Kill It Or Feed It : Making Tough Choices To Get Strategic About Marketing.

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Catherine MichaelBy Catherine Michael, CM Ink, www.cmink.com.au

Even with all the digital technology, endless data and latest social media trend [hello Clubhouse], I still find myself often asking the question, “So What?”

There is a myriad of marketing tools to use in 2021, but I fear that for many small to medium businesses they are lured into a feeding a frenzy of tactical activity without a strategic home that does not generate any real shareholder value.

Just because you have the access, and some of the newer tools are relatively affordable, doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your business.

Clients often excitedly tell me about a new machine they have invented or are investing in, a new product idea or extension or a company they wish to start.

The benefit of years of conversations with teams and clients across many sectors, industries, and organisations at various stages of maturity and size, means that I see the same mistake about to be repeated.

The internal momentum, excitement and bias can mean that sometimes the very basics of what you are trying to achieve can be overlooked, or that you miss the mark in trying to communicate with your target audiences. Don’t ignore quality insights you know to be true at your peril.

As an example, I worked for a client about eight years ago in the electric vehicle fast charging space in Australia. They were hugely optimistic about the future and earnestly believed all the predictions about EV uptake as if they were gospel.

The basic insights kept staring me in the face. Range anxiety and ugly looking, expensive electric vehicles that were difficult to charge. Until someone addressed both of these things, the uptake of EV into Australia was going to lag the rest of the world.

There was also the classic game of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Did Australia need to have enough charging stations before consumers would feel comfortable in purchasing electric vehicles. Or did enough brave people need to buy an EV car before companies, councils, car park operators would be convinced to invest in electric vehicle chargers.

You can have the world’s best innovation, but if it is out of reach, hard to access and doesn’t address a basic fear [running out of charge, a long way from home, with no way of getting charged and safety on the road] then you are going to struggle. Safety is a key concern and many females actually drive [pardon the pun] car purchases for a household. Result is that only 7,000 electric vehicles were sold in Australia last year. My advice was for the business to focus on overseas markets where EV uptake was much faster and better supported by a range of stakeholders at all levels, which is what they ended up doing.

I share this as an example of the need to apply a forensic focus on the answers to really simple questions as the basis for your brand strategy. Keep asking yourself and your team, “So What?” after the answers to help refine and define your brand strategy.

  • Who are we?
  • What do we do? What are we selling?
  • What are we going to say?
  • Who is your target audience? Who are you actually selling to? [Hint: there may be a difference]
  • How will people discover us?
  • Why will people buy us and how?
  • How much should we charge?

The other lens is to answer these from your target audience’s perspective. Why should they care about your product? So many organisations spend hours and serious dollars without doing even the most basic of research. Another client discovered a multi-million dollar opportunity by simply asking the buyer at the end of the meeting, “What else are you struggling to source?”

You don’t need to be everywhere to make an impact. But you do need to understand where you will make the biggest impact to be effective. Forget trying to be across every social media platform. Stop pumping out content that no one is reading, sharing or worse buying. By understanding your target audiences and their segments well, you will know what Strategic Marketing tools are right for your business.

Clients are often staggered when we undertake a Strategic Marketing due diligence and list out all the activities, content, events, programs, people, agencies and suppliers and ask about the performance of each. That’s where the saying, “a lot of chopping, but not a lot of chips” comes from. I challenge many clients about the ‘busyness’ of their teams and look for opportunities to refine efforts into measurable, value producing work.

When prospective clients ask me how much a website will cost, or how often I should post on social media, or should I advertise in the Australian Financial Review, I can sense their frustration by my standard answer of, “it depends”.  It depends on if people need to visit your website as part of their research for a purchase, it depends on if social media is a ‘must have’ or ‘nice to do’ and it depends if you want to achieve a result with velocity by raising awareness to the C-suite of Australian business and governments. It also depends on what measurement and past data I can find to move out of assumption land and into reality.

The benefit of getting the answers tight at the start, or being able to revisit them, is that the investment you make will pay off in every conversation, touch point and external conversation from that point.

Every tactic needs a strategic home. Let your brand strategy be your guide for your business.


Location: Your desk
Date: Tuesday 27 July 2021
Time: 9.00am – 10.30am AEST
Pricing: Exclusive Event for Standard and Premium Subscribers Only
Learn the importance of having a strategic approach to communications and marketing to help you focus to find, win and keep clients and build brands that increase shareholder value. In this masterclass you will learn the value of investing time in your brand strategy before you get busy [or side-tracked] on building your business.

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