We live in a time of interesting job titles. Your mechanic is now a Certified Automotive Technician. Your receptionist is a Director of First Impressions. Your office assistant is a Catalyst. Even the garbage man has been promoted to Sanitary Engineer.
We have embraced the concept of adding complexity—and syllables—to simple job descriptions to broaden their scope and enhance their prestige.
I’m not saying it’s working…I’m just demonstrating that we are doing it.
My job title is equally vague and potentially amorphous. I am a Business Strategist. We know both of those words and have a sense of what they mean when combined, but the questions arise when you consider that I ply my trade within a Digital Marketing Consultancy.
I mean, shouldn’t I be a Marketing Strategist? Wouldn’t that make more sense when you consider what Uhuru Network does? Possibly, but we have Marketing Strategists and they are going to help you with your specific growth goals.
So, am I going to advise you on your business plan by throwing out MBA concepts and talking about synergy and five-year plans? Nope. As much as I love big words, that’s not my job either.
My job is to help you level up.
Yes, it’s cute gamer jargon that basically implies that you need to increase your performance. Rude? Possibly, but you’re still reading this so maybe some part of you agrees.
To “level up” you need to have an understanding of the levels, and for that I like to apply a simple spectrum analysis called STAR: Strategic – Tactical – Active – Reactive.
Every company is somewhere within the STAR spectrum, although many of you will, most likely, believe that you’re operating at a higher level than you’re really at.
So here is how it breaks down:
Strategic – 5% of companies
- Fully understand their business model, limitations, and have frequent SWOT evals
- Broad tactical array, with all tactics performing within SMART goals
- Understand at least three target groups and have 3 personas for each
- Full concept of LTV and the buyer’s journey
- Full understanding of TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU and how each channel contributes
- Goals, intercommunication, and feedback loops for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service
- Defined function between MQL, SQL, and Nurture prospects
- Both Marketing and Sales are well staffed and functional
- In-house creative or experienced outsourcers
- Using high-performance systems like Inbound, CRM, and Lead Nurturing
- Advanced metrics, monitoring, and dashboards
- Deployed communications and staff across the customer journey
- Product is being developed with input from customers
- Social channels are updated and providing value to both customer and company
- Consistent branding
- Performance revenue-based budgeting
- CRO and AB testing across channels
- Low stress, high output
I love working with these companies. They are like encountering a beautifully engineered machine and they push me to dive deep and learn more. I can still find opportunities to offer impact for their organization, but it’s more like adding oil to a single rusty part after a thorough search than creating a whole new system. I focus mainly on efficiencies and improving lead generation performance within a specific tactic.
The challenge for companies functioning in the Strategic range is continually updating their systems and keeping them cutting edge and relevant. Some CMOs and CEOs will flinch at the investment of time and money needed to maintain such a well-functioning machine, while others will get stuck in the “why update it if it’s working” mindset. Things that are functioning well tend to be overlooked, so keeping your strategic edge involves constant education, evolution, and enhancement.
You need to keep looking for new methods and mentors and you have to be deeply aware of your own limitations and opportunities for improvement. Getting the opinions of an outside strategist can provide value.
Tactical – 35% of companies
- Understand their business model but perform analysis and planning less frequently and with less consistent documentation
- Limited tactical array—focused mainly on marketing channels that are “working” but aware of others that need testing
- Goals are numeric but not strict or easily achievable
- Have three target groups, some demographic breakout for each
- Have an understanding of LTV but focused only on conversion point of buyer’s journey
- Aware of their funnel but not 100% on friction points or issues
- Content is frequently underdeveloped or BOFU only
- Have communication between Marketing and Sales but it’s not optimized and may be confrontational in nature
- Focused solely on MQL or SQL generation
- Sales will be larger than Marketing, and both groups interacting rarely with Customer Service
- No in-house creative, a rotating list of outsourcers
- Have installed a high-performance system like HubSpot or Salesforce, but they have not developed it or fully integrated its capabilities
- Some dashboards and monitoring in place—at least Google Analytics
- Have viable communications for parts of the buyer’s journey, but focused on the parts where they see the most results
- Social channels are deployed and updated by not optimized
- Brand is defined but not always strictly deployed
- Cost-focused ROI
- Will approach CRO based on where they are seeing results
- Moderate stress, moderate output
Companies that are functioning in the Tactical range of marketing and lead generation have the most opportunity to change their reality and ignite growth. They are frequently companies who had a functioning strategy that they let grow dusty, or they are slightly too understaffed or inefficient to push up into the S spectrum.
Interestingly enough, this group frequently feels that they are functioning Strategically, and when confronted with the deficits within their system they may become defensive or think that their business model is unique. Helping to educate these companies is one of my biggest thrills.
The challenge for these groups is seeing the bigger picture and knowing what they don’t know. Justifying the investment is difficult because they are seeing some results.
Active – 35% of companies
- Understanding of their business model is based on gut and experience
- Extremely limited tactical array and they tend to think of tactics as strategies
- They put many eggs in one basket and rely on the channels that show return
- Idea of customers and clients based on their experience
- Target customer is well known but not well documented
- Solely focused on conversion points because buyer’s journey is “obvious” so they haven’t documented it
- Funnel is functional but malformed with many friction points and high percentage drops between stages
- They are trying channels based on research and feedback, but only able to really develop one or two at a time
- Limited communication between Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service
- They frequently have one person wearing multiple hats
- They may have tried outsourced solutions but didn’t see the results they wanted
- No in-house creative, low-performing outsourcers
- Traditional marketing focus, with some more modern systems augmenting a limited CRM
- One major metric set, frequently tied to their shopping cart, inventory, or POS system
- Content is limited by time constraints and prioritized based on which group is making the most noise or a single good idea.
- Confused CTAs
- Social channels are deployed but rarely updated
- Brand is scattered or limited in consistency
- Product-centric with an entrepreneurial pride
- No CRO, limited A/B testing
- High stress, limited output
These companies are really a mixed bag for a strategist. On one hand, they are easy to diagnose and can see amazing results, but the scope of what they need to do can be daunting for them to consider. They tend to be aware that they need help, which is great, but the task of getting that help is often not prioritized.
The biggest challenge for companies in the Active range is getting help. They know they need it, but they rarely have time to pursue actual change initiatives. They can level up, but it requires someone brave enough to question the status quo and reach out.
Reactive – 25% of companies
- Limited understanding of business model with no competitive analysis
- Scattered approach to marketing and tactics are traditional and underperforming
- These are your word of mouth believers that tend to get obsessed on one channel
- Think of customers as a commodity not a client with little thought to needs or identity
- Buyer’s journey is not considered
- These companies will have websites with tons of text and CTAs with a focus on driving buying intent
- Focused on conversion points with no concept of TOFU or MOFU
- Responsive to immediate needs, “hope” that things will be better next time
- Low technology investment
- Marketing is small (possibly stuck on an assistant), Sales is bigger, Customer Service is overworked…all are siloed
- No creative beyond what the in-house people can generate
- “Marketing” in this sense is traditional and focused on local channels or very limited digital channels
- Little to no metrics beyond visitor counts and basic financials
- Hope to get that “whole social media thing” going when they have the time
- No definitive branding
- ROI-focused, but not sure how to measure ROI
- High stress, low output
These companies are a real challenge. They may be frustrated or burned by digital systems they deployed poorly and lost money on. They believe their product is unique and they are focused on immediate lead generation needs. These are your cold-callers, your perpetual sales promoters, and your single-channel diehards.
SMBs, restaurants, commodity resellers, and small ticket service organizations are the frequent denizens of the R space, but I’ve seen some surprisingly big businesses that are operating at this level.
The biggest challenge for these groups is timeline. Without a documented full funnel and some awareness, companies like this may not have the timeline to make changes. These companies are completely in love with their products. If they have an amazing product and few competitors, they may be able to keep things moving for awhile, but they are almost always living on borrowed time.
So there it is. My magic STAR Spectrum. Maybe you read it and felt like you’re doing things well, or maybe all I’ve given you so far is bad news.
The good news is that you CAN level up, but it’s going to take some effort, skill, and time.
If you put in the effort and the time, you can raise your marketing by one level. Raising two is much, much harder and requires more time, expertise, and effort. Raising three levels is almost impossible in the short term without significant investment and outside help, but making improvements within your space will always benefit your bottom line.
RIGHT, CHEAP or FAST? Pick TWO
One of my favorite IT managers used to tell me that “You can do it right, cheap, or fast…pick two.” This adage bears even more truth for Marketing than IT. You can make improvements fast and right, but it isn’t going to be cheap. You can do it fast and cheap, but it won’t be right.
See how this works?
Most people who are looking to improve their sales and marketing machine look at the right and cheap model, which makes sense because that will make the bosses happy and demonstrate their managerial prowess.
The problem is that doing it RIGHT takes time and time is not something most businesses truthfully have.
I can hear you telling me I’m wrong.
You’re saying: “Our product is stable, our customers are loyal, and our market is growing. We have time.” Or you’re saying: “My goals aren’t that hard to achieve. I can do it within the allotted period.”
Perhaps you’re right. You certainly have a better picture of your business than I do…but do you have the same concept of your competitor’s business?
Are they on-boarding talent and building their strategy, or worse yet, are they currently deploying their strategy?
Will delaying your growth potential allow them to supersede you? What are the costs of inaction? What are the dangers of inadequate action?
Do you have time to hire, train, learn new skill sets, evaluate, strategize, and deploy?
Do you need help?
What is the priority that will offer the most immediate return?
Strategist = Diagnostician
You’re still reading this, which tells me that you’re probably not an S-level marketer. You may not even be sure where your company falls on the STAR Spectrum, but you want to make improvements, which is good. That is the first step toward creating an effective marketing and lead generation machine that will offer a multiplier of return.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m a Business Strategist but that title could more accurately be Business Diagnostician.
I listen, I ask questions, I offer you my expertise and I explore, with you, if you will need more than just advice. Yes, I work for a digital marketing firm, so much of my focus will circle that area, but I want to go deeper and I want to help you solve your problem.
Am I going to try and sell you something?
No. That isn’t what I do. I am going to help you diagnose your problem and prioritize your cure. Some part of that cure may involve Uhuru (we truly are the most amazing marketing team I’ve ever encountered, which is why I’m working here), but if there isn’t a fit between your needs and our solutions I will be the first person to tell you.
I want to learn about your business. I want to understand your clients, your product, your systems, your sales path and your marketing. More importantly, I want to understand your goals and challenges and eliminate your pain points.
The best part is that my services are free.
There is no cost for a strategy session. There is no cost for a website evaluation or a diagnostic conversation. That is the value I offer to you free of charge. If our Business Advantage, Market Domination, or B.A. Attack programs fit your needs, we will figure that out together.
All I ask is your time and your honesty.
Now it’s time to give me a call.