If your product and/or company is as good as you say it is, why would you not want to cover your marketplace with a nice thick layer of your best-in-class offer?  If you’re being honest in your assessment, the answer is probably either a lack of marketing expertise or limited resources.  In this article, we will help give you insight that can increase your capacity to deploy expertise, but mainly show you how to overcome a challenge of resource allocation. Whether we are talking about money, staff, bandwidth, or any other limiting factor, every company has limited resources. The solution is prioritizing.  Just like your brand should not, and will never be, all things to all people, your marketing should not try to be on every channel and medium – no matter how popular they are.  Doing so only waters down your brand.

There is no greater stress on marketers today than that imposed by the number of options available to reach your customer in a digital world.  And, likewise, knowing when to put down your knife and step away from the table can give no greater sense of mental relief.

By nature, prioritizing keeps you from treating all marketing the same, because it is not.  Every brand has a unique set of priorities that will maximize its marketing potential.  Failing to prioritize at all will be a disaster. Failing to prioritize properly is at best an exercise in frustration and at worst a conundrum of lost opportunity and poor financial performance.

How to Prioritize Marketing Effort

You know the analogy:  Start with the biggest rocks first, then the smaller rocks, then pebbles, then a cup of coffee.

So, what is what are the “big rocks” in marketing plans?   They are the promotional subcategories (or promotional approach as outlined in this article [https://quicklightmedia.com/blog/marketers-stop-leaving-out-this-step-when-developing-your-strategy/].  When you prioritize, you always have to start with a first priority.   We are going to call this your Primary Promotional Approach.

Primary Promotional Approach

Before getting into the blocking and tackling of implementing a Primary Promotional Approach, consider these factors as they relate to your brand and/or company:  Authenticity, Allocated Resources, and Revenue Growth Demands.  Authenticity is very important as if you build a strategy that cannot be supported by your brand persona, it does not matter how well it is executed.  It will eventually falter and waste months, if not years, of investment.   Discussing prioritizing resources is how we started this article.  Just make sure you look beyond financial.   There are many ways to assess resources, including, personnel, industry longevity, location, market cycles and dynamics, just to name a few.   Revenue growth demands will help dictate your time horizons for investment, which is directly linked to the strategy you will need to implement to drive ROI.

Why is it important to pick a Primary?  The reality is that promotional approaches are much like personalities.  Although we have different sides to our personality, there is certainly a predominant M.O. for most of us.  If you are a gregarious social butterfly, that will come easiest for you, even if at times it is appropriate to be more reserved and introverted, and vice versa for someone who is normally introverted.   In that same vein, it is important to understand the ‘personality’ of the different promotional approaches: Advertising, Direct Marketing, Public Relations, and Sales.   Here is the essence of each:

Advertising is a pay to play game in which you are not targeting a specific individual, but rather a wider market of people.  It’s usually creative, bold, and tasked with attracting the attention a specific target demographic.

Direct Marketing is somewhat of a play to pay game, but one in which you have a specific list to which you are conducting your outreach.  It is not usually as creative as it is more personalized and will have more opportunity to outline solutions.

Public Relations is similar to Advertising in that you are reaching a wider market of people.  However, it is not pay to play.  It is based on value-added activities. It may have some creativity in the writing, but it certainly leans more toward being informative.  It’s more steak than sizzle.

Sales most resembles direct marketing as you are speaking directly to an individual or group of individuals.  Sales is just more interactive and personalized when done properly.  Good selling involves good conversation and being able to dive in deep to dissect a customer’s needs and solve specific problems that are uncovered.

When it comes to understanding how to select your Primary Promotional Approach, and likewise, your secondary and tertiary, think about the personality of your company.  Where are you strongest? What is second, etc…?    In order to get more technical, it helps to look at some examples of other companies and what factors were used in determining their primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Company A

A mid-market service company with solutions specifically for colleges and universities.  Since this company specifically serves higher education, we know we have a narrowed audience.  The second factor is that the company has services that require large budgetary commitments on behalf of their clients and often require involvement from several departments at the university.   Since the target market is well defined, a specific set of individuals within each college or university is the main point of contact, and the purchasing process is lengthy, the primary approach is direct sales.  Since the customer base is very narrow, the opportunity for thought leadership and leveraging PR becomes a great secondary approach.  It helps lend credibility into an audience that relies heavily on long-term thinking and measured decision making.  Creativity from advertising will not hold as much weight, and direct marketing can be minimized by focusing on an enhanced sales process.  So, these last two end up being tertiary.  Staying focused on this structure in their promotional marketing has resulted in tremendous growth and consistently for this company – exceeding annual revenue targets.

Company B

This company serves a specific profession with a relatively low-cost solution with a solid history in their industry. Since the company offers a low-cost solution and has some name recognition, it bodes well for an advertising campaign with an ecommerce solution.  Direct sales is not a good approach since the professional cannot be contacted while at their job, since it is an offering for them personally rather than something that benefits their employer.  Public relations is also not highly effective since there is not much thought leadership surrounding this particular solution.   There is an opportunity for some direct marketing through a database that has been developed over the years.  In this case, that can be done with mailers and emails depending on the information available for each contact in the database.  This database can also be leveraged within the advertising campaigns – both on social media and search engine platforms for better ad targeting. In general, social media platforms were the best way to target the audience based on profession and specific interests. Following this approach has shown a year-over-year increase of revenue of about 16%, while also lowering the cost per conversion.

Company C

A regional automotive collision company.  As a company that serves people at a time that is usually not elective on their part, there are specific promotional strategies that are not even feasible as tertiary options, much less as primary. Those are sales and direct marketing.  No matter how strong your appeal and how good your solution, until someone is in an auto-accident, they will have no interest in purchasing from you.  So, the primary approach becomes a debate between public relations and advertising.  An argument could be made for either, as there is both top of mind considerations for the brand and some product placement opportunities on search engines.  In this case, thought leadership was not highly viable, but local leadership is.  Search engines can give higher organic results on maps and in other searches for companies that are shown to be prominent members in their community with some enhancements through search engine optimization strategies.  Based on the availability to leverage a good reputation and local involvement, more traffic could be gained from ‘publicity’ through organic search engine strategies, than with search engine ads and the large spending it takes to stay top-of-mind. Advertising is a solid secondary promotional approach that will be used on channels with the right pricing for longer term brand awareness.

Hopefully, these examples provide enough insight for you to begin incorporating the Primary Promotional Approach into your marketing strategy.  Remember that the reason to have a Primary Approach is to be able to best reach your audience and have the most effective marketing you can with your limited resources. You may feel uneasy at first about abandoning certain channels.  You must fight this urge to be everywhere at once. Remember to focus on spreading that thick layer of special sauce where your audience is best reached.  You will be glad you did when you see increased traction from your ability to focus your efforts with this model.

Special notation

When launching new products, do not assume that they are best marketed through the same promotional marketing approach as your other offerings. While it may be most convenient, and feasible, to do so, at least take the time to thoroughly review the attributes of the new product as it pertains to your market and your company before committing to a specific approach.   You can also take a step back and consider these factors before analyzing your approach options:  available resources for the new product marketing, the ROI expectations, and authenticity as it pertains to your overall brand, sister products, or your company.  For more details on these factors, we will have an article coming out soon.

Stay tuned!  If you need more insight or assistance in implementing the primary approach, do not hesitate to contact us.