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Demystifying Marketing Strategies

How do you demystify, clarify and distill a lifetime of sales and marketing knowledge? It’s not an easy task, believe me. Especially today, when traditional media is being bombarded right and left from dozens of digital media platforms. Marketers aren’t sure where to turn.

Is there still a place in your marketing plans for traditional media? Absolutely! Can marketing via digital, social, mobile, DOOH or online media stand alone? I’d have to say no….most of the time.

Think about the marketing messages or advertising you’re exposed to every day: Microsoft, Google, Apple, Samsung. Now think about where you see these messages: online, Out-of-Home, on TV, in print, on radio. These are some of the largest, most successful digital companies in the world, yet they understand and embrace the power and impact of using all media to get their brand message to the public.

Every company is looking for marketing innovation these days, but innovation is often easier said than done. Take consumer-package goods, or CPG companies. They have long histories and are very set in their ways when it comes to using solely traditional media – and it’s worked. Until now.

Many of these companies, some of which have been around for a couple hundred years—are now realizing that doing things “the same old way” is no longer feasible. Try telling that to the white haired, male executive, in the corner office, who’s been doing the same old thing for 35 years!

Innovation in marketing means forgetting what you know about how to do things and looking at the possibilities. That doesn’t mean you forget how to write good copy or create a call to action. Or how humor sells a product or service. Or how you need to communicate your message via layman’s terms and not in tech-speak or industry jargon. And don’t forget: KISS….Keep It Simple Stupid.

But now it’s time for you to think about marketing to new demographics—your new customers–who use media in a different way, while re-branding your company to ‘old’ customers who are now using digital media almost as often as the younger demo; we are a nation of consumers that are connected one way or another nearly 24/7. We watch TV or listen to radio while texting from smartphones or playing a game or checking email on our tablets. In the US alone, there are more cellphones than there are people!

Remember that old adage: if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else. You shouldn’t be marketing without a strategy. So what do you need to do to create one? First, you’ll need to take a step back and evaluate your business objectively. You need to honestly and completely be able to understand its strengths and weaknesses. Start a simple list that answers these questions:

What is the opportunity? Are you positioning your company as the preferred supplier of products or services? Creating a new market for your company? Building awareness of your brand?

Where is the primary market located? Downtown Cleveland, New York City, internationally, in an online global community?

Who are the ideal clients? Consumers? Businesses? What size companies are you targeting? Industry segment? Specialties? Executive roles?

How can you best connect with them? Connecting with people is the essential thing about a marketing strategy. Consider different marketing tactics that include one or all of the following: advertising, public relations, promotional items, conferences, networking, direct mail, collateral (business cards, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, etc.), newsletters, website, SEO/PPC) campaigns, etc.

What are the benefits of using your company’s product or services? What differentiates your company from your competitors? Do you know everything you can know about those competitors? How can you fill the needs of your potential clients?

And these last three questions:

Does the new marketing plan help establish credibility for your brand?

Will it reach decision makers and influencers effectively?

How will you measure the results or success of the program?

Now, take your questions and answers and collaborate with other company executives and stakeholders. Don’t be afraid to ask staff what they think. Sometimes the best marketing ideas come from the most unlikely places. I once launched a company-wide initiative based on an idea given to me by my company’s receptionist. And yes, I did credit her!

Getting collaborative answers to these questions will help you then design, launch and implement a basic, and hopefully innovative, new marketing strategy. Once the plan is complete, put it somewhere where you can see it and be continually reminded to focus on it. Don’t file it and forget about it. This is a living, breathing document that should change and grow as your business does.

The smartest companies in the world are open to new and unconventional marketing tactics. Their entire staff, from management on down, are willing and even happy to embrace new ways of thinking.

Remember these Marketing Rules:

Don’t try to be good at everything; commit to being the best at one thing….then shout it from the rooftops.

In order to appeal to your target market, you’ve got to stand out. Be the best, be the first, be different, be unique, be cutting edge, be anything that’s not what every other company is.

Use a balanced mix of media to create and fortify your brand.

Initiate an entry way into the lives of consumers—both personal and business consumers, all while you create value, engagement, and top of mind awareness.

By creating a clear marketing strategy and following it, by connecting with the people that make or influence the decisions, by presenting a consistent message across all media, by focusing and becoming the best in your industry segment, and by impacting the lifestyle or business environment of your consumers and clients, your company growth is inevitable.

Marketing’s not brain surgery. BUT, it is an art and a science. As Albert Einstein once said: “Logic will get you from A to Z, imagination will get you everywhere.”

Joan Gerberding
Joan Gerberding
Recently retired after a long and very successful career in radio and digital media, Joan Gerberding currently consults on a per diem basis. A dynamic and creative media executive, she has a highly successful track record of growing reputation and revenues, generating sales, creating marketing strategies, and increasing market share for the companies for which she's worked. Her expertise in spearheading growth strategies across a broad range of business categories is matched by her entrepreneurial and charismatic leadership style, effective team building skills, ability to improve the bottom line, to build lasting relationships, and to keep staffs engaged and inspired. Joan is the “go to” person for media start-ups, turnarounds and companies in transition, as well as existing media companies that are trying to expand their visibility, market share and revenues. She has spent most of her life and career working from Princeton, NJ, but relocated in 2011 to Marco Island, Fl. She can be reached at:

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