There’s no doubt about it – you’re busy. Maybe you’ve got piles of paper all over your desk or maybe your voicemail is filled by Wednesday afternoon. You’ve got a to-do list that consistently has more things unchecked than things checked off. It seems like every time you turn around, something else comes up.
In situations like this, it’s inevitable that marketing ends up taking a backseat to more urgent matters. Today, between the emails, phone calls and meetings, consider the role marketing plays in your business. Is it a primary concern? How often have you found your team sitting down and discussing things such as taglines, descriptors, elevator pitches and communications strategies? Although they may seem like the last thing on your list, these are some of the most important elements of maintaining a cohesive brand identity.
Take a minute and answer these 15 short questions to see where you stand in the marketing world.
1) I would describe our marketing strategy as:
A. Focused, up-to-date and always on our mind.
B. Somewhat relevant to how we go about our business.
C. Not much of a factor in our business.
D. Currently nonexistent.
2) For me, having a distinct marketing plan for my business is:
A. Extremely important and necessary for success.
B. Important, but not at the top of my to-do list.
C. Something I’ve never really thought about.
D. Not important at all.
3) If you asked my customers what our brand promise is, they could probably explain it:
A. In about 30 seconds or less.
B. If they had a chance to sit down and think about it.
C. If they did an Internet search.
D. My brand doesn’t have a distinct promise.
4) We’ve labeled our business with:
A. One singular tagline.
B. A few different descriptors.
C. A new message for each medium.
D. Whatever works at the time.
5) In terms of design and voice, the collateral we put out:
A. Is always consistent.
B. Sometimes varies.
C. Is rarely aligned.
D. Is nothing like our brand.
6) Our company website:
A. Changes as necessary to reflect changes in our business.
B. Adapts every so often when we get the chance.
C. Strays from the things we say in person.
D. Is completely irrelevant to our brand.
7) Our in-depth communications strategy:
A. Guides all of our messaging.
B. Is unfinished but has helped in
a few instances.
C. Is not a priority for us.
D. Doesn’t exist.
8) We sit down and re-evaluate our services, description and messaging:
A. Once every few months.
B. A couple times a year.
C. Once a year.
9) We actively communicate with our customer and partner base:
A. Frequently – via newsletters, email campaigns and direct mail pieces.
B. Somewhat often via these forms.
C. Rarely via these forms.
10) On every piece of collateral we put out, we include:
A. A distinct and relevant call to action.
B. Some encouragement to reach out to us.
C. Little mention of how to engage with us.
D. No calls to action.
11) Our collateral includes:
A. Fresh and appealing design, distinct headings and categorized content.
B. Some design elements and a good amount of organization.
C. Scattered messages and minimal design.
D. Tightly packed text and no focus on structure or appearance.
12) In order to bring in new business, we:
A. Have a formal referral program put into place.
B. Verbally encourage our clients to tell their friends and family about us.
C. Mention referrals to our clients every so often.
D. Don’t spend any time encouraging referrals.
13) Depending on our target, we:
A. Change the medium we’ll use to reach them.
B. Generally use the same medium.
C. Rarely consider how they receive the information.
D. Never take the medium into account.
14) In order to understand our target audience, we:
A. Researched their demographics, interests, habits and media intake.
B. Asked around to see what might appeal to them.
C. Guessed at who they might be.
D. Never considered these elements.
15) When we execute a marketing initiative, we:
A. Measure its success and evaluate which factors we should adjust in the future.
B. Take note of whether it performed well or not.
C. Rarely try to gauge its success.
D. Find the success of the initiative
to be irrelevant.
Total up your answers:
___ For every question you answered A, give yourself 4 points.
___ For every question you answered B, give yourself 3 points.
___ For every question you answered C, give yourself 2 points.
___ For every question you answered D, give yourself 1 point.
• 40 Points or Above. You’ve got a pretty good handle on your marketing strategy. You take the extra time to secure a solid plan and keep things consistent. You understand the importance of brand identity and communicating effectively with your customers. But remember, things are changing fast out there, and it’s tough to tell if you’re executing the best possible strategy for your business or one that simply gets the job done.
• 30–40 Points. Looks like you’re spending some time (and probably some money!), but it’s not bringing the astounding results you were looking for. You’ve considered your brand from a marketing standpoint but can’t always capitalize on opportunities to communicate with your customers in line with this strategy. Keep giving the marketing arm of your business the attention it needs to bring success.
• 20–30 Points. It seems like marketing just hasn’t made its way onto your list of important things. Refocus your attention on brand positioning and the elevator scenario. If you only have 30 seconds to sell a customer, and you can’t find the most aligned, cohesive and relevant strategy to do so, you should put more focus on the marketing side of your business that has been pushed aside.
• Below 20 Points. Your marketing needs work. Whether it’s that awful to-do list getting in your way or just a lack of appreciation for this kind of strategy, it’s time you rethink how you’re positioning your business. If your messaging doesn’t convey a structured and purposeful approach, you certainly can’t expect your customers to understand your brand.
So how did you measure up? If it’s starting to look like your attention is being directed everywhere but your marketing strategy, maybe it’s time you found a team who can help you tackle the details. On paper, these may seem like second-rate issues, but you’ll be surprised by just how much of a difference a strong, cohesive strategy can make in your overall business goals.
Zain Haseeb is the new business director of Maiden Media Group. He is in charge of the agency’s new business team and responsible for developing strategic relationships and attracting new clients.
Michelle McGowan is a copywriter for the agency and is responsible for content writing, idea generation and branding possibilities for the agency’s clients. Maiden Media Group is a strategic creative agency based in Philadelphia, PA, with a nationwide clientele. They specialize in marketing solutions that help companies improve their brand presence and increase sales. Contact Haseeb at 215/586-3592, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.maidenmedia.com.