Strategic Marketing

This week’s Pearl of Leadership Wisdom is on Strategic Marketing.

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the problem is I do not know which half.” – Lord Leverhulme (1851-1925) British founder of Unilever and philanthropist.

Wash your mouth out with soap…

Lord Leverhulme was correct, but today, his pain can usually be avoided.
I am sure that more than half of British small business people do not really know what marketing is.

Quickly! £950 on Inside Front Cover to win at Cheltenham, 33/1…

So many leaders view marketing as an expense; a flutter; a gamble; a punt. The four-colour ad in the inside front cover of Widget Monthly that yields no business. The trade shows. The brochures. The websites. The disappointment is endless.

Let’s get strategic…

Strategic marketing is about understanding your target market segment (TMS). Who you want to get into bed with. You may have more than one TMS. I have two. A TMS is defined as a group of organisations that buys in the same way. Simple as that. They have other characteristics but that’s the main one. They are interested in what you do, and can be turned on by a well crafted offer that meets their needs, and will pay you for it.
When you do this, you have a target.

Ready, aim, fire…

It’s all about defining the target. You cannot aim if you have no target.  Or if the target is so diffuse and ill-defined, you may well hit it, but seldom in the bull’s eye. Companies spend ages and lots of cash getting ready. They have the finest guns for the firing part. But they have no clear target, so cannot aim. Ready…fire…ready…fire! Dumb.

Strategic marketing is also about clearly stating your Value Proposition (VP) – what is the value you and your competitors bring? Sort out your value proposition – in thirty words or less (this is usually obvious).

Strategic marketing is also about your unique selling proposition (USP)…why should your prospect choose you over all the other guys? Sort out your USP – in thirty words or less (be bold, but tell the truth).

And next on our agenda is…

Put your hand up if you work in an organisation that doesn’t have marketing as a permanent item on your management team or board agenda?

I suspect most of you have your hands up. This is madness. Without strategic marketing you’re winking at a girl (or boy) in a club in the dark. There may be some girls or boys in the club who are interested in you…but it’s likely there’s a more target–rich environment somewhere else in a different club.

Here’s what to do…

Identify a customer you have who delivers about 80% of the value you have ever had from a customer. Not your absolute best customer….because there may not be so many of them. Choose one who is good…solidly good for you. They value you, they pay, and they are satisfied with what you provide not because they are uncritical but because you fit their needs. They buy from you repeatedly. You like them and they don’t treat you or your staff like dirt.

Write down as many characteristics as you can to describe this company – sector, location, how they buy, who does the buying, how important your product or service is to them, what they read, where they go, etc.

You now have a target market segment.

Not tonight darling…

Pursue your TMS with aggression. Have the courage to say “no” to those outside your TMS. They may be smiling at you but your true fit with them is sub-optimal and this will come out sooner or later, usually sooner.

Once you’ve cracked strategic marketing (which you can do at very little cost) it’s on to tactical marketing – how to get to your TMS with your crisp VP and clear USP.

That’s for next week when I’ll explain why in today’s market most companies can avoid Lord Leverhulme’s quandary and how you can measure your return-on-investment on all routes to market – cheaply and quickly, allowing you to stop doing what doesn’t work and do much more of what does.


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