Perhaps you are familiar with the photo of the former CEO of Nokia sobbing with his leadership team as his company was sold to Microsoft for parts. The now infamous headline: “we didn’t do anything wrong.” Well, yes Steve – you did.
Marketing exists to find and capitalize on the sweet-spot in their chosen market. The fastest growing companies we work with understand which accounts and buyers in their markets are going to generate the most amount of revenue in the shortest amount of time. They learn who their buyers are, how they make purchase decisions, and why they will choose their products and services over their competitors. Great Marketing strategies are built on great research. Here is how SBI determines how to help our clients grow revenue faster than their competitors.
A Four-Lens Approach
As a part of the annual planning cycle, best in class businesses engage in every element of the four-lens approach. The refresh cycles and depth may vary from year to year but the cost of not executing is far too great. Ask yourself if there is sufficient rigor built into researching the 2019 Marketing strategy by looking at these lenses.
Customer Research is the most obvious area for opportunity. If you stop at surveys to establish your Promoter Score you may find your customers resemble those millions of ex-Blackberry and ex-Nokia users; they all talk about how much they loved the products, they just stopped buying them. Surveys are a barometer, they do not give the rich insights from a more comprehensive approach.
Unbiased Market Research cannot be gleaned from a CRM (sales people are notoriously bad at properly attributing wins and losses). Getting great data here requires rolling up sleeves and getting busy. This may come from visiting competitive locations on a mystery shop, interviewing a lost prospect or getting an unbiased report from an independent analyst. If the answers to how your company stacks-up in your industry scares you (or you question if you have been overconfident) its time to evaluate yourself against the choices your customers and prospects make every day.
Establishing the Corporate Lens, while seemingly straightforward, typically is not. If you can answer this question and be aligned in the answers, you will have the best chance at being a top-performing company (growing faster than your competitors and your industry). “What do you want the Marketing team to deliver?” Numeric, time-bound answers that are directly related to revenue generation are the only right answers. Most of the CEOs found in large companies come from Finance and Accounting, many have always viewed Marketing as a money pit that they cannot hold accountable for real results; change the perception by having fierce conversations with this team in an ongoing one-on-one dialogue and greater cooperation, respect, and funding will follow.
Finally, the Field Lens is critical to view the impact of marketing and to discover areas of opportunity. Again, Marketing cannot stop at a field survey. Spending an entire day with a top performing rep gives insights beyond compare; how tools are used, what campaigns and initiatives are working, customer perceptions, and the degree to which messaging is resonating cannot be fully understood on a 30-minute call from a thousand miles away.
All of this will provide quantitative and qualitative data from which Marketing leaders can base a great strategy for success. Are all these lenses refreshed at least annually in your planning cycle? Download this tool to help determine the type of research you’ll need to perform BEFORE you need to produce your 2019 plan. The choice is to hire it done or do it yourself but not doing it, or a half-assed attempt at doing it will lead to yet another challenging year.
The advantage you have today undoubtedly will be devoured by the trends of tomorrow. If you are listening carefully to your competitors, teammates and customers on what to do RIGHT, your strategies will withstand the tests of time.
- Understand the strength of their current brand strategy
- Determine whether they are communicating with the right buyers through the right channels
- Facilitate discussions with the Executive Leadership team on the importance and value of creating a strong compelling brand and message