Copyright © 2006 Judy Murdoch
Recently, I worked with a local community group to develop marketing that would help them grow their membership. The organization I worked with is new and focuses on creating opportunities for business, non-profit, and government work together to achieve common goals.
At our first meeting, I asked the group, “What is it we want to accomplish?” Some of the answers that came back were:
When you put the words “marketing” and “accomplishments” (or “goals” or “objectives”) together, what we usually think of are specific activities such as what to do with the website, or what events to offer, or getting a classier look for the company’s promotional materials. That’s what the work group participants were talking about: the specific activities they thought would help the organization increase membership.
These activities certainly sound good and worthwhile. Having an appealing website is great. So is a brochure with strong copy and a great logo.
Here’s the problem. All of us have limitations when it comes to time, money, and energy. Having lots of money helps but ultimately, you can’t implement every cool marketing idea that shows up on your radar.
So how do you choose? How do you make sure that every marketing activity will contribute to getting your business to where you want it to be? How do you make sure that each action you take contributes to your marketing effectiveness?
Here’s where marketing strategy comes in. When you set marketing objectives and create a strategy to meet those objectives, it’s easy to decide which marketing actions (or tactics) are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck.
So what’s the difference between marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics and how does each insure that your marketing gets results?
MARKETING OBJECTIVES are what you ultimately want your marketing to do for your business. In other words, what role does marketing play in the success of your business? Marketing objectives usually describe the number of customers you want, sources of revenue, and market share, just to name a few.
Example: The organization I worked with had two objectives: (1.) to double their membership in 2006. (2.) to increase the percent of members who own small businesses (versus non-profit and government).
MARKETING STRATEGY describes how you will use your money, time, people, and other resources to achieve your objectives. Some of the issues addressed by marketing strategy are: what markets do we want to be in? How will we reach our audience? What products and services will we offer? How do we want to stand out in the minds of our customers?
Example: An issue that came up again and again for the community group was “it’s difficult to describe what makes us different without sounding New Agey.” They had been trying but they just couldn’t say it in ten words or less. On the other hand, everyone agreed “when the organization is right for someone, they almost always sign up after attending one of our events.” That is, experience with the group is one of their best marketing tools.
From a strategic standpoint, this meant: (1.) Don’t spend time and money on approaches that require strong copywriting to be effective. This meant putting on hold any major changes to the website and to the brochure and (2.) Time and resources should be focused on encouraging prospective members to attend live events.
To encourage prospects to attend, the group asked current members to invite people in their networks who were likely to appreciate what the organization had to offer-essentially, they chose a word-of-mouth marketing strategy to grow the membership.
MARKETING TACTICS are the specific activities you do to fulfill your strategy.
Example: Once they decided to focus on word of mouth marketing (as opposed to changing the website or redoing the brochure) the group needed to come up with activities members could do. They created a simple “outreach” card which listed membership benefits, where to go for event information, contact information, and a coupon that gave a $10 discount to first time visitors. Next they distributed cards with an emphasis on getting cards to members who tended to be “connectors” (people who had broad, diverse contact networks and who were enthusiastic proponents of group).
Two final points here:
1. The Chinese general and philosopher, Sun Tzu said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” To get results from your marketing, you need to employ strategies AND tactics. Companies that tend to get bogged in “analysis paralysis” are those that have good strategy ideas but fall short when it comes to executing tactics. Companies that overly emphasize tactics tend to “spray and pray” by implementing random marketing activities that don’t support and reinforce one another. Without appropriate balance between strategies and tactics, you are likely to be wasting your marketing dollars.
2. It’s more important to set marketing objectives and strategies that you’ll use than it is to create ones that are profound and/or impressive. If your marketing objectives and strategy are three sentences written on a legal pad, fine. As long as they support your goals for developing your business and as long as you take action to put your strategy into practice.
About The Author:
Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost, effective marketing campaigns using word-of-mouth referrals, guerrilla marketing activities, and selected strategic alliances. To download a free copy of the workbook, “Where Does it Hurt? Marketing Solutions to the problems that Drive Your Customers Crazy!” go to http://www.judymurdoch.com/workbook.htm
You can contact Judy at 303-475-2015 or email@example.com
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