Well, 2020 is going to be remembered fondly…

Much like everyone else, I have been glued to my phone more than usual. Twitter, in particular. Even Apple’s screen time feature has given up counting my usage!

Recently, there have been numerous conversations surrounding marketing strategy. Especially in these uncertain times.

Distilling the tweets, they focus around three main areas:  Marcomms, channels and branding.

Now while these are huge entities within their own right, if we’re going to talk about strategy, we need to think outside of departmental and siloed constraints.

Mind the gap

“Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.”

Micheal E Porter.

When we only focus on one entity, it becomes a self-fulling prophecy.

That entity, is our only remit.

Whether you’re an in-house marketer, consultant or agency, our obsessive focus on marcomms creates a level of risk. One that has the potential to either elevate, or eliminate, our credibility.

If the course/product/service has potential, then there is an opportunity to create, shape and implement a strategy to support the business. This can range from branding, campaigns to optimisation and utilisation of new channels and media mixes.

It puts us at an advantage. Perhaps, an award-winning one.

However, if the course/product/service is shit, or not wanted, then any strategy will only lead to a new round of the ‘Blame Game’.

(Side note: if third parties did their homework on their prospective client’s offer, as part of their due diligence for new business, it would save/maintain their resources and reputation in the long run.)

Markets constantly change. We need to monitor and adapt accordingly. Otherwise our competitors will make the decisions for us.

This could be from an operational point of view or a new proposition. This is ‘market-led strategic change’. A term coined by the late, Professor Nigel Piercy.

Good agencies, consultants and marketers know that there is more to a marketing strategy than marcomms. Even wannabe gurus have even rebranded established marketing practices from 40+ years ago to consider other entities (I have written before about Growth Hacking and how its principles are formed from the 7ps marketing mix).

Yet, none of this matters if the clients we have, or the in-house senior management team, have a narrow/distorted view of what marketing is about.

To support our efforts, we need to ensure those we are working with understand what is possible, and critically what we can REALLY do.

It’s our responsibility to bridge the gap.

Marketing is everything

Hence why I wrote this blog.

It’s time to outline ALL areas which need consideration. These may not fall within our current remit. But, we need to know how they could impact our work. It could either make or break our competitive advantage.

In a paper for the European Journal of Marketing, Balmer & Greyser (2006), outlined the extended marketing mix. The 11ps. More Ps may sound overkill (debate for another time), but, they cover EVERYTHING within the marketing realm.

The ultimate checklist:

Philosophy and ethos

How an organisation operates and performs. The way it’s structured. The way it works. The culture it cultivates. The vision it has for itself and the market. In current marketing language, think of it as brand purpose, or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Product

It’s our courses/products/services. It’s developing and making what we’re selling. Research & Development (R&D). What does the market want? What can we provide? What does it look like? What can it do? How can we make ours different? Where and how will it be used?

Price

Working on the price at which we sell, based on the costs involved to take it to market, resource it and the valuation and perception of the brand. It’s not just for the Finance Dept.

Place

Devising the distributions channels. How these look and work for our market (students and customers). The go-to-market strategy. It’s our POS. Our merchandising. Our environment. The representatives we use. It’s our route-to-market (school liaison, online store, licensing, franchising etc.)

Performance

The quality of what we offer. Ensuring compliance with governance and legislation. For education, ensuring our courses up to date with the latest industry trends. They need to meet and exceed standards and expectations. Another aspect of CSR. Think product life cycle and the ethics associated with sub-par longevity or contractual agreements. The replacement, recovery, and renovation of old products.

Positioning

Why? A simple, yet powerful question.  

Not just from a brand perspective, but also in terms of the geographical locations of distributions outlets and operations. The product and service ranges (think online provision for education). The ability to scale/adapt for production etc. (Operational management). How can we position ourselves best to deliver effectively?

Personality

Linked to the Philosophy and Ethos, this is about the ‘personality’ of the company and the type of people this attracts and nurtures.  Are people proud to be working at <insert brand name>? What do people think when they here <insert brand name>?

Promotion

Anything on LinkedIn that has #Marketing.

People

What skillsets do we need? How do these people fit in? What opportunities has our R&D identified? Do we need to hire expertise to facilitate product division or create/teach new courses? The recruitment and upskilling procedures.

Perception

Linked to personality, concerns the reputation and perception of the company. The communities we operate in and the individuals we hire. PR and brand management. What do people think we’re good at/stand for? What do we suck at/should change?

Promise

Taking brand to a higher level of meaning. Ensuring that all these entities converge together to create a persona which delivers a promise. From our students and customers to our staff. What they can expect from us and ensuring we deliver.

Every. Single. Time.

Marketing strategy IS the business strategy

Marcomms cannot compensate for a poor go to market strategy. Flawed pricing model. Or a market that doesn’t want what we offer. 

Marketing is about building from the ground up. We can, and should, lead innovation in ALL areas.

Our insight and creativity are invaluable. Those developing the marketing strategy must, at least, be aware of how all these entities may impact performance. Even if they cannot directly influence or shape them.

It will take time to break the siloed thinking. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

If you take anything from this blog, marketing strategy isn’t just about marcomms, channels and branding. It’s everything. We need to move the conversation forward.

We’re a talented bunch. We should demonstrate and utilise our full skill set.

Share your thoughts

What do you think marketing could get more involved in? Do you think any aspects have been missed? How are you coping with lockdown? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @CJPanteny.

See you next time.

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