Why SME’s need to reset their approach to Marketing .
If you’re a strategic marketing focused professional, you will be well aware that the marketing industry has significantly changed over the past decade. What was once an industry that relied on creativity and traditional advertising platforms like television, print and radio, has rapidly expanded to become a multi-disciplined, complex sector that relies increasingly on mastery of modern marketing techniques.
While the core principles of marketing haven’t changed, and many traditional marketing practices are still relevant today albeit re-engineered , technology , customer behaviour and changes to the media landscape have demanded a realignment of our approaches to strategic marketing and our business models which operate today within a far more expansive, multifaceted and competitive solutions landscape.
At a fundamental level the inversion of the traditional seller/buyer relationship model is without doubt the major driver for most of the change in marketing today. The information monopoly has now moved to the technologically empowered buyer, who has the power to rapidly access limitless information at their fingertips thanks to smartphone technology.
For those of us who are familiar with statistical analysis and more specifically the distribution bell curve of markets the impact of this new found empowerment of the seller depicts a flattening out of the traditional distribution curve.
bell curve format The normal distribution of buyers in past markets typically depicted a heavy concentration in the centre, with minimal deviation in the outer bands. As a result of the internet, buyers now are increasingly dispersing away from the centre as they attain greater awareness and access to an ever expanding array of market choices better suited and tailored to their individual needs and preferences.
The digitisation of organisations is, in short, accelerating the commoditisation of products and services across all sectors, leaving the differential for businesses competitive advantage down to how well you communicate, how well you market and the overall customer experience you provide.
Today, successful communication and strategic marketing demands that you:
a) Continually re-access your business model , strategic marketing plans and brand offering.
b) Understand your buyer personas and behaviours better than ever before.
c) Place greater importance towards the adoption of a pulled inbound approach to communication.
d) Utilise technologies to market more efficiently and in an engaging and timely manner.
e) Openly consider, trial and test new market strategies and tactics.
This is no small feat, especially if your business has limited resources. To pull this off effectively, your market research, brand strategy/positioning and other strategic marketing fundamentals need to be well considered and developed.
Many small and medium businesses, as well as in-house marketing teams in larger organisations, are struggling to keep up with meeting these demands. A lack of time, resources and/or expertise means businesses are compromising marketing impact, outputs and ultimately, profits.
Add to this the pressures of the finding time to up-skill staff, difficulties in attracting and retaining appropriately skilled talent and managing ever-changing customer demands, and you have the perfect recipe for poor marketing outcomes, workplace employee stress and increased customer churn.
This is why it’s now essential that SMB’s change their strategic marketing approach or risk falling behind entirely.
THE TWO STRATEGIC MARKETING SHIFTS NEEDED TO TRANSFORM MARKETING IMPACT & PROFITABILITY FOR SMB’s
The first step to resetting your marketing approach and transforming your marketing impact is to be aware of and accept the fact that the marketplace is rapidly changing and that regular review of business and marketing plans are a given.
Marketing audits are needed in direct response to significant industry or market events, or when your current marketing activities show a flattening or declining trend in new business growth and profitability.
This review process is often best facilitated through a strategic planning workshop which sets out to revisit the competitive landscape and determine whether the current marketing strategies and tactics are still aligned and appropriate towards meeting new market demands and/or the business’s renewed goals and objectives.
In dynamic markets, this review will inevitably reveal the need for changes to be undertaken in consideration of resource capabilities and budget constraints.
It is at this pivotal stage of the review process that two strategic business shifts need to be seriously considered by businesses that are in genuine need of transforming their marketing impact and profitability today.
Those two key strategic marketing behavioural shifts are:
1) Getting the business to adopt greater and/or improved outsource marketing practices, and in doing so, deploy and leverage project outcomes through better utilisation of technologies, practices and specialist market insights and learnings.
2) Getting generalist in-house marketing resources to start the transition to upskill their activities towards higher value strategic activities, and away from low level transactional work much of which will inevitably be automated in the near future.
Both of these strategic operational shifts are fundamental for improving future marketing success, while bringing greater productivity, profitability and job security for both business owners and marketers.
STRATEGIC MARKETING SHIFT #1: GREATER AND/OR IMPROVED OUTSOURCE MARKETING PRACTICES
If you’re running a small to medium business (20 employees +), chances are you either have a small team of marketing staff, one marketing employee or are heavily involved with the marketing side of things yourself. This may be all your cash flow allows, or you may be under the belief that handling most of your marketing activities in-house is the best way to achieve effective results.
But ask yourself this – do you or does your team have the capabilities to manage the complexity and demands of today’s market? If not, do you have the time, money or resources to continually upskill?
Outsourcing marketing is often met with resistance by businesses and marketers, often out of fear that doing so will lead to loss of brand control or job insecurity. While these perceptions are understandable, the truth is that when managed professionally, outsourcing marketing should be viewed as a real positive towards supporting the survival of businesses and in-house marketing staff job security.
Outsourcing your marketing to a specialist in a particular area ensures your marketing strategies are handled by a master in the field rather than a jack of all trades – they are in the flow, up to speed and likely utilising the latest techniques and technologies to do the work more efficiently. They are also better equipped to share valuable information and lessons gained from similar projects to avoid costly mistakes.
3 KEY STEPS TO SUCCESS IN OUTSOURCE MARKETING
Whilst outsourcing your marketing makes abundant economic sense on several fronts, its success is conditional upon businesses:
1) Taking the time to think critically about what they plan to do up-front and being very clear about goals and outcomes before approaching any agency or specialist provider. By doing this, they will avoid many of those unexpected bumps and obstacles that arise down the track which inevitably cause cost blow outs and time delays in bringing their project(s) to market.
2) Taking the time to discover and explore the diversity of options available across the market and diligently undertake their selection based on holistic objective evaluations. Relying on current providers and referrals from associates is all well and good, however it seriously restricts the potential for finding the best fit outcome and optimising the marketing spend and return on investment.
3) Establishing clear communications and agreement around the working relationships, reporting, resourcing , deliverables and performance outcome measurement and expectations for the project with the solution provider before proceeding.
STRATEGIC MARKETING SHIFT # 2: TRANSITIONING RESOURCES TOWARDS STRATEGIC VALUED WORK
We’ve heard many marketers voice concerns about the future of their industry, with many fearing their jobs will become obsolete if they can’t keep up with the changing landscape. This is a vulnerable time and we understand these concerns, but we believe greater outsourcing of marketing can actually help in-house marketers, rather than threaten them.
Like many professionals today, marketers need to carefully consider what opportunities and skills will be in demand in the future. Expanding technologies will displace many, if not all, traditional transactional type work, while the rise of a casual and freelancing workforce will force further change onto most marketers.
At Marketing Search, we believe that many SMB employers need to immediately start the process of transitioning, developing and supporting their general marketing resources, activities and skills towards focusing on doing higher value strategic work. By switching the focus to strategic work such as project management, in-house marketers will be better able to respond to modern market demands and optimise marketing investments.
To a lesser degree, in-house marketers with highly specialist skills working in larger companies are also at threat. Their career longevity can readily be cut off by technological advancements, as we’ve already seen with the demise of demand for journalists due to the increasing distribution of syndicated news. At Marketing Search, we foresee specialists increasingly centred within enterprise work environments, agencies, consultancies and freelancing.
Regardless of one’s work orientation, it’s clear that for many SMB employers today, the generalist transactional job will become increasingly difficult to justify with many activities being more efficiently done by automated technologies. This harsh reality leaves those marketers with two options to upskill for future job security: become a strategic generalist or a specialist.
As marketing becomes more complex, technology dependent and dynamic, there will be increasing need for the SMB to:
- Allocate greater resource attention towards trialling and testing new strategies and tactics
- Manage an increasing mix of projects
- Review marketing plans on a regular basis
- Continuously workshop new and innovative ideas
- Audit performances
- Up-skill resources
- Remain informed on new trends and emerging technologies
- Monitor and respond to strategic market developments
This is this role the strategic generalist can play – a role that will not only present them with more engaging challenges, but through their commitment to upskilling also provide them with greater job security for the future, whilst bringing significant value to the business they work for.
CONCLUSION: IT’S TIME TO RESET YOUR STRATEGIC MARKETING APPROACH
Changes in digital technologies, consumer behaviour and the media landscape are forcing today’s business leaders to seriously question the validity and relevance of their current business models. In the face of all these changes, marketing has become increasingly complex, and the relevance of continuing with past practices and current skill sets is now being challenged.
As the owner of the customer relationship, the marketing function of any business is best placed to take on the responsible for understanding and leading the changes required.
In order to capitalise on the new marketing order, SMB’s need to start the process of transitioning their strategic marketing approach to the way work is done, allocated and managed. This can be achieved through adopting greater outsourcing to specialists whilst supporting transformation of generalist marketer’s activity away from the traditional transactional focus towards higher value strategic and project focused work.
Doing both of these things well requires a level of upfront commitment to:
- Basic business pre-planning
- Diligence in search and selection of outsource partners
- Improving management and measurement of outsourcing projects
- Supporting in-house marketers in upskilling and winning their collaboration in making the changes required.
At Marketing Search, our entire business model operates on our belief that executing on these two strategic marketing operational shifts is how time, resource and expertise SMB businesses can significantly transform their marketing impact and profitability whilst at the same time provide their marketers with greater career development and security for the future. Our platform aims to make it easier for businesses and marketers to make these transformations by providing the connections, talent, processes, knowledge and services required to enable the changes and complete your home run.
It’s time that SMB’s change their strategic marketing approach, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Register for free today on www.marketingsearch.com.au and open up your marketing impact, profitability and careers to a better way.
Written by Neil Anderson
4th June , 2019
Neil Anderson is the founder and director of MarketingSearch.com.au a privately owned and operated Australian marketing search platform that enables businesses to transform their marketing impact and profitability through provisioning of better agency search & selection , talent sourcing & upskilling and project optimisation services.