There is no end to the number of activities that can fill up the schedule of a marketing team. The team can become highly productive at producing online content, lead magnets, email campaigns, and social media posts. If you have a hard working team, they will likely produce these deliverables with excellence and on as regular an interval as you ask.
But at the end of the day, is all that hard work paying off? Is it affecting the bottom line?
Expert marketers know that the key to a highly effective marketing strategy is just that: strategy. Defining vision is a vital aspect of marketing, as a clear vision sets the course for everything else you do. So marketing leaders ask themselves and their organizations key questions, and then they fight for clarity on the answers to those questions.
In any organization, a drift away from clarity of vision is inevitable, leading to an inefficiency of energy that keeps your organization from being as effective as you would like it to be.
Here are three questions expert marketers will always come back to when defining their marketing vision.
1. What is our unique value-add?
What does your organization do? As simple a question as that seems, most business leaders and sometimes even marketers stumble when they try to answer it. Having a good answer isn’t an automatic—you have to cultivate it.
Your organization may provide a product or service similar to other organizations, but you also have something unique. There is something special and specific about what you have to offer. Spend some time with your marketing team, as well as your organization’s senior leaders if possible, to mine into exactly what that unique value-add is.
Distill your unique value proposition into a singular statement. If the statement is too long to reasonably fit on a business card, then you have too many words. In that brief statement, you should define the unique challenge or problem your organization addresses, how your product or service speaks to that issue, and what your customers can expect to result from using your product or service.
It will take time to define a unique value proposition if you have not already done much work to develop it. Be patient in spending time with your team to discuss how this statement should be crafted. Fight over every word. Then, once it is settled, have everyone on your marketing team memorize it.
Using that statement as a foundation, expert marketers build an entire strategy around it, expanding on and creatively communicating the same singular message across different media.
2. Who is our ideal customer?
Related to, and often dependent on, the previous question about your organization’s unique value add is the question of whom you are selling to. Who is your ideal customer? If you had an audience of one, who would that person be?
Spend time defining who exactly it is that your marketing team is targeting. Create a persona for this fictionalized person, giving them a name, a job, an educational background and defined income. Spell out their personal desires, frustrations, and goals. Make the description as personal as possible.
Defining the specific characteristics of this ideal customer will be a process, and their persona may need to be revised as you discover more about who it is that benefits most from your product or service. Nevertheless, when defining this person, start with who you already have—that is, your current customer base. Learn as much as you can about them, who they are, and why they use your organization’s product or service. You may also consider looking at similarly situated organizations, paying close attention to how they speak to their target audience and gaining insights from what you observe.
Once that ideal customer persona is defined, create marketing messages that will uniquely appeal to that individual. Always have them at the forefront of your mind when creating content, whether it be a social media post, email campaign, or lead magnet.
(Learn more about how to define your target audience here.)
3. What are our most important metrics?
In a world where it’s possible to track an endless number of metrics, it is important for your marketing team to focus not simply on everything that you can measure, but defining specifically what you should measure. Define success for your marketing team in a very specific way, otherwise you will find yourself drowning in a sea of information.
Knowledge is power, but an overload of information is a paralytic.
Once you have defined the vital, yet limited number of things your marketing team should track and measure, put them into an easy to understand dashboard that the marketing team and organizational senior leadership can go back to for reference. Measure the successfulness of your strategies against it, always being willing to shift in your strategy in response to a theory about why the numbers aren’t where you would like them to be.
Furthermore, whether the metrics you follow include things like number of leads and sales to evaluate the effectiveness of your lead generation activities, or metrics such as social media engagement to evaluate brand awareness, these numbers are meant to help you track the effectiveness of your overall strategy, not your team members.
Your marketing strategy should be developed as a team and owned as a team. As your team members execute that strategy, the measurables that should define their performance as an employee should be the things that they can control, that is, making their unique contribution to the overall success of the strategy with as much excellence as possible.
And that’s because expert marketers know that their most important resource is their people, and so they do not put them in unnecessarily high stakes situations. This squashes innovation and experimentation. Instead, expert marketers empower their teams to try new things, execute them with excellence, and pull back in favor of something else if those strategies don’t yield the necessary results.