Month: September 2014

Is a Company Mission/Vision Statement as Useful as a Marketing Strategy?

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Ideally, to be successful in business you need to have mission and vision statements, as well as a marketing strategy. They are all equally important as they are all powerful sign-posts to provide clear and succinct directions. The mission and vision statements are focused on the purpose and aspirations of the company, while a marketing strategy focuses on highlighting what is unique about your company to a targeted audience.

Unfortunately, mission and vision statements are often confusing or too generic, mixing values, aspirations, philosophies, strategies and descriptions. Let’s be clear about the difference between a mission and a vision statement:

  • A mission statement articulates the purpose of the company, why it exists, and what it does and for whom. It should serve as an ongoing guide that spells out what the company is all about. The mission should focus on the here and now.
  • A vision statement outlines the goals and aspirations for the future. It creates a mental picture of a specific medium-term target and should be used as a source of inspiration.

With those definitions in mind, I have outlined below what I believe to be the reasons why having all three of these documents written down and adhered to is essential to helping you clearly define your goals, objectives, audience and value both internally and externally.

Mission and Vision Statements are commonly used to:

Internally

  • Guide management’s thinking on strategic issues, especially during times of significant change
  • Help define performance standards
  • Inspire employees to work more productively by providing focus and common goals
  • Guide employee decision making

Externally

  • Enlist external support
  • Create closer linkages and better communication with customers, suppliers and alliance partners
  • Serve as a public relations tool

A Marketing Strategy is commonly used to:

  • Define what makes your service/product unique (besides price)
  • Create a Unique Selling Proposition
  • Define key target audiences for specific services or products you offer and where they are
  • Define what types of marketing tactics can be used to attract your key audiences
  • Define what your company values and how that relates to your audiences’ values
  • Define the frequency of the marketing tactics
  • Define measurement for each of the tactics for ROI tracking

I find that a good way to start the process of creating these key pieces of business documentation is to ask key people in your organization to answer the following questions:

  • For Mission (or Purpose): What is the core purpose of the organization? What do we do and for who?
  • For Vision (or Ambition): Where do we want to be in 5 or 10 years time? What are our aspirations?
  • For Marketing Strategy: What makes your service/product stand apart from the competition?

 

Do you feel your corporate mission statements and marketing strategy are useful, or do you disagree with me and feel (even well crafted) vision and mission statements and marketing strategies are not necessary/useful? Please share you views in the comments below!

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Brand Strategy Tips: Is Your Brand Having An Identity Crisis?

online-identity-crisis-300x243The most successful brands never fall victim to an identity crisis because they know who they are, and the responsibility they have to those who they serve.  Their innovations are consistently delivered, genuine and true.  They are focused on what matters most to their consumer (B2B or B2C) and on continuously making the experience better.

Today, we are constantly challenged to create a brand that customers want to identify and grow with, and one that earns their trust, reflects their values and makes them feel valued.

Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, business owner or entrepreneur, here are my top 3 tips to help you create and maintain a strong and differentiated brand:

  1. Create an Engagement Experience

Create an engagement experience that you want to have with your target audience. Be consistent, but at the same time mix it up, and don’t be too predictable. Your customers are reevaluating their needs more often than you might think, so instead of being reactive to your audience’s needs, be on the front end and help guide them.

  1. Establish an Identity That is Easily Relatable

Keep it simple. Your customers don’t have the time to figure out what your brand is trying to convey. Too often brands complicate their unique value proposition (UVP) to get attention.  In their efforts to reinvent and renew, they complicate things that frustrate their customers and shareholders.

A brand identity is most powerful when it evolves and its value proposition strengthens in alignment with the changing demands of its audience. Your customers want a brand to be deliberate with their identity – straightforward while at the same time forward thinking.

  1. Educate and Inspire

Even for B2B businesses, it is important to make sure your brand educates, communicates and inspires your audience about the totality of your brand – what it represents and what it stands for.

Your brand’s value proposition must come to life and have an impact on your audience with messaging that is educational and innovative.

A winning branding strategy must be ambitious in its commitment to knowing your audience inside and out.  Always be accountable to the needs of your audience and take responsibility to keep the momentum of the relationship moving forward.

What experience you are attempting to leave behind for your brand, and what will your audience remember most about how it impacted them? I look forward to your comments below.

The Mystique of SEO

SEO-mystiqueIt seems like SEO is big business these days – it’s the “buzzword” de jour! With more and more SEO consultants, online SEO experts, SEO packages, SEO promises, and SEO professionals popping up every day, I find myself and many of my clients bombarded with the pointed message: “Your business will die without proper SEO” (I am paraphrasing of course).

With many web companies, online providers and marketing companies all providing SEO, how are you to know which one is offering the right SEO for you? Should you buy that SEO package online or use the consultant from that SEO Company everyone is talking about? I certainly understand all the SEO confusion that exists in the marketplace.

SEO by its shear nature is continuously evolving which is why there seems to be a mystery around what it is exactly. Let’s demystify it: SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, plays an important role in your customer’s research and buying cycle. It attracts potential buyers to your website through critical and relevant keywords and phrases ranked high in search engines where searchers are already looking for information about them. SEO is about being where your customers are, and directing them towards solutions you offer them.

SEO is so important, in fact I would say it is absolutely essential to helping you grow your online business, but like other marketing tactics, SEO needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

A good marketing strategy will provide an indication of which marketing tactics should specifically target your audience. The tactics will complement SEO and in combination, strengthen and reinforce each element to grow your business exponentially. To be clear, SEO alone (i.e. without brand awareness, and a strategy) cannot help you reach your highest marketing potential.

How much you should invest in SEO, what type, and who implements, are great questions for a discussion to have with your trusted marketing agency or advisor. Although they may not be SEO experts, they should be able to help you understand why you need it, what type of investment you might be looking at, and point you in the direction of a professional SEO specialist.

Does your marketing agency provide you with SEO services? What type of successes have you had with your SEO? How long did it take for you to see results? What investment have you made? I look forward to your comments below.

Would you play football without a strategy?

Marketing StrategyAs I watched my son’s football game this weekend, I was struck with how important it is to have a solid strategy to win the game.

I know many would debate whether the game is won by good defense or a strong offensive line, but these are mere executables – the game, very few can deny, is won on the best game strategy.

Imagine a game with no strategy, with players not knowing their position or their objective. I can’t imagine that game being very successful.

Growing your company requires having a winning marketing strategy, yet surprisingly not all companies have one. Instead, many have a list of tactics or “plays” they should have and then execute on them. Often through sheer luck, the “play” or marketing tactic is successful in the short term, but over the long term of a game or of a business quarter, the tactics run thin and the result is a loss.

To win the season, coaches will set a strategy, which will be tweaked depending upon the battle on the field. Similarly in business, if you want long-term gains, then creating a strategy is the only way to go.

Your marketing strategy should be to influence both existing and prospective customers that your business offers something unique or special – differentiating you from the crowd. If you fail to persuade people that your service is unique or offers “additional value”, then your customers’ buying decision may simply come down to price alone.

A focused marketing strategy depends on continually explaining and emphasizing how and why your business is not only reliable and represents good value, but is also different (read better) from the competition in subtle and genuine ways.

With a strategy in place, you could have a year like the Patriots did in Super Bowl XXXVIII! In business, your marketing strategy will lead you to create and implement marketing campaigns and tactics that stay focused on the needs of the target customer, with an emphasis on continuously communicating the benefits of your services over those available from the competition. Do I hear touchdown in your future?

What do you think? Do you have a professionally written marketing strategy that you follow in your business? If not, what’s stopping you from creating one? I look forward to your comments below.