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Six Rules for Marketing Mastery

In the current economic straits, with high volatility and public health concerns still very much on people’s minds, the task of measuring your marketing success can sometimes take a back seat. I’m here to remind you that remaining ruthlessly consistent with it, even in a remarkably difficult era, is of the utmost importance especially now.

Reassessing ROI and your rate of success is a practice that was made for this moment. It’s meant to keep you on track, even in the worst of times.

But of course, when things go haywire in the economy many of the steady-hand practices that could keep you thriving end up, paradoxically, being first on the chopping block. The excuses for this are many. No time. No need. We’re in damage control mode now. Etc., etc.

But don’t do this! Stay the course. You can thank me later. Here are my six rules for keeping your marketing on track.

Destination Plan

With every client we have, one of the first things we do is establish a destination plan. If you don’t have one, make one now. This is a forecasting of where the brand will be in 3–5 years, and what the ancillary goals are as well as a general vision of growth and future prospects. It is a very general picture—a kind of corporate dream board—but it is nonetheless important.

Having a strong idea of your path is critical and will help you stick to it and achieve your aims. After all, you’re far more likely to reach a destination when you actually know where you’re going.

The Playbook

But how will you get there? Say hello to the playbook.

This is a kind of breakdown and unpacking of the destination plan, the systematic schema in which all the details come to light. Whether your brand will grow via productizing, merging and acquiring, or breaking new markets, whatever it is, you will need to articulate precisely how you’re going to carry these out.

Good brands always establish sources of data analytics and methods of analysis for each piece of the playbook, checking in on progress at every point along the way.

Internal Marketing

Always be sure that your entire staff (even part-timers) can articulate your brand story. For this, simple is always better. It’s not necessary to bring every single person through every detail of your branding, but do find an easy and memorable phrase that they can recall offhand. “The Five Pillars,” for example, or “The Big Four.” Nothing fancy. Then delineate quickly the essentials of your brand—each of the “five pillars”—and hand everyone a one-pager detailing this. Easy.

However, you can always go further with internal branding, if you want to. Many companies now do internal newsletters, email listserves, company competitions, coworker events, etc. The more you bring your staff into your brand’s world, the more they will identify with it and evangelize for you. Internal marketing is just another kind of public-facing marketing.

C-Suite Alignment

Members of the C-suite, especially CEO and CMO, must be on the same page at all times: aligned and in violent agreement on the essentials. If not, why are you all at the same company?

Always revisit and reassess with your important top-level people to make sure the main ideas are still the same. Maybe you need a reshuffle, maybe it’s time to rethink or restructure. The only way you’ll know when to do that is by occasionally taking a temperature and an assessment of your rate of success and where your VIPs are at mentally and professionally.

Your CFO, especially, is the best resource for developing strong measures for ROI. Always ensure they are included in those candid top-level discussions and any post-analysis. Their rigor will make your branding sharper, wiser, and better.

Budgeting

There’s a reason why some of the world’s biggest brands actually increase their marketing spend when the economy contracts: they know that those who cut back on marketing at times like this often end up bankrupt.

This happens all the time. It’s very tempting to cut, cut, cut when things get wonky in the market, but as I tell all my clients, just stave off that instinct. Investing now will save you money later, and will ensure you have a growth spurt once the smoke clears and the economy gets back on track. If anything, great brands always put more energy, time, and money into their marketing in difficult times, because they know that real success is an ongoing dynamic process—that everything you do in tough times will have tenfold benefits later on in good times. Success is a process, not a goal.

Ruthless Consistency

Stay true to your brand strategy and always be ruthlessly consistent in all you do. Also, be open about sharing (good and bad) results, giving credit where it’s due, and accepting responsibility for errors. Above all, you want your brand to be a super steady ship moving on a well-defined path toward an achievable set of goals, and the best way to do that is get on your work boots every day, clock in, and make it happen. Be consistent, be persistent, and don’t let up on the brand story. Not ever.

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