The four secrets to business marketing success

  • Wed Dec 28th, 2011 1:21pm

By Andrew Ballard Growth Strategies

When it comes to marketing communications and promoting a business or brand, I’ve found that many marketers make the process too complicated. Marketing, as a business function, only seems complex because it rarely generates the results marketers hope for. You’ve likely heard this before, but it bears repeating: “Hope is not a strategy.” So what are the secrets to success?

To be especially effective at promotion and generating a positive return on marketing investment, you only need to do four things right. You need to deliver the right message, to the right market, through the right channel, at the right time.

What could be simpler?

OK, I’m being a bit cheeky. While it’s true that you only need to do those four things right to succeed, the problem is, even if you get just one of those four things wrong, your entire marketing program can fail. Here is how you go about getting it all right. Break down the four components and tackle them one at a time.

The Right Message: This can be the most difficult of the components to get right. Your message needs to have four qualities to be effective. First, it should grab your audience’s attention with a strong hook or headline. Second, it should differentiate your offer from those of competitors. Third, the message should be relevant, in terms of solving a problem or satisfying a need. Fourth, your message should include a specific call-to-action, which will make measuring the results much easier.

The Right Market: The process of targeting a market is counterintuitive. You’d think that the larger the market you target, the more customers you’d attract. That tack actually results in the opposite effect. If you spread your marketing resources too thin, you won’t create the necessary impact. Several studies cite “the rule of seven,” referencing that it takes an average of seven exposures to a marketing message before consumers recall the advertiser or respond to the offer. Based on your budget, you may want to target a smaller footprint, a single, more responsive segment, or use fewer channels.

The Right Channel: Once you have the right message trained on the right market, you’ll need the right delivery system or mode of communication. This is another challenging aspect of marketing because there are so many media choices. Based on your market, you’ll want to narrow down your options based on how your target audience consumes media. Make your online and offline media selections based on the channels that prove to be most cost-efficient at reaching your target market.

The Right Time: Timing is also important. The closer you time the delivery of your message to the purchasing cycles of your prospects, the more sales you’ll generate. In many product and service categories, there are sales peaks and valleys. If your business falls into one of those seasonal categories, you’ll want to time your message to hit just in ahead of the peaks, and then lower or eliminate your spending level during the valleys. If there is no seasonality to your business, you should spread your budget evenly throughout the year.

I acknowledge that “doing all four of these things right” is easier said than done. However, if you break down the marketing communications process into these four components — message, market, channel, time — you’ll find the function of marketing less complex, easier to manage and likely enjoy a greater return on investment.

Andrew Ballard is the president of Marketing Solutions, a local agency specializing in growth strategies. For more information, call 425-337-1100 or go to