Marketing: Where to Start

May 16, 2017

Like anything in life, marketing starts at the beginning.  But understanding what the “beginning” actually is can inhibit some businesses from even starting to explore their marketing. I’ve had many people in small businesses ask me, “Kenn, where do I start when it comes to thinking about my marketing?”  They want to know, is it digital marketing with Facebook or SEO changes on their website?  Is it rebranding from the ground up? Is it figuring out their budget? etc.  All of these are good questions, but they are not the beginning.

The beginning of a good marketing plan, like the beginning of a good house, is a solid foundation.  For a house, this means solid ground that you can count on to support your floor, beams, and roof.  For marketing, this means solid foundational messaging elements that support all your tactics and efforts across universal media.  These are the key words, phrases, and sentiments that describe your business and it’s offerings in efficient and engaging ways. They communicate the very essence of what you want your audience to know about you.  This includes everything from your company’s current tagline, (like Apple’s “Think Different” or Coke’s “Taste the Feeling”) to wording that you choose to use in the content of your website, social media posts, print ads, sales scripts, etc.

If you are planning on building a house, to create a solid foundation, you have to search for the right soil, make sure there are no sinkholes, undetected water flows, or any other problems that might undermine the integrity of your structure.  This may require exploring many different sites, digging a lot of holes, and testing a lot of soil.  For marketing it’s the same thing, you have to explore the messaging elements inherent in your company culture and offerings, discard useless items, and find the most effective and efficient elements to support the integrity of your overall message.  You have to explore your company values, mission, and operational procedures, sift through the mass and uncover those things that are important to you, but even more so, important to your customers.  Until you discover the essence of your messaging based on your audience, your competitive advantages, and your mission, you are simply filling your marketing with a hodgepodge of messages that may not lead to the same conclusion.

Unfortunately, even though some insightful business people understand this is a good starting point, this is where many small businesses don’t put the time and resources into effectively doing the required work.  When I work with clients, we spend several hours exploring the company values, purpose, etc.  We get into the nitty gritty of what the company is trying to achieve in the world, above and beyond profits, and end up on the other side with a list of bullet points, taglines, and copy points that support everything they are trying to accomplish.  This information becomes the foundation on which all marketing tactics are built.  No matter whether a potential customer is looking at a magazine ad, a Facebook post, or hearing a radio commercial, the messages are going to be consistently integrated across all platforms.  In this way, a multi-pronged attack can be launched that all focuses on the same objective, getting the potential customer to perceive, across various media impressions, that the company has the answers to their challenges.

It’s good to know where the beginning is when thinking about improving your marketing, but even more important than knowing what it is, is to spend the time it takes to build a solid foundation.  When your foundation is solid, you can build something that touches the sky.

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