Why Glossing Over The Marketing Strategy Doesn’t Work | Episode 39

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Do random acts of marketing have you bouncing off the walls? I think we’ve all been there. Chasing the next big thing that’s sure to be a game changer. But the reality is that approach sucks you into a cycle that leaves you with lackluster, disconnected marketing. It doesn’t help you build your brand, give you message consistency or clarity, nor does it create a program designed for long-term success. 

It’s also an expensive way to do business.  

Listen to this episode to hear the GrowthMode team talk about the many benefits of spending time judiciously on creating a strong strategy and how it sets you up for long-term sustainable growth.  

00:01 Introduction
00:53 What happens when you operate without a marketing strategy
01:56 Falling into random acts of marketing and a lack of focus
05:27 Strategy detours lead to wasted time and money
07:19 No patience for strategy results in ineffective campaigns
09:43 The core elements of a demand generation strategy that are essential
14:10 Importance of repetition and multiple touchpoints
15:20 Creating a digital footprint to become your BEST sales rep
17:59 Importance of building a strategy before tactics
18:57 Conclusion

This podcast is hosted by GrowthMode Marketing. Learn more about us at www.growthmodemarketing.com.

Hey, everybody. It’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You’re listening to The Demand Gen Fix, the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long term sustainable growth, especially in the HR tech industry.

Hello. Hello. Deanna and Greg here today. Today’s topic is about strategy, or more specifically why you should never skimp on this step. It is the blueprint to ensuring that your marketing programs are intentional, hyper focused, and working to support the mission at hand, which I know many view that as high growth, and I know the fact that you need a marketing strategy seems pretty darn obvious. Yet our team at GrowthMode Marketing has found that many companies in the HR tech space and other markets run without one.

Or maybe they create one,  but they don’t stick to it and it ends up just collecting dust. And this is a huge mistake because just like you wouldn’t build a house without following a blueprint, you shouldn’t run marketing without one. So let’s jump in and talk about the implications of what do we see when companies are operating with no formal marketing strategy?

Well, the one thing that always jumps out first is you start doing random acts of marketing and you end up just, whatever request comes in, you end up jumping on that and just getting into tasks all the time, right? Like I need to make this, I need to make that, I need to post this, I need to post that. Instead of following your strategy where you get stuck doing all these little different tactics and trying different things out and nothing really seems to get any traction, and just keep getting distracted by the next shiny object, right? Like hey, this is new, we should try this out. Hold on a second. Take a step back, look at your strategy and make sure that it makes sense to spend your time and money on it.

So it really helps just prioritize the work and helps you focus on the most important and the most impactful things instead of being real busy doing these random acts of marketing.

So many marketing teams fall victim to random acts of marketing, and it’s not intentional, but when you’ve got sales teams and the CEO and others within the organization constantly bringing requests and ideas to you, it’s really easy to get sidetracked and jump on those things because as marketers, of course we want to be helpful. Our goal is to move the organization forward and help with revenue growth. So if the CEO asks for something, why wouldn’t we say yes? Right?

But the reality is a lot of times they’re not necessarily, when they’re making ask, whether it’s the CEO, the sales team or somebody else, they’re not looking at it and saying does this meet our strategic objectives in marketing and will this drive us forward more than some of the things you are focusing on right now, right? Like as the marketer, that’s your job to put that lens on and to have a filter to say, love your idea,

this one is going to go on the back burner right now because this is where our priorities are to move the needle to help us hit that high growth initiative. The random acts of marketing really go side and side with lack of marketing focus. And that’s where organizations are trying to be everything to everyone, which means you’re coming across so general that you resonate with no one. And this is very common, especially in the HR technology space where talking to organizational leaders, a lot of times the response that we’ll get might be as broad as, oh, we can sell our solution to any organization that has over 5000 employees.

Could we be a little more specific here because that’s a lot. And that doesn’t mean a technology can’t actually be sold to any organization that has 5000 employees, but it does mean you’re in a very competitive market and you’re potentially not resonating with anyone because you have no meaningful differentiation, which means you’re getting lost in that sea of sameness because prospects get overwhelmed by the options.

And as a marketer, when you have a lack of marketing focus, it’s a little bit of losing sight of the end goal and resulting in getting off track with what you’re trying to accomplish with your marketing.

The strategy piece, that’s like your compass and somebody comes to you and says, well, we want to go this direction right now and you have to take it back. It’s like your safety net, right? It’s like, hold on a second, does it make real sense you end up with less impactful marketing at the end of the day and that’s not really what you’re supposed to be doing.

You’re right. It is that compass. And when you think about it, like if you said we’re taking a road trip to California and you’re leaving from Minnesota, where we happen to be based, and you’re halfway to California, and then someone says, oh, you know what we should really do, let’s take a road trip to Georgia. Okay, Georgia wasn’t on the way, but now you’re taking a detour to go to Georgia. So it’s going to take much longer to get to your destination, which is California, right? So if you put that in perspective from a marketing standpoint, it’s the same thing.

Like if you detour from your strategy, it’s going to take you longer to get to your endpoint. And that’s a lot of work to not get traction. And when your marketing programs start to be disconnected, it results in a lot of wasted time and dollars. You’re spending a lot of time, you’re spending a lot of money. You need to see ROI on these marketing efforts at the end of the day. And ultimately, if you’re not hyper focused, if you don’t have a really good strategy and you’re not sticking to it, ultimately you’re going to have challenges getting enough traction in the market to hit your revenue targets a lot of times.

it always makes you wonder, why does this happen? Why does this mistake keep happening? Like you said before, Deanna, marketing teams are working with good intentions. They want to do the right thing, but sometimes that strategy gets skipped because they’re impatient to get working on the actionable items, right? Like doing the work, to getting the tactical things done instead of working on the strategy first. Then you’re not really giving enough thought to each element that you’re working on. You’re just working on it and then working on the next one and working on the next one. It’s like each thing is in its own little box, but all those boxes need to be connected together.

And I think it is especially true that organizations want to skip to the actionable elements of a marketing program and not focus on strategy when revenue is behind because then you’re operating from panic mode. Like we need to get results. We need to get results pretty darn quickly here. We don’t have time to spend on this strategy and totally get it. The struggle is real, right? You want to see results from day one and oftentimes strategy takes quite a bit of time to build out.

But I think if you don’t take a step back and do that, ultimately you lose more traction than the amount of time that it takes to focus on that strategy and do that well. And having to go back and redo that work, that’s no fun. That’s a lot of wasted time, right? And I will say we have seen in our experience CEOs, sales leaders, and marketers that we’ve talked to over the years and that we’ve worked with who didn’t want to spend the money or the time on the strategy. They just wanted to jump right into the campaigns to drive results.

How effective do you think those campaigns are when you don’t have the basic strategy elements nailed down? We can tell you what happens. Typically it’s not very effective and they come back and they’re like, why didn’t this campaign resonate? And it’s like, well, because, yes, there was a campaign strategy, but we didn’t have the fundamental strategic blocks built out to do this, per your request, because you wanted to jump right into this. But what happens is we have to go back and we have to work on message positioning and a unique point of view and the ideal customer profile and all those things that really should have been defined up front to avoid wasting that time and money.

Yeah, if you don’t have those core things, then the campaign’s not going to be as effective as it would be. And then at the end of the day, you’re not where you want to be. Maybe we should run through what these different things are like the ideal customer profile, and unique point of view, and content marketing plan, just so in case somebody didn’t already hear it from us before.

Yeah, so we look at strategy. There’s obviously a lot of different components that go into a holistic marketing program from a strategy perspective. You’ve got message positioning, buyer personas, sales journeys, all those things. We’re going to talk specifically about demand generation because that’s where our expertise is at growth mode marketing. And so when you’re looking at building out a demand generation engine, the main components like you said, Greg, it’s going to be an ideal customer profile, a unique point of view, and a content marketing, and demand gen plan.

So starting with that ideal customer profile. This is really the first step of building out a strategy to build out a demand generation engine. And you’re building a demand generation engine with the intent of how do you create demand in the market and then ultimately capture it and convert it into business, right? The ideal customer profile is a foundational building block that helps your company hyper focus on a specific audience to gain better traction in the market.

So going back to that, you can’t be everything to everyone and expect to resonate with anyone kind of mindset. It’s how do you narrow down your audience to get better traction to expand your growth? Because if you sound like everybody in the market, knowing how competitive the HR technology market is, it’s so easy to get lost in the crowd and it’s overwhelming for buyers. And I always like to use the example of if I am a manufacturing company, and I am looking for a talent acquisition platform to bring into my organization, and I’ve got just ten vendors, which is a fraction of what the market is right,

that are marketing to me, and I’m looking at them like they all essentially do the same thing. Like I get some of them have a little bit different bells and whistles, but to me, there’s no truly meaningful differentiation. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know which one to pick. But let’s say one of those ten starts to talk specifically about manufacturing industry, and how they understand that my needs as the head of HR are different than if, say, I worked in a hospital.

Because we’ve got these shift differentials and a lot of training that goes into running the machinery, and high turnover rates, and headbutting between the office staff and the factory floor staff because they feel like they’re treated differently. And all of these different things that are very specific to the manufacturing industry, right? And now I’m talking about how my tail and acquisition platform ties back to those challenges.

Which one of those ten vendors do you think will actually break through the clutter and resonate with me as the buyer, right? If everyone else is positioning themselves to any employer that has 5,000 plus employees. When you focus in on your audience, it allows you to get hyper focused with your messaging so it stands out in the sea of sameness.

By positioning to a specific audience, you differentiate your company in the eyes of those buyers. You’re demonstrating that you understand what their needs are and what their pain points are. It’s important to have that ideal customer profile really nailed down as detailed as you can, so you can leverage it as a guide for all the marketing content that you’re working on. You can have things created and written by different people, right, but maybe they all come at a little different angle. But then if they’re starting with that ideal customer profile, then they’ll all be more aligned than if you didn’t have this outlined to help drive that creative process.

Your ideal customer profile. You’re right. It absolutely should serve as a guide for all the marketing content developed after that, right? To ensure you are keeping that message focused and relevant for this specific audience. And that’s how you break through the clutter. The other piece of the puzzle is a unique point of view, which is we help organizations build a framework around a unique point of view that identifies the pain points you can speak to in the market to drive awareness, build trust, and ultimately build demand for your services and technologies.

And the point of this is to demonstrate that you understand your ideal customer profile’s unique needs and can support them. It’s a building block. You need to do the ideal customer profile, first, because when you do the unique point of view, it’s going to be hyper focused to that ideal customer profile, and it needs to be different than what prospects are hearing from competitors who have a diluted story as they try to appeal to the masses. Ultimately, it’s intended as a way to hyper focus marketing to get better traction.

Yeah, the unique point of view framework, it’s really neat when you see it coming to life, right? Because it helps to build out the story that you’re telling to the market; demonstrate that you really understand what they’re going through and how you can help them. With the unique point of view a repetition is the key, right? Because a customer doesn’t necessarily hear from you every time you post something or put an ad out, right? B2B buyers need to hear from you like 66 times before they’re ready to even do anything. It’s important to weave this unique point of view between all of your marketing content so that they hear it over and over again and they understand that you get them.

Yeah, and it really is one of those things where it feels like you’re saying the same thing over and over, to you, not necessarily to them because to your point, Greg, yeah, Gartner says it takes 66 touches to make a long lasting brand impression and have them start to have interest in your company. They’re not looking at every single thing you put out there. So that 66, it’s not like, oh, I saw your ad 66 times, or I received 66 emails. I now remember you. I’m now interested in you.

I wish it was that easy. You’ve probably put out hundreds, maybe thousands of messages across the various channels, right? And they’ve had to absorb it in multiple spots for it to really stick with them. And so that repetition really is key. And if it feels like, oh, we talk about this so much, it’s overkill, then you’re probably doing it right? Because if it doesn’t feel like you’re talking about it too much, you’re probably not talking about it enough to get it in front of your prospects enough for it to stick with them and start to resonate with them.

And then you take your ICP, your ideal customer profile, and your unique point of view, and then you have to build out the next piece of the roadmap, which is the content marketing and demand gen plan. So that’s all the strategy behind all the content that you’re developing, and how you’re going to get it out in front of your prospects and customers too, right? Because you’re always trying to keep your customers in the loop and make sure that they know that they want to keep buying from you.

Yeah, I always think of the content marketing and demand generation plan as the blueprint of content and programs that will build out your digital footprint to become your best sales rep. So knowing that today’s B2B prospects and specifically in HR technology, are waiting much, much longer in their decision process before they’re willing to engage with a sales rep, they’re doing a lot of research online, they’re talking to peers, they’re collecting as much information as they can.

The content marketing and demand generation plan is really that guide to say, here’s how we’re going to make sure we have the right content and that we’re getting it out into the channels through an omnichannel marketing approach to catch them in all of the places where they’re hanging out and they’re going and consuming information to learn more. It provides guidance on initial content topics and tools to develop to support each stage of the buyer’s journey.

It’s really focused on targeting your ideal customer profile and reinforcing your unique point of view and the pain points you uncovered during that whole process. Strategy document outlines the tactics. This is where you start to get into the nitty gritty, right? Where everybody wants to start. At the end of the strategy, you start talking about, here’s the tactics that we’re going to use, here’s how we’re going to distribute our content.

Where is my ideal customer sitting, and learning and reading and consuming videos, and et cetera, et cetera, right? That’s where everybody gets caught up in the creating, and that’s kind of a fun thing to do, but you got to have the strategy to do it, right?

Yeah, and I think you said it perfectly, Greg. It’s about getting into the nitty gritty at that point. Once you build out all those strategies, then it makes sense to jump into the actionable items and build out those campaigns. And I think what you’re going to find is they’re going to be much more impactful, and drive better results. Because there is a focus you have this intention behind everything you’re doing. So I think the moral of the story, you need a good strategy, one that hyper focuses your marketing program, and ensures that everything you create and do is with intention, all to drive towards optimal results. And if your company is currently struggling to hit revenue targets, take a step back and start to evaluate whether you’ve got a strong strategy in place.

Because if you don’t, that is probably contributing to why you’re struggling to make the forward progress that your organization needs.

Then you end up in Georgia.

Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech workers. Brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe for more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus, give us a like. Tell your friends.

We’ll see you next time.

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