Don't let fun marketing toys kill your strategy

Good news: there are more marketing tactics to choose from than ever before, and they all have reach and power.

Bad news: see above.

Keeping our ear to the ground for business challenges and growth trends, we’re feeling the vibrations of a steadily expanding sinkhole of options. Businesses are excited about the blend of traditional and new marketing channels they can use to generate leads and boost brand awareness. They are investing more in video to create compelling content, in social media to engage with influencers, in email marketing to stay top of mind.

White papers. Press exposure. Search engine marketing. Speaking engagements. Advertising.  The proliferation of tools calls into question that all-important question: what exactly are we doing?

The answer is often “marketing for marketing’s sake.” Even with clear metrics available, we see companies that measure each channel for its individual effectiveness instead of as part of a whole.

A better way to make marketing work is to step back to strategy. The art of beginning with a goal, identifying the necessary elements to achieve it, and building the machine that can make it happen.

Ok, so I can’t claim that solution is any kind of breakthrough (although the Nobel Prize for Economics is probably relevant, here, right?). But it seems worth bringing to the fore, as the tapestry of tactics is unraveling more frequently than I can recall in recent years.

Here are some simple questions to ask yourself to keep it all together:

  • What’s your goal?

Why are you marketing to begin with? Growth? Customer retention? Recruitment? Paving the way for an exit? There are often multiple goals to consider, and there are different nuances for each of them.

Every endgame targets a slightly different audience, calls for a slightly different message, and is best achieved with a slightly different channel. To roll it out right, you have to know what success looks like.

And “I’ll know it when I see it” isn’t on the multiple choice list.

  • What’s your unique message?  

Don’t skimp here, and don’t start with the word “best.” Best customer service. Best product on the market. Best company ever.

There is no “best” in business, and it’s a death knell for marketing. Be real. Where is the value that supports your goal, and how do you translate it for the different audiences?

This is an interesting one, and it applies to marketing tools and the content that feeds them. It’s easy to overlook where one tactic overlaps another, and how one piece of content can (and should) be used across multiple channels.

When you have a coordinated machine running, you condense the process by using the same themes and language across a social media profile, a speaking engagement, an advertising campaign, and a public relations push. On the flip side, when you take them all in isolation you create more work with less return.

For the first time in many supermoons, it’s a growth market out there. There are a lot of green fields to explore, and it’s tempting to run in all directions at once. Ask the right questions and create a strategy that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.