Five Foundations of Marketing
Marketing has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. It has become more complicated with the explosion of online channels and the accelerated pace of campaigns. It has also become more technical and data driven, requiring different skill sets of your marketing team.
As marketing has become more digitized, it’s brought a lot of benefits. Marketing is more measurable and results can be seen quicker. Larger markets are accessible online and better targeting can be achieved for more cost-effective results. And with all the new tools and easy access to the data, the marketing team has more control and can be more responsive.
While marketing has moved to the digital environment, have the ingredients to achieving success changed? Spoiler alert – the foundations of marketing are still the same even if the channels and tools have changed with the times.
Understand Your Audience
This sounds obvious, but many organizations don’t spend the time and effort segmenting their market. The better you understand the needs of your customers and how the value proposition differs depending on the market segment or target audience, the more likely your company will win business. It’s not simply demographics that infuse your marketing campaigns, but also the psychographics and buyer journey that must be understood. Taking the time to do your research, listen to your customers and build out detailed personas will pay dividends in the end.
Develop the Marketing Strategy
Take the time to write down your marketing strategy. Once you know your audience and the competition, you can articulate your differentiation and value proposition. You can create those two or three annual marketing objectives to keep the marketing efforts on task. Many times marketing departments are asked to do new things or explore new opportunities. If they don’t align with the annual strategy, they can become distractions and take away resources from achieving the objectives. Having a clearly written, measurable strategy helps the marketing team and its stakeholders stay focused on the business outcomes that have been communicated.
Integrate All Marketing Channels
Most companies use a variety of marketing channels, both paid and earned. Results are best if there’s an over-arching strategy to all of these channels that brings a consistent look, language and feel to your brand. The underlying approach for this is clearly knowing the value proposition for your customers and having consistent messaging across all parts of the customer journey. This also includes the sales and customer service teams. While not usually under the marketing umbrella, ensuring the consistency across digital assets, sales collateral and customer interactions will help to achieve better results.
Let Data Drive Decisions
The online world has given us lots of data, making it much easier to know what channels are giving you the best results. But if your CRM isn’t tracking the customer journey from beginning to end, you’ll never know. It’s essential to track the source of each lead, to measure the quality of the lead and ultimately if the lead converts to new business. It matters less if a channel is giving you lots of views or visitors to your website, if very few of them result in new business. If you don’t put the foundation in place with the proper tools and tags, you won’t know where to prune or invest your marketing efforts.
Always Be Testing
Everyone knows that you always need to be testing new channels, ads, emails, landing pages and more. Every element needs to be tested from copy and images to layout and colours. The challenge is to be rigorous with your testing so that you know what element is being tested, what version won and what will be tested next. The simpler the test and the better it's planned and managed, the more confident you'll be in the results. It’s one of those marketing disciplines that needs to be run like a science lab in order to capture the value of improved conversion rates and winning more business.
While marketing still needs to be both science and art, digital marketing has given us the data to allow the science to make informed decisions and direct the efforts. Your marketing team needs to embrace both in order to maximize limited resources and profitably drive new revenue.
About Bobbi Leach
After university, I found myself working at a marketing consulting firm in Ottawa where I progressed to be a VP and Partner. I've created dozens of marketing strategies for a variety of industries and lead the teams implementing many of them. When I transitioned into the tech industry in the late nineties, I was managing mostly digital marketing programs for B2B companies. My area of expertise in marketing has mostly been online lead generation in North America.