Is marketing a board level issue? Is the answer to this question so ridiculously obvious that it is not even worth asking?
I am afraid the answer to the first question is yes, but the second is no. Strategic marketing, or treating marketing overall as a central part of the business strategy still seems to elude far too many British businesses.
Often I think the reason is the confusion between sales and marketing in many owners minds. Of course sales trumps all – if you are getting sufficient sales why bother with marketing?
A good example, is that of referrals. If the business has a good reputation, then referrals will come and this may be enough to sustain a business and many businesses will be happy with this. However, to a large extent referrals are a passive way to solicit business. What happens when the referrals dry up? How can you grow the business when the rate of new sales enquiries is almost entirely out of your control?
Strategic marketing means putting the image, the reach and the profile of the business under your control. This is not something you switch on and off it is something that is developed over time. If you have to start dealing with this in a hurry it may already be too late.
By dealing with marketing at a strategic level it is also placed in the context of other strategic issues. For example the issue of branding should go beyond getting a new letterhead printed, it should permeate every aspect of the business operations. For the most successful businesses the brand is the business. Consider the Virgin brand – this is not about one particular business, but a way of doing business.
Strategic marketing thought builds the brand around the way business operates and uses this approach to reach out through a range of different channels to create awareness and solicit engagement with potential customers. This can then be turned into fee earning business by the sales force.
So referrals are one channel, outbound sales calls another, mail shots another. However, the mistake people often make is to treat the internet as one channel when it is in fact a number of channels. Of course a single website for your web site is one entity, but a number of ways to solicit enquiries or engagement can be built into that one site. There can also be many journeys to the website and pathways through the website may well depend on where the new visitor landed originally.
For example, a visitor may arrive on the website for the first time from a tweet/twitter posting. The subject of the tweet may mean the visitor lands on a specific page with subject material related to the tweet. The vast majority of people who respond to such a posting will be interested specifically in the subject we have mentioned. We need to lead them on a journey which allows the to discover more on the subject and results in a contact which might lead to a sale.
This example can only work if we have recognised at a strategic level the importance of representing multiple service and product offering strands on the website and linking each up to different initiatives that reach out and draw people in. Or, as in many cases, we can just set up a website, randomly add some content and set up a twitter feed to talk about what we had for lunch in the motorway cafe today.
This is what the TrafficManager Programme is all about. It is a strategic marketing platform that brings the multiple marketing channels the internet offers into a coherent marketing whole. This puts control in the hands of the Directors and proactively reaches out to create new sales opportunities.
If you would like more information about how the Traffic Manager Programme could help your business than get in touch for a no commitment, free initial consultation.