Does your Boardroom know how to do anything apart from add up, make things and sell? You might think that is enough? Peter Drucker said: “…the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation…Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” I was in an organisation recently focused on its sales and numbers. This got my thinking about my prescription to shift it and any outfit in a series of steps to be more marketing focused which I describe below. This of course says nothing about the personnel…. In summary 1. What is the problem you’re solving? 2. Who is/are the customer(s) 3. What are the solutions 4. What is/are your customer journey(s)? 5. Your marketing communications match this/these journeys, to try and gain, keep and grow customers. NB you monitor activity at all stages against strategy and plans. This is a super simplified approach to what is required. There is a lot more to strategy in terms of innovation, problem-solving, marketing etc. However, I write this short blog in the context of a when you might be working with marketing “non-believers”, very sales or financially driven colleagues. I guess this means most people…! How to do marketing strategy in five steps means focus on your customer, their buying journey, and as Peter Drucker says focus on marketing and innovation. Your marketing and indeed your selling match the customer journey to the point of purchase and beyond.
What is the Problem?
Be certain there is a problem to be solved with your product, service or solution. And that there is a business for you in providing your solution. Simply: research why your idea will work, will be used, make money, compete, and you can deliver it profitably. Entrepreneurs and inventors come up with ideas and ask for support or funding. Or employees and managers ask their bosses about a problem, or to support a solution they highlight a problem. Investor colleagues and Boards, I sit on will first ask the person, are you sure this is the real problem, the real issue and your solution therefore the right route to take? Too often work starts or is commissioned based upon a poor diagnosis. Peter Bregman in a 2015 Harvard Business Review article says, “Are You Trying to Solve the Wrong Problem?” More on problem solving in my article here.
Who is the Customer?
Have you ever heard people ask, “who buys this stuff?!” Who buys your stuff, precisely, is what a Customer Persona is concerned with. A Customer Personal is a fictional customer profile, a representation of your ideal customer. Personas help us all – in marketing, sales, product management, and customer services – picture the ideal customer we’re trying to attract and relate to our customers as real people. Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention. More on this plus a template for you to use from our article on Customer Personas.
What do you have to offer, to sell, to solve your customer’s problem? You may start with one product or service and then diversify. The whole challenge of how to evaluate the specific opportunity, research, get feedback, design, test, prototype and launch the product is written about in our article here. A whole industry and approach to business has developed in recent years with agile and lean. This is in the advent of software development, with quicker introduction of products to market. The old “waterfall”, step-by-step approach, has been replaced in many markets, by quicker cultures and processes, “trying out” product earlier that in the past, then making changes based on market feedback. And using flexible teams, modern technology and communications to help speed solutions to market. More here.
What is your Customer Journey – or Journeys?
When your typical customer, considers you then purchases, what is the pattern of their purchase behaviour? There may be some more typical journeys which you can identify. Once you have done this you can respond to them. It’s important not to confuse a similar but different “journeys here” which I would describe for the sake of forensic accuracy:
- the potential customer, or prospect journey
- your existing customer experience purchase e.g. a customer buying an airline ticket
The customer journey is the path and all the points of contact between a consumer and a brand, a product or a service and includes, all moments of interaction between customer and company. These can be directing such as face to face, phone, in-store and alike. Or they can be online: social, blog, email and reviews to mention just a few. Here is a useful video on how to create a Customer Journey Map. Here is another example.
Marketing to fit the Customer Journey
What are the contact points or touchpoints, your prospects and customers have on their journeys with you? From first thinking about you to purchase, and after sales? You can list all of these on a chart and then list on a table all the people who interact at each stage. For instance, online, you call these touchpoints are all the places on your website that your customers can interact with you. Based on your research, you should list out all the touchpoints your customers and prospects are currently using, as well as the ones you believe they should be using if there is no overlap. HubSpot have long been experts in these field and here is an excellent article by them.
Growth – the Commercial Realities
A critical issue from a commercial point of view is managing the growth of your business, any product or campaign. Every year, indeed any budget period is a challenge for a business. We all have targets and objectives to achieve. Customers can never be taken for granted, they may leave, buy less, and new customers need to be found. Nick Hixson who runs Hixsons Business Enablers, wrote a fantastic blog recently: “Save Your New Business – Avoid The Chasm“, he writes, “The first people to buy your new product or service will be innovators and early adopters – people who like new things. But then you have to start selling to the rest of the market…And that’s when you hit a problem. It’s described by the chasm. A place where suddenly sales dry up. And losses mount. To avoid this double dip the new business needs to retain enough resources to fund the double marketing effort so that the chasm is reduced or eliminated.” So how to do marketing strategy in five steps means focus on your customer, their buying journey, and as Peter Drucker says focus on marketing and innovation. Your marketing and indeed your selling match the customer journey to the point of purchase and beyond.
Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited