Fundamentals, in most competitive endeavors, are what we must first learn and master in order to perform well. They provide us with confidence in setting basic direction and a stable foundation when the going gets rough. In marketing, sound fundamentals help set strategic direction, guide tactical plans and provide benchmarks for determining execution and performance.
This article reviews three fundamentals to drive marketing excellence that span the gamut from strategy through execution: Innovation, Focus and Leverage. When set as a foundation for your marketing efforts, they enable you to establish and fine-tune your marketing activities to drive superior results.
Three Drivers of Marketing Excellence
1. Innovation… that Leads to Unique Customer Value
Although innovation has been recognized for years as being fundamental to achieving a competitive advantage, it has become a very hot topic recently. Fueled by globalization and rapidly evolving technology, competition is increasing in intensity at an alarming pace.
Competitors are moving faster than ever before and you need to move fast also, but it is more than getting your solution to market quickly and efficiently. While speed is important, speed alone will merely enable parity: to be in the game, to maintain. Offering “me-too” solutions that are not much different from the competition will only result in a bitter battle for market share and rapidly shrinking margins. To maximize your potential requires true market innovation—to be able to profitably deliver unique customer value.
True market innovation is only derived from a deep understanding of your customer’s ever-evolving needs. This understanding provides insight into what is of value, to who and why. Armed with this customer and market insight you can create and hone a robust market-driven business plan. This insight also enables you to develop compelling, differentiated offerings to meet the needs of a clearly defined market. Differentiated offerings deliver greater value to customers, provide higher competitive barriers and ultimately fuel profitable growth. They take you beyond parity.
2. Focus… for Market Impact and Lower Go-To-Market Risk
Armed with differentiated offerings and clearly-defined markets, it is now time to refine and focus your efforts on specific target segments. Companies interact with the market in two ways: reactively and proactively. Reactively, you decide if you will respond to any particular opportunity, only expending the opportunity cost of the moment. Being proactive is another matter, it requires investment—and the greater the focus of that investment, the greater the potential return.
Too often, a vague, high level, “one size fits all” value proposition is created in a rush to get to market quickly. It is then either broadly applied across all segments or given a quick face lift and repurposed towards individual segments. To maximize impact, go-to-market plans and their associated campaigns need to maintain a laser focus on a well-defined target segment and deliver a consistent, clear and compelling message.
To begin, you need to first understand how customer needs vary within and across different groups. You can then perform market segmentation in a way that allows you to identify your highest-value market segments. By focusing your resources on the highest-value segments, you will maximize impact and limit go-to-market risk. You are able to hone very specific value propositions and compelling market messaging when you have chosen a small number of high-value market segments.
Based on your target segments, you can then determine your best route to market. Knowing who you have selling to which customers enables you to equip your sales and channel partners with appropriate sales and marketing tools to accelerate sales growth. Bringing this information together in a focused, well-documented go-to-market plan will enable you to align your sales, marketing and delivery resources to increase your speed and efficiency in execution.
3. Leverage… to Accelerate Growth and Boost Returns on Market Investments
You now have a differentiated product, focused message and compelling value proposition for your target segment, it is time to accelerate market penetration and maximize impact. Too often companies reach this point with a superior offering and value proposition but underperform because they are either too slow, too inefficient, or don’t follow through with high quality sales and marketing campaigns and supporting deliverables. Leveraging the right resources, at the right time and at the right cost is crucial for executing your go-to-market plan quickly, effectively and in a cost effective manner.
You need to get your message out. Your sales and channel partners require sales support tools and training to be able to articulate your message and value proposition.You must be able to leverage and manage a significant number of diverse resources to get the job done. If you do not have internal staff experienced in either coordinating marketing efforts or designing, producing and delivering targeted messaging, then you should consider looking outside your organization. An experienced partner can make a significant difference in accelerating your time to market with effective messaging and quality marketing and sales deliverables—leading to increased revenues and lower overall costs.
Innovation, Focus and Leverage. These three fundamental drivers of marketing excellence should be embedded into your methods and approach for strategizing, planning and executing your marketing initiatives. Together they can significantly increase the return on your market investments.
Does your company truly understand your customer’s business and their underlying needs? Do you feel you have the market insight required to develop innovative offerings? Can you translate your market insight into specific, differentiated offerings and executable market plans? Can you clearly and consistently communicate a compelling value proposition to your target segments? Can you execute your go-to-market plans and targeted campaigns quickly, effectively and efficiently? If not, it is time to revisit the fundamentals that drive market excellence: Innovation, Focus and Leverage.