As every company grows, each stage of growth requires different approaches to marketing. We call these stages or “journeys” and here is a primer into finding where you are on the journey.
Journey One – Awareness
The first destination for many companies is simply to be known – known by their customers and known by the marketplace. This reflects usually the start-up phase of a company, but can extend years into the life of the company. They may be doing business, but never really connect to their customers or the market in meaningful ways, leaving much of the market unaware of their value.
The primary focus of all of your effort should be around making customers aware of your business and what you do. This involves spending some money on brand marketing, but more on direct response marketing. This is really about getting on the map in your customer’s mind and placing your value and business position. The journey involves finding the audience, engaging them, and making sure it qualifies your business the right way.
You know you’ve reached this guidepost when you have a clearly defined audience. This usually means you have a quantifiable list of customers and prospects that can be reached to sell and market your services or goods. Many companies reach this stage, without the quantifiable list, and just need to spend the effort in organization.
Journey Two – Clarity & Values
Once you have an audience, you spend your effort in the next stage – message clarity. The critical challenge with this journey is that many of the things that need to happen are not in marketing, but operational. Getting clear on your values as a company, all the way to the selection of your services and products and how you plan to scale your business. Many of our customers who start this journey have a viable business, yet don’t have alignment through the organization that can create the momentum needed to make it to the next guidepost of growth.
You know you’ve reached this guidepost when all your systems are ready to grow. You’ll have a full vision of your business that includes your business plan, values, a clear product/service offering, and HR/OPS/Financial systems that are ready to scale.
From a marketing and sales perspective, many customers have also saturated their local market, and service a regional market. Sometimes they are ready to start thinking about new locations or acquisition to continue the next stage of growth. Many times this happens after 8-15 years of being in the business. You’ve expanded your marketing to include most major channels and your website is providing a steady flow of leads. Many owners are happy with this type of business.
Journey Three – Growth
This next journey is the one towards growth. These are the stories we love as business leaders. Companies that go from $1M to $3M in revenue in two years, or break into acquisition mode and double size every 6 months. In this journey, your marketing and sales effort will take a dramatic upswing in effort and energy. You’ll be marketing to a national or international audience at this point, with clear target audiences. You’ll be moving to a rather large spending budget on lead generation and acquisition.
The challenges are more dynamic and, as a business leader, you’ll be doing little with marketing as your priorities are more focused on company direction, while your CMO, or marketing agency, will be in charge of the marketing effort. They may have strong vendor relationships, as well as an in-house team to execute marketing at this level. Your marketing materials and content are now reaching a new level of sophistication.
What About Purpose?
In the light of enduring success, many organizations who reach growth goals, have a hard time integrating a larger purpose in all that they do. Think of it as the internal shift between “features focus” to “benefits focus” for the entire organization. The core values of the organization bloom into the actions and mentality of all those in the organization. It’s a great thing to see an organization transform to purpose.
The journey of purpose is continual. Marketing for purpose shifts from purely lead generation to awareness, brand, and impact marketing. At this point, your messages shift to a larger impact and you move from impact of the product or service, to the impact of the brand or experience of the brand. Your marketing becomes segmented between brand, lead generation, and purpose with individual campaigns for each aspect. Your purpose becomes a viable lead generation source for future growth, on top of the industry as a whole.
Where are you?
So now that you see the guideposts, what journey are you on? Are you on the journey to awareness? Or are you pursuing purpose as an organization? Either way, your marketing needs to reflect the growth and goals of your organization. No matter where you are, there is a next step. The journey of a thousand miles starts with One Step. Take the first step marketing review to find out what is needed for your organization to continue forward on your journey. We’d be happy to show you the path forward.