The mistake planners make with marketing

Anthony O'Brien


August 4, 2017

There’s a misconception among some business owners that a series of advertisements, Facebook posts or videos represents a marketing strategy.

These are marketing communications activities and don’t constitute a marketing strategy, which is focused on clients. Your marketing strategy should rule how your advice services are served up to your clients – and when. The strategy should outline how your customers are likely to interact with your offerings, and what happens after they’ve consumed your services.

It’s amazing still to this day how many businesses confuse activity with success. In other words, those businesses that spend vast amounts of marketing dollars on pumping out a plethora of campaigns, collateral, social media posts and so on. Yet this activity never seems to generate an outcome, apart from maybe a bit of brand awareness – but a relative humble ROI in terms of leads, sales and profits. But that said, there is still a school of thought that perhaps some activity is better than nothing.

Activity isn’t the enemy

I’d love to be able to say that a marketing-activity based approach never works.

In fact, some activity in the right conditions can achieve some outcomes, especially if you’re operating in a market with few natural competitors or have a product or service that is vastly ahead of the pack.  But in today’s ultra competitive environment where there’s very few greenfield markets and margin pressures everywhere, this kind of nirvana isn’t a reality for the vast majority of businesses.

So, to be brutal: if you take an approach that’s built on activity alone, then you’re probably not going to see the results you’re seeking. Truth be told, you’ll probably burn a lot of money for little or no return.

Strategy is the winner every time

As the great British WW2 leader Winston Churchill once said: “Plans are of little importance but planning is essential.” I’m still amazed at the fact that many businesses don’t invest time in looking at their market and clients.

The simple practice of looking strategically at your business will pay dividends. I’m a strong advocate of looking at performance at least quarterly, if not more regularly. The best businesses we work with are those that have a strong grip on their strategic direction. They know their clients, their key traits and have a good understanding of their market and what’s heading over the horizon.

It’s not by dumb luck that these businesses have some grip on the future. These enterprises plan regularly and adhere to a solid strategy. Sure, they may tweak it regularly, but they have a strong understanding of what they want their business to be and what they can do for their customers. Those that struggle, usually don’t plan and tend to fly by the seat of their pants.

Invest the time

Ultimately as business owners we have a choice about how we invest our time. The day-to-day business takes hold and we just get on with doing ‘things’. That attitude then permeates through the rest of business.

If I can leave you with one thought, it would be that activity for the sake of activity is ill-advised Put the time into a solid marketing plan that is client-focused and utilises market knowledge and research. Take a strategy-first approach to market, and I promise you’ll see results.

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