The desire to hit the ground running can often push investing in strategy aside. As businesses work to meet deadlines for launching new products and services, and nonprofits are tasked with achieving aggressive fundraising goals, the idea of stopping to reflect and recalibrate can seem like time wasted – at the surface, that is. Whether you are a startup or a well-established business that is scaling in one or more markets, it is critical to have a roadmap in place for ensuring consistent communications with stakeholders and benchmarks against which to measure your success. This is merely the beginning of a long list that reinforces why it is imperative for business and nonprofits to invest in a marketing strategy.
A strategic approach is a consistent approach
Consistency encompasses everything from messaging and imagery to the channel and frequency of communications. A consistent approach ensures audiences keep your company or cause top-of-mind and allows them to move from awareness to consideration – i.e. down the sales funnel.
A marketing strategy helps align the “who you are” with the “what you do”
Not all business names are intuitive. Knowing a company’s names does not necessarily mean that people know what the business does, who their clients are or how they may be of help to them in their own business lives. A marketing strategy helps to align these two key components of marketing and messaging to foster a deeper understanding of one’s business among target audiences.
Marketing strategies help prevent companies from reinventing the wheel
Let’s pretend you don’t have a marketing strategy in place. You decide to launch a creative campaign for the second quarter to launch a new product or service. You cobble together some marketing emails, post a handful of social media updates and add a new page to your website. The campaign wraps up and you aren’t sure what drove sales – was it marketing, was it word-of-mouth, was it simply the sales team upselling existing customers, and so on. You decide you also want to do another marketing campaign for another product, but you don’t really have any data from this campaign to inform your approach.
This scenario is all too common for businesses and one that unnecessarily drains resources. It also impedes productivity, because there aren’t other, planned marketing activities going on in the background while you are planning for the next one-off campaign. Simply put, strategies make dollars and sense.
Strategies include plans for outsmarting the competition
When building a marketing strategy, companies will often conduct a competitive analysis to assess what others businesses in their space are doing to sell their products and services. This data is invaluable as it identifies opportunities, clearly defines threats and, most importantly, helps to manage expectations for what types of marketing gains you may be able to achieve given timely environmental factors. Without a strategy, businesses often find themselves in a reactive state responding to competitors’ marketing activities on an ad hoc basis. This can be not only confusing to clients and prospects, given the constantly shifting focus, but lead to higher marketing expenses. (Yes, the economies of scale apply to marketing, too. When you buy more, you save.)
While developing a marketing strategy requires organizations to dig deep to understand what makes them unique, where their barriers lie and what resources they truly have to achieve market domination, it is an exercise that increases clarity, improves consistency and creates a mechanism for maximizing marketing ROI.