In the last years I have observed the way in which various companies and CEOs approach and relate to marketing and I have identified a series of behavior patterns specific, on the one side, to those performing in marketing and, on the other side, to those for whom marketing is not working with the aimed efficiency.
Let’s see them one by one:
- Allocated resources
When we talk about resources, we do not refer only to money, but also to time and people, together with the entire activity organization. I have been discussing with many entrepreneurs, but also with marketing professionals and I have tried to realize how much of their time is dedicated to marketing „thinking” and then to implementation. Most of the people complaining that marketing is not working are busy 90% of the time with all kinds of operational issues, with emergencies and „unforeseen” things, with other people asking them what to do and how it should be done, but they do not really reserve time and energy to organize the marketing activity, to understand clients and to check the assumptions they have on them. And when they do that, they do not really use in action what they do know about their clients and about what they need. Those who admit that marketing is growing their business are those who usually have a plan and a direction set and distribute resources constantly and in an organized manner.
- Consistency before creativity
The truth that is less comfortable is that marketing, before being about creativity, is about hard and constant work. Discipline, routine, endurance. Many people have extremely romanced perceptions about what marketing activity really means, which should be full of creative brainstormings and viral campaigns which over-satisfy and motivate us, but the truth is that in order to get to that level of creativity to serve the brand and business, maybe, it takes a lot of work, trials, alignments, recalibration and especially teams who know what they are doing. Results can be truly seen only when marketing becomes an enterprise with a continuous flow or, if you like, a resistance support with high average performance, not only from time to time. A continuous and consistent process in which all players are aligned and the debates have surpassed by far the assignment split phase (or worse, the mistakes distribution one!) and have reached a level of fine discussions about which creative interpretation better sustains the brand and delivers results to reach the objectives. And this requires experience and discipline, just like any high performance sport. And yes, it can be tiring, but also satisfying, when results start coming on and on, according to the effort.
- Implementation versus vision
A pretty frequent discrepancy, yet overlooked in our daily, crowded reality, sometimes appears between the vision of the entrepreneur (or of the management) and the actual implementation. The problem can be with the team but most of the times the reason is that a plan is missing, a translation of this vision into reality or even an incapacity of the entrepreneur or of the management team to explain it to others.
It is manifested in many ways and one would be when the marketing department or an agency executes various communication deliverables and the entrepreneur is unhappy and keeps asking for a redo, the process keeps aggravating, dissatisfactions aggregate, people are demotivated and so on. To change them is not a solution, yet what is needed is a good translation of a vision into implementation. In accurate marketing terms, vision should be transposed in positioning and brand platform and these must be correlated with the marketing objectives, and together they should lead to the direction of the execution (and if the terms seem too complicated for you, yet the above situation is not unknown to you, then you may just need professional help).
Another situation is when the entrepreneur or the management team dream ”to get a premium position”, to have a ”high-end” product, out of which to sell not necessarily large volumes, but rather less with a high profit margin, yet actually what they do is communicating non-stop discounts. Because they do not know anything else and because they did not assign the mental and energy resources in item 1 above. Or, even worse, because this is what competition does, though it is not really clear for anybody if what competition does is good or bad.
- “I am small, what can I do?”
Finding excuses seems to be a sport itself, in which those who do not stop from victimizing themselves excell, as compared to big players or international brands: ”I cannot fight with my budget against the big ones”. True, we cannot fight with the budget, yet we can fight as regards consistency and rationale. And especially, clarity and focus.
The real barrier here is the lack of confidence that the money spending will bring back something; because it has not happened yet, it is something hard to imagine, but if you do not try, you cannot succeed either and here it is – a beautiful blocking vicious circle. Still, for those who see themselves in a similar situation, we have a logical and simple point: a big company which assigns 3 million euro for one year to marketing, even if it is a small part out of some billions, it still has to approve a P&L document (profit & loss) and somebody still sees that 3 million amount as an expense. But if he/she decides to approve it as such, it means it really is worth it, right? No company, no matter how big, would assign 3 million euro if it were just a caprice. For those of you who have not worked in a structured manner with marketing budgets my advice would be apply a big to small rationale: according to the turnover you aim for, allocate a percentage as a marketing budget for the entire year, then split it by months and make a plan correlated to the objectives – marketing objectives, not the business ones, assuming they are defined (read more on marketing objectives, here). The positive paradox here is that when you have money to spend, you start to organize yourself better, so this also helps settling item 2 above.
- Measure the crop
And when finally the marketing machine has started, while we still oil its wheels, fuel it or train the drivers, it is also good to form another routine, without which all the others are useless, namely to have follow-up and evaluation. Test&try is a trendy formula which I would adjust to test&correct, provided that we do not hide beneath the experimental mood without planning and cascade the objectives in order to be able to really measure them. Because it is only like this that the conclusions of our ”tests” will really be relevant and next time we will know what to do for the better.
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