5 telltale signs you’ve forgotten your business marketing strategy

5 telltale signs you've forgotten your business marketing strategy

There are cycles to every aspect of business. One moment, it’s popular to outsource aspects of your business, and then the next, it’s all about in-housing. One moment, it’s all about social media, the next, it’s video. A few years ago, email marketing was experiencing a new renaissance, now influencers are the poster child.

We are always rushing towards the next, new thing.

Many marketers certainly suffer from the shiny object syndrome. In fact, a few years ago, when I was running a startup, I realised that I was living in the heart of the shiny object beast —ceaselessly flipping from one idea, technology or tactic to the next, faster than I could draw breath. Each week, sometimes each day, I’d have new concepts to test, approaches to try or data to solve a problem. I was running faster and faster — as were the team — and we’d find ourselves only marginally ahead of where we started from. We had hidden a marketing treadmill that was spinning just a little faster than our legs could carry us which meant that we were progressing but not fast enough for the effort.

As Tom Fishburne suggests,

We sometimes get so enamoured by the shiny new thing that we forget the fundamentals that the business goals come first.

We had forgotten to strategise successfully.

5 telltale signs that you’ve forgotten your business marketing strategy

So when you are living in the heart of the beast, how do you break free of the noise and reflect on the real challenge? The answer is marketing strategy. But when you are on the inside, a mess of tangled tactics can easily be seen as marketing strategy.

Here are things to look out for in your own approaches:

  1. Who’s it for?

    No matter whether you are building a new product or service, creating a single email or crafting a campaign, if you don’t have a singular focus on who the audience is for your efforts, you’re wasting them.

    It doesn’t matter whether you are brainstorming or about to sign off on a media launch, make sure you really understand what you are doing for your customers or stakeholders and can explain to the people who are paying your bills.

  2. Improving the improvement

    So you’ve been introduced to something funky, some technology or a new approach. Maybe it’s a big data platform or an analytics package that reveals previously hidden information. Yay! But you’ll know you are in trouble if you have an overwhelming desire to tinker with the latest improvement rather than testing it out for real. The vital time you spend tweaking will keep you away from connecting your product/service with your customers who want/need/are willing to pay for it.

  3. The silver bullet technology platform

    We’ve all been offered one of these right? These also come in cycles — programmatic, data-driven, creative, influencer-led, socially connected — we can rinse and repeat, swap out the buzz words, but any technology is going to come up empty without the right marketing strategy. And without the right strategy, it’s easy to fall for the silver bullet approach that promises strategy by default. Don’t believe it. There is no silver bullet. You still need to do the hard work. Go back to “who’s it for” and start again.

  4. Dreaming in data

    I love data. It has helped me discover amazing insights and deliver surprising results. But even if you dream in data, you need to live in the real world. And for the modern marketer, the real world is only partly data, which means that like everything else, it needs to be bent towards your goals. Does the data that you rely upon measure the right thing? Does it give you direction and insight, or are you a slave to the reports you create and the changes you make? Don’t let data distract you from your strategy and the task at hand.

  5. A seat at the table

    As marketers, we have long craved a “seat at the table” — a chance to make the big decisions about our businesses. But that seat requires a substantial commitment to budgets, targets and to achieving both. Accordingly, the goals that we set must be not only measurable but achievable. They must connect and support the wider goals of the organisation. And we must be accountable for their achievement.

    Understanding how marketing goals support, connect and accelerate the goals of other organisational units is essential. If you don’t have alignment, you don’t have a marketing strategy. You have tactics.

So what can you do if you find yourself adrift in a sea of tactics? Go back to basics. Start with “who’s it for?” and proceed from there.


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