5 September 2023

The benefits of having a strategy in place before writing your marketing job specs

Shannon Mackey
Written by Shannon Mackey

Shannon is a marketer with experience in global agency and brand environments as well as medium sized SA businesses, bringing a diverse set of marketing skills to any organisation. With a family legacy of hospitality she has a natural flair for customer-centric strategies to engage with end users in all environments. Her experience coupled with strategic thinking and creative implementation integrates her marketing services and ensures that clients are guaranteed maximum return on investment. Shannon’s background includes senior marketing and communications roles at Reebok SA, TBWA Hunt Lascaris and The Marketing Centre (both SA and UK).

It’s easy to imagine that the first step in sorting out your marketing is to hire some marketers. But this is a common mistake made.

Think about it. You wouldn’t buy construction supplies without a floorplan. Likewise, don’t hire a team until you know what you want them to do. 

Otherwise, you’re likely to end up hiring the wrong person (or people) for the job.

Start by developing your strategy, then craft a high-level marketing plan, and finally, outline the necessary resources (both human and technological) to execute it effectively, exploring each stage in depth.

Define your strategy

To effectively drive your business towards its revenue targets and other goals, it is crucial for your marketing strategy to align with your overall business strategy and objectives. Consider how marketing can contribute to achieving these goals and ask yourself what actions need to be taken.

For example, let’s say your business goal is to bring in 100 new customers by the end of the year. What high-level strategies would help marketing to make this happen? 

You might consider:

  • Doubling your prospect database
  • Launching segmented campaigns
  • Enabling eCommerce
  • Implementing a new CRM system and process

Each of these high-level strategies would bring you closer to hitting your targets. Taken together, they’ll give you a focus for the year that’s clearly connected to your business goals.

That said, defining the right mix of strategies isn’t easy, especially for business leaders that don’t have a marketing background. We usually recommend working with an experienced marketing expert to help with strategic work. 

Turn your strategy into a plan

To achieve your business's revenue targets through marketing, you must translate overarching objectives into a well-defined marketing plan, detailing the specific tasks and strategies to accomplish them.

To do this, list out all the individual tactics (specific actions and activities) you’ll need to carry out to support each strategy. 

So, thinking about the examples of marketing strategies we listed out earlier, the tactics for those could include: 

  • Revised brochure
  • Customer referral process
  • Buy contact database
  • PPC campaign
  • Enhanced trade show programme
  • Improved customer onboarding
  • Add eCommerce module
  • Website usability improvements
  • CRM training

What resources will you need to deliver?

Now that you’re clear on the work you need to do, you can start thinking about the resources you’re going to need.

Start by considering:

  • How much time will this take?
  • What skillsets will be required?
  • Should it be done in-house or outsourced?
  • What budget will this need?

Let’s look at the tactic of starting a new PPC campaign as an example. 

You’ll need someone with a deep understanding of PPC to set up the campaign and continuously monitor and refine performance over time. This kind of highly specialised work is often better suited to freelancers and agencies than a full-time hire.

A tactic like improving your customer onboarding, on the other hand, is better to do in-house. This is because it’s a core process that will require a deep understanding of your customer and your business, as opposed to a deep understanding of a specific channel.

How big should your team be?

There is no “right” size for your team. The right size team is whatever you need to deliver the strategy.

There is also no guarantee that hiring more people will lead to “more” or “better” marketing. Getting the right people in the right roles is much more important than getting more people.

And don't forget to watch out for “team creep”. 

Only hire the resource you really need based on an understanding of the impact that every role in the team will have. And remember: there are plenty of tasks that are better off outsourced. 

It’s easy to see ‘full-time’ and ‘outsourced’ work as separate budget pots, but ultimately they’re all part of the same marketing budget at the end of the day. You may find that shifting tasks from full-time to freelance saves you a fortune.

We know what you’re thinking…

This all might sound simple enough. But you’d be surprised how many business leaders fall into the trap of hiring a team and then trying to work out what to do with it. Or worse, hiring junior marketers and then expecting them to decide what they ought to work on.

By starting with strategy, you massively increase the odds of ending up with the right people for the job—and reduce the likelihood of investing in marketing activity that has no strategic impact.

Our Marketing Directors have helped over 1,400 SMEs to design solid marketing plans and build high-quality teams. If you could do with an outside perspective, get in touch here.

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