Whatever size your SME is, there are core marketing skills that you need in the organisation to ensure that your marketing is going to be effective. These skills can lie with one person or a range of people, both internal and external. If you don’t have them all in-house, then do consider training or outsourcing to fill any gaps.
Marketing planning involves taking business objectives and creating a marketing plan that:
- helps achieve the company’s objectives
- moves the company closer to achieving its vision
- operates within the parameters set by the company’s mission and values.
In short, a marketing planner is told the end destination and the boundaries within which they have to operate. They then have to research and determine the best way to get there taking everything into account.
Like all planning, marketing planning requires a structured, logical approach so that the steps to be taken are clearly laid out. This way everyone understands what is happening, why and their role in making it happen. The biggest trick with marketing planning is pulling everything together – market knowledge, customer knowledge, product knowledge – to make it work.
2. Customer insight
Marketers look at their business from the customers’ point of view and then represent that point of view in their organisation. They are the voice of the customer.
Customer insight comes from being able to compile, manage and analyse data about current, past and future customers, pulling it all together into relevant, useful marketing information. This information then forms the nuggets of insight into your customers that allows your organisation to best meet their needs at every stage of the Buying Process.
Customer data can come from a range of sources – your own internal CRM systems, anecdotes from customer facing staff, customer research, industry sources.
A marketer with good customer insight skills will be able to determine these sources, weight their relevance and importance, and then bring them together effectively to create a well rounded customer persona. And if you know who you are selling to and why they are buying from you, your marketing will be
A good marketing plan and customer insight are the foundation stones of a great marketing function; but it’s creativity brings that extra something.
Creative marketers are able to absorb the information about your customers and then come up with interesting, relevant and engaging ways of communicating with customers – while staying within the parameters set out by the plan.
“Staying within the parameters of the plan” is key here – can they be creative within the budget set, the values of the organisation and so on. Creative marketing campaigns should not be considered, “art”. Art has its place. However, creative marketing, ultimately, helps the organisation achieve its goals.
4. Copy writing
Anyone can write well, but can they write for marketing?
This is a skill within its own right and needs to be treated as such. Copy writers understand how to use words, phrases and sentences to have the impact they want. They wield this tool to help organisations achieve their marketing goals.
The written word is still highly prevalent in everybody’s marketing, so make sure you have someone using it who knows what they’re doing with it and can use it in line with how you wish to “speak” to your customers and contacts.
Oh – I’m assuming that the basics of accurate grammar and spelling are being met and, if they aren’t, engage a professional proof reader. I’ve been writing copy for over 20 years now and, trust me, a professional copy writer and proof reader can still pick apart my writing and find mistakes.
5. A head for figures
Marketing is about achieving your organisation’s goals and most, if not all, of these goals will have a financial element. At the very least, marketers need to understand how to plan and stick to a budget. The more numerate your marketers are, the more focused their marketing will be on delivering the financial results your business needs within the budgets set.
Like good sales people, they should also understand how to work back through your conversion rates, how to set goals and measurements for each stage of the buying process, and they should definitely know how to measure the impact of each marketing activity separately and collectively.
You need a marketer who can deliver the marketing plan. They might not be able to do all elements of the plan (e.g. Public Relations activities, digital marketing) in depth but they should have a good enough grasp of it that they can bring in outside resource to implement certain elements or bolster their skills.
Some SMEs are fortunate enough to find one person with all of these skills.
However, in the unlikely event of this happening, then make sure you have this marketing skill in your organisation: recruitment and management.
The ability to recruit external support, whether a marketing agency or freelancer, effectively and then manage them is key.
Author: Kara Stanford, Strategic Marketing Consultant
Kara runs KMS Marketing and helps organisations review and plan their marketing and then figure out the best way to implement it all.
Contact her for an informal chat about your organisation’s needs.