5 steps to recharge your marketing strategy.
Ben Fung, PT, DPT, MBA*
Marketing is a world filled with words like timing, precision, intent, purpose, metrics, outcomes, sales, profits, growth, sustainability, hacks, strategies, tactics, methods, segments, striation, analysis, data, social, end user, consumer-facing, and many times, luck. As is true in physical therapy, marketing is both an art and a science, yet evidence-based business practices must guide decisions. Fortunately, as business becomes more digital, things become infinitely more measurable. The key is to track the right things, at the right time, for the right purposes, in order to execute the right strategies.
When any given business applies their executive seal of approval to their marketing strategy, it is because they are convinced that the channels, methods, segments, venues, tactics, and campaigns set forth will lead to positive growth and improve sales. Growth can mean a great many things (consumer awareness, brand positioning, market share, etc.). Sales can also mean a great many things (expanding product/service lines, increased accounts landed, user acquisitions, new customers versus returning customers, etc.). Both eventually converge into the multidimensional space of customer relationship management (CRM) and corporate social responsibility (CSR), along with the strategic planning principles that have been thoroughly interwoven within the framework of the grand marketing strategy.
Still, even the best marketing strategies require renewal and revival. Some even require a little rehab. Ultimately, it is best for a business owner to regularly reevaluate their marketing strategy and give it a full recharge. As the customer lifecycle and digital business cycles continue to accelerate, recharging your marketing strategy will become a regular and welcome exercise that will lead to sustainable growth and true marketplace significance. This article centers on the unified focal point between traditional business principles, digital marketing, and startup entrepreneurialism with five steps to recharge your marketing strategy.
1. Draft Your Dream Team
If you have ever played fantasy sports, you know that this is the longest step in the process before things start getting fun. Popularized by the “Bullseye Framework,” this method is a functional staple of product launches and startup companies. Rather than obsessing over inbound or outbound strategies, this first step is all about gathering the full spectrum of opportunities for your business. Some of these opportunities may be ideal. Others may be truly foolish. The purpose of this step is not to make some definitive choice. Rather, the purpose of this step is to consider the big picture of how each marketing channel jives with your overall business direction and synergizes with each other.
While the Bullseye Framework lists 19 channels, I have condensed two of their channels and added two that have become increasingly relevant to the millennial economy. The 20 ubiquitous marketing channels are:
- Traditional (offline) Ads
- Traditional (offline) Events
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Social and App Ads
- Special Engagements
- Trade Shows and Conferences
- Guerrilla Marketing
- Community Building
- Content Marketing
- Business Development
- Public Relations (PR)
- Existing Platforms, Channels, and Venues 16. Email Marketing
- Function and Features-Based Marketing 18. Affiliate Marketing
- The Crowd
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Now, it is time to draft your dream team among these 20 channels. Rather than just pick four or five channels to test out, choose a dozen. To do this strategically and systematically, be sure that your draft includes channels that have a natural congruence with your company’s direction. However, be sure to also include an oddball and wild card in the mix. You never know what might happen. Just as in baseball, players who may not otherwise have been thought of as having AllStar potential have been known to rise to the occasion and surprise us. Pick a few obvious players, one or two wild cards, and then move on to Step 2.
2. Put Them Through Spring Training
You have finally picked out your team; now it’s time to see how they do. The resource to testing hypotheses is your marketing budget. In the world of marketing, you have got to spend money to make money. At this first step, there is no need to optimize, adjust, or tweak the players on your dream team. Here the goal is to see how the team plays naturally, both as individuals and as a team of marketing channels. Make a careful note of who is naturally excelling. Also note the underperformers. Take special note of two players who seem to work very well together. Be sure to give an equal chance for each player to shine. Don’t be surprised if your first pick doesn’t do so hot. Also, don’t be surprised if your wild card ends up being the AllStar. During this step, the key is to see how they do on their own without coaching and without changing how they naturally play. That is the task in Step 3.
3. Focus on Your Starting Players
Spring training is done. You know who the winners are. You know who is lagging behind. Now that you have thrown a little chunk of your marketing budget at them to see how they play, it’s time to make them play well. It’s time to coach them, train them, strengthen them, and understand their behaviors.
Step 3 is all about taking the top performers and seeing how they do under pressure. This is a phasing step before true optimization can begin. At this point, you probably have a metric-based or instinct-based idea of who your AllStars will be. Some of them are completely intuitive; one of them is probably not. During this step, take on small, incremental improvements on each marketing channel that you have selected as your starting players. For a set period of time (a month, a quarter, or whatever your business cycle determines), start small improvements on your marketing channel based on the bit of data that you have and what your instinct tells you to do. This is the last step before you choose the final two or three marketing channels to call your AllStars.
4. Optimize Your AllStars!
It is finally time. Optimization. It’s a favored word among marketers for an important reason. A single, optimized marketing channel can easily do what four or five suboptimal channels will try to achieve. Once you have identified two or three AllStar marketing channels in your midphase testing period, it is time to truly make them your stars.
If you have identified the winners to be a combination of social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing, then you need to sit down and figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each, how each player affects the other, and ultimately the grand effect on your consumer base. If one or two of your channels have obvious synergistic effects, be sure to pour extra resources into refining their teamwork; however, if you find that one of your AllStar channels does not play nicely with others, it may be a good idea to separate out your audience into channel segments. Alternatively, you could reach back into your starting players for another AllStar who may not have made the first cut.
Optimizing your marketing channels means you need to collect, analyze, test, and retest all of your metrics. From your open rates, engagement ratios, click-throughs, total attendance, satisfaction surveys, focus groups, readership, sales conversion, and other metrics, the key to optimization is to base your actions on data and truly measure the consequences of each iterative change for each marketing channel. That is how you get evidence-based business improvements. On to step 5.
5. Go. Fight. Win!
Execute. Reassess. Redeploy. By now, you are two or three business cycles in. You have more or less optimized your AllStar marketing channels. You are getting good returns on your investment, your marketing budget has grown, your sales have improved, and life seems good.
It is not time to get cozy. It is time to reassess your strategic position and redeploy the troops. This is an excellent time to look back at your starting lineup to see if there were any gems that may not have had their time to shine due to poor timing, bad luck, or otherwise. Consider your backup players who did not make the cut as starting players. Many times, missed opportunities, false negatives, or false positives have left diamonds in the rough—unattended, uncut, and unpolished.
Since you now have the momentum and capital for exploring growth channels, you also have the opportunity to creatively strengthen and optimize channels that were less attractive during Steps 1 through 3. If you avoid this step of looking back and reevaluating your options, you risk developing tunnel vision and may be quickly overtaken by competitors who remain agile and ready to move. By following these five steps, and most importantly, making these five steps a habitual business practice, you set yourself up for success to enjoy sustainable growth and a competitive edge across the marketplace.
Ben Fung, PT, DPT, MBA, is the chief content officer and partner at UpDoc Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.