There’s no doubt New Zealand is in for some tough economic times. COVID-19 has compelled businesses to re-think their strategies, priorities and areas of investment. Among the difficult decisions businesses are making, is whether to increase or decrease investment in marketing. But by how much? And in what areas?
The answer lies in figuring out what marketing activity will propel you toward your goals, and what to let go of to preserve cash. Marketing is a powerful lever you can use to improve your business, but it must deliver a return on investment. Otherwise it’s a waste of money, and a risk to your business if done poorly.
Work through the 7 steps below to ensure you’re marketing your business effectively, and spending your $ wisely.
1. Marketing alignment with business strategy
Ultimately, marketing’s job is to drive your business towards its goals. Before evaluating your marketing activity, ensure your long-term business goals are top of mind. This includes your purpose, mission and vision.
Your purpose should be the criteria for all decision making. Why? Because it’ll save you money, and make you money if you invest in the right places. In the post-COVID marketplace, customers are going to be looking for brands who are living up to their purpose.
The intelligent brands, the competitive brands, are the ones that realise they need to activate their purpose now. They need to communicate effectively and be authentic. In the long term, they will gain. Debra Sobel1
2. Know your customers
The biggest inefficiency in marketing is having a too broad target audience. The more focused you can get on who your real customers are, the more efficient it is to communicate with them. The world has changed, so you may need to reconsider your target segments and their changing needs.
To define your target audience, think about what specific groups of people you want to reach and analyse each one. Consider their buyer journey: awareness, interest, desire, action (AIDA2), and any barriers to engagement. For existing customers, consider how you can nurture those relationships to create loyalty and repeat business.
3. Highlight your point of difference
Reviewing your competitive landscape will help you identify what sets your brand apart from others and why customers should choose you. Now is a good time to do this. There’s lots to learn from competitors and online research is a quick and effective way to do this. Understanding what they’re doing will inform your marketing approach.
4. Leverage brand power
Don’t underestimate the value of a brand. Intangible assets account for 87% of company value today4. In uncertain, challenging times, customers are looking for businesses they can trust.
Now is a good time to re-evaluate your brand positioning, personality, and messaging. What do your customers think you stand for? How do you want your target audience to perceive you? How would they describe your business if it were a person?
Former Google and Square marketing maven Arielle Jackson shares some powerful frameworks5 to help brands nail this.
Building and maintaining strong brands – ones that customers recognise and trust remains one of the best ways to reduce business risk. Harvard Business Review3
5. Audit existing activity and spend
Poor marketing is a waste of money and can have a negative impact on your brand and reputation. In most instances, it’s better to not do something than to do it poorly. An audit will help you identify what’s working and what’s not, and highlight where to invest your marketing spend going forward.
Evaluate all the things you’re currently spending marketing budget on. Is it reaching your target audience? Google search your business. What comes up? Click through and ask yourself what impression you get? Make a list of activities to start, stop and keep.
6. Set marketing goals and KPIs
With a better understanding of your target audience, positioning, and point of difference, and your business strategy top of mind, you’ll be able to set some clear marketing goals and KPIs.
What outcomes do you want to achieve in the short and long-term? Increase sales? Build brand awareness? Enhance existing customer relationships? Grow market share? How will you measure success?
7. Make a plan and take action
During this time, a short-term e.g. 90-day tactical marketing plan can be beneficial to help you move fast and get runs on the board. With your target audience in mind, plan out the marketing activities you’d like to implement each month that will enable you to achieve your marketing goals. Depending on your goals, you might consider Traditional Marketing, Digital Marketing, Community Marketing, and Relationship Marketing activities.
Free Marketing SOS Template
We’ve put together a free Marketing SOS Template to help businesses work through the above process and develop a 90 day quick-win marketing plan.
No matter what stage, size or industry your business is in, you can use it to gain clarity and focus, prioritise activity, and start taking action.