The first step in crafting a marketing plan is to determine overall strategy, and among the first questions to ask when thinking about the strategy are "What do I want my brand to stand for?" and "What are best ways to communicate my brand message?"
Here are a collection of the best online articles and blog posts to help you think about the big picture and answer the big questions about brand-building and marketing strategy.
All-in-One Guides: Marketing strategy by TechTarget
A comprehensive guide for B2B marketers with advice on everything from preparing a marketing plan and using marketing automation technology to designing and executing effective marketing campaigns.
Marketers Can Buy Buzz by MediaPost Online Spin
Max Kalehoff of Clickable presents some interesting findings on the (highly positive) correlation between media spending and word-of-mouth "buzz." While the research was focused on commercial packaged goods, the findings likely apply across a broader range of B2C and B2B products and services. The bottom line, according to Kalehoff: "traditional media strategies are not dead, and buzz tactics can’t necessarily live on their own in a vacuum. Neither is right or wrong, but they are both part of a complex communications and customer landscape."
Small Business Marketing Rules of Thumb by Smart Marketing
Blogger and author Jay Lipe offers three highly useful "rules of thumb" for small business marketers in this brief but valuable post.
Trash Talk & Delete Buttons: A Candid Letter from Your Prospective Customer by Selling to Big Companies
Jill Konrath, blogger and author of Selling to Big Companies (the book and the blog) lays it on the line here with a post written from the perspective of your target customer: "In your well-intentioned but misguided attempts turn me into a 'prospect,' you fail woefully to capture my attention. I'm going to be really blunt here: I could care less about your product, service, solution or your company." Ouch! Fortunately, she also serves up guidance on how to effectively cut through your prospective buyer's clutter of emails, phone calls and endless meetings: "Occasionally a savvy marketer or seller captures my attention, gets me to raise my hand asking for more information and even entices me to request a meeting. What are they doing? They're completely focused on my business and the impact they can have on it."
A Little Advice On Presenting and Selling by MediaPost Online Spin
In this excellent companion piece to the post above, Cory Treffiletti advises sales people and marketers to do a bit less talking and a little more listening: "The best presentations are simple; they are the ones where you talk little, listen a lot and provide solutions aimed at meeting the challenges of the person you are talking to."
Quit using Email to train your leads to ignore you by Marketing Interactions
Marketing strategist and blogger Ardath Albee lays out a detailed, step-by-step guide to creating an effective email marketing campaign, as opposed to the spam-like programs too often created even by marketing pros who should know better. "The (marketing emails) that really irritate me are the offers that get sent repeatedly with the exact same messaging. If it doesn't catch my eye the first time, why would they think I want to see the same thing 5 more times in two days?" Follow the advice in this post and you'll avoid that fate.
Rethink your brand Saturn by The Origin of Brands Blog
Best-selling author Laura Ries tells the painful story of how General Motors first successfully launched then just as successfully screwed up the Saturn brand, and how the proper marketing and product strategy could have given the tale a much happier ending. As Laura astutely diagnoses, GM's problem was on the strategic side, not the creative: "In 1994, the S series Saturn outsold the Civic by 7 percent. In 2004, the Civic outsold the S series replacement (the Ion) by 197 percent. In 2002, Saturn tapped Goodby, Silverstein for some new advertising. Sales continued falling to 212,017 in 2004, its worst performance since 1992. Despite the poor sales results, Goodby’s work won lots of advertising awards and accolades and did plenty to reaffirm the shop as one of America’s premiere creative agencies. But it did nothing for the Saturn brand." A cautionary tale for almost any company.
Selling the Benefit: Duracell by Marketing Genius from Maple Creative
Blogger Skip Lineberg praises a Duracell campaign that creatively and effectively focuses on product benefits in crucial situations—such as in heart monitors and fire alarms—to differentiate a commodity product.
Can you buy customer loyalty? by Loyalty Marketing Blog
Jonathan Treiber makes the case that customer loyalty can't be bought, only earned. Coupons, promotional pricing and discounts can help induce trial, but over the long run, superior customer service is what produces customer loyalty. "Providing active customer service is a way to listen to your customers’ needs and solve their problems (before they occur). This, in turn, will build customer loyalty over time because your customers will know that you are focused on meeting and exceeding their expectations."
Never Give Another Lead to Sales by Marketing Interactions
In another interesting post, Ardath Albee very correctly points out that "Sales doesn't need leads, they need opportunities," then goes about providing a strategy for effectively linking marketing activities to sales processes to increase revenue.
Time To Plan by THINKing
The brilliant Harry Hoover outlines a process for developing a marketing strategy for the new year, taking into account audiences, messaging, and a review of communications plans.
Search and the Pareto Principle by Search Engine People
Blogger Jeff Quipp demonstrates how the 80/20 rule applies to planning and execution for SEO and SEM, for example, "20% of content is responsible for 80% of site traffic and/or links."
Organic SEO vs. PPC? by WebProNews
A bit tactical, and somewhat elemental, this article presents a video discussion between SiteLab Executive Vice-President Dana Todd, a regular speaker at Search Engine Strategies Conferences, and Jeremy Schoemaker of Shoemoney Media Group. Dana sums it up best: "everybody can benefit from organic SEO...(each form of) Advertising has a completely different place in your media mix. We would never recommend...that you do one or the other; you always do them both wherever possible."
Previous articles in this series:
Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 2)
Best of 2007: Website Design
Best of 2007: Blogging for Business
Best of 2007: Marketing Research
Best of 2007: Interactive PR
Best of 2007: SEO Copywriting
Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom