Summary of an interview with a Marketing Specialist

Question 1: “When you as a company set off to design a marketing strategy for a client what are your main principles and where do you set focus at first”

  • First and foremost, communication and goal setting between us and the customer is our key activity. We cannot talk further on the implementation if we do not clear the path (and minds) first. We come back to the customer with questions and then with our recommendations. But, most importantly at the beginning, we are looking to create value between us to set the foundation of good cooperation.

Question 2: “Are the companies interested in creating a brand at some point and how important is it to differentiate from the competition?”

  • Unfortunately, at that customer scale we are working on lately we do not see any turn in that direction yet. Most companies are looking to promote more instead, establish their presence either online or in their physical space. However, there is a minority that is looking further to branding and we’re getting excited when that happens. Differentiation is a huge process for us, and we take it very seriously. Huge amounts of research and future planning are taking place in the process

Question 3: “What are the main obstacles that companies face when following a strategy and how do they cope with changes in the market?”

  • The most important obstacles our clients face are problems in communicating the strategy to executive employees and the rest of the staff. Also, the other issue they face is the ineffective training their employees get to adapt to the strategy. We often see companies fading away from their strategy but that’s why they hire us. Changes in the market we see all the time, some we may have foreseen so to change is as easy as flipping a switch. While others need to look close to find the “entry point”.

Question 4: “How much have marketing strategies changed with the new situation of the pandemic?”

  • Everything went digital in a blink of an eye. For those that were still working on conventional marketing and promotional campaigns they pivoted immediately and now the focus of their budget falls into digital ways but still investing some into other ways. Now, it is a great period for companies to do some branding and strategically market their offerings and their brand since they can now focus on their existent clientele and build strong relationships between them so they can prosper later.

It was interesting hearing the perspective of the CMO of a marketing agency. I was nervous about this interview because I wanted to hear thoughts and processes from the source, from the people that handle marketing every day and are monitoring its changes. Our conversation lasted about 20 minutes and we had a great discussion on the questions. I can point out here that I strongly agree with his thoughts on every question especially with his thoughts on branding.

For me branding is having a place in people’s minds, whenever they think of a product/service immediately they relate it to you (of course if your company is related to that).

Also, being there for them when they need you is crucial for building a brand. Another thing I would like to comment on is his opinion on the obstacle of not communicating the strategy to the rest of the staff. You cannot possibly succeed if your company is not working as a whole in the same direction and that starts from the executive persons.

You also cannot take for granted that your employees will work as hard as the people who run it.

You must give them the motive to follow your strategy. It was again another eye-opening experience and sure made room for other questions to be answered.

Vision in Strategic Planning

When I think about strategically planning a marketing campaign or a sales plan or even a financially driven plan about a promotion, I immediately think of: “What are my goals, what I want to achieve, and what have I envisioned to succeed in the future?”. So, what I first do is to set off what I want to achieve with this action, what is my vision? I believe vision is a concept in which we fantasize ourselves, the company, or others inside of it or a project, into what can I or we achieve out it. Besides, we can say vision in strategic planning is there to inspire us and to provide a roadmap to the future for the people that work with us. Eventually, we can easily translate that vision is based upon our imagination and our needs and wants for the future.

Planning is everything

Dwight Eisenhower said that “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”. A statement that confuses everybody that reads it and has many meanings. From my point of view, I agree that plans are something that fluctuates all the time, and you cannot rely on them entirely. But, when I think of planning and combining it with the concept of vision, I can see what he was talking about. Plans are looked at objectively but planning is something imaginary. So, when planning a strategy, you are immediately called to action and that is to imagine or look ahead of what do you want to get out of it. That is called vision.

Ultimately, I believe that you need to first see where you see yourself (company, etc.) in five, ten, or fifteen years from now and then start to work backward, year by year, and strategically planning your way to what you have envisioned yourself.

Involving staff in visioning

Sharing the company’s vision with the people that work WITH you (and not for you, don’t get confused here) is vital for the company’s growth, smooth operation, and creation of value between the management and the personnel. The most important tool for this is storytelling. The best way to share your vision is by sharing the story behind it. Right now, there is nothing more important at creating value than that of stories and the language they are used to be told. There is this thing called internal marketing that people in HR are familiar with. It basically includes the idea of marketing between the management (company) and the staff. Including your staff in the company’s vision creates tons of value for them and for you. It’s a win-win strategy. I will say it again, you need to give them to understand that they are working with you into achieving the company’s vision and absolutely not for you. Resulting in your employees translating this vision into something else and thus not transferring the value to your end customer. Think about the consequences that have on your sales, growth, market share, etc.