Why is it some marketers are afraid of the word “strategy?” I think it’s because they can’t muster up the brain power to wrap their arms around their entire strategic ecosystem. Or maybe it’s because they would rather not organize and operate their marketing within a planned structure. Either way, when you’re missing a strategy, your team and your brand are missing out on the secret sauce of success which is a thoughtful, planned approach designed to reach and connect with customers for the right reasons. Let’s get started with a few ways to help your marketing team begin crafting your strategic ecosystem the right way.
Large Scale Blueprint
It’s very important we stress “large scale” because this exercise is designed to get you to think about the big picture from the ten-thousand-foot level. Just like your home has a blueprint drafted before any heavy lifting is started, your marketing blueprint must be conceptualized prior to your marketing team starting the tactical work.
I fully understand if you don’t already have a strategy you’re not going to stop your marketing work until you have one. That’s the tricky part. My suggestion is to keep working BUT develop your strategic ecosystem quickly so that a re-focus process becomes clearer as the strategy becomes more complete. Don’t forget, you can always tweak it as you go.
The All-Important Funnel
We’ve all heard of “the funnel” and some sales and marketing teams don’t give it the credibility it deserves. The funnel also serves as a marketing lens for how to create your content. The funnel is designed to attract, convert and close customers with thoughtful planning of content distribution, genre, and topics, placement, customer path orientation, media mix representation and conversions. Here’s a brief explanation.
- The top of the funnel (Attract stage) is when customers don’t really know who you are and need to be educated.
- The middle of the funnel (Convert stage) is when customers are grappling with a decision between your company and others. Here the customers need to be motivated to take action.
- The bottom of the funnel is the (Close stage) and is when customers have purchased with your company and it’s now our job as the brand to delight and inspire them in all we do. We want them to become brand ambassadors.
The strategy ecosystem is made up of both owned and earned media as well as paid media. Depending on your brand, the percentage of activity for brand marketing opposed to lead-gen marketing can vary. However, most brand marketing occurs throughout the funnel, from the top all the way through to the bottom. Brand marketing is designed to keep the brand top-of-mind.
Lead-gen marketing is most valuable in the top of the funnel to attract prospective customers. Without lead-gen marketing, your pipeline will be weak, and the middle of the funnel will also be weak. You don’t want this. The top of funnel (Attract stage) could arguably be the most important area in the funnel because, without it, your sales team will be starving for qualified leads. However, lack of content in the middle of the funnel can also be problematic because that is where you really need to motivate the potential buyer to make a purchase decision. Content here is clearly defined and has a different purpose. Remember, its job is to motivate. A sales enablement approach here that also separates your brand from others is important.
Understanding the length of your sales cycle is critical because longer sales cycles may require more content at this stage. This will keep the prospect close to your brand and closer to making a buying decision.
Let’s cut right to the chase. If you don’t clearly define your customer, their needs, pain points, behaviors, questions, and motivations for buying, your marketing will be far less effective. Period. Need I say more? Start by asking lots of questions with your sales team. Also, obtain insights through surveys and industry data (first, second and third party) can be very helpful. Social media is also a very good place to obtain customer behavior data and insights. Once you understand the customer better, that information will help drive content decisions in all funnel stages.
Look for part-2 in our blog series that will discuss four more areas that are critical to your marketing team’s ecosystem experience. We will focus on the key message, conversions, repurpose value, and investment.
Scott MacFarland is a lifetime digital marketer with over 30 years experience delivering value for hundreds of brands in dozens of industries. Today, Scott is the Marketing Director for HMY Yachts in Jupiter, Florida. Follow Scott on LinkedIn and Twitter @scmacfarland
Photo Credit: CC0 License – Pixabay https://www.pexels.com/photo/arrows-box-business-chalk-533189/