ADOTAS – Movie critics are a tough bunch. They rarely, if ever, are impressed with “movie magic” such as computer-generated imagery and gee-whiz special effects. In their minds, if the script is weak, no amount of technical prowess will save the film.
So it is in the marketing world. Otherwise savvy executives are easily caught up in the “marketing magic” of social networks, online analytics, mobile services and the like. But without a strong plan for your brand in place, all the social campaigns, multi-dimensional database modeling, and mobile apps in the world won’t accomplish your marketing goals.
To build an effective marketing effort, you have to clearly establish your objectives and make sure each initiative successfully underpins the corporate goals. Here are some key questions you need to ask yourself about every program you undertake:
Is your marketing department operationally efficient? Too often marketing departments continue to operate in a model and structure that no longer serves the greater purpose of the organization. As your company grows and expands in new areas, so, too, should your marketing department. In many cases, this means a complete restructuring and an introduction of new skills sets where applicable.
Is your plan aligned to the business? It’s remarkable how often marketers initiate a campaign that doesn’t achieve their company’s broader business goals. The ultimate goal of marketing is to make money—yet all too often, marketing departments allocate a large fraction of their resources to business units that contribute only marginally to revenue. You need to have a direct correlation with expenditure and expected marketing return on investment (MROI). Your marketing dollars should be allocated and align directly to the expected revenue achieved.
Are your marketing messages clear? Does your brand position match your audience’s perceptions? Many companies settle for complex, off-target statements about who they are and what they do. Remember, customers rarely put as much thought into your brand as you do. Core messaging needs to be succinct and memorable. This is one arena where social media has upfront value, as a way to listen to your audience and learn what people think. You can ask questions and even test ideas to see which messages resonate best.
Do you have the right marketing mix? The digital era has added greatly to the array of marketing tools and media available. Now more than ever, it’s important that you choose the right tools for a particular program, and in the right proportions. Moreover, you should insist on quantifiable MROI for each marketing channel in which you invest. With a solid process and direct accountability among your team, MROI is achievable.
Will your plan actually generate revenue? Marketing tactics can produce incredible amounts of awareness and demand, but you need to make sure your leads turn into sales. Make sure your sales team has a well-defined program in place for lead processing, scoring and follow-up. Just as important, make sure the organization has bought into the plan, with personal responsibility established for follow-up.
Once these questions have been answered and your marketing plan is in place, you can move confidently to your execution phase. Sales promotions, social media, site analytics, measured media, analytics, blogs, newsletters, email campaigns and so on will all have their place. Accountability will be established and resource utilization will be maximized. Best of all, you’ll feel confident that you’ve put substance and meaning behind your “marketing magic”; and just like the best of Hollywood, you’ll significantly increase the chances that you have a marketplace winner on your hands.