Psst! Yeah, you: Wanna hear a secret? Most marketing strategies out there are fundamentally nothing new, yet they still work. I know! All this time, those marketing consultants have just been collecting money for old rope, and playing their clients for suckers!
Well, let’s hold on just a second – while there may be a few fundamental approaches to marketing strategy, there’s a definitely an art to figuring out which one to apply, and when. But that, dear reader, is a different topic for a different post. The here and now is concerned with the strategic building blocks with which I (and others like me) build your marketing cathedral. Time and again, I’ve seen each of these general approaches, applied at the right time and executed correctly – sometimes individually, and other times in combination – significantly help my clients reach their marketing goals. I share them with you now (sucker ):
Make an awesome product
“Wait a minute, that’s Operations’ job! It has nothing to do with marketing”. Wrong, just…wrong, man. In a crowded marketplace, product innovation makes you stand out, which coincidentally is what good marketing does – I submit that they are one and the same. That means when Operations Ian meets regularly with Marketing Michaela to make sweet cross-functional team love in the conference room, it often results in products that put a serious dent in reality.
Word of mouth has been a marketing tool since the dawn of Homo Sapiens, but today more than ever, customers have the power to promote the products they love to an audience orders of magnitude larger than they were ever able to before, so if your product is awesome enough, with just the slightest nudge, people will market it for you.
EXAMPLE: Basecamp by 37Signals
Fish where the fish are
From the outset, marketers have always followed customers. Then social media turned everything on its ear and allowed customers to follow and friend marketers. Nevertheless, this particular strategy has not had to change with the times – in order to make the most of your marketing dollars, make sure you’re establishing a presence among customers who are likely to convert. That’s why you don’t see tampon commercials on Spike TV, Budweiser billboards in Amish country, or Norton Antivirus promoted in Apple stores (ooh, burn!).
By shortening the distance between your message and your target audience, you’ll be spending your budget more efficiently, and reaching more potential customers. The trick is figuring out where your customers are…
Be good enough right now, not perfect eventually
Those of you who’ve been here a while know I keep repeating this, but I’ll say it again: we’re living in the age of “Good Enough’ – is it easy to use, is it available right now, and most importantly, will it get the job done? Examples of this newly-identified customer mentality are all around us, from the popularity of the Freemium business model, to the rise of the “Sweding” phenomenon. Gone are the days when perfection is a requisite – hell, some companies have been loyal Gmail users from the get-go, despite the fact that the application was in Beta-testing for over 5 years.
The same approach is key to your marketing efforts – speed and relevance will trump perfection almost every time. Get it out there, get it up and running, and add polish in version 2.0. Note that this isn’t a free pass for sloppy work – rather, don’t lose precious time agonizing over details that the majority either don’t notice or care about. In the words of the inimitable Seth Godin: “ship”.
EXAMPLE: The Flip video camera
Integrate your channels
Today’s media is splintered into thousands of tiny fragments, along with your customers’ attention spans. It’s no longer as simple as distinguishing between “online” and “offline”, and a single message in one lonely channel is often quickly forgotten. Marketing campaigns nowadays envelope their target audience – they need to see the TV spot, glance at the online banner, and comment on the YouTube parody videos before your message begins to sink in. This is why ad agencies today are clamoring for creative people who have the ability to translate their ideas across multiple channels effectively.
To get noticed, be present in multiple places at the same time, and get in front of the same individual multiple times in order to reap the most benefit from your efforts.
EXAMPLE: Old Spice Man campaign
Tell a story
Unless you’re executing a quick, short-lived promotion, planning for the evolution of your message will keep people interested for the campaign’s duration. This means: don’t blast out the exact same message over and over – they heard you the first time, meaning that with each duplication, you’re only being ignored.
The most successful, long-lived campaigns tell your business’ story – they hold back in the beginning, and release a steady stream of interesting, differentiated information that evolves over time, to keep people coming back and paying attention.
What other core marketing strategies do you see out there? Let me know what I missed in the comments, why don’tcha?