Why Your Marketing Needs a Strategy-First Approach

Your brand is like an attic, and sometimes it can get cluttered. CEO Melinda Pradarelli provides tips to get you started on decluttering your marketing strategy.

When you’ve been working in marketing as long as I have, you hear statements like these: “Hey, I don’t think our marketing is working. Let’s change some things up.” That might be followed by, “Maybe we need a new logo” or “Maybe we should try to do more on Facebook.” Or even “Maybe we should put all of our eggs into this event basket and not worry about social media and our website.”

I’ve been building and refreshing brands for nearly 20 years. Along the way, I’ve seen just about everything, from brands executed superbly by internal teams and external agencies to brands executed poorly by those same groups. What I’ve learned is this: there is a common theme around those that don’t perform well. When there is a larger, overriding strategy and a process that allows key stakeholders to work together to develop or refine that strategy before any tactics or executions are applied, those are the brands with a much higher success rate.

How to Get Out of the Weeds

So how do you create the time, space, and commitment to develop that strategy in your organization? Oftentimes we’re so busy building today’s social media campaign or updating the website that we don’t realize we’re stuck in the weeds. The truth is that we’re wasting time and money by not taking a step back.

Whatever it costs to develop a strategy should come back to your organization twofold if you have a solid vision and understanding of what you are doing and why, and where your marketing dollars are going. We think of the strategic step back as cleaning Grandma’s attic. A brand, just like a home, can become packed with things we don’t need, use, or want after many years. Just like Grandma’s attic, there is a time and place to pull everything out, take a look at it and decide whether it should stay or go. That rocking chair (product) saved for a grandchild (audience) is no longer wanted (no perceived value). It’s time to donate it. Brand strategy is rarely the reason clients first come to Meld Marketing. It’s usually something perceived to be more urgent—marketing support for the design of a new website or an outdated logo; generating more traffic in a store or online; developing new product packaging; or planning a milestone event celebration.

When I hear about the urgent need, I push our clients to talk about who they are and who they serve so they can be sure whatever website, logo, or packaging we create is rooted in something built to last and connect to their key audiences. Anyone can build a website. But if it’s not aligned with the brand, it creates an immediate disconnect with the audience.

What Do I Do Now?

Start the Conversation Find someone outside of your organization to facilitate a conversation with key stakeholders involved in the company’s short- and long-term marketing goals, services and offerings, customers, differentiators, and current outreach and marketing activities. Perform a SWOT Analysis Conduct a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis and hold a brand promise and brand attribute workshop. Examine Your Competition Take a look at three to four of your key competitors. What are they doing in the market?

Review and Reflect Bring that information together and then ask yourself three key things as you develop each piece of your strategy.

  1. Is this aspect/attribute helping to differentiate and distinguish us? A powerful brand relies in part on how well it sets itself apart. “We are this. We are not this.”
  2. Is this aspect of the brand relevant to our target audience? It might be something that is different to the competition, but if your customers don’t want it, it shouldn’t rise to the highest level of your brand.
  3. How will we integrate those attributes into our efforts? When you discover what does set you apart and what is relevant, be sure those elements have a strong presence in your marketing strategy. For example, companies often know their greatest strengths, but they don’t always recognize that what they know internally has not been communicated consistently and clearly to their outside audiences.

The good thing about cleaning Grandma’s attic is that if you take the time to do it, inevitably you’re going to unearth real treasures that can bring tangible benefits to your business.

What treasures have you discovered while revamping your business’s marketing or brand strategy? We’d love to hear about your experience!

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