Tag Archives: marketing strategy

Looking for the magic bullet…

16 Apr

Are you looking for the magic bullet? The one solution to your marketing problems? Well, I can’t help you. That’s right–I can’t help you find the magic bullet because there is no  magic bullet!

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A while back I had a client who was trying to re-grow his dwindling business. So he launched a social responsibility program. And when that failed to work as planned, he tried a new product and used postcards to sell it. And then that didn’t work, so he tried doing do-good projects and used press releases to promote them. And then that didn’t quite work either. You know why? Because all of these are tactics and there was no overall strategy or vision. One tactic, whatever it may be, will not result in sustained and increased sales.

When I was in grad school, we learned all about a new concept at the time: Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). The concept was that your marketing efforts should integrate various tools, such as advertising, public relations, sponsorships, other one umbrella. I have always believed in this view.

Today, people seem to believe that the magic bullet is social media. Build a Facebook Fan Page and you will get clients! Be on Twitter and you will get clients! Write a blog and you will get clients! No, no, no!!! You certainly should consider social media, but one or all of these tools will not guarantee marketing success, especially if you are pursuing each of them haphazardly without an overarching strategy.

There really is no magic bullet. Marketing communications is about strategy and also about trial and error. Some things will work better than others. Something close to a magic bullet may be measurement. If you measure success, you will find out what works best for you. If you don’t measure, how will you know your impact?

Have you been looking for a magic bullet? What have you found?

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Strategy vs. Tactics

25 Aug

I came across this blog post from copywriter Tim Brunelle regarding tired tactics, and how sometimes strategy is ignored. That got me thinking about the topic. Usually each piece of marketing material is a tactic: the brochure, the press release, even the website. Hopefully, each piece is guided by a strategy.

If you are launching a marketing campaign, it should never start with “we’ll run an ad.” It should start with figuring out who you want to reach, where those people are located and what you want them to do with the information you want to share with them.

A few months ago, a potential client contacted me. He wanted me to write copy for an ad. He was about to open up a new business and wanted to promote it. My first thought was “wait a second, what?.” I asked him who his target audience was. He told me. I asked him where this ad would run. He told me he thought it should run in one of those free newspapers so common on the subway. I asked why. His reasoning was lots of people read that (true) and the cost is relatively low (true). But what this guy was missing completely was a strategy, a vision, a long term plan. Sure, running a “cheap” ad in a mass publication could promote your business. But spending a few dollars here and few dollars there does not further your purpose and it certainly does not strengthen your brand. In fact, you have to think about the larger picture to create a brand personality and make sure that you are not hurting yourself with some misplaced tactics.

People are sold tactics by ad sales reps because those reps are there to sell advertising now and not to tell you how to create a brand image for yourself. Many times, small businesses fall into this trap. The local paper will call and tell them they are running a special and so forth. It sounds reasonable. And boom, a tactic is launched which may or may not have something to do with your larger strategy.

Save yourself some marketing dollars and think of each tactic as a piece of the marketing strategy puzzle. Instead of blindly following some promotion because it is inexpensive, figure out whether that furthers your overall goals.

On doing things piecemeal

26 Mar

Are you a small business with a tight marketing budget?

If you are, you probably have fallen prey to the idea that you should do (marketing)  things as you can afford them. You know, an ad here, a brochure there. Budget-wise, this may make sense. After all, you can’t afford a large campaign, or an ad agency. Branding-wise, not so much. It’s tough to build up an image on unconnected pieces of the puzzle. The missing link is the connection, or the reason, behind each piece.

Think strategically

In business, there is strategy and there are tactics. Often companies fall into tactics without thinking about the strategy.  Many people can’t tell the difference. Here’s a quick example:  sending a press release is a tactic, achiving positive publicity is a strategy.  Ideally, tactics should follow your strategy.

You must know what you want to accomplish so that you can figure the steps to make it happen.

Often, small business owners are overwhelmed with trying to do everything: managing staff, invoicing, doing the books, buying inventory, negotiating. Marketing may be a distant thought, something to do when there is down time. This is unfortunate because marketing will bring business in. Neglecting your marketing will result in a business downturn, for sure.

Develop a  basic marketing plan

The easiest thing to do is to devote some time to thinking about what you want to accomplish. Perhaps you want more female customers, or larger organizations. Write these goals down. Figure out who your current customers are. Figure out how much budget you can afford to devote to marketing. See what you already have and what you need.

Here are some elements of a marketing plan:

  • Current situation/Situation analysis
  • Goals
  • Target audience
  • Budget
  • Tactics for reaching target audience (and this is where your ads, brochures, press releases fit in)

Remember, doing marketing piecemeal will only result in getting small chunks of  your target audience.

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