Our company exists to serve the face-to-face marketing segment. Everyday we deal in displays, signage and graphics our clients use to get their brand in front of people. We know this area well, and are comfortable on the vendor side of the table, but when we have to be the client for our own marketing we feel what our clients feel. Currently, we’re trying to iron out our marketing plan for the 2nd half of 2018. We’re brainstorming ideas, reaching out and meeting with companies, evaluating options and coming up with budgets. Whenever we get into this experience I try to call on what I’ve learned from the other side of the table. I’ve broken down three broad strategies I’ve seen used, their potential issues and key takeaways.
Broad Categories of Strategy
Our clients generally will fit into one of three molds when they come to us:
Keep doing what we’re doing
This strategy comes into play seemingly for a several reasons; it works fine and the client is too swamped to think beyond, they’re new to the company and don’t have the trust yet to break from status quo or lastly because there is limited risk in this.
The problem with this can be that if this course stays too long you can quickly get behind the curve in marketing. The ways of effective marketing are ever-changing, what worked yesterday isn’t guaranteed to work tomorrow. We’re finding this especially true as we begin to have a generation shift in the customer bases of our clients (as well as the client staff).
Note to self: Don’t allow yourself to get too swamped with what is directly in front of you to let high level trends pass by . Carve out regular time to review trends and discern where they fit with your brand and strategy, and how they can be implemented.
Do what our competitors are doing
This comes about in situations where there isn’t a marketing person so someone from another department is making the call, or from marketers who know they need a change and don’t want or have the time to risk something completely out of the box.
In this instance you’re playing it safe in going with a familiar feel for your customer base, but now have to beat your competition at their game on a level field. Even if you’re a dominant brand in the space and seemingly have leverage doing the same thing, there’s a chance it dilutes the brand down to your competitors and makes you look complacent.
Note to self: Find the balance of keeping what is effective with your clients in your space (to mitigate risk) and offering enough creativity to create visible separation in specific strategy. If everyone has a 10′ curved pop-up, make yours backlit.
Come up with something brand new
We love the client that comes in with the marketing wheels spinning. They push us in our own creativity and they are going to create a unique, one-of-a-kind booth. They look at last year’s booth as what not to do and the competitor’s booth as what to be totally different than. We talked earlier about competing on a level playing field, this is creating a different field. Excitement is generated for customers who know to expect something different than last year and the status quo.
The pitfalls are the riskiness of this approach. Realistically, you aren’t hitting a home run every time this way. Sometimes you’re even abandoning a good, effective option for something that becomes a bust.
Note to self: Be creative. Be forward thinking. Don’t abandon tried and true completely, but incorporate it with what can become the next standard. This will take time, effort, energy and money.
Consider where you fall in these strategies and what problems are coming along with where you are. In marketing we’re tasked with marrying creativity with practical business, don’t let the creativity be lost in trying to overly appease the other half. Take time to go high level and get out of the day to day to make sure that something major is not passing you by. These words are me talking to myself as much as anyone else, as I delve further in I imagine it will bring out more reflection of the process for me to share with my fellow marketers. Let me know what you think about my take above, and how we can best prepare and strategize!