Smart business owners know that making the right choices can transform their business. But what are the “right” choices during a pandemic? Well, that’s a hard question to answer – but it becomes much easier to answer after you have useful date.
It’s been my own experience in prior downturns that far too many business owners immediately want to get back to business as usual – and unfortunately for some, that ship has already sailed. Many will bounce right back. But others won’t. Times such as these might require you to adapt and change.
That’s why I recommend starting with an assessment – and especially so if you have been ground to a halt and are struggling to gain traction or need to realign the business for growth or are considering a turnaround.
Maybe you had great success in the past and are now finding yourself stopped fast in your tracks and not sure which next move is the right move. Or maybe you’ve gone down wrong paths before but are now trying to figure our – once and for all – how to generate high-quality leads or grow sales pipelines or deliver better ROI, or cut costs to your programs, or be transformative in your approach to business. If this is you, now is the time to act.
Below, I’ll share a real-life client example and describe an approach that has worked for me.
First things first. We need to understand our new realities.
A client of mine in the professional services industry wanted to better understand their own current realities, reset marketing, deliver better ROI and ultimately grow the business. They did not have an in-house CMO to help them and wanted to know what was possible for their business.
Before we did anything else, my recommendation was to conduct a full marketing assessment with the purpose of obtaining feedback to provide actionable insights to help us develop the next set of projects to establish the right foundation and deliver ROI – and scale the business.
In this particular case, I conducted the assessment to understand the real pain and delivered a 42 page review document along with a well-organized roadmap of future projects to use as an implementation roadmap (or guide). Together, we reviewed the assessment and discussed how best to move forward. My recommendation was to (1) realign the brand with key target audiences, (2) build up a new digital platform to inform and engage others, and (3) develop new content marketing and online lead generation engines to help drive people to the site and more leads to sales.
During our time together, we accomplished the following:
- We reactivated their consumer brand to match all marketing and content messages to clients/prospects needs and wants.
- We built up an entirely new new digital marketing platform – including website and associated technology and tools – and worked to improve the whole consumer experience from start to finish.
- We implemented a new approach to content marketing and lead generation – meaning we had to develop new content messaging, realign the marketing channel mix, recalibrate online marketing and ad-retargeting investments, set up a new CRM and marketing-to-sales processes, improve funnel/forecasting, develop new pipelines of high-quality leads, and more.
The above, in that particular order, was what my client needed in that moment of time to move forward – and it worked for them. This might, or might not, be what your business needs right now. But the only way to know for sure is to perform an assessment. It can be as lean, quick and as fast as you like – but it should be done right. Below, I’ll walk you through how I perform each assessment.
Here’s how I would perform your assessment.
Our first step will be to set up a Zoom conference or phone call-in to discuss your challenges, strategies and goals. Once I clearly understand your unique situation, I’ll want to conduct a few phone discussions with a few other members of your team to collect additional feedback. Because the moment requires urgency, we’ll focus in and keep this process moving fast- we’ll strip out all non-essential stuff so you can move forward quickly.
The key is to arrive at truth and to uncover what’s working and what’s not. We can move as fast as you need – but I don’t like to shortcut this too much because my experience tells me business owners tend to hold one or two preconceived (false) notions up as truths – and they fall apart under real scrutiny. It’s important to put bias aside (especially right now) to help you see your business as clearly and as accurately as possible.
The next step is the actual assessment. I’ll do my own online research and dive into any available data (your 10-K, annual reports, existing go-to-market strategies and marketing plans, etc.) to learn all I can about your solutions, products/services, the pain your business solves in the market, unique differentiators, existing technologies, and more.
I’ll also review your external market and competition – including industry characteristics, behavior, and trends. I’ll assess the marketing efforts of your top 5-10 competitors to help you better understand their successes, growth strategies, website platform efforts, use of marketing technology, marketing assets and investments, and even how they think and act related to lead generation, sales, content marketing, blogging, PR/media, social media and more.
I’ll review your existing marketing collateral materials, including brochures, pitch decks, trade show materials, and more. And I’ll review your online brand to help you understand how well your existing website, content, and social media presence reflects the brand, builds trust, and fuels growth.
I’ll provide you with a detailed website analysis where I grade critical components and assign each one a priority level using a green-yellow-red color system. During the inspection, I review everything from branding and identity to creative assets to user experience to site performance to organic search capability to marketing technology utilization to mobility and more.
This inspection will provide you with a set of insights and practical steps to make your website more effective and shows you where to focus your efforts to make immediate improvements.
During our time together, I’ll learn as much as I can about your current market position, future opportunities, challenges and goals, current market position, prior marketing successes and challenges, and products/services and target (and potential) markets.
Here’s what you get with the assessment.
I’ll do all the above to support the key deliverables in your marketing assessment, including:
- Assessment Report – 20-40+ page report that includes all findings, impacts and recommendations.
- RoadMap of Future Projects – high-level project plan that includes tasks, activities, components, dependencies, KPIs to measure, pricing fee ranges, and time frames needed to implement 3-5 project initiatives (in the right order).
- Quick Hits Report – list of DIY activities to be implemented in the short-term (within weeks or 1-2 months).
- Shared Google Drive – folder with “edit/owner” permissions containing all “sandbox” items, including draft notes, ideas/thoughts and research notes collected during our time together.
- List of all relevant technologies and tools to consider and explanations on which might deliver best practice.
I design the Marketing Assessment + Roadmap (as delivered) to be a starting point for any future marketing work. It will be organized so you can either shop it, share it with your in-house marketing team, or have me implement on a project-by-project basis. Everything I recommend will be custom fit for your unique situation and requirements. And for each project, I’ll show you (in detail) all related marketing technology or tool requirements, Gantt chart timelines, and cash investments for completion.
My marketing assessment and roadmaps are detailed enough for most any seasoned DIY marketing team or competent third-party marketing agency to follow and implement. If you decide you want me to provide Fractional CMO support after the assessment, we can transition to a retained relationship and I can do all the work. Or, if you want to tackle it but need some limited support, I can stay on in an hourly advisory role to provide support or manage the projects. And, depending on your unique situation, I can even work with you to staff up a new department – though I would want to move to a separate retainer/invoice through TalentSum.
These are interesting times and I’m here for you. I’ll even be flexible and work with you to streamline our approach so it fits your budget and time requirements. Let’s not allow money to hold us back from a conversation. These are trying times and at the very least, I’ll do all I can to point you in the right direction with useful insights and tips on how you can move forward right now. All you need to do is reach out if you need help – or share this with someone you know who might need my help.
CHRISTOPHER MENGEL brings over 20 years of insights to business owners and talent leaders inside emerging technology and professional services firms to implement new initiatives, develop new strategies for growth, carry out organizational and cultural change, manage complex projects, and fill business-critical roles. Have a challenge you want to solve? Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter and subscribe to his posts or contact him.