SmartMarketing™ 101

Decades ago – when I was a young associate creative director at Johnson & Dean – I grappled daily with the sign that my Creative Director, Jim Ens, had taped up on the wall above his desk.


Although Jim was indeed a very creative guy, he certainly didn’t birth this concept. In fact, when Jim was a young copywriter for the Sears Catalog – honing Good, Better, Best product copy – his first copy chief constantly demanded he SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY. As you can see, there’s some serious provenance to this mantra.

SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY obviously drives clarity of creative execution of copy and design. Simplicity should also be a key goal – and unnecessary complexity should be avoided – in strategic planning for many marketing campaigns, as well. In fact, simplicity is the essence of SmartMarketing™ 101.

Just as great coaches focus their team on a handful of fundamentals, SmartMarketing 101 will focus your team on just five crucial decisions:

  1. Define target audiences. Segment consumers by demographics, psychographics, media habits, awareness and usage patterns. For B2B buyers, identify industries, company size, channels and titles. Unsure about who buys and should buy your product? Then, market research is a worthwhile investment – at least for each major brand or product line.
  2. Identify key messages for each target audience. For each target audience, establish key reasons they buy or don’t buy from you. Identify message content – what to say to hook the client, overcome objections, close the sale. However, it’s too early to address how to say it – creative execution comes later. Include both your marketing and sales teams to contribute key messages. Ask your top customers – informally or through a formal research project.Depending on client requirements, we guide messaging by conducting a Brand Building Workshop to determine a client’s key differentiators, a Messaging Matrix Workshop to identify and align key messages with each target audience, and VIP Customer Surveys to verify how your best customers perceive you and your competitors.
  3. Allocate marketing budget to deliver key messages for each target audience based on projected sales. Where’s your low hanging fruit? Best bang for the marketing buck? Based on sales forecasts for each product line and target audience, where should you direct resources to return the highest ROI?The marketing budget for each target audience includes packaging, PR, advertising, social media, Website content, SEO, etc. Budgets for B2B channels and buyers should also include trade shows and sales support materials.
  4. Select cost-efficient media to deliver key messages to each target audience. Start with an agnostic attitude and a proven methodology to compare apples to oranges across all available media platforms – print, broadcast and digital. Include person-to-person social networking as well as the online options.
    Seriously consider spending as much as you can on public relations before you spend on paid advertising. PR is your best bet to leverage your budget and return multiples of exposure and impressions compared to what you would get through paid media.
  5. Establish goals and metrics for each target audience. Build in measurable goals so that you can determine how well – or poorly – a project or campaign is working. In addition to tracking sales, goals can include an increase in awareness, additional distribution points, specific actions on your Website, and improved rank in organic searches. With today’s technology, you can monitor and adjust campaigns early and often. For B2B also measure increases in sales presentations, proposals and closing rates.

SmartMarketing 101 is a distillation of the complete SmartMarketing System. But, in many situations it is a great start or a sufficient improvement. Just as 80% of your company’s sales most likely come from 20% of your clients, you and your department will be more productive when you focus 80% of your time and energy on 20% of the work that is most important.

Starting up a SmartMarketing 101 program will help focus your resources. Already running a robust marketing program? SmartMarketing 101 will help you focus on the most productive processes and target audiences. Either way, if you agree with SmartMarketing 101, but think there’s a step that’s more important than the five I’m offering, by all means adapt it to your needs. Just keep it simple. Please let me know how you customize, implement and evaluate SmartMarketng 101.