which you’re thinking like a disrupter and acting like a scientist—is necessary to have a successful marketing program that rewards you with sales and brand loyalty.
“Launch fast, fail fast, adapt faster” is what we often say when talking about a marketing process. The only way to learn what doesn’t work for your specific brand is to make mistakes, disrupt the status quo of what’s always been done and see what sticks when you throw it against the wall.
So, as we embark together on the third decade of the millennium, I pose a question that should fuel us all moving forward: How can your marketing be a tremendous asset that turns visitors into leads and turns clients into evangelists, rather than being a time-sucking, never-ending abyss that seems never to foster sales? A question for the ages….
Until next time, my friends.
“This post originally appeared in Sound & Communications Magazine 2020″.