How Do You Know what You Don’t Know?

Ask the Magic 8-BallIncreased marketing budgets are the trend for 2013 and marketing is an increasingly important function for Small and Mid-sized Businesses (SMBs, or those that have between $5M and $500M in annual revenue).

This is fantastic news – especially for those of us who provide marketing services to this sector.

But before you start doing more – you owe it to yourself to take a look at what you’re doing now.

If you’re like most SMBs, you probably have some metrics, but it’s challenging to connect the dots from marketing activity to ROI. The typical SMB struggles with a poorly defined value proposition and messaging – usually not segmented by market. Most lack an integrated marketing strategy, a key enabler to product portfolio and geographic expansion.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

So, how can you find out? Luckily, you can do better than consulting a Magic 8-Ball. A deep-dive discovery into your marketing effectiveness will allow you to focus resources on what’s working and identify opportunities for improvement.

The approach may be slightly different, but the basic high-level activities for a discovery project are common across companies, regardless of size and industry.

  • Market assessment: Validation of market size, key geographic and demographic segments, and buyer personas will help determine how target markets can be segmented. Interviews with key employees, clients, lost prospects, target audience executives, and other stakeholders validate market awareness and help determine buying criteria.
  • Competitive analysis: It’s good practice to keep an eye on what the other guys are doing.  A high-level competitive analysis can be as simple as measuring against key performance indicators such as brand awareness, thought leadership, or quality of content.
  • Sales funnel analysis: How do your clients move from suspect to prospect to close? Discovering where the key touch points are can determine where specialized offers or content can help accelerate the sales cycle and improve customer engagement.
  • Message testing: Ask 20 people in your company what your value proposition is. You will likely get 20 different answers. Revisit your core messaging to ensure that it is expressed in simple content that clearly communicates your company’s value proposition.
  • Website analysis: This is the one sales tool you have that is on 24/7/365. Make sure it’s up to date with current content, that it’s optimized for search, and that it passes basic usability tests. Don’t forget about how it looks on small, hi-resolution screens – more and more people view websites on mobile devices.
  • Content review: As we’ve said before, content is king. Your potential buyers want to know what you’re thinking, and what you’ve done for other people like them. An assessment of existing marketing content (presentations, whitepapers, case studies, research findings, and blogs) will identify gaps, reveal content re-purposing opportunities, and prioritize new content development.

A discovery exercise like this is ideally performed from an outside perspective. A discovery should assess your challenges from an expert and objective point of view. A successful discovery identifies strengths and weaknesses in your current marketing mix, provides updated messaging, and a plan to take advantage of your unique differentiators. The outcome helps you address areas for improvement that align with your corporate objectives and deployment capabilities.

So, before you start spending that increased marketing budget – put away your Magic 8-Ball and embark on a discovery project to learn what you don’t know. It’s the best way to identify maximum brand and revenue building opportunities for all your communication and marketing activity.

Need help? Just ask. We guarantee at least one good idea per conversation – it’s worth a call!

Posted by Linda Jackson    |    February 21, 2013