As a business leader, it is important you have a good understanding of all aspects of your business. And as one of the most significant aspects of your business, knowledge of marketing is vital. If you’re one of those businesses that has thus far made it through on blind luck, know that this won’t last forever. If you don’t have a clear cut strategy in place for how you want to communicate your brand, how new consumers are going to find out about your offering, and how to tackle new technologies like social media, you will quickly find your market share, and your success dwindling.
How can you improve your business marketing?
Have you heard the term ‘integrated strategy’ in the past, and brushed over it simply because you didn’t know what it meant? Well these two little words could mean make or break for your business’s future success. Many small or start up businesses consider marketing to be a number of small activities, generally unrelated, that help to promote the business. And while this may be marketing, it is not necessarily effective marketing.
Truly effective marketing is integrated. It uses a range of methods and media to promote and reinforce the same message, so your brand not only becomes better known by more potential consumers, but also becomes synonymous with the attributes you have chosen. Integrated marketing, means taking all those ad hoc marketing activities and putting them together in a planned strategy, to produce continuous activities with a constant, clear and concise message.
Five steps to starting your integrated plan:
1. Define your brand
Before you get started, you need to work out who you are, what you represent, what you have on offer – you need to define your brand from the inside and out. As a business, your brand is not just your logo and how your marketing material looks, it is the reputation that precedes you – not just the ‘look’, but the ‘feel’. What do you want your brand to feel like and how do you want people to feel about it?
2. Establish your vision – what you want to become
Your vision is basically your big goal for what you want your business to become and to achieve. Without a vision, it is incredibly difficult to plan a path to success – because what defines ‘reaching success’? Decide where you want to go and what you envision becoming, so you have a solid path to guide you.
3. Identify your objectives – what are the milestone steps on the way to achieving your vision?
While achieving your vision may be your overarching objective, as part of your marketing strategy you also have to break it down and identify specific objectives that are measurable and achievable. This will ultimately lead to achieving your vision. As an example, your vision may be to become the number one business in your field: one objective for your strategy this year could be to make the top three in your field in terms of financial results, and to win an award for best employer, so you’re covering a few different aspects of getting to ‘number one’.
4. Marry up your tactics – clear, concise, consistent
Your tactics are the activities you are actually undertaking to achieve your objectives and ‘market’ your business. Be realistic, don’t jot down a hundred ideas and hope to achieve some of them. Break up your approach into various different types of marketing, for example, direct marketing, collateral like business cards, digital marketing and print advertising, and then fill in one activity under each. Make sure they compliment each other to reinforce one strong message.
And there you have it! You are well on your way to your first real integrated marketing strategy.
Note from the Editor: This was a guest post.