Having been in both sales and marketing, I can attest to the fact that marketing teams very often get dismissed by sales as not providing much value, particularly in larger organizations. The problem is, most sales people generally interact with the marketing communications (Mar-com) teams, who are really just the messengers. Mar-com teams rarely create the messages and collateral being delivered, and definitely do not contribute to the product requirements documents (PRDs) that determine what products come to market. So it’s unfair to blame Mar-com if the message doesn’t connect with the customer or if the product doesn’t deliver what the data sheet promises.
Often the core problem lies way up the chain, with an executive management team that doesn’t take the time to create an effective Strategic Marketing Plan.
Well before trade shows are attended, or collateral is created, or the development team starts to code or design, there must be a Strategic Marketing Plan in place that all parties must execute against. The plan has to align with the needs of the business while ensuring what is built and sold connects with customer needs. “If you build it they will come” is a nice theme for a baseball movie, but it generally does not work in business.
Think about a start-up company. Before an investor will fund the start-up they want to know the strategic business plan. Some key questions they ask: What is the target market? What is the competitive landscape? How much revenue can the company generate in 1, 3, 5, 10 years? How will the product be taken to market? What is the channel (direct, VAR, OEM)? What are the risks?
But the most important question is: Why will customers want to buy your product over other solutions on the market- or asked in another way- What is the unique value proposition?
Rarely will a company get funded unless they know all of the answers to those questions and they can prove they have a unique value proposition. And the only way they can answer all those questions, is if they have done market research, competitive analysis, go to market analysis, SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis and most of all, message a compelling value proposition that connects to the audience.
This requires Strategic Marketing Analysis & Planning. One can also call it business planning, but there is so much “marketing” in the plan that it is impossible to separate a business analysis from a market analysis and that is the point. Strategic Marketing is absolutely critical to the success of the business.