The 7 Things Keeping You From Accelerated Sales Revenue Growth, Strategic Marketing Impact and Increased Marketing ROI
If you’ve been feeling anxious or frustrated because you know you’re sitting on untapped business potential, you’re certainly not alone. It’s not that most businesses wouldn’t relish greater leads, greater sales and greater market share. It’s not that most don’t want the whole world to know about the unique value in store for them. It’s that most would prefer a quick fix to what are often deep-seated, core communications issues that have often been left unaddressed for years. But you don’t want to be that guy or girl. You want to be the fearless company superhero who grabs the marketing bull by the, what else, the bullhorn!
When people genuinely want greater sales and greater success, then they are also ready to really dig in and get their hands dirty. Only then do they begin removing the roadblocks to increasing sales revenues, measurable marketing impact and sustainable marketing ROI.
So, What 7 Obstacles to Business Growth Do Companies Need to Overcome to Achieve Breakthrough Marketing Performance?
- Loss of focus & clarity: in order to get more out of your marketing, you need greater clarity and focus around 1) the definition and priority of the marketing function in the organization itself and 2) your points of target intersect and whether they are expressed in your core position and messages.
- Resource allocations & priorities: too often businesses, especially small businesses, claim they don’t have money left over for marketing. So long as every expenditure that came before was invested in customer creation, that may, in fact, be true. But what I see with astounding frequency is a long list of unrelated or purely tactical marketing expenses, with no investment into the core of the company – its fundamental ability to connect with the people who feed it.
- Increasing awareness and increasing interest: creating interest may not be easy, perhaps especially so in B2B marketing communications, but to connect better with your target audiences, you need to have something worth saying. To be more resonant, you need to be more relevant. Rarely does this happen without greater focus and clarity around your core messages. Genuine creativity can be an enormously valuable asset to the business, but you’ve got to become more familiar with the process, which includes its stewards. Know exactly how you’ve got to talk to it. Become friendly with it. It will love you back and fetch you sticks and stuff.
- Increasing understanding: surprisingly, many companies want their targets to have an understanding of their business value that actually exceeds their own. No. To increase others’ understanding, we must first take the time out to organize, clarify and distill so we can simplify both for ourselves and for those we need to persuade. Only by simplifying can we begin to make all those little marketplace light bulbs turn on.
- Increasing excitement: yes, creating excitement is about garnering attention, but did you know it’s more than a “retail” device for creating urgency? The style and creativity of your communications also help you cultivate a positive predisposition to working with and purchasing from you. Humor works exceptionally well at getting prospects to lose some of the armor and understandable marketing cynicism.
- Marketing and sales systems: tactics in isolation, short term thinking and ad hoc planning will never get you to enduring sales performance or long term, sustainable marketing ROI. Engineering the company to be a customer creator isn’t easy. Resist the urge for instant marketing and sales gratification. Think systems and structure. Be that wise third little pig who built in brick, critics, naysayers and peanut gallery, be damned. First, marketing strategy, messaging strategy and infrastructure. Then, marketing budgeting and planning. Then, briefing. Then, creative. Then, marketing.
- Recognize where there’s parity and, for gosh sakes, do something about it: businesses are reluctant to embrace creativity because it is, in fact, so difficult to manage. But strategy and creativity together are how you differentiate, often imbuing the entire company with elevated perceptions of value. The tighter your strategy, the more you can hold your creative deliverables, and the precious dollars behind them, accountable. From your company name to the design of your corporate identity, and from the tone and style of your website to the look and feel of your trade show display and marketing collateral, opportunities for greater differentiation are everywhere. Use them. The sea of sameness will pull you under, leaving you vulnerable to price concessions, wimpy marketing, market share drift or worse.
The 3 Paths You Can Follow To Increase Marketing Impact and Sharpen Your Marketing Strategy
When you are looking to increase the impact and efficiency of your marketing communications, and wish to do so strategically, you have three great options. While all three revolve around the same central questions – they each take a different route, with obviously increasing degrees of intensity, business-mindfulness, thoroughness and their capacity for increasing resonance, differentiation and long-term marketing performance.
The same central questions are always about honing in on your points of target intersect. Who we are, who they are and what is the available messaging space may seem like easy questions on the surface. But how deep you, your agency, your copywriter or your brand messaging specialist dive into these has everything to do with the results you get. The three different angles of attack include a small, medium and large option, depending upon the size of the difference you want to make in your marketing strategy and the rate of company growth you seek are:
SMALL >>> THE CREATIVE BRIEF
MEDIUM >>> THE POSITIONING BRIEF OR STRATEGY BRIEF
LARGE >>> BRAND BLUEPRINT OR BRANDING BRIEF
Up the ante on your business’ marketing
Here are more details on your 3 golden opportunities to increase marketing performance by clarifying and simplifying your marketing messages:
The creative brief
The creative brief sets the strike zone for “how to say it best,” by making sure the “it” of your assignment is precise, salient and executable. Who targets for this piece of communication are, where they are in their own minds or in the buying process (real communications, branding and marketing insight is psychological not just geographical), and what nobody else is saying are all ripe for review, reinvention and reorganization by a fresh brand development perspective. Naturally, all of this needs to be vexed and vetted prior to “rushing to execute,” a notoriously bad habit that bypasses marketing’s most virtuous and valuable service to you: how to better connect you with your audience.
The positioning brief
The positioning brief digs even deeper into the “what” of what to say, but it takes a company-wide approach. Here, we aren’t thinking about only one product or service and only one communications medium, but the platform for the entire company. In addition to a tightened and newly calibrated Unique Selling Proposition, your strategic positioning brief should make clear for all future creative assignments (company, service or product naming, tagline, logo, etc.) how who we exist for and the benefits we deliver are unique to us.
A brand blueprint or brand strategy document
Your brand strategy documentation or brand blueprint identifies a more robust brand position by spelling out the company’s core competitive differences, converting what you need to be saying into a “who” (who must the company be in order to better connect) and a “why” (what drives this one-of-a-kind marketplace personality.) At Articulated Brands, we deliver a personality matrix that defines a core attitude for the company and its 3-5 supporting pillars. We then contrast the proscribed brand with key competitors, seeking to ensure a differentiated brand and highlighting opportunities to widen the moat whenever possible. Your brand blueprint can also go a long way into informing the “how” of your communications in the form of an uber-brief that will govern all other forthcoming assignment-specific briefs.
The good news is you can begin to sharpen your marketing sword starting tomorrow.
In all of these initiatives, whether quick & breezy or studied & methodical, it is the ability to open up simultaneous areas of inquiry and to juggle a vast amount of variables (precious little is binary in the worlds of ideas and perceptions) in order to arrive at a set of more precise marching orders for your marketing dollars. After all, strategy is not a choice of outreach tactics, nor is it a simple statement of business purpose or marketing objectives. It is a carefully measured recipe – which ingredients at what quantities will yield the preferred mix of near and long-range gains? Tough choices, nuance, imagination and pragmatic business thoughtfulness: these are the hallmarks of legendary brand strategy.
The next 3 blog posts will be devoted to how you can get to greater focus, simplicity, impact and effectiveness in your brand messaging.
In the next 3 blog posts, we will sequentially discuss how to improve marketing results via: your creative brief, your positioning or strategy brief and the document that spells out your brand’s DNA – your brand blueprint or brand roadmap. The following 3 blog posts will go deeper into detail for each of the approaches and work scopes.