Marketing Strategy, from idea to action
Too many times I have sat at the dinner table with my family and friends, and they have outright said to me that they know I “do” marketing, but that they really do not understand what it is that I actually “do.” So, this is the perfect time for me to explain this, write it down once and for all, so that the next time I get those confused stares coming back at me over main course, I can just direct them to this page.
So here goes, let us talk about marketing and the strategy thereof.
Let’s start at the beginning, the Idea
Marketing always begins with an idea. A rather trivial thought is it not. Many things in life begin with an idea. New inventions, surprise birthday parties, pizza topping combinations, bestseller novels and much, much more. So, what makes it so special when marketing begins with an idea, and where does that fit into the strategy of it all. Here is my stab at explaining it in its absolute simplest form:
“A creative thought sparks an idea. But when that idea transpires into a creative campaign, delivered to a targeted audience, at the right place, saying the right thing at the right time, influencing them to take a specific action, this is strategic marketing.”
Plan, plan and plan some more.
By the time a team comes together to shoot a commercial, or record a radio segment, countless hours have been spent not only conceptualizing the campaign, but outlining in a clear way, exactly who the customers are, where they are, their likes and their dislikes, right to the product and which need will it satisfy in this target audience, how much are they willing to pay, and how many do we need to sell to make all of this work count for something.
Rather than just shooting from the hip and putting something “out there” and hoping for the best, especially in today’s complex media landscape, time and effort is required to come up with an idea that will bring return, show success, get those phones to ring, feet into stores, online shopping carts full etc.
By the time you hit that “send” button to activate a campaign, an anticipated response is already
outlined. Of course, one can never quite plan for every outcome, however, with the amount of data
floating around in the ethos for marketers to tap into, an educated estimate is far more certain today,
than several decades ago, in B.C era (before computers!)
Scene 1, take 1 and action!
I am a firm believer, that by the time we get to the actionable part of marketing, and all the scenes from all the takes have been well knitted together, the strategy needs to be revisited time and time again. Some of the questions that need to be asked, repeatedly, as creative work is being created are:
“Are we conveying the message as we outlined in our marketing strategy?”
“Is this message truly talking to the target market as outlined in our marketing strategy?”
“Is my message just as we outlined it in the marketing strategy?”
I equate it to one of those old school roadmap books. Believe it or not, there was a time before Google maps when navigation was driven from a book. A big heavy book, the kind where you would need to reference the towns and streets in the back, and then find the right page and quadrant in the book to locate where it is you are trying to go. The point is, sometimes marketing strategies are not “sexy” or “exciting”, but they are a necessity.
If you do not know which direction to drive the ship, then how are you going to know where to place the crew or which sails to hoist. I know, another ridiculous analogy, but a marketing strategy will prevent you from sailing round and round in circles, it can even prevent you from sinking. Be clear on the business objectives, and then align the marketing strategy to help get you there, the proverbial wind in your sails.
OK, I am going to stop with the analogies, but not before I sign out with one more:
The marketing strategy is the roadmap, the atlas, the very guide to where we are going and how we are going to get there. We may get lost from time to time, but we always need to make sure we get back on track.