Often, the need to quickly prove marketing ROI drives companies to focus on tactics before laying out a marketing communications strategy. As proponents for a strategic approach to marketing that ensures all tactics are working to achieve a common set of goals, we thought a new year was a great time to revisit the benefits of investing in a marketing strategy.
Building a common vision
As we’ve already eluded to, developing a marketing strategy helps to ensure everyone from the C-suite to the board of directors to the marketing and sales teams are working in concert to achieve a common set of goals. In the best of circumstances, these marketing goals are aligned with overall business goals.
Every company has bandwidth limitations, even with outsourced supports in place. A strategic marketing plan helps to identify the top marketing priorities – and audiences to reach – and builds a hierarchy to guide marketing efforts going forward. This allows companies to allocate resources to execute the initiatives that will generate the greatest ROI and have the biggest impact on the bottom line.
For companies with a broad range of products, services and target audiences, in particular, maintaining brand consistency can be a challenge. While it’s important to take an audience-centric approach to marketing and demonstrate a solid understanding of current and prospective clients’ wants and needs, there does need to be a level of consistency in place that lets people know they are working with one company that offers a number of services – not a number of different companies that each offer one service. A strategic marketing plan will address brand consistency across a number of areas – think messaging, logo(s), tagline(s), unique value proposition(s), imagery and other marketing assets.
Consistency applies not only to one’s brand, but to the frequency at which marketing initiatives are executed. This is critical to ensuring businesses stay on their clients’ and prospects’ radars, remaining top-of-mind when the time to buy arises. Investing in a marketing strategy allows companies to take a 360-degree approach to marketing, identifying when and how each audience will be communicated with and which campaigns will be used to break through the clutter and drive action among each audience. Now, speaking of campaigns…
Standing out from the competition
An effective marketing strategy takes into account what the competition is – and is not – doing to stand out from the crowd. This may come in the form of an audit, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, etc. Developing a marketing strategy allows companies to proactively work to ‘out market’ the competition as opposed to reactively employing tactics in response to what the competition has already done.
To effectively break through the clutter and stand out from the crowd, companies need to think not only strategically, but also creatively. Conceptualizing one or two creative campaigns that you can realistically execute is an important part of building a strategic marketing plan and enables you to find unique ways to build and strengthen relationships with client and prospects.
One of the most common questions we field from prospective clients is: how will we measure success? While the answer to this question is unique to every company and cause, a marketing plan clearly outlines the success metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators) against which marketing efforts will be measured. Moving forward, this both makes it easier to refine and recalibrate to ensure resources are being allocated to the marketing initiatives that generate the greatest ROI.
While developing a strategic marketing plan requires an investment of both time and resources, it is key to ensuring businesses are working to achieve measurable goals and able to effectively evaluate which marketing channels and initiatives are generating ROI.