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Don’t Let the Tail Wag the Dog in Your Marketing Plan

by Jennifer Beever on October 6, 2011

Marketing Tail Wagging the DogAre you thinking of  implementing the newest marketing tactics, such as social media, in your next marketing campaign? It’s important to look before you leap, and have a clear understanding of your customers and your industry when you plan your marketing.

“Good to Great companies set their goals and strategies based on understanding; comparison companies set their goals and strategies on bravado.” – Chapter 6, “The Hedgehog Concept,” Good to Great, by Jim Collins.

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins writes that leaders of great companies understand their customers and their industry. This is critical to successful marketing planning. Here is an example of how it applies to today and social media.

A client came to me and said one of their customers told them, “You need to be on Facebook!” The client was both intrigued but also overwhelmed by this statement. Until that time their only use of Facebook had been cursory – to connect with family and follow news about their grandkids. While from a technical standpoint it is not difficult to create a business Facebook page, businesses should have a strategy and an understanding of their customer’s behavior on social media before acting. What do their customers do on Facebook? Would they be interested in receiving news from the business on Facebook?

We created a simple online survey and sent it via email to my client’s customers and prospects, explaining the purpose of the survey and how long it would take to complete. We had to send a couple of reminders, but over time got a 30% response rate from my client’s list. The answers to our survey questions showed a pretty lukewarm response about Facebook (only 40% even used it, and most only for personal use), but 70% used LinkedIn and mostly for business purposes.

My client made a decision to invest in improving and optimizing their LinkedIn profile, and then increase their LinkedIn activity by making more connections to customers, colleagues and prospects, answering questions related to their products and services, and participating in LinkedIn Group discussions. By understanding their customers, they were able to make practical decisions about where to spend their precious marketing dollars and time.

How well do you understand your customers? Your industry?

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