"Every organization's mission is to create and protect value, but some do it better than others."
Your marketing efforts are not miracle workers, nor magic bullets. You won't see success overnight, and your marketing campaigns may not hit the mark every time. But what can--and will--keep you in the public eye during times of complexity and rapid change are your company values. Your ability to consistently string your values throughout your campaigns will also contribute to your success.
Your marketing plan is determined by your company's value in this world.
We're not talking financial value. We're talking encompassing value--practical, emotional, financial, geographic, etc.--to your audience. Value is at the core of your company and is what sets it apart. So, before designing a marketing strategy and throwing campaigns out there to see what sticks, take a look at your company's purpose, mission, and value.
How do you determine your business value?
This can be as simple as a quick reference back to your USPs (unique selling propositions) and distilling it down to once sentence. Yes, you should have these written down somewhere. Yes, you should have identified your USPs before you launched.
IF YOU HAVEN'T identified your USPs, or determined your company's value yet, that's okay. Simply perform the Value Assessment below, then use the 4 P's to create your Unique Selling Propositions.
Assess your business value using this handy checklist.
- Why did you start this company?
- What does your business past teach you about the business present and future?
- How would your customers' lives change if your company no longer existed?
- Do you have a product or service that is unique? In what way? (Pricing, structure, process, experience, etc.) On a scale of 1 to 10, prioritize the importance of that difference to your customer.
- What talents does your team have that no one else has?
- How is the entire customer experience of dealing with your company--from lead to follow-up--affect your customer's life?
- Are you simply competing, or are you redefining the market in ways that generate new, distinctive benefits for a customer?
- Are you competing on your competitor's terms instead of your own?
- How have you maximized or even overcome existing resource constraints to build your business?
- Are your personal, individual values the only ethical and moral compass of your company, or do you allow for other viewpoints from staff and board members?
- How exactly do you challenge the status quo?
- What cultural forces are at work within your company?
- Do you reach across cultural boundaries to connect with, and make better products for, all customers in your perceived target market?
Then use the 4 P's to create your Unique Selling Propositions and protect your company's value in the public eye.
1. Product Characteristics
Your product must have characteristics that ultimately solve the customer's problem and would continue to be recognizable (brand awareness) and worth of talking about (word of mouth). Does your product solve a problem or meet a specific need? Does it do it in an easy or enjoyable way? How do the characteristics of the product align with the target market's lifestyle--is it an "organic" or natural match for this particular customer? What is special or unique about the product or service experience? How does it fit in with the company's existing product line and if it doesn't, why? Does it appeal to one of the five major senses? How does it financially, emotionally, physically, culturally improve the life of the customer? Is it urgent? Is it a response to a trend?
2. Price Structure
Is your product or service fairly priced based upon market research? How do you determine price structures? Are there incentives or reasons for lowering or increasing your price? What global, economic, political or environmental events will affect your pricing and margins?
3. Placement Strategy
Where is your product placed geographically and why? Where can it have the most impact? Is your product reaching your ideal customer easily? How can you increase product placement to reach target audiences?
4. Promotional Strategy
Which platforms are best suited to promote your product or service? How will news about your product spread? Can you control the conversation or influence it in any way? What key message do you want promoted about the product? Is the promotion scale-able in its message and how will the message shift (lemonade stand to lemonade factory)? How do promotions change from cultural environment to cultural environment?
And don't forget...some important tips:
The art of USPs is an entire marketing class in itself and I will dedicate another in-depth post to that soon, but these are just some surface questions to get you started. The most important thing to focus on right now is how your core value can be created, protected, and then reflected at every touchpoint in your strategy.
TIP: If you establish multiple unique selling propositions, choose one to be your "leading USP" that aligns directly with your leading core value. This will help you focus your marketing and PR strategy as well.
AND REMEMBER: If you don't deliver on your selling promises and create a great product/service, your company value will crumble. Period.
So...Got value? Got USPs? Excellent. You're ready to move forward and create a marketing strategy.