Strategy Before Tactics: A Customer-Focused Marketing Approach

“I think we need a video.”

Every day, agencies and in-house marketing teams have conversations with clients and colleagues that start with that statement. It’s not always a video. Sometimes it’s a podcast or an eBook. Sometimes, even in 2023, it’s a postcard. And sometimes it ends up being true.

But it can be a dangerous place to start a conversation about your marketing.

That’s not because videos or podcasts or eBooks or postcards are ineffective. They all have potential to be very effective. In fact, they’re definitely channels we utilize for clients through executing our 490 Factor approach to marketing. It’s dangerous because it’s never a good idea to write a prescription before you have a diagnosis, in medicine or marketing.  

The internet today is full of blogs that nobody reads, emails that never get opened, and videos that nobody watches. The creators of that content didn’t intend to produce it for an audience of 0. But, in the excitement of creating the shiny object, they lost sight of the who they were creating it for and why.   

We don’t want that to happen to you. So we’ve created this article to help you navigate that conversation and ensure the content you or your agency creates realizes its full potential for impact.

Start with the “Who”

Maybe this seems obvious, but an alarming number of marketing projects and campaigns don’t account for the audience they’re trying to reach. But skipping this step in your marketing planning, or even thinking about it too late, can lead to disastrous consequences.

Defining your audience doesn’t have to mean exhaustive focus groups or customer interviews. Those are great if you have the time or budget. But assuming you don’t, empathy can be an incredibly powerful tool. Start by answering these 4 questions:

  • Who do we need to reach for this to be successful?
  • What are the unique characteristics of this audience that we need to consider?
  • What are they trying to accomplish and how can we help them?
  • What barriers stand in our way to reaching them?

Put yourself in the shoes of the HR leader or busy working mom you’re trying to connect with. Imagine what it’s like to be them and document all of this information to create a story or persona that anyone could read and understand.

Now, How Can We Help?

Now that we know who you are trying to reach, you’re poised to understand why they need, or could use, what you have to offer. Look at the list of challenges, stressors, needs, and desires they face. Which of those issues does your product address directly? How about indirectly?

It’s not enough to believe your product is a good fit for a specific audience. You want to understand how it would impact their lives. Does it help them do a difficult task 2x faster, so they can focus on bigger priorities? Does it give them a way to relieve stress and reconnect with nature? Whatever it is, it’s incredibly valuable to know how their life would be different if they had what you are offering. 

What Does Success Look Like?

You know who they are and what they need. You know how you can help them. So what do you need them to do in order to receive your help? This step depends on what stage in the marketing funnel you’re operating in. If your audience is in an awareness phase, perhaps you just need them to know you exist and what you have to offer. A little further down the funnel, you may need them to sign up for something or join a mailing list. Perhaps they’re at the end of the funnel and ready to make a purchase.  

It’s incredibly useful to have shared agreement among your team on what you want them to do (what a conversion looks like for this particular campaign), because some channels are more effective than others for driving particular outcomes.

At the end of these 3 steps, you are armed with powerful information. You know who you need to speak to and what their challenges are, how you are uniquely positioned to help them, and what you want them to do.

Do We Still Need a Video?

Take the outputs from the three steps above and write them down on a piece of paper. You’ve defined the “who”, the “why” and the “what.” And you’re now well armed to define the how.

At this stage, it’s useful to ask yourself questions like:

  • How does a customer like this spend their time?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • Which social media platforms to they go to in their downtime?
  • How can I best communicate my ability to help them?
  • How can I make it easy for them to see my value and take my desired action?

At this stage in the game, powerful things happen. This is the place where you come to conclusions like “Wow, I really DO need a video,” or “A video is absolutely not going to work. I need a gated checklist.” Any conclusion is valid, because it’s informed by real life data and far more likely to translate to success.

Kolbeco specializes in digging deeper and asking questions to help clients arrive at the right combination of channels to achieve the outcomes that will really move the needle. We don’t believe there are “good” or “bad” marketing channels. We believe the right channel depends on a lot of variables, and we work to help our clients identify them through our 490 factor approach. Reach out to take the first steps toward leading with strategy in the intentional pursuit of marketing success.