Strategic Thinking… Marketing Principles
Updated: Jun 24
Strategic thinkers ask bigger questions. And, to ask bigger questions, you have to see through clutter, rise above clutter or eliminate clutter. Since marketing is always changing, here’s 10 things to do now to think more strategically and make your marketing better.
1. Differentiate from Competitors
Don’t be like others. Be different. Strive to be different. Fight as hard as you can to avoid being commoditized. Choose key words you want to own and stand out in your marketplace. Select 3-5 activities that make you remarkably different from your competitors. And, practice them relentlessly. If you don’t differentiate then prospects will see you as the same.
2. Identify Your X Factor
In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, Walgreens’s X factor was Profit per Customer Visit. The industry standard metric of profit/store actually was contradictory to their purpose –convenience. So, getting customers to come in and shop was the driver. And, they shifted their attention away from how far/close stores were to one another. Once they got in the door, then they were like to buy more stuff.
(I know this first-hand. I have gone to my local CVS many times to buy one item. Yet, I wander around it like a general store, unconvincingly purchasing other things I want/need. And, I never walk out with just one item in my basket. Do you?)
So, what’s your economic engine/driver? Is it getting people into your store or onto your web page? For us, it’s profit per recurring revenue client. Because as coaches, we don’t sell a one-time purchase. We are selling long-term relationships that build value over time.
3. Develop Your Brand
Great brands wake up people’s senses. They are clear and memorable. And, they offer a brand promise; one that is unique from the others. Southwest offers three promises: low fares, lots of flights to choose from and lots of fun. Having more than one brand promise makes it more difficult for competitors to compete and thus, take market share from you.
Make it hurt to break your promise. A money-back guarantee (whether limited or unlimited) makes it easy to for people to say yes. When I had to buy a laptop because my laptop crashed, I ran down to the Microsoft store to look at the new Surface book. When the sales gal told me I had 30 days to change my mind, I was sold! Offering a risk-reversal on the sale of your products/services makes it much harder for customers not to say YES! A strong brand promise can serve as a catalytic mechanism to outperform, outgrow and out market your competition.
4. Create a One Phrase Strategy
A simple strategy that’s effective is always focused on driving top line revenue and profitability. With a simple strategy that every person on the team knows, like a mantra. A simple repeatable phrase that gets the team aligned around delivering on your strategic brand promise. Southwest Airlines’ one phrase is “Wheels Up”. This type of phrase is designed to keep their planes in the air, streamline the boarding process and get them making money.
5. Develop Consistency in Your Message
Repetition is needed, like a stump speech, to reinforce to your customers and employees what you are all about. It’s not always obvious what makes you different, so tell your people what it is and let them help you create ways to show it.
McDonald’s message is “consistent quality”, no matter what store, what state or country you visit, it will be the same consistent quality. Making sure their quality is uniform is one of the secrets to their early success. How do you create your consistent brand experience?
6. Leverage Strategic Relationships
Business is a contact sport. Go out and make things happen. Focus on your relationships. Build relationships. Especially ones that have the power to grow your business multi-fold. When you align yourself with others and have mutual objectives, customer basis, you can exponentially grow your business.
Technology companies offer great examples of this. Think Intel. You wouldn’t think a computer chip company would care about branding, but by associating with other brands, like Dell, they established their pre-eminence and virtually locked competitors, like AMD, out of the OEM marketplace.
7. Stay Close to Your Core Customer
Pay attention to your core customers. Don’t waste too much time chasing strangers when there are loyal customers who do business with you. Make sure you focus most of your time on your “A” customers then the “B” customers. Get rid of the “C” and “D” customers so you can focus on finding more “A” and “B” customers.
But, don’t forget that you can’t grow your customer base if you are losing customers at a significantly high attrition rate. Measure your attrition rate annually and consider what it will take to keep customers coming back and how to keep customers from going to a competitor.
8. Remember the 4 Ps of Marketing: Product, Place, Promotion and Price
When all else fails, you need to evaluate your marketing mix. A good way to understand the 4Ps is by the questions that you need to ask to define your marketing mix. Here is a link to some questions that will help you understand and define each of the four elements: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_94.htm
9. Set Big Goals and Measure Regularly
We’ve all heard about the role BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) plays in growing a business. And, we know how important KPIs (key performance indicators) are to evaluating progress toward our BHAG. So think strategically but measure tactically. Effective marketing has some forms of measurement. Don’t let it fall to chance. Without measurement it’s hard to evaluate success. But, keep in mind Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
10. Call to Action
Drive prospects’ behavior to share their contact information and add them to your marketing and sales funnels. One way is to ask prospective customers to take an action step by trying your product/service. Make irresistible offers. Offer outrageous guarantees. Give away something for free. Consumers are more willing to share their contact information if they get something in return.
Oh, and don’t forget two more guiding principles of marketing: 1. Have fun and 2. Experiment. The profits are in the results.
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