Marketing and advertising today is incredibly complex thanks to the ever-changing flow of digital. Business owners are approached by countless companies with a great opportunity you simply can’t miss! Those opportunities could very well be great. However, unless you have taken the time to think through who you are as a business, who your people (customers) are and where they consume information, as well as where you want to go with your business then it can be a slippery slope of yesses that should have been no’s and no’s that should have been yesses.
This is why I am constantly banging the marketing strategy drum to businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries.
As digital marketing consultants, our team helps businesses create an essential litmus test. We help them identify their brand identity and audience segments to create and implement messaging that matters in the spaces where it can connect to those audiences, all while keeping the business’s short-term and long-term goals and needs in mind.
This also provides business leaders a resource to gauge potential opportunities. When approached with a sales person with that really great opportunity you just can’t miss, now a business leader has the ability to ask “does this align with my brand? Are my people in that space? Will it get me closer to where I am going?” Now decisions don’t have to simply be about whether or not it’s in the budget. Money matters, but so does strategy!
Here’s a real-life example from one of our clients, The Pickwick Place.
The Pickwick Place is actually more like 3 businesses under one brand. Located off State Route 30 in Bucyrus, Ohio the property is home to 3 historic barns that have been converted to feature a market of locally and regionally sourced produce and products (The Market), a rustic wedding and events venue (The Loft), as well as a shopping mall of etsy-in-real-life proportions (The Stalls).
Knowing a little about the business from personal use, I decided to make a general inquiry call and was quickly connected to Laura, one of the co-owners in the business. In that initial call I emphasized I didn’t want to sell her anything in that call. I didn’t have a specific product or service box in mind that I wanted to put her in. Instead, I wanted to know if we could sit down so I could listen and learn more about their business goals and needs.
We sat down together and I learned a lot!
To sum it up, The Pickwick Place was this gem of a business that had opened 5 years prior and grown exponentially right off the bat but was now facing the stages of new business adolescence. The business looked different today than what the 6 co-owners had imagined when they first opened the doors. They had built up a lot of goodwill with a large amount of people since they opened, but they weren’t quite sure how to keep that momentum going.
They also recognized they had a brand clarity problem. Even as owners immersed in the heart and soul of the property, they still struggled to concisely communicate exactly who and what was The Pickwick Place. If they couldn’t answer that question, how could they expect their customers to be able to?
Our early conversations quickly led me to realize that they didn’t have an advertising need. They had a marketing strategy need. The Pickwick Place was moving at a million miles an hour, and the constant on-the-fly route changes were starting to wear on everyone.
So rather than pitch them a new vehicle for advertising, I recommended that we stop and actually build the roadmap that they should drive for the next 6-12 months.
Recognizing each barn had its own unique goals, needs, obstacles and audiences, we put together 2 distinct digital marketing strategy guidebooks for 2 of the 3 barns – The Market and the Stalls. We outlined their goals, their audiences and marketing tactics to help them achieve their goals and connect to their audiences. Each tactic was broken down to describe the tactic, why it was important to implement, who should be responsible for it and when it should occur.
Let me clarify, these playbooks were not made in a vacuum. The early stages involved in-depth consulting meetings where we asked a bunch of questions to ensure we had a firm grasp on their business objectives and needs. Everything was collaborative.
Developing the marketing strategy playbooks turned out to be only the beginning of our relationship with The Pickwick Place. After seeing the roadmap they quickly asked our team at Source Brand Solutions to not only help them with the implementation of the tactics but to also continue providing essential marketing consultation.
What does this look like now? In many ways our team serves as a type of marketing department for The Pickwick Place. We manage all of their social advertising strategy and spend. We developed and implemented a brand-new, conversion-focused website and now serve as their website SEO and content managers. We develop email marketing strategies and manage on-going content campaigns with their current contact lists. We meet monthly to discuss progress made and what is coming in the months ahead. Most recently, we really began tackling the issue around brand clarity by helping them develop a new place-making logo design.
In regards to the marketing strategy, the owners have expressed the impact that having a document to reference about what is coming next has been incredibly helpful. The daily speed is still incredibly fast, but the playbooks help them see what is coming a little sooner than before. It has also helped them make decisions about other marketing opportunities from radio, billboard and others.
Concisely summarizing the tangible outcomes we have seen over the past year from our direct marketing work is tricky because of the many moving parts. However, there are a few facts they have shared with us recently that I think show the end results of how marketing strategy have helped them over the past 12 months:
- The Market successfully launched 2 new festivals (3 total) in 2019 and blew their attendance goals out of the water for each
- The Stalls (opened June 2019) has over 50 vendors in less than 5 months and is already breaking even as a new business
- The Market is showing an anticipated double-digit revenue growth for 2019
The Pickwick Place team certainly worked their tails off to achieve these outcomes. We are simply proud and honored to be a part of that team by providing a clear(er) path to accelerate their progress with clear messaging, marketing strategy and efficient implementation to provide their onsite staff more time to focus on continuing to make their customer experience great.