SBI spoke with Mike Yardley, the Chief Integration Officer at VML, back in October. VML is a global marketing agency that delivers forward-thinking ideas and solutions. The topic of discussion was understanding the importance of a marketing strategy. Unfortunately many organizations don’t know where to start when evaluating theirs. Mike was able to identify several key questions to answer when assessing your marketing strategy.
What is the definition of success?
One of most important steps is planning, specifically the objectives. Essentially, what is the definition of success? If you don’t have this, it doesn’t matter how good you are. Because at the end of the day, without a way to measure, you cannot say definitively whether you have been successful.
Many times when working with his clients, Mike said they will mistakenly think they have completed the planning step. They believe they have all of the pieces in place. But when he really digs in, he quickly finds out that is not the case. They don’t have the information they need, or the right players identified. They don’t know who their target audience is. They don’t know what KPIs to measure, and so on.
After the objectives are defined, what’s next? Mike and his team then perform a gap analysis. “We look at what you have, what’s missing, and what are the expectations of the marketplace” explains Mike. This helps him begin to drive the project and understand how to get it done.
What is our brand?
This is another vital question to ask yourself when assessing your marketing strategy. Mike addressed a common misperception around branding. “When we talk about brand, many people don’t necessarily understand the definition. And so they look at it as a logo, a tagline, our colors, the imagery we use. Those are all components of a brand but are not the brand itself.” Instead, he defines that brand as something that, when it is crafted and put together, enables a company to be differentiated and identifiable in the marketplace.
A brand also must be consistent. Everything you do must ensure that it’s driving brand identification and differentiation. And though it must stay consistent, it also must evolve. You need to understand what is happening in the marketplace and stay ahead of the curve.
Do I have the right people?
Equally important is talent. You can’t execute your marketing strategy without the right people in place. Your employees must be a reflection of the brand. How do you ensure you are hiring the right folks?
Mike recommends working with an HR partner. “We want to start training the people that conduct the interviews to begin to look for people that fit the brand profile, and that fit the culture,” he says. This is very important. No matter how talented, if they are not a fit, they will not be able to deliver on your brand promise. Ultimately it comes down to this: do they fit my profile? You can teach almost anything if they do. If they don’t, it’s a much harder road.
So, what does all of this mean? Simply put, marketing teams cannot execute on their objectives without a clear strategy. If you want help understanding what good looks like, register for our workshop here. We’ll use our research to set your marketing team up for success.