When you first start out on your business journey, I’d like you to think of your marketing strategy as the map that will guide you to where you want to go.
Without one, you’ll inevitably meander along and not reach your destination — or at least not as quickly or as effectively as you would with the right marketing strategy in place.
Now, I’m a real believer in strategy being something you should be able to easily communicate.
If you can’t take a single piece of paper and write your strategy on it, chances are you’ve gone down into the weeds of every day and got hung up on what it is you do.
So that’s exactly what I want to help you with today: take a piece of paper, split it into quarters and write down your strategy using these four key questions:
- What’s your why?
- What’s your story? And what’s your truth?
- Who are you creating value for & what’s their story?
- What resources do you have to make your mission a success?
1. What’s Your Why?
So the first question you need to answer is “what’s your why?” or to be more specific what’s your purpose, mission and vision:
- Your purpose is your reason for existing beyond simply making money.
- Your mission is how you are going to achieve that purpose
- Your vision is what it will look like once you’ve completed your mission
A great example I like to use for the vision component of the ‘why’ question is that greatest of visions; the US Moon Landings.
When JFK was setting the scene for people, and talking about bringing the United States’ space race strategy to life, the vision was outlined as “putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade”. And they did just that in July 1969!
This example highlights the clarity needed when developing any strategy; be it for the space race or for your marketing. The bottom line here is if you’re not clear on your why and what mission success looks like, then you’ll never be able to work towards achieving it.
You really have to be able to “see it” in order to achieve it.
Can you name your “why”?
When you can clearly name your “why” and you’re brave enough to follow it through, you can achieve wonders. I want to emphasise the “brave enough to follow it through” part because I often see businesses come up with big “why’s”, but then they get embarrassed about actually following them through believing their dreams are simply that; something that only belongs in dreams.
And yet, most of the changes we’ve seen in the world come from someone, usually an entrepreneur, who commits to following their dreams.
So be brave and commit to the practical realisation of your dreams. It’s important and it works.
I know because I’ve also seen the other side; where the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with built businesses that matched their dreams.
If they can do it, so can you.
2. What’s Your Story? What’s Your Truth?
The second quadrant on your piece of paper is “what’s your story?” or “what’s your truth?”.
This is about taking your ‘why’, your reason for being, and putting it into language that is relatable and will resonate with your target audience.
More than that it’s about focusing on the one reason your products or services are needed and why they’re better than your competitors.
This is your story. The essential and unique truth of your business or USP.
And this is why you will often hear me say marketing is your truth told because one of the key components of a successful marketing strategy is to understand and tell your unique “truth”.
So what is that story and how are you going to tell it?
Start by articulating your uniqueness or as Marty Neumeier puts it; your “onliness statement”. Marty realised very early on, that we need to communicate at a business level and not at an individual campaign level, otherwise statements can tend to be fake.
Your story has to be true throughout the entire business and not just for the purposes of a campaign.
It has to be true for you.
I love this simple “fill in the box” style statement which you can follow and use here:
Our [insert your business here]
is the only [what you do e.g. trainer, accountancy practice, recruiter, software developer, artist etc]
that [what’s your point of difference here].
Stating this “truth” as part of your marketing strategy has a very influential impact on everything else you do. When you see it in black and white, it starts to infiltrate every other decision you make and also gives you clues and ideas on how to make it real.
More than that, it will teach those around you, including your employees, your suppliers and also, your customers who you are and what you are trying to achieve.
In short, it makes the dream real for them too.
Sample Onliness Statements.
Let me share a couple of Onliness Statements with you.
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Have A Look At Harley Davidson’s…
Harley Davidson is the only motorcycle manufacturer that makes big, loud motorcycles for macho guys mostly in the US who want to join a gang of cowboys in an era of decreasing personal freedom.
Now Try Yours
And share it with us here in the comments.
We’d love to learn more about what you do and the dream you have for your business.
3. Who Are You Creating Value For & What’s Their Story?
Now, the immediate people who spring to mind are your customers, right?
And while, of course, they are a huge part of the equation, they’re not the only ones to consider.
Your customers, employees, suppliers, other business stakeholders are all relevant here.
Think about everyone who is touched by your reason for being here on the planet.
Who will benefit from what you’re doing and who will realise the value?
If you go back to our previous two questions where we outlined our ‘why’ and the language we’ll use to convey that ‘why’, it leads us to ‘who’.
That’s both ‘with who’ and ‘for who’.
So with your employees, your suppliers, your stakeholders and for your customers, community and other beneficiaries.
In an ideal world and as you grow your business, that will transform into “with AND for” each of these stakeholders.
Align your stories
This is where you’ll now start to see how their story, which often involves a problem that you’re looking to solve, needs to align with yours.
You need to consider and hear their language. Because that’s what you’ll use to effectively communicate with them on their level and reach them in a language that they can relate to.
For customers, this is critical because if they don’t see that you understand them then they won’t recognise that you are the person or business that can help them solve the problem they are facing. Customer profiling is critical here.
For employees, this is really important because if your language is not right and if you don’t understand what they want to achieve on their journey with you, then you won’t attract the right people. Your internal branding is critical here.
Furthermore, the employees you do attract will have no clear purpose in their role and, as a result, won’t be as conducive to helping you achieve your mission.
The same goes for any suppliers you use and/or external help such as contractors or freelancers. Not to mention your investors who are putting their faith in you in monetary terms and want a return on that investment.
And as the world continues to become more connected your impact on the wider community and the environment is increasingly something important to be considered, thankfully. We have a duty to incorporate this consciously in our business and marketing strategy. We can make a difference not only with our products and services but in the actions we take to improve the world around us.
Understanding the motivations and challenges of everyone your business touches means you build the capability to connect more deeply and deliver more effectively.
More than that, you get to make a difference.
4. What Resources Do You Have To Make Your Mission A Success?
So our fourth and final question is “what resources do you have to make your mission a success?”
Now, everyone has limits, no matter the size of your business, with time and money being the two most prominent ones.
So consider what resources you need to make what you want, actually happen.
Again, this requires you to think broadly. After all, your employees are not the only resources you have available. Take into account your other stakeholders and suppliers too.
This “resources component” of your marketing strategy is extremely important because it has the ability to make or break your three other questions.
Oftentimes, we find that things aren’t going to plan and it’s usually because we haven’t accounted for and brought in enough resources.
Take the customer journey, if you don’t fully support and resource each step of the way, then your own marketing process or engine will form cracks or leaks.
For example, if you don’t resource customer service, then you won’t have customers who rave about your offering, share their experience with others and transform into brand champions spreading the word about the wonderful work you do.
I want to leave you today by emphasising the idea that it’s possible to capture your marketing strategy on a single piece of paper.
When you can, you will have the clarity that is required to fulfil your business dream.
And that’s what we all want, isn’t it?
Make sure that everything aligns. That it all makes sense and actually feels obvious, it’s so clear.
That’s why you need to consider that the four questions we’ve talked about are all intrinsic building blocks of the overall structure and, so, they need to align.
Without one, the rest will be rendered unstable.
Fail to align everything and you’ll see silos emerge within your business.
This can manifest in having teams or departments that don’t really interact because there isn’t full alignment.
And this is one of the greatest challenges around marketing because there is this perception that marketing is just a small part of the business when in fact marketing needs to touch every single part of your business.
I’ll leave you with this quote from David Packard of Hewlett Packard that I love:
In other words, marketing needs to be involved every aspect of your business.
From how much you charge for your product and how you’re going to package it, to how you treat your people; when you recruit them, onboard them, give them feedback, promote them and say goodbye to them — these are all marketing decisions!
So make sure your marketing strategy brings everything into alignment and your business journey will be a lot smoother as a result.
Let me know if you’ve any questions or insights you’d like to share on this topic in the comments below.
And if you’d like to know more about how to build a marketing strategy that matches your business reality with your business dream then check out Get Strategic Get Results™ our signature program.
I love to work with businesses, both large and small to help them create sustainable business dreams... Brand and Strategy are at the heart of everything I do and that gets rolled out digitally and across any channel where your customer lives.