You certainly don’t have to look far to find advice. With the rapid deployment of content and the ever-present opinions on social media, one would think that developing a winning marketing strategy and architecting the perfect brand would be as easy as downloading a template and filling in the blanks. Therein lays the problem. With such a vast array of e-books, white papers, blogs, articles, how-to videos, websites, etc., now readily available (for free!), it has become next to impossible to navigate the sea of content chaos. For those who pride themselves as marketing experts, this plethora of information sharing can be viewed as an invaluable asset for idea generation, inspiration and tactical execution. However, for the small company with minimal marketing savvy or the mid-tier company with a limited marketing budget, how can they be expected to hear the voice of reason amidst all the noise created by such an avalanche of advice? If direct mail is here to stay, e-mail marketing is of utmost importance, content is king, digital marketing trumps traditional methods, outbound marketing is dead, data rules, click-through and bounce rates are guiding lights, SEO this, ROI that and blah, blah, blah, AVALANCHE!
When we become overwhelmed in life, the first recommendation is to step back, take a break and BREATHE. It has become very difficult to ‘breathe’ when trying to market business effectively. Just when you think you’ve got it all sorted out, you hear about the impending doom of new search engine algorithms or discussions which suggest that only those with heavy investment into expensive ROI measurement technology will be the leaders in the new world of marketing mavens. BUT, marketing shouldn’t be stressful. In fact, it should be the enjoyable and ‘sexy’ part of the business- the place where you can get creative, speak your mind and allow your brand to develop both internally and in the eyes of your consumer. So when the noise gets too loud or you find yourself up to your ears in snow from a metaphorical avalanche of ‘advice’, recalling the following thoughts may help to act as the headphones you need to drown out the unnecessary marketing posturing:
Now actually do it- have you ever seen a yoga instructor who doesn’t look at peace with her/himself? As in life, taking time to breathe and to stop and smell the roses is an imperative part of marketing and a lesson not found in any text. When you take time to reflect (at where you’ve come, where you are and where you want to go), you’ll be surprised by how quickly the creative juices start to flow and, even more so, how easy marketing can be if you don’t try too hard. Good marketing comes from quality thinking and being confident in the identity of your company- it doesn’t come from hours of aimless activity and ‘trend-spending’. Take some time periodically (monthly, quarterly) to do a check-up on your marketing activities: do they still align with your strategy? Are you committing too many resources to keep up with the current trends? Is your budget being used effectively? Do you actually have a marketing calendar that dictates implementation? Is your marketing mix more of a lop-sided marketing mush?
2. we are not smarter than Porter or Ansoff
As the old adage states (attributed to Mark Twain), “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
We are not smarter than our marketing predecessors and innovative companies alike. Furthermore, the best and most compelling marketing strategies are borne from the realization that these aforementioned predecessors knew their stuff and knew it well- so who are we to ignore such success and ingenuity? Often times the most compelling creation is based upon a mere adaptation or enhancement to a pre-existing, stellar method, practice or concept. In other words, in the midst of marketing noise, never forget to recall the most fundamental theories of marketing strategy. How are they relevant to your strategy today? Is there anything from these basic theories which may be used effectively to complement your existing roadmap? Which companies do you find influential and how can you adapt what they do to appeal to your client base? Brush up on the pillar marketing strategy theories- you may be surprised to learn that the answer to increasing demand has always been available- you’re just now mature enough to recognize the significance of its wisdom.
3. there will never be a silver bullet
Simply stated. Much of the noise of marketing ‘how-to’ comes from those who claim to have unlocked the powers of marketing prophecy. No matter how compelling a specific marketing tactic may seem at any given time (i.e. Instagram, YouTube, etc.), it- in and of itself- is insufficient without the complement of other marketing tactics working together to weave the fabric of a bonafide marketing strategy. So be sure to allocate your budget and spending accordingly- you don’t need to do everything but be sure you’re not putting all your marketing eggs (time, money) into one basket.
4. know your brand AND your budget
Amidst the noise and influence from your biggest rivals or the latest and greatest consumer trends, one can easily become caught up in the novelty of all things LOUD. Stay true to your brand and to your company mission statement. Make no mistake- building a brand is hard work. Every time another company moves in and garners more attention, it is difficult to stand your ground, keep your nose down and forge ahead with a strategy which seems to be second, at best, to the latest ‘must have’. Always remember: if you wade in the waters of an unstable brand with a capricious approach to strategy, you will find that chasing rainbows is a costly venture and a drain on time, money, resources and reputation.
5. ask for help: IT’S OK.
When it comes to marketing, companies very rarely ask for help (particularly B2B). Sure, they may approach an ad agency to help them with their latest commercial or approach a graphic designer to help develop a new web page but when it comes to marketing strategy, companies often feel that hiring help is an admission of internal failure. Strategy is near and dear to all companies- it encompasses everything from mission creation to revenue generation. To ask for help with such aspects would be the same as a professional superstar asking for a coach or for world class musicians asking for a conductor. In other words, GET OVER IT- it happens in every industry and it makes music out of noise. If you feel that help can streamline your marketing activity, boost your sales, bring clarity to your brand messaging and even save you money- ask for it, accept it and be merry.