A 12-step program for marketers in denial

It seems like there is a 12-step program that addresses every conceivable ill. Following is a 12-stepper for owners and manager suffering from any affliction causing problems in their marketing.

Before we go any further, you first must admit that you have a problem. “Hi, my name is Andrew, and I’m a myopic marketer.” There…that wasn’t so hard.

Let’s face it, we all have marketing problems—some of us are more in touch with our pain and willing to make changes…others are still in denial. Regardless of where you are in your own process, I suggest the following program. Like other 12-step programs this one should be carried out in order.

  • Step 1: Develop and document a mission statement that defines who you are, what you do and whom you serve. Keep it short, simple and customer-oriented. Remember that the purpose of business is not to create a product…it is to create a customer.
  • Step 2: Perform a SWOT analysis to uncover internal (Strength and Weakness) and external (Opportunity and Threat) conditions you can either leverage or mitigate. Prioritize your list, focusing on a few conditions that have the greatest impact on your marketing.
  • Step 3: Conduct marketing research to reveal consumer values and competitor vulnerabilities. Survey your best customers and shop key competitors for insights on how to best position and promote your brand as more relevant and distinct.
  • Step 4: Do a product (or service) evaluation, and look for areas of potential improvement and advantage that surfaced from your marketing research. A competitive advantage results from a competitive “distinction” based on customer “values.”
  • Step 5: Go through the same process as in Step 4 to assess your customer service. How do you measure up against top competitors—from the customers’ point of view? On average, happy customers share their experience with three people, unhappy ones spew to seven.
  • Step 6: Analyze your infrastructure (finance, facility, technology and human resources) to assure you can grow and continue to deliver as promised. If you have supply or channel partners, examine those linkages as well, because they too impact customer experiences.
  • Step 7: Profile your target markets to determine the most responsive, profitable and stable segment. Your goal should be to satisfy a profitable niche, not to fill a populace gorge. In marketing, targeting a smaller, higher quality segment is more profitable than spreading your resources too thin.
  • Step 8: Establish specific, measurable and realistic marketing objectives. Make sure they are quantifiable and dated. It is also important to assign a champion for each objective to improve accountability.
  • Step 9: Based on your SWOT analysis and marketing research, determine the best marketing strategies to achieve your objectives. Be sure to align your positioning (brand image, pricing, packaging and distribution) to the appropriate promotional mix.
  • Step 10: Put your strategies in motion by itemizing marketing tactics and determine who will do what by when. Be sure to involve those responsible for implementing the plan in the action planning process.
  • Step 11: Before executing your tactics, put a tracking system in place to measure results gained against resources expended. Track sales to their sources, then divide revenues (from each marketing channel) by investments to determine your ROI by channel.
  • Step 12: As you track results, continually make adjustments to optimize your promotional mix and messages to increase return-on-investment. Marketing is a dynamic function, and your marketplace is constantly changing.

After you’ve gone through each of the 12 steps—and documented your objectives, strategies and tactics—you’ll have a marketing plan. Use it as a management tool to implement and monitor all marketing activities.

This 12-step program works whether you’ve hit rock bottom or are rolling to the top. But keep it anonymous; no need for the competition to know you’re in a “program.”

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