Marketing on a Wish and a Prayer Part 2: Sweating the small stuff for long-term growth
To execute any sort of long-term strategy, you have to start small. In the marketing world in particular, although we may proselytize the importance of a long-term business growth strategy, getting there involves a series of smaller, calculated tactics, and you’ll need to hit numerous short- and mid-term goals along the way.
That’s why the saying, “good ideas are born; great ideas are nurtured,” is so poignant. Sustaining a new small business is rarely ever as simple as executing a good idea; it takes planning, insights, meetings, budgets – and time. While we all want to set the bar high for ourselves and our companies, setting expectations too high can turn good ideas into less than desirable outcomes.
In the second installment of this four-part series, adapted and excerpted from “Marketing on a Wish and a Prayer,” written by Paradigm’s Founder and President, Rachel Durkan, as part of Lessons Beyond the Obvious, we’ll help you understand why you need to sweat the small stuff first before long-term growth can follow.
In marketing terms, a “short-term” strategy consists of activities whose results can be measured after a week or a month. These might be social media posts, email blasts, e-newsletters, etc; they’re tactics that can show immediate results and be adapted on the fly. A “mid-term” strategy consists of efforts that can be measured within one to six months, such as a marketing campaign, webinar series, or multi-touch initiatives executed during that time-frame.
Finally, “long-term” is a one-to-three-year strategy that produces reams of data to analyze from multiple tactics and/or campaigns, by which you can identify which yielded the least and greatest returns. The analysis offers a bird’s-eye view of where the company has gone and where it is going, and it offers insights as to how you can get to the next level.
In 2014, a woman named Sue was hired by a $10 million financial recruiting and staffing firm as its new marketing director with the responsibility of leading the company into new markets. At the time, the firm was in a risky position; for many years it was supporting the personnel needs of only one major client. If that client were to leave, the company would be devastated and unable to keep the lights on. That meant Sue’s role of forging new business ventures was critical to ensuring the firm’s survival, and by proxy, the job security of all 75 employees.
After performing significant industry research, Sue recognized an opportunity to shift the company’s focus from staffing to delivering consulting services. Each consulting area would have industry-renowned subject matter experts, allowing the company to position itself as a thought leader in five niche markets.
Sue did her due diligence and developed a long-term growth strategy that showed legitimate potential. The plan would yield higher margins with easier procurement processes, and it would provide strong opportunities to differentiate the company from its competitors. She contracted a marketing agency to help reposition and rebrand the company, but the agency struggled with the appropriate messaging.
Eye-catching logos and professional looking websites and collateral could not mask the fact that there was no “there” there. Thought leadership and subject matter expertise was the crux of the company’s long-term growth strategy, but it did not yet have the thought leaders in place or the case studies to stand behind, and therefore had no real-world proven expertise in their selected niches to promote.
Taking a step back, Sue and the marketing agency broke down the long-term growth strategy into bite-sized chunks, starting with efforts to elevate the subject matter experts who would lead the respective business areas in their target markets. These lead consultants shared their theories and expertise in white papers and thought-leadership pieces, which were published in industry trade publications and online, effectively marketing the company’s expertise even without tangible case studies. This strategic marketing approach, combined with the company’s tenacious sales team, opened the door to their first major opportunity, and in no time, additional thought-leadership case studies, webinars, and other marketing efforts were generating additional business. Over the course of 18 months, revenue grew an astonishing 33 percent, and the company brought on five new clients.
Although Sue hit the ground running and created an entire brand-building growth strategy built around the new service line, it fell short because the company had nothing to stand behind. Sue and her team pushed the new services, but the company as a whole was unable to back them up. They had no thought leaders or tangible success stories to stand behind. Once Sue decided to take a step back, her grass-roots approach built a deep roster of consultants and subject matter experts through strategically positioned thought leadership pieces, speaking engagements, and more. These efforts added credibility to the business line, which made the sales team’s job easier and organically grew the brand as a result.
For help creating your own long-term growth strategy, contact Paradigm Marketing and Design today to schedule a consultation.