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Most people think that great marketing starts with amazing creative. Hmm… nothing could be further from the truth. The key to great marketing actually happens before your marketing team begins any content creation at all. A lack of fully understanding your brand, the customer, market, competition and the appropriate channels for exposure are fundamental flaws marketing teams make in taking marketing to the next level.

Do you know what your brand stands for? What value it brings to the customer and why it exists? These questions must be answered before all-things-marketing begin. Many companies, especially smaller businesses do not take the time to figure these out. In most cases, the blue print for marketing success is in the creation of this foundational information that helps define the company, the value offered to the customer and the overall purpose of the company. Without a comprehensive understanding of these, it’s pretty difficult to create a marketing strategy that will be successful.

“Success has always depended on awareness of the offering and establishment of value in the minds of prospective buyers.”                                                                                – Content Marketing Institute

According to SmartInsights, 47% of organizations are not doing digital marketing and also do not have a defined strategy. While just 18% say they are doing digital marketing and their strategy is in a separate document.

Here are several key components you need to dive into so that your marketing is based on the identity of the brand, its product and services as well as your competition.

Value Proposition

Why does your company exist? What exclusive benefits does the company provide that is not currently in the market? What does the company do uniquely well? Why should a prospective customer decide to do business with your company when there are other options for them? These are critical questions your marketing must answer. After all, if you don’t know these, how can your team craft an effective marketing strategy?

Perceived Value

Understanding this is very important because if you do not have a clear understanding of what your customers are thinking when your brand crossed their mind, then you may never be successful in marketing to that customer. Brand perception is common among every customer, whether it’s positive, negative or neutral. However, your marketing team must find ways to capture and understand what prospective customers are thinking. A great way to do this is to use social media advertising to attract the customer. This will also help your team understand what is important to them. Your team can also use your business pages on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn or whatever social channels are most effective to listen and engage with those people that are choosing to interact with your brand.


I like to call my customers personas, not a target audience because the more I can define what that person is and what motivates them to purchase from my company, the better I will be able to market to them. As a marketer, you will want to fully define 3-5 personas and describe them as if you are trying to explain everything about them and what makes them unique. Without a defined list of personas, your marketing team will not be able to create content that is timely and relevant for them.


What is unique about your company that is an attribute that can be used in marketing to attract the customer? (An example of this is: Audi has new fuel-efficient drive technologies that are different than any other auto manufacturer. Starbucks has successfully created a global coffee brand that also is known for their entertainment). What is distinctive about your business? Define that and use it to attract customers.

Primary Competition

Like every company, your competition is always nipping at your heals and making business growth difficult. Can your marketing team honestly say they know who the competition is and also define their strengths and weaknesses? Can you talk about their products and services that are the biggest problem for your company and also who their primary customers are? Here’s the biggest part that most marketers do not typically understand. How can your sales team overcome the objections they face when a prospective customer prefers your competition to your company? Overcoming objections is critical in sales and it’s part of understanding your customer.

The Power of Digital

As we all know, digital comes in many forms. It’s up to your marketing team to decide which channels work best for the brand and which ones are most relevant for your customers. Once your team has that figured out, that’s where the strategy comes in. Don’t make the mistake of dabbling in digital without a plan of attack or your efforts will be like throwing darts with your eyes closed at a dartboard that’s not even on the wall. Your digital strategy should identify the dartboard’s location and also inform you of how to throw the dart so that you hit the bullseye.

Great marketing does start with a foundational knowledge of your business and all things attached to it, including your customer. When you take time to understand these listed above, your marketing efficacy and digital strategy outcomes will skyrocket to new levels. is a digital marketing consultancy that works with businesses big and small to solve their most difficult questions surrounding digital, brand development and generating qualified leads.

Scott MacFarland

Chief Content Marketer | Digital Strategist



Twitter @scmacfarland

Photo Credit: CC0 License


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