One of the biggest reasons marketing activity fails to deliver results is because it is poorly managed. In this article we look at the fundamentals of marketing management and how the role can be outsourced to improve effectiveness and enable you time to build your own in-house capacity. It is one thing doing marketing. It is quite another doing marketing that works.
Start by defining the brand position
Marketing does not start with marketing activity, it starts with a brand. It is the brand that needs to be built and maintained over time to occupy a place in the mind of the customer. Awareness, recognition, trust…and ultimately, more profitable sales. This way the brand becomes an asset to the business and hence needs to be managed. Marketing management is the exercise of managing the brand as an asset and ensuring it delivers value through sales and profitability.
There are two key documents involved in managing a brand: the brand foundations (or blueprint) and the brand design guide. These documents break the brand down into core components and allow marketing managers to stay course when building the brand through various marketing campaigns. Let’s take a look at these two documents:
Develop the brand foundations
Most entrepreneurs think their company name or the product they sell qualify as a brand, yet often it is merely a name with a logo – not a brand. To develop a brand requires a conscious process to flesh out the type of brand to be developed – the “who are we, who do we want to be, how do we want to be perceived, what sets us apart” questions. Clear answers to these provide the foundations for brand building and should be captured in a document to ensure clarity and consistency from the get-go to any marketing investment.
Capture the brand in a set of guidelines
Once the brand is clearly defined in written form, it needs to be designed visually.. A well designed brand is more than just a pretty picture. It is a visual language that gives character and evidence of what the brand stands for. It also goes beyond merely designing the logo to showing how it should be used; what images to include in marketing materials, the tonality of any writing, such as social media posts, and generally how to keep the brand looking consistent across all platforms. To ensure all of these elements are prepared and available at all times, a brand design manual should be compiled to flesh out the branding completely. This document becomes the key tool in managing the brand in the future.
Develop a marketing plan
Once the brand is clearly defined through a set of brand foundations and a design guide, it is time to formalise a plan to build the brand and drive sales at the same time. This is the dual purpose of all marketing activity: brand building and sales activation. Since marketing is essentially the science of studying the customer, any good marketing plan should start with a profile of exactly who the customer is.
Create a profile of the customer
This phase could start as part of the brand development phase, especially when the brand is focused on the consumer market (B2C). Fact is a clear profile of the customer should be prepared to form the backbone of a marketing plan. It talks to the question “who are we marketing to?”.
A good customer profile should move beyond superficial descriptions and aim to identify the underlying needs target groups have. The more one can understand not only the tangible behaviours customers display, but also the emotions that drive these, the stronger the marketing plan will be: what are their frustrations, needs, expectations and general behaviour? This same approach is applicable in both consumer – and business markets. In the latter there may be an entire decision making structure to consider – the typical decision makers, influencers, gatekeepers concept.. Such decision-making units should be mapped out and individual need states for key role-players developed.
Focus on the marketing funnel
Successful marketing is all about successfully reaching your customer. It is about preparing the path to purchase; the runway to the sale. This runway, is called the marketing funnel, or sales funnel. It highlights a basic set of standard steps buyers tend to go through as they decide on a new purchase. Although there are variations on the theme, the standard funnel essentially looks as follows:
- Awareness – the potential customer finds out about you,
- Interest – they want to know more
- Preference – they know who they want to buy from
- Purchase – the part where the sales happen.
- Loyalty – the customer returns to buy again.
Being clear on each step of the funnel in relation to the business allows for highly targeted marketing campaigns to be developed focusing on a specific section of the funnel to kickstart the customer down their path to purchase. Having clear objectives, tied into the marketing funnel, for a specific financial year forms the business end of a marketing plan and how marketing success should be measured. Objectives need to be SMART, namely Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. In simple terms:
Develop a campaign
Once marketing objectives have been agreed, an “attack” must be launched – a so called marketing campaign. Such a campaign should tie in with the brand and focus on achieving the set objectives (SMART goals). An important aspect to such a campaign is that it should not rely on a single marketing element only. You can’t just do Facebook, or just Google Ads. There needs to be a number of elements tied together. It needs to be an integrated plan, meaning that it uses various marketing tools in conjunction to jointly “attack” the marketing goals.
Execute the plan
At Firejuice we specialise at developing and implementing marketing plans. We believe that professional management skills are essential to ensure targeted marketing campaigns are successfully executed. We follow a tried and tested “best practice” approach to campaign management that start with a brief to the relevant suppliers.
Every marketing initiative should start with a brief; a “spec”, that is in writing and tells the supplier what the requirements and expectations are. This brief forms the backbone of a successful marketing project, whether it is the development of a new website, a digital marketing campaign or a new business card. A brief can be as simple as a short email, a PowerPoint slide or a 1 page document as long as it covers the following:
- A tight description of the job that needs to be done and the desired outcome.
- A timeline – when should the work be done?
- An indication of a budget and a request for a quote.
At Firejuice we insist that the client agrees to the brief before it is send it to the supplier.
Once the brief is received by the freelancer or agency they should provide a detailed quote based on a written brief. A good quote consists of the following:
- It is outcomes based, for example it should say “we will charge X amount to build a 10 page website based on the current business profile information”. This is different to being “input based” and merely stating that the supplier will charge by the hour.
- It offers an indication of how many reverts are included as part of the quote. For example, a graphic designer may include 2 reverts as part of their quote, meaning that the client can ask for two sets of changes to the work before incurring extra costs.
- It provides an indication of how scope creep will be treated – i.e. everything over and above the brief and outside the revert. For example, a designer may state that they charge R450 / hour for any additional work required that falls outside the brief.
- It states what amount must be paid up-front – if anything – to get the project started.
The client needs to agree to the quote, before the suppliers starts the work.
The (first) invoice
Once the quote is approved, the supplier sends the invoice for the first payment. No work should start before the first payment has been made. Any work they do before this point is at their own risk. When it comes to marketing it is not uncommon for last minute changes and so until money has moved from client, to the supplier, nothing is certain.
At Firejuice we ensure we see all work before the client sees it to ensure it meets with the original brief. Going back to the brief is a critical step and often overlooked. It is tempting to simply start judging the work based on subjective gut instinct, but ultimately the first question is “does the work meet the brief?” and only then “do we like the work?”. At Firejuice we aim to provide the client with our view of the work to empower them with as much information as possible to make a sound judgement.
A formal revert
Once the work has been seen and reviewed, formal feedback need to be provided to the supplier, in writing. Again, this can be a simple email. This way there is always a paper trail for how the work evolves and any room for confusion is limited. The process of formal reverts should be repeated until the work is approved. At Firejuice we aim to minimise subjectivity and maintain clarity between all parties, throughout.
The (final) invoice
Once the client is satisfied and the work is completed a final invoice is sent and payment made. At this point it is important that the supplier hands over all the work to the client – everything. For example it is not uncommon for logo jobs not to be handed over completely. The client received a logo in Jpeg, but do not get hold of the open files that will allow future suppliers to work with the logo. The client must take ownership of all the work and store it on their side where it can easily be found, often years later.
A key part to any management activity is reporting. Professional marketing management requires that the marketing goals as set in the marketing plan – the SMART goals – be tracked and reported on monthly to understand if progress is made and whether changes are required. Ultimately marketing activity that works needs to be in touch with the market, which evolves continuously, meaning that no marketing plan can be cast in stone. Continuous learning is part of the marketing management process.
Why not outsource your marketing management?
Outsourced marketing management is an ideal option for larger businesses looking to take on a structured approach to marketing but haven’t yet built up a fully functional marketing department. Importantly, such an outsourced function is about more than following up with third party suppliers, or putting together events. It involves working closely with the management team to get clarity and agreement on the full spectrum of tools as highlighted in this article. It requires both high level strategic discussions, and daily administrative and project management capability.
To learn more about our outsourced marketing management solution, contact us.