In a previous post, I suggested that the nature of “messaging” has changed so dramatically that the traditional messaging document, chock full of pre-launch analysis, is obsolete. I realized later that I stopped short. The traditional Grand Marketing Strategy for all start-up launches needs to be tossed in favor of a more flexible and athletic framework.
The traditional marketing strategy needs to be tossed because it’s so firmly rooted in a bygone era. If you’ve been around technology long enough, you remember when marketing relied on magazine ads, editorial mentions, appearances at the right trade shows, channel promotions and direct mail. So much push, so carefully controlled—and best orchestrated by a marketing strategy document.
Two big changes since then: 1) Marketing channels have exploded, and 2) Start-ups wouldn’t dream of plowing money into launches like we used to—and no longer need to. This isn’t abdication; it’s acknowledging reality. In an era of immediate touch-points that can happen anywhere, nobody has all the answers, though the best marketers can move the effort along efficiently in the right direction. It’s a matter of following best instincts with an unbiased eye toward discerning between what works and what doesn’t, and a commitment to build it all up into best practices.
Think about it: That’s really what the best new sales groups go through in reaching optimal performance. Armed with a basic understanding of product, targets and needs, sales team members take their best shot at tactical approaches using their own favored methods and instincts, and then share with each other what’s working and what didn’t work as expected. As approaches that produce results gain adoption, a body of proven best practices emerges. Flexibility and knowledge gained from experience is the key, not rigidity. Few would turn that down in favor of defining, pre-launch, a fixed sales process that all salespeople must follow.
So it is with contemporary marketing, and experience bears it out. I’m amazed at what we’ve been able to do with clients who have limited budgets but sharp instinct and a willingness to devote budget judiciously, in part because results are now so much more immediately measureable. When we get in lock-step with the customer-acquisition function, break down the immediate challenges and barriers to success, attack those challenges and barriers with an eye toward how they interrelate, and let successes on the way inform the overall strategy, we’ve seen amazing results.
This isn’t a process that takes years, but it does take a few months—and the time is much better spent than beginning with a Grand Marketing Strategy created without benefit of real experience and prospect participation.