Most clients approach me when they're noticeably unhappy with some performance aspect -- losing market share, low brand awareness, increasing customer complaints, stagnant sales or some other revenue-related issue. Nine times out of ten, this is how the discussion begins: "Where should I spend my marketing dollars?" Unfortunately, a re-allocation of funds usually isn't the best starting point and here's why.
When market volatility is the norm and technology constantly disrupts the way we think, communicate and inevitably consume our favorite products and services, CEOs and marketers should be asking these five questions across the organization:
- 1. Who are our most profitable customers today and are we targeting the right customers?
- 2. What specific or unique need(s) are we fulfilling for them?
- 3. How well are we delivering on that promise as compared with our competitors?
- 4. If we're not doing a good job of satisfying them, what can we do better?
- 5. Who will be our customers tomorrow and what can we do today towards becoming their preferred choice?
If you don't like what you hear, you have three choices: adapt, change the game or die. Which route you take will be determined by the distance, resources, effort and urgency to get from A) current state and B) a desired future state.
Once you determine which customers you are targeting and your relative positioning strategy, the rest should fall into place: product development, marketing mix, sales, service. By this time, you should be well on your way to determining where and how you should be spending your marketing dollars to engage your customers with the right messages and creating the a brand experience that aligns with what you are promising.
And just when you think you've got it all perfected, repeat the five questions. Regularly. Great brands never stand still because customers don't. Never forget to keep your eye on the prize - loyal, happy customers and that means both outside the firm and inside.