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Leo Aspden on getting your marketing strategy right

WHATEVER the scale of your business (micro, SME or multinational) or development stage (start-up, established or market leader) you will almost certainly have used marketing to promote your company.
How to do you tell if your marketing is working and if your marketing strategy is right? The following key thoughts will help you maximise return on investment, ensure best use of resources, avoid fire fighting and get it right.
l Maximising return on investment: If marketing isn’t giving you the results you want then it is time for a re-think, but this doesn’t mean abandoning marketing. Be careful not to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’.
A major challenge businesses face is uncertainty, influenced by the economic climate on a global scale, by technological changes at an increasing pace, by the introduction of new products and competitors more frequently than ever before, and by Government policy decisions and regulation.
Marketing is changing with the everyday use of digital platforms and social media challenging the very fabric of what is effective marketing. Marketing is no longer about strategies of ‘push’, but rather driven firmly by the ‘pull’ of the customer demands.
To generate a better marketing return on investment (MROI) businesses must have clear vision and objectives. The importance of strategy becomes paramount in defining the target market, understanding the customer journey (decision-making process), the message (what customers want) and method (how we engage with them). Increasingly the way we engage with prospects and customers is about building relationships, offering information and services based on trust and less about persuasion.
l Ensure the best use of marketing resources: The tools we use today, whether in construction and home improvements or in our everyday lives have changed dramatically. Our children grow up with smartphones, tablets, ‘the internet of things’ and social media as the norm.
The marketing mix has become more sophisticated and choosing from the menu requires a clear understanding of our prospects, customers and communities in which they move.
Years ago in my role as head of marketing for Pilkington’s Tiles Group, I implemented group strategy to establish an in-house graphic design department to support our marketing team. Moving this facility in-house achieved what appeared to be substantial savings in cost. However, on the down side it limited the skills and creativity of the team and it’s potential.
Today as a high growth business consultant, I have worked with associates across many disciplines and skills, which ultimately ensures that clients get the best specialist for the area where they require support. This works equally well where the client has no in-house marketing, or has an established marketing team, enhanced by resources when and where they need it.
l Avoid fire fighting: Increasingly I find business teams are stretched and expected to cover multiple disciplines. As a result they often lack the time and experience to maximise the effectiveness of the marketing effort in all situations.
A way to overcome this is to understand and maximise the potential and effectiveness of staff through business coaching. This can be tailored to the individual’s needs and in the short-term may be managed through external support in key areas whilst the coaching develops staff with the skills to maximise marketing return on investment and improve performance.
In the world of smartphones, devices and technological advancement, businesses must adopt the flexible smarter approach to ensure they have the right marketing strategy.
Leo Aspden is a chartered marketer, high growth business coach and former north west ambassador for SMEs for the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

T: 0161 969 4515
www.reach-mc.co.uk

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.