My company is called Roundpeg. Why? There are actually several reasons. The first two deal with finding a fit. First, I spent 20 + years in corporate America feeling like a square peg in a round hole. Roundpeg is where I fit.
My company isn’t just about finding a fit for myself, it is also about finding a “fit” for my clients. After too many years in the corporate world looking at easy, cookie-cutter, one size fits all approaches, I knew small businesses needed something different. So Roundpeg is about helping business owners find a strategy that fits. And finding that perfect fit for each client is not a simple straight line from start to finish.
Great marketing strategy starts with a “R.O.U.N.D” process.
There are five distinctive parts to this process: Researching, Originating, Unifying, Nurturing and Delivering
Yes, there is a certain amount of “art’ to the process of marketing. A gut feel that tells you a decision is right. But that gut feel is much more effective if you base it on the facts. Do your homework and collect and analyze the facts before you launch your campaign.
- Research your customer. Who is your target customer? What do they want and need? Where are they likely to go for information before they make a purchase?
- Research your competitors. What makes them successful? How do they leverage their strengths and overcome their weaknesses? How do they deliver their product or service? Why do people buy from them?
- Research the industry. Look for emerging trends and new players offering customers a different way to solve problems. Check out any relevant existing or pending regulations.
- Research your brand. Look back to move forward by analyzing data and studying historical trends. Then, given your past performance, the industry you will work in, and the customers you want to serve, define your brand. Think of the values that will set you apart and the unique elements of your business or offering which will make prospective customers want to buy from you.
This is the fun part of the process in which everything is possible and there are no bad ideas. Imagine you had an unlimited pot of money, what would you do? There will be time later for qualifying and eliminating things because they are too expensive or not practical. As you start your planning process dream big. When you allow yourself to start with crazy and impractical ideas you often come up with things you can do which you would never have considered if you had started with constraints too early.
This part of the process is more fun with friends.
- Bring team members and peers together for a short (no more than 1 hour) but lively session. Just remember that some people are more comfortable thinking out loud and may overpower the more analytical folks in the room. One way to be sure you capture everyone’s ideas is to send questions out ahead of time, and invite people to submit ideas in writing before or after the session.
- This process works well with a diverse group, people with very different skills, personality styles and experience. Make sure everyone in the room understands, there are no bad ideas and no limitations.
- The objective in this stage is quantity, over quality, so the more ideas, the better.
Now it is time to whittle down the list. It is time to review all the ideas you have generated and select a few to explore in greater detail. As you look at your list of ideas, Identify common threads and reoccurring themes. This is the time to compare and contrast, selecting the ideas which seem to offer the most promise of positive results.
Look for ways to take these best ideas to the next level by expanding on the original concept. Unite related concepts, look for connections and ways to build on the ideas of others, adding alternatives and enhancements. This is still a time to think big. Don’t let budget concerns take something completely off the table yet.
A good marketing plan isn’t built in a day. Take a break after the unifying session. This allows the ideas to settle, giving you and your team time to step back and think about the ideas as you make the transition from a world where everything is possible to a more critical review phase. Many creative and fun ideas don’t survive this phase because they are impractical or simply unworkable.
This break gives you time to process information, formulate responses and questions and let you focus your energy on improving, refining and simplifying the best concepts so they become actionable. Now is also the time to identify obstacles so you can develop a plan to nurture the best ideas, giving them a chance to blossom and grow. Finally, you need to set realistic goals for every piece of the plan.
To move from concepts to reality, you must commit to a course of action. Develop action plans, timelines, deadlines and measures. Success will depend on your passion, commitment, follow through on the plan and your ability to learn from your mistakes. This phase isn’t finished when the campaign launches.
Reviewing the results is the critical last piece of the puzzle, giving you a starting point for you next round. You see, marketing strategy is a round process because as soon as you think you are done, it is time to start again!
Roundpeg is an Indianapolis marketing strategy firm.