Marketing strategy, now more than ever, is becoming crucial to sustaining business. In an increasingly competitive landscape, marketing is more tech-oriented and more intricately integrated with other departments than it has traditionally been.
So let’s take this opportunity to look at the idea of traditional marketing processes and how these processes can be improved in your business.
Especially in larger organisations, with so many components of successful marketing strategy requiring external variables (such as consultants, partners and suppliers), internal teams often flounder to meet deadlines, accurately measure success, adopt a nimble approach to iteration and craft a suitable game plan.
What marketing needs, to be successful, is strategy.
And you can stop there… but, it can (and should) be taken even further and truly incorporated into your company’s business plan; increasing efficiency and allowing larger projects to be translated into easy-to-manage tasks, whilst leaving nothing to chance.
Lean methodology represents a fundamental shift in the way business manage and built their products, services and presentational activities (such as marketing). Lean prioritises validating hypotheses, reduces activities that don’t bring value to the customer (waste/muda) and increases efficiency/productivity.
With a core focus on iteration and measurement, although lean methodologies were originally applied to production lines, the logic can be followed in almost any industry – and when you consider the recent focus on big data in marketing (although, big data alone cannot be relied on as a comprehensive solution), applying lean to marketing is a perfect fit. Perhaps one of the most immediately attractive benefits of lean marketing in the corporate landscape is the allowance for easy coordination between departments. When you consider the bottlenecks and back-and-forth that can occur between PR, marketing, IT and partnerships divisions, any solution that can unite these forces to better benefit your bottom line is an incredibly valuable thing.
There’s a catch, though – lean processes alone aren’t enough. This is why, when applied by teams who fundamentally don’t understand lean (or teams who fail to adapt and apply the methodologies in the greater context of the organisation at large and the real world; or those who make lofty plans but don’t follow through with the realities and process strategy of their organisation), even the most beneficial practices can fail.
To truly follow the Kanban method and its principles requires a thorough understanding of lean and agile solutions not just in the context of marketing… but in the greater scheme of your business strategy.
This is not something to take lightly and too often, we see businesses who find themselves at a point of stasis in their growth because an ambitious solution was applied with too little understanding. Because a successful transformation in marketing strategy means not just acceptance of a handful of practices, but a total, holistic quality change.
Discipline and desire alone are great starting points – and although they may be not enough, they are a catalyst to change.
Consider your usual marketing spend and the channels that it may occur within. Include the time taken by your staff (including their wages and any overtime), the resources used by your staff, the hold ups to your growth or profit while marketing solutions are devised, the time to implement them and measure them. Now, consider the cost of inaccurate measurement (and thus, inefficient adaptation) … what does this cost you?
Furthermore, what does it cost you if the measurement doesn’t occur it all?
And adding to that, what does it cost you if marketing fails (whether that failure is evident in low engagement, loss of revenue, decreased market share, damaged reputation or pure stagnation)?
What could you be losing out on by not taking a considered approach?
What pieces of the puzzle are you missing by not fusing neuroscience, business strategy and process optimization?
Although many leaders may initially see the cost of in-house marketing teams (or even single focused digital agencies) taking the responsibility of marketing as the most cost effective choice… ultimately that is a myopic and detrimental view.
When marketing is adaptive, strategic, adeptly tied to brand and business structure and process; when informed, measured, nimble and iterative… not only can the direct goals of the campaign be achieved (and exceeded), but organisational growth can occur in every facet of the business.
Suddenly, marketing strategy just got even more powerful:
- Delivery occurs faster;
- Large, unmanageable tasks become controllable;
- Optimal solutions are rapidly uncovered;
- Initiatives, through realistic prioritisation and improvement, better meet consumer requirements;
- Feedback loops become helpful instead of wasteful; and importantly
- Risk mitigation occurs continuously and grants you greater security (in market share, reputation and sustainable growth)
Adaptive marketing strategy (that occurs in tandem with your greater business and process strategy) is key to sustainable growth.
Let’s again look at a traditional marketing model. Usually, the final product is pre-determined and a waterfall approach is taken. This can mean that teams aren’t adaptive throughout the creative process, activities may be repeated needlessly without gaps in the chain being spotted and opportunities to gauge ebbs and flows of consumer interest can be missed.
Businesses must cease to allow a ‘chicken and egg’ marketing mentality to grind their business and sales to a halt… because as we know, timing is everything and with lack of collaboration between divisions, lack of upper understanding and heavyweight plans that never make it to market, releasing a poorly-timed and clunky campaign is simply not good enough in the eyes of today’s consumers.
Consider again the questions we proposed above, and now apply them to traditional marketing.
- Can you identify the approach to marketing that your business is currently taking?
- Is it clearly defined?
- What’s the cost vs. benefit, and how do you measure this? Have these metrics shifted over time – and if so, how? What does this mean for your growth?
- Where is the waste occurring?
- What would you like to see changed, and do you think this is an achievable goal? How might you set about achieving it?
- What is the ultimate cost to your business if your marketing strategies fail to generate results?
Planning is paramount.
This is key… note the emphasis here on ‘planning’, rather than ‘plans’. Planning is adaptive and continuous, plans have a defined end goal (and then what happens? Reinvent the wheel? Repeat the wheel? Ignore the wheel and lose focus?).
Given that consumer interest is a constantly adjusting variable (based not only on factors within your control but also adaptive personas and environmental, socioeconomic and political variables), inadvertently pushing your audience away through poorly targeted, untested or inaccurately represented messaging is a risk that any business simply cannot afford to take.