04 July 2024

The Best Marketing Strategies are Quieter, Not Louder

This article on the counterintuitive secret to the best marketing strategies originally appeared on Forbes.com as one of Christine Pilkington’s contributions as a member of Forbes Business Council. You can find the original article linked at the bottom of the piece. 

An event planning company hired me as their fractional CMO to solve an ongoing problem: to make their marketing less chaotic, more data-driven and strategic, and ultimately, fill their many shows with registrations. During my onboarding, the head of sales raised a concern: they were launching a show in a new market in a few months’ time and while the programming itself wasn’t new, everything else—the target market, the relationships—had to be created from scratch. The short timeline required urgency and a list of marketing tasks was already in development.

I had a feeling that, without intervention, the team would be launching full throttle toward the finish line, perpetuating the reactive and unstructured nature of their overall marketing activities—the very thing they hired me to fix.

Traditionally, good marketing has been measured by its ability to make noise, which has led to the ever-pervasive production of social media posts, reels, blogs, newsletters, website updates, events and other marketing activities. Marketing teams are called upon to generate these outputs day in and day out, and it’s generally what comes to mind when one thinks of marketing.

If your marketing department is “making noise” on all the relevant channels in this way, it’s tempting to assume that you have a functional marketing practice. After all, strategic marketing does require quality and relevance in your campaigns and communications: if you’re reaching the right people, in the right way, in the right place, at the right time, surely you’re doing a great job.

However, there’s an even more important factor in creating a truly strategic marketing program, one that’s not necessarily about making noise. Though quieter, it is no less critical to your marketing team’s success: I’m talking about solid marketing operations.

Fractional CMO coming up with the best marketing strategy

Imagine a restaurant filled with patrons enjoying delicious dishes. The fact that everything is going smoothly in the dining room, we know that the restaurant is operating well. The restaurant is set up with the right training and staff, efficient processes and procedures, and a regular schedule for things like cleaning and ordering supplies. If these things aren’t going well behind the scenes, they will eventually fall apart in front of customers.

Likewise, in marketing, it’s essential to implement an operational and process layer to ensure that the department runs smoothly: things like quarterly and annual planning; completing marketing briefs and developing project plans; setting meeting cadences, agendas, and reporting and communication protocols. This is the quieter side of marketing: those operations that underpin the activities and deliverables of the entire department.

Having a marketing practice that’s of the strong-but-silent type, is, in my opinion, way more important than any specific campaign you might run (no matter how much your customers love it). Here’s why:

It’s scalable.

Imagine a system where everyone is on the same page in terms of how to start a marketing project, where to find key documents, and knowing when things were due. Creating replicable systems in the form of a solid briefing, planning, and implementation process can enable you to grow with ease and speed. It also means that your team can spend the majority of their efforts on creativity and innovation, as administrative activities become ingrained in the system.

It provides company-wide clarity.

An environment where everyone knows what to do and, more importantly, why they are doing it is a thing of beauty. The advice I give to clients, and that I practice at my own company, is to endeavor to have all marketing activities ladder up to the company’s short- and long-term business objectives. Once we know what the company is trying to achieve, we identify specific marketing goals and translate them into tactics and tasks. We track our performance and report regularly on our progress. The result: the marketing team is focused on business-critical activities rather than getting bogged down by irrelevant distractions.

It cultivates sustainability and resilience.

As trends shift and consumer preferences evolve quickly, the ability to sustain your team’s efforts in the long term is an often underestimated strategic advantage. Cultivating sustainability is about aiming to have the energy invested today yield returns in the present as well as paving the way for a resilient future. More than simply creating content, it means establishing foundational frameworks that are flexible and durable enough to withstand the test of time, optimizing for enduring brand relevance and audience engagement.

It creates inherent business value.

Developing robust systems ensures that marketing is not reliant on the idiosyncrasies of individuals or the owner, but is instead a transferable asset—crucial in any business looking to pass the reins to new ownership. When marketing transcends from being a personalized endeavor, it becomes a valuable business function that others can step into, ensuring continuity and longevity. This quieter side of marketing creates business value beyond your bottom line, building systems that stand as pillars of business strength.

It builds in reliable redundancies.

Here, redundancies are not inefficiencies, but strategic safeguards that protect against potential failures and disruptions. Systematically implementing redundancies ensures that the departure of key individuals doesn’t interrupt the operational momentum of your marketing engine, and helps avoid chaos in the face of unexpected hiccups.

It bolsters professional pride.

Ask any professional sports coach: great teams are built on systems and discipline. Likewise, solidifying the quieter side of marketing within your organization yields predictability and clarity, setting the stage for results that transcend individual contributions. When you apply best practices and systems, marketing becomes a true profession to take pride in. Likewise, creating an environment where employees can learn and grow increases retention and generates a culture of continuous improvement.

In the clamor of modern marketing, the quiet, foundational aspects often prove to be the unsung heroes. Transcending the immediate allure of flashy campaigns, a quieter marketing framework not only withstands the test of time, but also propels the business forward. This side of marketing isn’t just a strategy; it’s a silent force shaping the longevity and success of the entire enterprise.

This article was originally published here.

Curious about the best marketing strategies for your business? Book a free consult with a Crisp fractional CMO today.

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