In previous posts, I talked about common high-level marketing challenges, as well as operational marketing challenges, facing many of my client companies.
Today’s focus is on tactical marketing challenges. Tactics are important; rarely do my CEO colleagues ever tell me their strategy isn’t sound. Success almost always comes down to execution.
While I don’t evaluate tactical marketing activities with my client companies, my team and I have seen a common set of challenges that can negatively impact topline revenue.
Here are the top challenges we see, along with our recommendations.
Challenge #1: Keeping Distribution Too Narrow
Distribution is critical to success in the marketplace. Your channels can be thought of as either a strategic exercise or a tactical exercise; it depends on the type of channel you are setting up.
For companies setting up wholesale and retail partnerships, distribution sits squarely at the strategic level. But for other companies, such as a consumer products retailer or a B2B services company, new distribution channels can include things like email marketing, online advertising, direct sales, content marketing and PR. These channels are typically designed and managed by a marketing manager or marketing coordinator.
Depending on how you define a distribution channel, there can be anywhere from 20 to 30 different mediums for communicating with your market. What I commonly see in midmarket companies is that they’re not focusing on enough mediums. Today’s audience is more fragmented than ever, and it’s rare for a midmarket company to achieve sustainable, profitable growth from only one or two channels.
To identify new channels to pursue, review a list of all potential distribution channels and then take 20 to 30 minutes to write down the positives and negatives of each. (If you need to review different channels, you can find a list of them in the book Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday or in the free download Strategic Marketing for the SME.)
After completing the list, group them into thirds with the top third being the most promising and the bottom third being the least promising. Eliminate the bottom two thirds. For that final group, spend an additional 15 minutes on each channel, digging deeper and evaluating your existing resources to determine how you can take advantage of it to communicate with your market. Then select your top one or two channels and have your team begin using them to reach your market.
Challenge #2: Not Optimizing Your Funnels
As digital marketing has become more popular, sophisticated marketers have continued to place emphasis on key conversion metrics at each point in the marketing and sales funnel. For example, if there are five main steps that your customers take as they move through the buying process, then your team should have a strong understanding of your average conversion for each step.
To optimize your funnel, select one of the metrics the needs improvement and begin exploring ideas on how to increase it. Test new ideas and measure your success. Make sure to give yourself enough time to accurately test your hypothesis. Some companies will dedicate to people to optimizing a key element to the funnel for 60 to 90 days.
This accomplishes two things:
- Improvements in these conversion metrics will ultimately improve your topline revenue.
- It creates a culture of testing, refining, and improving. This is even more valuable as you begin applying this philosophy to all of the steps of your buying process.
Challenge #3: Not Enforcing Your Brand Standards
If you spent the time and effort to clearly define your brand strategy, core values and purpose, you have to hold your people accountable for representing that to the marketplace. This is the implementation of your strategy. It means keeping your visuals consistent, as well as enforcing your operational brand requirements.
For example, if you define your brand’s personality traits, then you need to make sure that your salespeople and your customer service people in all market-facing positions understand those traits and adhere to them.
If your brand is built on customer intimacy and your service team is not bending over backwards to support your customers, you have a disconnect which contradicts your strategy.
Designate someone to watch over your brand – both the visual and operational brand standards. It’s too important to leave unattended.
Challenge #4: Giving Up Too Soon
Practicing sound marketing techniques is hard work. It requires a lot of thought, a lot of planning, a lot of activities, and a lot of measurements. Many marketing departments are led by creative people whose natural inclination isn’t to plan and measure.
This takes a lot of time and discipline and requires runway from leadership. The natural state of the mid-market company’s marketing department is chaos instead of order, so strive for adding process.
And give your marketing team enough time to properly see through that campaign, initiative, or funnel optimization. Testing means some of your tests are going to fail – that’s part of the process. If you give up after the first or second failure, you’re guaranteed to never find the success.
As you can see, all of these challenges can be managed with planning and patience. Does one of the scenarios above ring true for your company? Connect with me if you’d like to learn more.