Choose Your Weapons Wisely

Now that the new millennium is finally really here, I thought I’d offer some ideas for key factors to successful marketing strategies in the years to come.

Learn the technology. Marketing is a technological discipline, plain and simple. You can’t plan an effective marketing strategy without understanding the weapons at your disposal anymore than you can plan an effective military strategy without detailed knowledge of your arsenal.

Nor can you make effective choices from an operational standpoint. Want to add personalization to your web site? Well, that’s fine, but if you understand that personalization is little more than a database and a cookie, you’re in a much better position to define what you want and make the right decision about how to build it.

Integrate offline and online. The dream of an online-only marketing mix is over. If you’re going to be successful, you must create programs that integrate traditional and online components. Don’t be fooled by the agency pitches: Pull from print ads and collateral is still infinitely greater than pull from banner ads. Branding simply doesn’t occur online. People don’t listen to pitches at web sites.

Don’t be afraid to track. I love the online component because it’s so easy to track. Once I put an ad in a magazine with a URL as the call to action, I can count moment by moment how well that ad pulls.

Then if a tactical component of a strategic program of mine isn’t working to my expectations, I’m not afraid to tell my client as soon as I can and begin adjustments. And you shouldn’t be, either. Monitor log activity, develop programs that allow you to track specific activity from specific components, analyze that information, and take action based on what you find.

Broaden your perspective. A lot of good ideas and a lot of smart approaches to market strategy exist outside any individual industry or country. Subscribe to magazines and newsletters that touch on these issues. If you’re in process manufacturing, learn how people handle marketing in professional services companies. If you’re in professional services, learn how people handle marketing in retail merchandising. And go to sites from countries other than your own to see how they handle the same issues.

Remember that everyone is a marketplace. Your marketing strategy must include not just customers and prospects, but also partners, suppliers, distributors, employees, investors, and the government.

Plan to fail. Every marketing campaign is going to sputter somewhere. So many variables need to be adjusted before it hums. This is especially true of the online component, which is still immature. Don’t go into any program without a complete and approved operational plan for handling those areas that don’t work.

Of course, many of you are way ahead of me on these points and have already developed programs that follow these simple tenets. But perhaps one or two of you out there might find my suggestions helpful. After all, this is the season for making resolutions.

Happy New Year!

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