“Begin with the end in mind” is a well-known saying in business popularized by Stephen Covey in his famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Many other consultants and authors have pointed out the great importance of having a clear purpose. Human beings are naturally goal oriented, and without stated purposes the people in any organization can pursue their own personal interests – whatever feels right to them, thus dispersing the resources of the company and not accomplishing very much as a team.
In actuality most of us have multiple purposes where our business or organization is concerned. So it is helpful to gather together the owners and managers of the firm with the help of a professional facilitator and discuss the purposes of the organization as a whole and of marketing in particular. (Actually it’s really helpful to involve the entire company in small groups, but this is not cheap.)
A healthy discussion of purposes, desired end results, what we hope to accomplish, aims, goals and objectives can fill a flip-chart page fairly quickly with many items, usually not competing but complementary to one another. Then it’s helpful to step back, look at the list, consider what it means as a whole, and try to state a core purpose that sums up what most of the leaders or people in the organization want to accomplish.
In developing a marketing strategy, it is most realistic to accept that marketing cannot be adequately developed or practiced by itself – again this gets back to dispersing the energies and resources of the organization too much. In many organizations people in the marketing department or with marketing responsibilities tend to do what their predecessors have done in that job, what they want to do, or what top management tells them to do. But the most effective marketing purposes are defined within the context of the primary purposes of the organization as a whole, a system. This way marketing staff knows what it has to do, while the other departments or leaders know what they have to do, and everyone is pulling in the same direction, not with duplicated effort but with complementary effort. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The purposes of your marketing strategy could include some or all of the following:
- Increasing sales and income
- Expanding into new markets
- Enhancing brand awareness
- Improving the company’s image, how it is perceived by the marketplace
- Better understanding the needs of your customers and prospects
- Gaining an advantage over your competitors
- Identifying and responding to new trends in the marketplace
- Promoting new products which are ready for launch
- Producing new marketing materials
- Strengthening Internet marketing and attracting new customers via the company website
The more the purposes of the marketing strategy are understood and shared within the organization, the more likely it is that those purposes will be accomplished! And the more they can be defined with measurable factors such as increased sales, improvement in brand awareness survey ratings, or the production of specific new marketing materials before year end, the more likely everyone involved will be pleased with the process and the results. We’ll talk about this later in a subsequent post on goals.
OK, we’re clear about what we want to accomplish with our marketing strategy in the context of the organization as a whole. Now, how do we accomplish those purposes? We can look at it from three perspectives:
- What’s happening inside the company
- What’s happening in the marketplace
- What we can do to manage the interactions between the company and the marketplace to get more of what we want
Think on these things and stay tuned for Part 2 in our series, How To Develop An Effective Marketing Strategy.