At 2Swell, we have the opportunity to work with many small to mid-size companies. While these companies serve as experts to their own products and/or solutions, often times, there is an opportunity to structure and develop a more profound understanding as to what the marketing function really entails. While some smaller companies certainly have a developed marking program, in many cases someone has organically become the “marketing manager” and is learning on the job, making decisions along the way. Over time, the team may have grown and is keeping marketing afloat. However, seldom do they have the time to truly look back at what it takes to develop a successful, metric-driven, skills-based marketing team.
So, when these, often growing, companies reach out for advice and direction on how to move their company to the next level, one of the first steps to tackle may be to help organize a marketing approach that drives awareness and interest for their offering. To simplify the initial conversation about what “good looks like” we created a diagram (see below) to clearly delineate the different functions, focus areas and thus varied sets of talent needed to deliver a successful marketing strategy.
The first area of focus is Corporate Marketing and Product Marketing, which entails crafting a clear message that makes both your company and your product look good enough and strong enough to deliver on your promise to the customer. You want to clearly describe your company, product, services, etc. in a way that enhances the company image, as well as make sense to the customer. While you may lean on outside firms to tweak your messaging and corporate branding, we believe that this is essential to your business and should be kept in-house. Don’t outsource that which is part of your own core competency.
Next, you need to focus on Website Optimization – i.e. people need to be able to find you. The skill set needed for this step can be very technical and ever changing. Understanding how to drive traffic to your site and then converting that into either shopping basket sales or qualified leads for the sales team to follow up on is the key role. Since the execution of this task doesn’t require someone that is an expert on your product and services, but rather has deep expertise around in-bound internet marketing. We recommend outsourcing this piece with steady oversight by someone on the inside who has at least a basic understanding of this facet to keep the vendor on track with the desired metrics.
Audience Engagement is step three and revolves around Social Marketing. The goal is for people to follow you via Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, emails, Twitter, etc. What you want is to create a community of interested and/or loyal followers who engage with you, your content and bring others into the network. Don’t make the mistake of blasting your followers without giving them value. You can build relationships with your customers by interacting as often as possible; actively listening, while also educating them. If your audience likes and believes in you, they are more likely to pursue your product or services, as well as recommend you to others. This marketing area can be easily outsourced and sometimes to the same party who does Website Optimization.
Once people know who you are, what products/solutions you can deliver, and how to find you, then let’s push people to contact you. Proactive Lead Generation campaigns, combined with providing the sales team (if you have one) with the tools and activities to do successful prospecting, is the fourth step to successful marketing. The person responsible for this will be someone who understands incredibly well what activities and tools would be most effective in targeting your ideal customer profile and how to be a valuable service provider, internally, to the sales team. This is a role, you would want to keep in-house, in most cases.
Finally, everything you do will be supported by Content Marketing; a plan to promote trust and confidence that your company can deliver on your promises. Without solid content, all other pieces of the puzzle will be weak and people may not like and believe you. Good content is the basis of SEO, SEM, Social Engagement, PR, and more. This step requires whitepapers, research, trainings and other written copy, it needs to be delivered by a strong writer. You may already have a strong writer on your staff, but if not then this skill will require a part-time position or a contract position.
This quickly sums up the vital pieces of a strong marketing strategy, plus the roles and responsibilities required within each discipline. If the process is built in a logical format and delivered strategically, then your company will see successful results.