What’s the difference between marketing that works for a prolonged period of time and immediate success that you’re always trying to repeat? The key word is planning. Here are a few things we learned after years of providing strategic marketing consultation.
Streetwise was established in 2011 and started out helping small businesses with their marketing efforts. As the years passed, the focus of the company changed, new employees came on board, the team created a new brand and identity and the company started thinking about its future. But we learned one or two things along the way about pre-planning, goals and the paths to reach them, consistency and striving towards a goal vs. the ability to be flexible and adapt to changes, internal and external relationships that need to work both ways and more.
So, after more than a few years of providing strategic marketing consultation to friends in the beginning, then to clients and finally to ourselves between all the rest, here are a few truths we learned along the way.
From the top down
Strategy is a fun word. It’s no coincidence that a lot of people like to use it. In reality, what many companies call a marketing strategy is funneled into one or two platforms, most of which are well-known. But this is like harnessing horses to the back of a cart or, in other words, marketing from the bottom up.
This might seem logical at first glance. You have a message that you want to reach as many people as possible, so why not promote in the fastest and most accessible way possible? Now, you won’t always see the difference in real time, but over a prolonged period of posting without any results or change, that’s your first clue that something isn’t working.
The second clue, the one that really stands out like a red light, is when you sit down to write a post and you have no idea what you want to say. If that happens to you, it’s time to stop and think about what you set out to do in the first place. What’s your goal? Who is your audience? And what’s the message you want to promote?
But that’s just the beginning. The strategy involves comprehensive analysis: Who am I? Who is my audience? What are my business goals? And how can they be met most efficiently across various platforms (online and off)? Only after answering these questions and others will you be able to find yourself sitting in front of an organized brief that lays out exactly what you want to say in every post and the goal of each.
The fundamentals of strategic marketing consulting
A strategy is built from the top down, but a business is built from the bottom up. Every tree has roots and every building has foundations. The deeper they are, the higher they can go.
The foundation of a brand consists of two parts: The first is on the business side, mainly knowing what your goals are, what needs to be done to meet them and what budget you need to make it happen.
Streetwise, for example, isn’t the kind of company that employees hundreds of workers. We could continue to function in the here and now on the whim of the moment without taking any responsibility for ourselves. We can call that the “It’ll be fine” approach. One thing works well, another doesn’t – no big deal. But when we decided that we wanted to achieve victories and successes, we defined what they should be and especially what we needed to do to make them happen.
The other side of this coin is your company’s identity, the brand – something that’s important to establish from the very beginning in the most precise, in-depth way possible. Your identity needs to be evident in all the messages you communicate by text, graphics, behavior or verbal discussion, even in conversations within the company. Most important is to define your identity in its entirety and not just part of it, as many small companies mistakenly do.
After establishing your identity, you run with it over time, gain experience and exposure and the brand you built does the rest.
Adapting to the move
We’ve talked about success, consistency, solid strategy and foundations. But another important part of the puzzle is knowing how to adapt and adjust to reality, to sense the external situation, follow developments and trends, update your services and products accordingly, get rid of anything that becomes irrelevant, fix what only half works and continue to improve what does work. A part of the adaptations we’ve made was to understand better what we specialize in and navigate from there.
In other words, even if you’ve laid down foundations, that doesn’t mean that you can’t renovate and change things around. The world is constantly changing, you’re constantly changing, the needs of your audience are constantly changing and it’s already clear to all of us that standing in place effectively means moving backwards.
Streetwise, for example, was established in 2011 and began just by offering strategic marketing consultations to companies. After a few years, this focus changed several times until we arrived at what we do today, and we can only assume that will continue to evolve as well.
Alongside the business, you need to know when to update the brand as well. You don’t necessarily need to go so far as complete rebranding, but just make adaptations where and when needed. Just like human beings, brands can grow up, develop and gain new insights and perspectives, all without changing their DNA. In fact, the opposite is true. The fact that you update what defines your brand according to business developments is precisely what will keep you close to your DNA.
By the way, part of the adaptations we performed over the years touched on the kind of clients we wanted to work with. How? In accordance with our values and abilities. It began with the reconstruction of the character of the service we wanted to provide and its division into different packages. From there we decided on our main and secondary target audiences.
In it for the long haul
After talking about what this journey includes, the last thing to discuss is how long it takes. In short, we can say that it never ends. In a bit more detail, we can say that the need to generate profit here and now is an important part of the puzzle, but not the main piece. In-depth processes take time, especially because human consciousness takes time and even if people are exposed to the most amazing brand in the world right now, most won’t become customers on the first go. The smart thing is to keep moving forward consistently, do what you know how to do the best you can do it and continue creating content on the right channels for you in a way that will bring you long-term benefits and a lot of patience. Along with patience, it’s also important to define success for every one of your activities so that no matter what you can see what works and what doesn’t.
And by the way, even after you get to a good place, there is always room to improve, change and upgrade. As we already said, standing in place means going backward.