Does your company practice what is sometimes called the “Hope Method” of marketing? That is when you hope you will get new clients, hope people will refer you and hope sales will increase. Most often I see business owners and CEOs practice what I call the “Random Acts of Marketing” method. In executive meetings, the management team laments that the sales team is not meeting expectations. Suddenly the table is filled with marketing experts who begin chanting a litany of marketing ideas (although all too often there isn’t anyone with real marketing expertise in the room).
- We need a new brochure.
- Our branding is killing us.
- The website is tired.
- Let’s run some advertisements.
- We need to do social media.
- Let’s run a sale.
- We need to do more trade shows.
- Let’s do some press releases and get an article about us in a trade publication.
Then after earnest debate, someone in marketing (or someone posing as marketing) is tasked with one or two of these programs. Voila! You have just witnessed the birth of random acts of marketing.
Given that these tactics are born of pain rather than an integrated strategic marketing plan with measurements, they rarely yield profitable outcomes. When CEOs approach me as a CMO consultant, they often tell me they have tried everything to grow their business (and they probably have) but are not seeing the results they expected. They want to know if “I should do more” of whatever the tactic du jour happens to be for them.
Being the pragmatist that I am, I usually ask them a series of questions:
- What is your target market (and “everyone” is the worst answer)?
- What are your plans on growing your business based on that target market? Did you set goals and objectives for marketing to match those plans?
- What does success look like, and how are you measuring it?
If you haven’t clearly identified your target market, set clear goals and have no measurements in place, then how do you know what success looks like and how can you say you’re not seeing results?
Often they respond: “But I’ve tried everything, and it’s not working.” OK, I say, so what have you tried? Usually I hear part of the litany of Random Acts of Marketing—tactics that are not aligned to a business audience, to business goals or to a strategic initiative. That’s a recipe for failure. Additionally, if you are falling into the trap of Random Acts of Marketing and really doing “everything” marketing-wise, then you’re probably spreading yourself too thin and not doing anything well. When marketing doesn’t have a strategic focus, you are wasting time, energy and money.
If this sounds like you and your organization, then it’s time to take a step back. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to start moving toward becoming a less random organization and leave behind those Random Acts of Marketing.
- Do we clearly understand what our customers want and need?
- Do we have adequate knowledge of our competitors and why they win?
- Are we good at tapping actionable insights from our employees?
- Do we communicate compelling and unique value propositions to our market?
- Are our business objectives specific, documented and informed by solid market insight?
- Is our plan for growth current, feasible and inclusive of potential new offerings or markets?
- Are our company and our partners aligned around our core value propositions and plans?
- Do we have the right promotional marketing methods identified, and marketing automation deployed, to achieve our growth objectives?
- Do we have a measurement and feedback system that allows management to see progress and adjust plans?
It’s a new year. It’s a good time to take a step back and research your audience, set your business goals and objectives, and align your marketing plans and tactics to those goals. Pull your executive team together now, and start working to grow your business and wipe out those random acts of marketing.