This month marks three years since Results Communications and Research, and I as its Principal, hung our marketing & communications and market research shingle. As I mentally reviewed the past several years, I thought about common themes that might capture both the nature of the work we’ve completed for our beloved clients and the type of clients and prospective clients with which we’ve worked. The word that immediately came to mind is “diverse.”
As far as diversity of work goes, we’ve helped clients issue RFPs for Web site design & development and assisted them in selecting vendors; used client content management systems (CMS) – such as WordPress and Hubspot – to revise existing client sites; and launched new Web sites for clients using WIX. We’ve developed, implemented, monitored, and reported on brand new online advertising campaigns, but have also assumed management and optimization of a client’s existing Google AdWords online campaigns. We’ve conducted research of both internal and external audiences, and of a client’s customers, prospective customers, and competitors. We’ve served as our clients’ blog writer and social media voice. And, we’ve developed integrated marketing plans, executed PR campaigns, and assisted with internal communications needs.
Despite detailing above some of the diverse client work with which we’ve been involved, the emphasis of this post is more related to the diversity of our client base. Our clients have been of all shapes and sizes – one-to-three-employee business-service consultancies to organizations with 500+ employees; of all profit statuses – for- and not-for-profit; and from a very diverse set of industries: food, healthcare, financial services, employee benefits, private investigation, non-profits with a local scope and ones with an international scope, higher education, religious denominations, and the list goes on… One of my biggest takeaways from consulting work completed under the Results umbrella and from other consulting roles is this: when developing a marketing plan, there is great value and learning to be had from exposure to and consideration of the marketing challenges and opportunities of leading organizations outside one’s own industry or niche.
From years of working in both corporate and consultant marketing roles, I can attest that it’s a very common practice for organizations to want to or to actually mimic the marketing, and other general business practices, of the one or several competitor organizations they most wish to be like. Often, a key driver of this “mimicking” behavior is the strong tendency and temptation by an organization’s leadership to look for inspiration in the marketing activities employed by competitors in their industry/niche — organizations whom leadership believes is doing the best job of converting prospective customers into sales customers or at causing a desired set of individuals to complete whatever the next desired step is, such as signing up to receive e-mails. This, in turn, frequently causes the individuals who are responsible for developing comprehensive, integrated marketing and communications plans for a new product, new service, or an entire fiscal year to feel pressured to follow in competitors’ footsteps.
(Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)
While we do think there is value in reviewing the marketing tactics competitors are using to identify a key lead- or sales-generating vehicle or a marketing activity that might resonate best with one or several of your target audiences – for example, your competition may be employing a Google AdWords Display campaign to create awareness of a product or service that is less-well-known and not actively searched on, or pay-per-click advertising for a product or service on which your target audience(s) regularly enters search engine queries – some of the best marketing ideas and opportunities come from focusing on what other successful, world-class organizations, regardless of industry, are doing from a marketing standpoint. Many of those marketing activities may still be applicable and transferable to your organization. And, yes, even if your organization is a non-profit vs. for-profit one, there’s still great value in considering marketing tactics used by corporate organizations.
What are the implications and practical applications of the above?
- If you’re in the planning stages for a new fiscal year, or new product or service launch, and have a large enough marketing team with the bandwidth to do so, hold a brainstorming session where each member of your team (and if appropriate, other internal staff who aren’t on the marketing team, but who interact with your customers) bring examples of their favorite brands that DON’T compete for your target audience, but whom they think are doing marketing right and/or differently (and we mean positively different :)).
- The next time your organization is in hiring mode for permanent or contract marketing staff, interview and hire candidates who HAVE NOT worked in your industry and who can bring an objective, new outlook to your marketing challenges and opportunities. We find marketing skills are very transferable, and good marketers know how to effectively educate themselves quickly on the challenges and opportunities associated with any industry.
- If you’re a business-owner who wears many hats, including a marketing one, or a one-person marketing team, consider hiring a consultant or marketing agency like ours who has helped a diverse group of organizations meet their sales and awareness objectives, and who can share some best or new marketing practices from other industries and niches that might be applicable to yours.
We’re always up for a non-obligatory, complimentary discussion of your marketing and communications challenges and opportunities. As we begin year four of our marketing consultancy, we look forward to continuing to work with a diverse group of clients on diverse work, and we say “thank you” to all our clients for the opportunities they’ve afforded us to help them achieve their objectives. We also want to thank those prospective clients with whom we’ve held engaging and informative discussions.