Of all the challenges we’ve seen many small- and medium-sized business owners/professionals encounter, knowing the steps to developing a marketing strategy is one of the most prevalent. The solution to this challenge is most likely in a place you haven’t thought to look–your current business strategy. Within your business strategy, you outline the tasks and procedures by which you operate on a day-to-day business to deliver your unique value proposition. This (in theory) serves as a guide for all internal actions.
Marketing is inherently an external act. For an organization to be successful, what they produce internally must match what they promote externally. This means your business strategy must equal your marketing strategy.
To ensure your internal actions, or business strategy, matches your external actions, or marketing strategy, the two strategies must match each other.
What Happens When the Strategies Are Not Aligned
Picture a situation where your fulfillment staff is working every day to produce blue pens at a price of five for two dollars. However, your marketing and sales team is promoting red pens at a price of eight for two dollars. It is easy to see where the conflict is and how the customers who are expecting red pens at a cost of $0.25 per pen are actually getting blue pens at $0.40 per pen. It is likely they will not be pleased. This misalignment would result in headaches for all involved.
While this example is overly simplified, marketing plans that are not aligned what the business plans happen more often than not. The differences are small but the resulting problems are big, including:
- Waste: If you deliver a product or service that is not in line with what your customer is expecting, then you have just wasted a lot of time, money, and effort.
- Dissatisfied customers: Your customer may feel cheated or misled which can cost you more than you realize.
- Lost Opportunity: Along the lines of wasted time, whenever you are attending to a customer complaint, you are missing out on opportunities to improve your business or potentially make other sales.
- Low Morale: Unhappy customers create negativity in an organization, which is not good for morale.
These adverse effects have a way of multiplying and becoming much bigger issues. Aligning your marketing strategy with your business strategy will not help you ensure you avoid these issues.
Making Sure Everything Matches Up
Now that we know what can happen when your marketing and business strategies are not aligned, let’s take a look at what you can do to make sure they are:
- Develop and use your unique value proposition (UVP): Your UVP is how you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Knowing it can guide you both internally and externally in your marketing strategy. Download Beacon’s guide to developing and using your UVP here.
- Review and update all social media platforms: It is important for all information about your business (hours, services, description, about) matches where you are today. We suggest you review your social account every six months and make updates as needed.
- Review and update your website: This is particularly if you promote seasonal specials on your site. It does not look good to have Christmas specials in May unless you are doing a “Christmas In May” promotion.
- Meet management regularly: Have quarterly or semi-annual meetings to discuss what you would like to market during the next period. Make sure this is in step with what the organization has in mind. If something does not line up, make the necessary changes.
Knowing how and where to get started with your marketing can be tough, but the answers are closer than you think. Aligning your marketing and business strategies will make sure everyone is working towards the same goal and that everyone, customers included, come out satisfied.