Most marketers are looking for tips and tricks to make their marketing programs great. But what happens if your marketing is great and your business is only…good?
A good business plan supported by great marketing may be worse than a great business plan with good marketing. Here’s why.
Great marketing articulates a brand promise that attracts new customers and engages existing ones, thereby fueling growth. If your business is flawed or unstable, or the underlying value proposition fails to deliver on the brand promise, great marketing can hurt the business in two ways.
Great Marketing Shines Light on a Flawed Business
Marketing that draws more people into a lackluster experience can actually hurt the business. This doesn’t mean you skip marketing, but it does mean you take a hard look at strategy, couple marketing with operations and prepare to quickly improve on the business plan as customers give you feedback.
Startups, for example, often struggle to decide the right time in their lifecycle to invest in marketing versus solidifying and expanding their platforms. One way they solve this problem is by taking an iterative approach to development, investing heavily in testing and cautiously deploying marketing.
During the early days, when you’re still working out the kinks of a new business, or even a new idea in an established enterprise, you may want to focus marketing on a select group of customers who will help you co-create the experience rather than broadly inviting everyone in your target audience.
Once you decide to deploy marketing, be honest about the status of the business. If it’s still in beta, say so. Customers will be more willing to forgive mistakes if they know to expect some minor hiccups. Also, actively solicit feedback, take action on that feedback and close the loop so they know you’re listening.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better, Sometimes Smaller is Smarter
Although marketing has the power to fuel growth, not all growth is good growth. If operations and inventory levels can’t support twice the number of customers, then growth can hurt the customer experience to the point of driving new customers away and alienating existing customers.
For instance, daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social, are often used to promote new businesses, but they’ve also been known to be bad for business, particularly for small businesses, because they lead to an influx of new customers when the business may not be prepared to scale their operations.
In the early days, marketing and communication that educates customers is just as important as tactics that drive growth. Proactively address issues in FAQs on your site, app and on social media and use content marketing, like blogs and videos, to teach customers how to maximize their interaction.
Marketing may not have a say in business strategy, particularly in a large or complex organization. But, marketers can advise on the right time and tactics to support business goals, such as when to focus on tactics that improve retention and customer experience, rather than going after customer acquisition.