Building an effective marketing strategy..

I am surprised at the lack of organizations with good marketing strategy. Doesn’t matter if they are  large MNC’s with millions of dollars of marketing budget or a start-up with minimal budget.

I am sure that everyone in the marketing world understands the importance of having a solid strategy!

Most marketing efforts fail in the face of unclear strategies. Good strategy can not only improve the effectiveness of your efforts but will help in reducing the total cost. But most importantly, it will help your customers to buy more from your sales teams.

With the emergence of new media, more and more marketing teams seem to forget that they are still media. They still need a strategy to market their products and a media strategy will only be a small but integral part of the overall marketing strategy.

Let us take an imaginary organization and try to  build a marketing strategy for them.

Imaginary Organization:

  • A Large MNC in a B2B scenario.
  • A Large base of existing customers.
  • A large & varied product mix.
  • A big sales and marketing team.

Now, if you have worked in an organization like the one I describe above, you would already know the various pressures involved.

Segmentation: 

The first step in building a marketing strategy is to the decision around segmentation – Market and customer. I would prefer a customer based segmentation as it helps the marketing team to always know whom they are trying to market to.

There are 2 kinds of customers:

  • Existing customers
  • Prospects

Developing strategy for Existing customers:

I would further segment existing customers into different categories based on a “Jobs to be done” metaphor.

A lot of companies prefer to segment based on industry, geography, size, etc. However, in my opinion the best way to cluster companies is from a “Jobs to be done” metaphor (more information on the “Jobs to be done” metaphor defined by Clay Christensen).

Examples could be like the ones below:

  • Customers who are on a growth path and focus on top line growth. 
  • Customers who want to focus on reduce cost and hence focus on bottom line growth.
  • Customers who want to bring new products to market faster, cheaper and with more success.
  • Customers who want to improve their cash flows.
  • Customers who want to focus on reducing debt.

Segmentation like this means that you can tailor a message that will resonate with all the companies in a segment, irrespective of their industry, size or geography.

  1. Decide on the segments that the marketing teams would focus on.
  2. Design the messaging for these segments.
  3. Design activities around these segments.
    1. Build a media strategy (incl. social and traditional media)
    2. Build a contact strategy
    3. Build a content strategy
  4. Explain & Align with the respective accounts team.
    1. This strategy can only succeed if every account team handling existing customers understands the segmentation and are able to tag their accounts in the CRM system based on the segmentation that marketing has defined.
    2. Also, this segmentation information can help the account teams to identify the products/solutions that they want to position to these customers based on the customer priorities, which, in-turn, makes it far more likely that they will get the sales.
    3. Third step is for the account teams to identify the contacts at these customers and tag them in the CRM system as the stake holders for the specific segments that they have classified. For example, if the customer is classified in the segment “Improve inventory turns”, then the account teams identify the key contacts in the manufacturing, finance and controlling functions of the customer organization. Marketing can then use this information for their contact strategy.
  5. Execute & adjust the strategy as we go along.

Developing strategy for prospects:

The only major difference in defining the strategy for existing customers and prospective customers is for the marketing team to define a persona for prospects in each of the segment that they want to focus on.

  • By persona, I mean, define the characteristics of the companies that you would want to prospect. This is a very important step that many marketing teams miss, thereby, leading to low conversion rates and high cost for customer acquisitions.
  • Once these personas are defined, the marketing teams can then decide to work with the market research organizations to identify companies that fit the persona and map the individuals.
  • This also helps the marketing teams to design specific messaging that will suit the respective personas.
  • Media strategy is key in this case as the importance of branding and building relevance in the markets. Positioning is much more effective in this case.

One of the most important part of the strategy is also to set-up clear measures of effectiveness which can then be used to monitor progress and course correct if required.

Key metrics Marketing effectiveness: Just as the strategy is defined separately for existing and prospective customers, the KPI’s also will need to be defined separately for each of these segments.

  • For existing customers:
    • No of additional deals done with each of the existing customers
  • For prospective customers:
    • No of net new customers added in the pipeline
  • Changes in Brand equity

If you understand this strategy, it is clear that in order to work, this strategy needs your marketing teams to work closely with your sales and business development teams, lack of which is a topic for a separate blog post.

How do you develop your marketing strategy? Have I missed something here? Do let me know by commenting below or tweeting your thoughts to me @rmukeshgupta.

PS: Clay Christensen’s talk about Disruptive innovation and about Jobs to be done

5 Replies to “Building an effective marketing strategy..”

  1. Interesting approach, though I could imagine that the way to convert prospects might be considerably different by analysis of the buying process, which in todays market dominated by buyers brings interesting insights.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that the buying process might be different for different organizations, the marketing team should be more inclined to get the customers to think and agree that their products or solutions will solve a key business challenge that they are struggling with. Once that is done, the buying process is a matter of transaction, that can be taken care by the sales or sales operations teams.

Do share your thoughts and continue the discussion