Can you guess how many times I hear this phrase?
“I don’t need a marketing strategy!”
Well, to be honest, I don’t actually hear it that often, but I hear it often enough to be frustrated by it when I do.
Why? Because the reality is, this phrase isn’t true about any business — even mine! (And if you don’t already know, I own a marketing company.) Over the last year and a half here at 8 Signal, we’ve seen just how life-changing marketing strategy is, and we’ve shifted our business model accordingly.
Today, I’m going to show you why a marketing strategy is the most critical component of any marketing approach through three aha moments that we have personally experienced over the last three years.
Aha #1: Let the doctor do the diagnosis
I’ve always thought it was funny how we have objections about the professional approach of some industries but don’t even question others. For example, take the humble doctor — they always start your appointment by asking questions, right? (At least I hope they do.) It would be alarming and even dangerous for a doctor to throw out ideas like, “You should take this medicine and… maybe let’s try this surgery?” before he or she even knows what your problem is.
However, when companies vehemently disagree with the importance of marketing strategy and want to jump straight into using marketing tools, they’re demanding the same, “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” approach for the most critical revenue-driving function of their business! If we trust professionals that perform a strategy-first approach in other industries like health care, why are we so wary of marketing professionals doing the same?
Why all the distrust?
I’d put to you that it’s all due to perception. When a doctor asks questions about your symptoms, orders tests, and digs into your medical history, we trust that he or she is doing so to understand your health and seek a diagnosis. And it’s a given that a doctor will do this at every appointment, even when you are feeling healthy! Why? Because doctors know that just because you feel healthy doesn’t mean you are.
Here’s a possible explanation for mistrust of marketing professionals — we instinctively know that doctors, especially specialists, have undergone extensive schooling before they see you as a patient. When it comes to marketers, though, there’s no universal standard for training, so the mistrust regarding a marketing agency’s true expertise is valid. It’s hard to tell if the marketing agency you’re interested in has the expertise of 12 years of school or 12 minutes of online courses.
Industry Hack: It’s actually a red flag when the marketing agency you’re speaking with doesn’t understand the importance of marketing strategy. Lacking a strategic approach at the beginning means a lot of wasted time, money, and energy in the end — not to mention dashed expectations.
Marketing strategy accomplishes the same thing. It reveals your company’s goals, target demographic, and the weak spots and strengths your customers experience while working with you. It’s a professional marketer’s way of doing their due diligence to gather critical information first, so they can perform an amazing job of kicking up your marketing stats via relevant tools and technology.
Aha #2: We know marketing — we need to know you
Some businesses don’t want strategy. They just want marketers to “do marketing.” I mean, it makes sense, right? It’s not like we ask contractors to start with a blueprint or anything — just build the house already, Jonny!
In all seriousness, I think potential clients get worried when I ask strategic questions about their business and industry because they perceive it as a lack of knowledge or experience in marketing. But that’s not the case at all! Speaking as a marketing professional who’s been in the game for over 10 years, I can tell you firmly that I’m not trying to learn marketing — I’m trying to learn about you.
Marketing is not a “one-size-fits-all” industry. Yes, there are psychology and behavior principles that we follow, but how those are applied vary from one company to the next, and one strategy to the next. There is a vast inventory of tools, techniques, and technologies that are not all relevant to every business or industry, and that inventory grows daily. So, without a marketing plan in place, marketers are forced to apply general tools to a client’s unique business, hoping those tools will get results.
Friends, that’s just backwards.
“You hire a marketing agency for a purpose; to empower your company to stand out in a sea of sameness. Marketing strategy allows that to happen.” – Ruben
Industry Hack: The flip side of neglecting the importance of marketing strategy is churning through agencies every 6-12 months, growing more and more dissatisfied with the lacking results. Speaking as a business owner myself, if you’re changing marketing people more frequently than once a year, it’s not their problem: it’s an internal issue.
It’s our business is to learn yours
No serious marketer takes this step lightly. We work hard to know your business and know it well, so we can create content and web design that truly comes from your brand’s unique voice. Using strategic marketing tools like the buyer persona, we can immerse ourselves into the world you and your customers experience on a daily basis.
Consider this quote from Katerina Gasset, a marketing colleague of mine:
“I knew nothing about the chiropractor niche, and my VA company does all the marketing and content for a chiropractor. He is my chiropractor, so I went to his office and took all his brochures and then interviewed him about his awards, etc. I conducted research on the internet, then talked to my homeopathic doctor about chiropractors. Now, I am entrenched in his market and avatar.”
Aha #3: Marketing strategy is an investment, not a waste
I believe the biggest obstacle driving businesses to resist the importance of marketing strategy is the fear of wasting money. That fear is a powerful motivator, and unfortunately, it’s not unfounded.
I’ll bet that while you’re reading these words right now, painful memories of lost income due to failed marketing campaigns are coming to mind. You’ve invested in marketing that just didn’t work, leaving you and your budget more distressed and discouraged than ever. I’m truly, truly sorry about that, and I completely understand where you’re coming from.
This fear is actually the biggest factor contributing to the importance of marketing strategy.
Why? Because when it comes down to it, marketing strategy is a logical, focused plan of action that helps you capitalize on the right marketing tools and ignore the ones that aren’t relevant. Saving money, money, time, stress, and money. Marketing strategy allows your business to focus on the right communication methods to effectively reach your target audience, leading to higher sales conversion rates, lower budget requirements, and more satisfied customers.
Marketing strategy isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme or a waste of money: It’s an up-front investment of time, money, and energy that produces real results through a well-organized, strategic system of success.
So you’re convinced, right? That’s all it took? Well, if it didn’t, or if you still have concerns and questions about why marketing strategy matters, I’d love to talk to you about it more personally. Click here to schedule a free consultation with me, and be sure to bring all your doubts and questions — I’m ready to listen!