In his 1989 book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, Steven Covey selects as his second habit ‘Begin with the End in Mind’. It’s one of my favourites, and I do try to adhere to it whenever I can. I sometimes paraphrase it as “work out where you want to go before you set off”. It seems so obvious and yet time and again I see examples in business of this vital step having been missed.
The most common place I see this ‘gap’ is not surprisingly in relation to marketing. Many business owners and leaders seem to be either perplexed by the complexity of marketing and just sign the cheques, hoping something good will happen, or are scared of challenging the marketing team (in-house or external) to define what they are aiming to deliver.
The alternative to beginning with the end in mind is the saying “If you don’t know where you are going, the one thing you can be sure of is that you won’t get there.” This is the situation I often see in small and medium-sized businesses. Lots of well-intentioned marketing activity, but results that surprise and disappoint in equal measure.
When the question is posed – “What do you want your marketing to deliver?” the answer usually begins with the word “more”. It’s usually more sales, more leads, more profit, more business value, more attractive (to staff, recruits, referrers, distributors or suppliers). That shouldn’t be a big surprise of course; if you are investing time and money in marketing, there should be a significant improvement in performance as a result.
What would it be for your business?
If you could move forward in time 3 years, and look back on a highly successful marketing programme, what would it have achieved? What would be different in your business as a result of that marketing activity?
Or, if you prefer to look at it a different way, if you think about where your business is now, what does your marketing have to do to help you address your challenges, take advantage of your opportunities and achieve your goals?
I’ll bet the word “more” features quite heavily!
For those, like me who are suffering EU Referendum fatigue, please don’t panic, while the theme of this week’s blog is about taking control, I’m talking about your business and specifically your marketing, nothing to do with the 23rd June!
In a desire to follow one of the most quoted pieces of advice from the e-myth book “Work on your business, not in your business”, we generally try to delegate some of our “in the business” workload. Sometimes this will be to employees, other work may be outsourced. I regularly see both in the way small and medium-sized businesses go about their marketing and I’m very happy with either approach.
In my experience, few business owners have a marketing background and whilst accepting the potential that good marketing could deliver, most don’t want to spend much of their time on it. Again, I don’t have a problem with this, much of the marketing workload can be effectively dealt with by other people in the business or external marketing experts.
Where I do have concerns is when delegation and/or outsourcing becomes abdication. It’s OK to delegate the work, but defining what we want marketing to deliver, agreeing the direction, investment strategy and tracking implementation and results is critical to the success of the business and that can’t be delegated.
Too often I meet businesses who have “someone looking after our marketing for us”, but when I dig beneath the surface, this is less about finding the best way to run an effective marketing programme and more about getting rid of a problem. A member of staff who has displayed a bit of enthusiasm for marketing or an agency with a slick sales patter promising transformational results can be a convenient opportunity for the business owner to convince him or herself that “we’ve got marketing sorted now” and turn their focus elsewhere.
Very often this ‘abdication’ ends in disappointment for all parties; the agencies get frustrated with the lack of direction and interest from the top of the business, the in-house marketer feels unsupported, lacks mentoring and development and the business owner doesn’t get the return (i.e. enough quality sales leads) on their marketing spend that they need. The focus of marketing activity generally spirals downward to switching tactics, trying to find a magic formula with an inconsistent level of investment.
For most SMEs, with the right choice of in-house and external resources, as little as 2 structured hours a month of the business owner’s time can make the difference between ineffective marketing that wastes your money and a programme that delivers a high return on investment and the long term business goals.
If taking back control of your marketing to get better results sounds interesting, give us a call today.