When it comes to marketing, put perspiration first

Posted: 11th May 2015

When I tell people I’m a marketing consultant a lot of them start talking about advertising – and they often have strong views on whether it works for them or not!

Marketing communications (of which advertising is a form) is the part of marketing that we see – but it is only 20% of the marketing process. It has often been said that ‘Marketing is 80% perspiration and 20%inspiration’.

I tend to focus on the perspiration part because, without this, the inspiration bit can cost a company a lot of money and much wasted effort. Let me give you an example.

I have a client, a manufacturing company, that invited me to write their strategic marketing plan.  This is typically how I begin to work in a new company.  After researching their business, looking at how they are structured, getting to know their customers, products and competitors as well as their long term goals, I can produce a plan that will help the client put successful, cost-effective marketing campaigns in place.

This particular company has many different products and although they were doing fairly well, they were not achieving as much as they can.  After my initial research it became clear that a change in the structure of the company would help them get closer to their customers and so benefit them greatly.

The company was not really doing any marketing at all but the little it was doing was not targeted (because they didn’t really know who their customers were) and the people there didn’t think they were getting much return – which, of course, they weren’t (but as they had no measurements in place, they didn’t really know for sure).  Luckily the directors were far sighted enough to know they needed to focus on marketing. So they recruited a marketing manager and called me in to help get things going.

The company was restructured into a number of discrete divisions, each with its own focus on their own markets.  Work was done to understand the marketplace (customers, competitors and other influencers) that each division was operating in, as well as the products and services being marketed and where any gaps were.

This resulted in the development of one or two new products, which will soon become available.  Finally, a campaign plan was written for each division up to the end of 2006.  This detailed a programme of marketing communications activity, including timings, budgets, expected returns and, of course, measurements to check these targets are being achieved.

The marketing manager is now working on implementing these plans and we have also introduced an initiative to better understand the customers, develop closer relationships and encourage loyalty. At the moment many customers are unaware of the company’s complete offering and are likely to be purchasing similar goods and services from competitors.

This CRM (Customer Relationship Management) programme should go further towards helping the company to be more successful in the future.  It represents a fundamental change in the company’s focus – from being internal (product based) to becoming external (customer led) – that has to percolate down from the top and will be supported by a number of IT systems.

This work has taken a few months to put together and now the marketing communications part has begun, working with a design agency to re-brand the company and re-launch it into the marketplace. Other campaigns have also started to take shape and are beginning to bear fruit.

The background perspiration work has given the company a good platform from which to inspire their markets with well thought out marketing campaigns that will result in increased business and higher profits as well as a happier and more loyal customer base.

So next time you are trying to decide whether or not to run an advert, do some background work first and make sure you get better results from your marketing  budget. Inspiration can only come from perspiration.

By Julie McKeown