Marketers and marketing communication professionals have embraced the opportunities that come with marketing automation at a rapid pace. A positive development on its own. It does have a downside, though. Since, at the same time, strategy as an activity seems to have been banned to a position with little consideration. The consequence: a strong focus on short-term results, lesser attention for the ‘dot on the horizon’. And, consequently, clear direction for everything brands do in marketing and communication today vaporizing.
Not an enviable reputation
Marketing strategy, for some reason, has been attributed an unfortunate aura. Strategy seems to be a synonym for ‘far away’, ‘future’, and ‘results in the long term”. And that is not just. Of course, there is pressure from stakeholders on short-term ROI. That obviously calls for resounding results today. Well, then there is good news. Since strategy and short-term results do not rule each other out. Even better: with a clear ‘dot on the horizon’, strategy, the results of all the campaigns your run today and tomorrow will not only add up. It will create a multiplier effect.
“Strategy is determinent for success”
That is the conclusion professional marketing communication weekly Adformatie headlines, based on scientific research performed by André Koster. He analyzed well over 1,800 campaigns that were sent in for the Effie Awards, the professional prize for the most effective marketing communication campaigns. Slicing and dicing large numbers of variables, he came to the strong conclusion that strategy ultimately has the biggest impact on campaign results. And, what goes for marketing communication, also counts for marketing.
Marketing strategy is your compass
Strategy is the compass that guides you. It gives direction towards the goals and objectives that you are after. For example, the ultimate customer and personal brand experience. And, as the marketing profession is increasingly becoming a technology and data game, marketing ambitions have a growing impact on organizational processes and procedures as well as technological choices.
Putting the dot on the horizon and mapping out the road towards it, you will not only create coherence into what campaigns and customer-oriented communication must contribute to. It will also help you to define quick wins. It will lay the foundation for making business cases as the rationale behind investments. And it will help you to budget for growth in the forthcoming years.
Be aware that, also in the digital domain, building brands is a matter of continued investments. It does not end after the first implementation of your marketing automation tech and the first couple of journeys you had developed. Building brands from a clear positioning strategy is not limited to the more traditional marketing and communication channels. Your brand position is equally important in more functional, transactional, and data-driven communication.
Marketing automation uniformity
In that respect, there is still a lot to be gained in the marketing automation domain. Talking about translating your brand position to the same distinctive ‘look & feel’ in these digital channels as in the more traditional ones. Customer experience, often mentioned in one breath with marketing automation, calls for a brand with an identifiable and distinct signature across all channels and touchpoints.
With the strong attention of marketing and brand managers for creating distinctive branded communication beyond the area of marketing automation, it is remarkable how big the uniformity is within. Line up, for example, the welcome programs of 10 random brands and they all look alike. As if they were tied up in a corset that is too small. The conclusion is, that there is still a huge potential to translate your brand position to become a part of distinctive functional, transactional and service communication. And, hence, create an unambiguous customer experience.
Hit the ground running for 2020
A strategy will help you to create value for your customers and internal organization in the right order. With strategy not being lengthy projects with hefty PowerPoints. What strategy must be is concrete and pragmatic. With a step by step action plan. With next year’s marketing budgets that are to be or have been approved, now is the moment to hit the ground running for 2020. Just do it.