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Pre-Marketing Leadership Conversations

When You’re Considering A Marketing Investment

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Has your business situation changed? Are you searching for new clients but unsure how to go about it? There are many reasons you may be looking for new clients. These may include:

  • You’re a new business looking for clients
  • You’re reliant on a few clients and you need to diversity
  • You’re ready to move beyond outbound sales
  • Your sales economics are unsustainable, and you need to be more efficient
  • You’re tired of re-building your sales team, over and over again
  • You’re a mature company that’s fallen behind
  • You’ve built your business, but now you need your team to step-up

The reasons for needing new clients are endless. The challenge is knowing where to start and dealing with the internal politics, fear and resistance to change.

Marketing Assumptions

Too many people assume marketing equates to advertising, websites, sales, and social media. There is a tendency to jump into a project like a new website or some other busywork, hoping to “tick the marketing box”, so you can get back to business and be done with it.

Others hum and haw over the decision and fail to act. They may not understand marketing and are reluctant to throw money at the problem. Doing nothing feels safer and easier.

Perhaps you considered updating your brand, building a new website, making a video, or posting some stuff on social media. You may even have called a few suppliers to get quotes. They’d be falling over themselves quoting on whatever you ask them for. This is despite the fact that you’re not clear what marketing is, what you need, how it will generate results or what you’re getting yourself into financially.

What you know is you hate your old web site. It’s never generated any sales for you. It seems like a logical place to start. And off you go, into the marketing busywork vortex.

What’s the Alternative?

The alternative is you engage in pre-marketing conversations. They’re strikingly similar to strategic planning conversations because that’s what they are.

Marketing is not a bunch of tasks to complete. Marketing is a means to accomplish business objectives. If you’re unclear why you’re considering marketing and how you’ll define success, you’re not ready. If you’re unclear, you’re on the verge of wasting money on random acts of marketing.

What You Need is Pre-marketing Planning

There are several pre-marketing conversations to work through before you invest.

  1. Clarify the Problem You Need to Solve
  2. Identify Constraints and Success Criteria
  3. Consider Alternative Courses of Action
  4. Work Out the Mechanics of How It’s Going To Work
  5. Develop a Forecast Model
  6. Commit to and Finance Your Plan
  7. Design Your Sales and Marketing Program

Once you’ve worked through these conversations the heavy lifting begins.

Pre-marketing Does Not Take Forever or Cost a Fortune

The whole pre-marketing process boils down to a bunch of strategy conversations, some research, planning, forecast modeling and consensus-building. It’s not a herculean challenge. It may be unfamiliar territory, but it’s not rocket science either. It can happen quickly once you decide to act.

However, hiring the right help makes all the difference. You don’t engage a graphic design company to facilitate strategic planning conversations. That’s like hiring a roofer to lay your foundation. You need someone who understands the whole commercialization process to facilitate and help you commit to a worthy plan of action.

You want a Marketing/Commercialization Coach or a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer to guide you, your team and the suppliers that follow.

Where to Begin?

The pre-marketing process always starts with a conversation about context. Where are you now? What’s not working? What are the implications of inaction (the costs)? What are the target outcomes and what are those outcomes worth to your business?

If you’re not ready to engage in a discovery conversation, you’re not prepared to invest in marketing.

Focus on overcoming your fear, dissent, and resistance to change. If you don’t address the politics first you’ll doom your marketing before it’s conceived.

Your marketing is an expression of your leadership. It’s about clarity of intention and commitment to act more than anything else. Unclear intentions and a lack of commitment create lousy marketing programs that fail to deliver or last.

Getting to the Starting Line

If you’re struggling to get people to engage in a marketing conversation, we have some tools to get people ready. We’ve prepared several short introductory eBooks on marketing for business leaders. They were written to create context, a common vocabulary, and a basic understanding of marketing.

We suggest you prepare by reading What Is Marketing? and The First Seven Questions. We’ve also created a book called Mastering Marketing. It’s meant to provide a road map for the entire marketing and commercialization process. It’s an easy read for business leaders. The conversation is non-technical and will get your team engaged in the pre-marketing thought process. You can download these resources on this website and get started on your pre-marketing preparations today.

About the Author

John Watson is the president of Accrue Performance Marketing and the author of Mastering Marketing, the Being Profitable Program, several ebooks and an avid blogger. He serves as a sales and marketing coach and fractional Chief Marketing Officer for companies that cannot yet justify a full-time CMO. He's focused on helping startups and early-stage companies develop powerful brands, customer-centric websites, sales leads and complete commercialization programs.

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