Magazines. Newsletters. Trade shows. I have been inundated with information about dot-coms becoming not-coms, about the emergence of an abundance of venture capital firms, and, lately, about Napster.
It’s definitely time to take a deep breath and think about how you are conducting business today. It’s about paying attention to everyone else but, more important, perfecting your own strategy. Seriously, if you don’t have one, you better create one. If the president or someone from “the board” hasn’t asked you yet, he or she, no doubt, will.
Strategy is the single most important part of your job. From there, success rules or rolls over.
The pie doesn’t get any bigger – no matter what. You have more responsibilities, fewer staff, and bigger expectations, with the same or a diminishing budget. Right? Only the ingredients have a chance to change. MIX IT UP. Evaluate your strategies, especially if the dough hasn’t yet started to rise.
Here are a few things to remember:
- Strategic planning. Discuss your business and marketing strategies every six months. What are the trends? What are my top 10 business and marketing goals? What is our message and to whom is it being targeted? Do we have a company culture that employees flock to? How is our internal and external branding implemented? Make sure all key executives know your goals and know their roles. This is simple but rarely done.
- Integrate your strategies online as well as offline. An excellent campaign will include all affordable facets of the marketing mix: focus groups; TV, print, radio, billboard, and banner advertising; online contests and promotions (chat rooms, newsgroups, discussion forums); PR; strategic alliance programs; sponsorships (of events and individuals); community involvement; and – by all means – excellent customer service.
- Online and community strategies include listing your site with search engines (we all know that by now), but what about the community that you live in? Have you sponsored your local baseball team? Are you listed in the local Chamber of Commerce, Business After Hours, trade listings, best-of lists, and Book of Lists? What organizations are you involved in and/or listed in, and what organizations have you volunteered for? How about all the awards that your company could apply for? Sure it takes time and someone to fill out the form, but how great and affordable is that for the bottom line?
- Make an impact with your strategies. A client of mine, www.bStream.net, has not even launched its product. In fact, it is six to eight months away from doing so. Yet it was smart enough to raise some eyebrows and scare off potential competition at a recent trade show. By handing out hundreds of messenger bike bags at the booths of potential partners, by hosting a CEO dinner for the top brands in the industry, and by generating press releases and meetings with editorial gurus, it made some noise – all without a product or a booth.
Another start-up, www.WhatCard.com, is making an impact with viral marketing – let your fans do the work for you. By seeding fan sites, chat rooms, and billboards, it generated thousands of names for its launch by attracting users to the game-intensive site and giving away free prizes to those who play.
Make a big impact even if you have only a small budget.
- Content. Make a difference. Make it memorable. Entertain. There is no excuse today with the explosion of syndicated content. You can buy content, collect it, or create it. You can add video, audio, data feeds, stock quotes, sports scores, price lists. You can sort it, search it, manipulate it, or update it. Just don’t get caught with a bland process when it’s easy to spice up your brand.
- Evangelize. Expand your reach beyond the obvious. Tap into your community of family, friends, and fans. They know you, love you, and are willing to chat about you. (After all, they probably never see you, so you must be doing something successful, and success is easy to talk about.) Begin to forge a reputation for excellence. You never know who actually knows who.
Crafting a brand requires just as much attention to online as it does to other facets of media and marketing. Lay out a strategy that ensures no one is left with a smaller slice of your media and marketing pies. Start out by looking for new options and then make sure to greet them when they show up at your doorstep. Marketing strategies shouldn’t focus on a favored segment – we all hate the bloated feeling of oversaturation. With advertising, people merely need a taste to know if they should come back for more. Carve your budget so that no one gets left out, and watch the line stretch down the block.