Marketing Strategy Reset
Strategy begins with asking the right questions. In marketing, these questions are about how to grow your flow of prospects and grow your sales.
Probably the two most common failed mindsets in which you encounter the phrase "marketing strategy" are:
- some mid level execs have been told to come up with some documentation: sorry, this is not where strategy is developed - it is about ideas before documentation, and the discussion has to be connected right to the top of the organization, otherwise your efforts are about persuasion and politics, not thinking big
- when people are actually talking about marketing tactics or current marketing activities, and this is not the right way either... because a strategy discussion starts at high altitude about what you are trying to achieve - the ends - and then descends to the means later... and the strategy remains independent of the tools and tactics
The idea of a "marketing strategy reset" is to clear out preconceived notions of how this discussion should go, and free up everyone's thinking to the right high altitude vantage point.
Rule 1 of all marketing is that the customer does not care about you, but rather about solving her problems right now. Based on this almost-sufficient-in-itself marketing principle, you can re-orient your strategy discussions so that you come up with useful, fresh ideas, instead of tired corporate cliches.
However hard we try to remain customer focused, daily business life naturally settles us back to a "we us our" viewpoint... A good marketing strategy discussion should be like a regular "out of body experience" ~ and if that freaks you out, so much the better.
Try the following 10 resets:
1. Not: What do we offer?
Instead: What do customers want from us?
2. Not: What's our USP?
Instead: That thing that customers want - why do they want to get it from us and not somewhere else?
3. Not: What should our brand and tagline say about us?
Instead: How will people recall our brand?
4. Not: SWOT analysis
Instead: What is the no.1 reason customers leave us, and the no.1 reason prospects don't convert in the first place, and what are we doing about that?
5. Not: How can we convert better?
Instead: What significant advantage is there for the customer to take action?
6. Not: What should our price position be?
Instead: How can we give more value to the customer?
7. Not: What is our typical customer profile?
Instead: How can we provide for a wide range of different customers without the conversation and provision causing confusion?
8. Not: How can we grow our audience?
Instead: What would it take for our customers to recommend us?
9. Not: How can we improve our brand reach?
Instead: How can we help a lot more people than currently?
10. Not: How can we motivate our staff?
Instead: What would our business have to look like for the motivation question to be redundant?
Moving from ideas to plans without compromising
The initial result of asking these questions should simply be to remove narrow boundaries of thinking, so you are freed up in a strategy conversation to think bigger and more optimistically. Inevitably this will lead to many ideas which are not practical, but follow the discussion through and try to identify the essence of the vision and aspirations that you agree about.
The second part of the discussion should be to refocus on what is currently achievable - doesn't mean you delete what you said you want to do and be, but you have to translate a strategy into an action plan, so you need to revise each idea down to something manageable.
Revising ideas into something currently achievable should still be done in the light of what your aspiration was from the original reset discussion. Don't revert to a we/us/our mindset just because you are now focused on realities of your current resources and people (or lack of). Keep in mind the reset effect of thinking about what you should be, and that you should be something great instead of something boring, crappy, or half-assed. The scope of your idea should be scaled down but not the quality and the ethic of it.
Applying the strategy reset to Digital Marketing
Here are some further questions to develop the general marketing strategy reset questions into discussions about what actual things you should be emphasising and building in your online marketing.
1. What do customers want from us?
What are our customers' actual frequently asked questions?
How can we frame our offering in terms of the customer's own way of describing her wants and needs?
How can we prioritize a navigation path based on matching a want/need to our solution?
How can we present our solution as a "person with solution" image?
2. That thing that customers want - why do they want to get it from us and not somewhere else?
What are our customers' alternatives - including doing nothing - and how are we overtly answering those tacit objections?
How are we helping customers who want detailed comparison?
How can we save time for people who don't want to do all the comparison?
How are we removing cruft from our offer?
How are we adding sweetener to our offer?
3. How will people recall our brand?
Visually, how memorable is our branding?
How do we support our branding with other associations?
Is our branding everywhere?
4. What is the no.1 reason customers leave us, and the no.1 reason prospects don't convert in the first place, and what are we doing about that?
How are we capturing and analyzing complaints?
Are we actually testing our conversion doctrines with real users?
How can we incentivize the silent 99% to tell us something?
5. What significant advantage is there for the customer to take action?
At what stages do we actually expect customers to take action?
What stick and carrot are we using to nudge people along?
What unnecessary conversion steps are we putting in the way of helping the customer?
6. How can we give more value to the customer?
What utility can we give online to the customer?
How can we move towards personalization and even AI in what our system does to help?
7. How can we provide for a wide range of different customers without the conversation and provision causing confusion?
What are customers seeing that is not relevant to them? How can we steer people off into focused areas?
What broadcasting are we doing that is one-size-fits all?
What are we doing to offer support that is non-generic?
8. What would it take for our customers to recommend us?
What actually have people recommended us for in the past? (and ask people who are close to it) and competitors?
Give coupons to your staff to give their friends, and elicit feedback about how they feel trusting their personal reputation to your brand.
What do customers stand to lose by recommending us?
9. How can we help a lot more people than currently?
What are we doing that is free?
What are we doing that can apply globally and asynchronously (one of the main points of digital marketing)
10. What would our business have to look like for the motivation question to be redundant?
In practical terms what is everyone in our office good at online? - Don't leave digital marketing to the job-titled marketers - since everyone uses a computer, they should be involved in some way - look at this as a matter of unlocking creativity.
Focus in particular on who in the team has a good understanding of customers (because she is one) and also who can provide value to customers based on their skills -- doing it online.
As with any strategy discussion, your initial conversation will range widely across things you can and cannot currently do. Keep a note about things you want to do but don't have the skills or resources to do: these are good ones to get a second opinion about, from experienced digital marketers or just a fresh pair of ears... get someone to suggest an easier version of the idea which gets you a step closer... or simply a recommendation of an expert who can solve it for you and at what price.
Finally, in digital marketing you have an endless research source and probably endless competitors! Conduct focused bouts of research in which you try to answer a specific question arising from your strategy discussions.
For example, when your strategy conversation fails to come up with a clear answer or definite tactical thing to try out, ask "how are others doing better at this?" and "what examples from other businesses [not necessarily competitors] can we screenshot that will show how this could look?" Researching good practices and smart ideas is a great assignment for team members who may not be confident or experienced enough to come up with a fast flow of suggestions in a strategy conversation. Again, the key is asking good questions. By asking specific research questions you can involve more of your team, more creatively, in your digital marketing strategy.
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