4 ways to create the space for important marketing
Inspired by a recent article on Marketing Week which disappointingly didn’t really conclude with any real advice I felt it necessary to share an approach to solving this common issue. We spend a lot of time as a set of consultants in the agency helping create strategies to help clients build a competitive advantage, a lot of which require time, money and resources not necessarily focussed on sales today. I remember from my time client side how the juggling works and it is tough, but it also makes it exciting. You have to hit the numbers but you also have to make sure you are competitive enough in 12months time to still be in business! Any mature marketer should always be working across the two disciplines. It is very easy to get sucked into hyper tactical daily tweaks and by the time you look up the whole industry / market has moved on. Here’s my four tips on how to manage the two.
1 – Get clear on short term tactics
For most business short term sales comes down to two things from a channel perspective. Paid media or reactivation. Paid media doesn’t typically scale well but you can tweak your spend and optimise. It will have an “immediate” impact of varying sizes. Assuming you have your systems in order your fastest and cheapest way to sales is always past customers. That assumes you can segment well and prepare relevant communications for each segment.
Smart short term impact initiatives would be led by product (this is industry specific), if you can create limited edition products or new products entirely this gives all your marketing initiatives something to anchor around and “New” always creates a spike in sales.
Define the tactics, the resources & the checklist, the more you can operationalise the more you can utilise cheaper resources to do it and apply other resources to the thinking about what’s next.
2 – Manage yourself
Change always starts with you, the marketer, the leader, the self-starter. To change how a company thinks or how your manager thinks in terms of sales versus building for the future first you have to change how you communicate, what you communicate about and also how you behave. Getting this right in your business is the difference between leading the way and growing or constantly chasing your tail. You have to be brave, there is no way all the effort going into short term sales is effective, you need to be brave with your resources, days and weeks. If you don’t make the time for it, one of your competitors will and you will have only delayed the inevitable.
Some tips on how to get smarter with your time / resources:
- Get data / insights embedded into your daily / weekly culture. This will mean you make the right decisions, you can manage upwards and prioritise. Not only that but you should get better at predicting results by living the numbers. Suddenly you can effectively manage time on other projects. It’s too easy to do this nowadays! #noexcuses
- Integrate time each week into everyone’s diary to be working on the long term project. Leave each person figure how they manage their time, if they can’t do that should they even be in the team! If it’s forced, steps will be taken, momentum will build.
- Being busy makes everyone feel useful… People believe they can’t get fired if they are working “hard”. We need people working smart though, so consider implementing a simple scoring system to allow people to understand if something is worth doing or not. Ones I have used in the past would be a table structured as per the bullets below. If the score was 25 or below it is off the list.
- Opportunity name
- Size of expected impact (1-10)
- Resource requirements (1-10)
- Time to feel impact (1-10)
- Ability to track the impact (1-10)
- Confidence level (1-10)
- Score (add up all 5 metrics)
3 – Be clear on your strategy & bring the business along
Upfront work on the strategy associated to the marketing of your business is crucial to give the competing plans (short / long) context. This will help you take what could be a million things to a select few (the purpose of a strategy). Completing the strategy will mean you also know what time and budget you are willing to invest where and create specific briefs for any external partners you want. At the core of a good strategy is very specific goals which is the crucial part to allowing you to run day to day marketing and long term projects too. If you have a sound strategy and goals you can also introduce other team members into the solution meaning you are spreading the workload while keeping it on-point. More often than not you will need data/insights, product development and brand teams involved for example.
An example summary strategy might be something like “Increase customer LTV from x to y by creating a new online service relevant to our customers & brand”. It marks the pitch as my colleague, Andrew Campbell (MarTech Director) would say but also gives enough clarity to people and partners to provide relevant ideas and move things forwards you. A strategy a long way away from optimising your pay per click account!
4 – Make future projects small and scaleable, that way they don’t overwhelm
Long term projects tend to be BIG. Which is ace and they should be, but they can always start small. Most people immediately dismiss good ideas as they can’t easily see how they could start that. We recommend spending the time getting really clear on the vision of the longer term idea / change and the metrics it would influence. Once that is done, it’s time to figure how you can test and prototype the concept. This is the most exciting bit, as it means in a matter of weeks you can start to see tings coming to life
We utilise the most basic of shapes to illustrate this concept and we call the competitive advantage wedge. Or just “The Wedge” as it does have multiple uses.
If you start small and it’s a good idea, guess what… You will impact the short term! Win-win. Chunking down a project in this way means you can be nimble and test / trial many of your bigger / longer term ideas, which means they suddenly are not as scary as they were and the small steps will quickly compound into big changes.