When any of us make a major investment, we give that purchase some strategic thought.

• Do we need it?
• Will it meet my needs?
• Is the price worth it?

And at a minimum, this kind of analysis should precede any marketing planning. Yet many companies begin every planning season budgeting for the typical marketing tactics checklist.

We believe marketing strategy should support business strategy—understanding some of your marketing investments will have long-term goals that will take time to pay out. Here is a quick true story. In a major corporation, a consumer direct marketing campaign exceeded sales goals. The campaign, however, was a failure because the installation service cost to the company was greater than the lifetime customer value revenue.

Perhaps you are thinking that marketing automation software will do all your marketing strategic planning for you. You may be familiar with Pardot, B2B marketing automation by Salesforce. According to the 2015 report from the Marketing Automation Industry, Pardot is the 4th most used marketing automation software. Pardot lists ten reasons why companies may not be ready for marketing automation. Three relate to lack of marketing strategic planning:

• No plan; no brand positioning, messaging architecture, goals or metrics.
• No defined audience so data can be captured and organized by segment.
• No customer journey map to align message with audience and timing.

Marketing Research

We have experience conducting marketing research for large corporations such as Xerox and Sprint, as well as proof-of-concept marketing research for startups.

Buyer Personas

Do you really know your customer and does your brand and supporting content reflect messages your customer cares about? In a 2013 study of business corporations, McKinsey found a surprising disconnect between the brand values communicated by most corporations, and the top values of their customers.

Most corporations highlighted the following in their brand messaging:

• Social responsibility in its work
• Innovation
• Product portfolio.

What their business customers valued more, however, were:

• Honest, open dialog with customers and society
• Acts responsibly across supply chain
• High level of specialist expertise.

Successful marketing requires understanding what your buyer cares about. The Hayden Group can help you create buyer personas for your company. We can also train your marketing staff in how to do so going forward.

Customer Journey Mapping

The idea of understanding the interaction of a customer with a product or service has been around for a long time. J. Walter Thompson was using a Consumer Buying System for their clients in 1989 as “the key to understanding the purchase process from the consumer’s perspective.” Members of The Hayden Group introduced a Buying System to Symantec in 1998 to help Symantec develop messaging for the various players involved in the purchase process of one of their software products.

Understanding what a customer goes through to purchase your product is critical to developing an effective and cost-efficient marketing program. Packaged goods marketers have always based their marketing programs on customer data and customer insights. Mapping how customers purchase has always been an essential strategic tool for working with THG clients.

A customer journey map will provide for your company guidance for marketing resource allocation based on customer behavior; a transformative, customer-centric marketing approach for your company that can also positively affect service delivery and operations; a framework for your company to revisit annually or quarterly, depending on how fast your marketplace changes.

When your customer's purchase journey actually begins. It may not be when you think.
• Reveals ALL the players in the journey for your service or product.
• Identifies the roles and needs/desires of each player.
• Maps the evaluation process used by each player in the journey.
• Shows what role your channels play.
• Identifies final purchase decision maker and the bottom-line basis for decision.
• Reveals the role experience plays in your customer journey.

The Hayden Group can help you create a customer journey map for your company. We can also train your marketing staff in how to do so going forward.

Competitive Analyses

Did you hear about the private social networking startup that kept tinkering with their product? Let’s call the company Better Product. Better Product would not spend any PR or marketing dollars until the product was “perfect.” And then his Competitor got funded to the tune of $18.6M. The press alone gave Competitor tons of free advertising. “But my product is better,” said the Founder of Better Product, and began to detail all the feature advantages. But it was too late. No investors or customers were around to hear. Competitor’s brand and message were everywhere.

In an October 2015 article, McKinsey authors David Edelman and Jason Heller wrote that 75% of marketers are “concerned about threats from more agile competitors.” The authors go on to talk about how top performing companies take a more “business-driven” view of marketing and “understand the entire customer journey better than their peers.”

We agree. A strong and regularly updated competitive analyses of your marketplace is imperative to:

• Position your company
• Position your products
• Keep your leadership honest about any weaknesses
• Anticipate challenges
• Exceed revenue goals through opportunity

And for any startup or company that believes they have no competition, we have one question. Do you have all the revenue you want? (If yes, you don’t need us.) Your product or service, objectively, may indeed be unique. In the mind of the customer, however, they may not recognize those differences or perceive a need for them. That is where your marketing can work harder.

The Hayden Group has conducted competitive analyses from market categories, to products, to brands, to campaigns, to social media, to websites. The Hayden Group can help you develop creative analyses your company. We can also train your marketing staff in how to do so going forward.