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April 6, 2005
GETTING ON POINT An approach to making the most of your marketing dollars
 

Over the last several years, we have all witnessed decreases in marketing budgets. At the same time, the market(s) in which those organizations compete continues to change. So, as organizations become more optimistic about the future, they need to be prepared to effectively market their brands in a new environment. They must take the time now to re-evaluate their market position, the audiences to whom they speak and the general messages that they communicate. By doing so, the marketing budgets they spend in the future will be marketing budgets well spent.

We, as marketers, are in the business of persuasion. And, if our messages and tactics for persuasion do not effectively resonate and cause change or action, we fail. Over the last fifteen to twenty years, the partners of Small Army have worked with clients in a variety of sizes, industries and life-stages. During this time, we witnessed and admittedly, sometimes participated in, the creation and execution of marketing programs based on either (1) the opinions and perspectives of clients, (2) customer feedback/research OR (3) competitive threats. And, while each of these three perspectives is critical in determining effective strategies and tactics, experience has demonstrated that each should never be considered alone. Doing so can result in ineffective marketing strategies and, ultimately, wasted marketing dollars.

Small Army has developed an approach that has proven successful in helping organizations re-assess their brand(s) to identify defensible and differentiable market positions along with strategies and tactics for effectively communicating them. It is what we refer to as the “Point(s) of Persuasion.” And our approach to determine the “Points of Persuasion,” which serve as the cornerstone of everything we do—from brand positioning and advertising to direct marketing and website development—is called “On Point.”

This article provides you with an overview of our “On Point” approach and how it leads to effective “Points of Persuasion.”

The “On Point” approach looks at every marketing challenge from three perspectives:

1. The Point of View

2. The Point of Contact

3. The Point of Impact

The Point of View is the way in which the customer views its brand and the market in which it participates. Here, we are interested in learning opinions, perceptions, goals, objectives, needs and desires of an organization. To get this perspective, we speak with a variety of individuals in the organization, from the executive team and marketing group to sales professionals, customer service professionals and others. We also review internal documents such as past and current communications materials, sales proposals and strategic business documents.

It can be eye opening to have these discussions with professionals within an organization. Very rarely do we hear consistent thoughts and opinions regarding company positioning, strengths/weaknesses, opportunities/threats, and the like. We have even witnessed some organizations in which employees are inconsistent with one another on identifying who they work for. If the organization is confused internally, imagine what the outside world thinks.

This “Point of Contact” is the perspective of the audience(s) with whom the brand needs to communicate. Here, we seek to understand needs, emotions, pains and pleasures, sales cycles, decision-making processes, evaluation criteria, brand/competitor perceptions and more. This information is obtained through focus groups, on-on-one interviews and quantitative surveys with existing customers, previous/competitor customers and prospects. We also review any customer research and feedback that may already exist from surveys, website feedback, etc.

This perspective often reveals how biased and sometimes, warped, perceptions can become internally among individually so close with a brand. The best example of this can be seen when you watch focus groups participants listen to a moderator mention acronyms and phrases that seem commonplace to brand professionals but are foreign to customers and prospects. Imagine having advertising headlines promoting acronyms and phrases that are meaningless to the individuals with whom you need to speak.

The “Point of Impact” represents those forces that may impact the brand, but cannot be controlled by it (at least, directly). This includes issues such as competitive positioning/plans/marketing, economic conditions, industry trends, federal and state regulations, etc. To better understand these issues, we rely on third party/industry data, newspaper/magazine articles, discussions with industry pundits and input from brand professionals. We also conduct thorough competitive reviews to better understand positioning, plans and marketing strategies of each competitor.

This perspective often causes the quick reaction—a campaign to defend against competitor claims, align with an anticipated fad/trend, or take advantage of a perceived opportunity from regulatory changes. And, as with all three perspectives, if not considered, it can take a company’s positioning in a completely wrong direction.

With a solid understanding of each of these perspectives, effective “Point(s) of Persuasion,” from strategies to tactics can be established. And marketing dollars can be most effective. We’ve seen it work time and time again. I encourage you to consider these three perspectives as you plan strategies and tactics for your brands. I guarantee you will find the exercise of great value.

In my next article, I will discuss the second part of our “On Point” approach, called “Sharpening the Point”—where the Point(s) of Persuasion are continually challenged, measured and improved upon for increased effectiveness.


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Jeff Freedman leads a small army. But not overseas. Small Army is a Boston-based marketing agency, and Jeff's background in both media planning and interactive marketing helps him service regional and national clients. As the fight continues to capture the attention of today's consumers, Small Army and Jeff Freedman will claim victory.

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