Why you need a marketing strategist for your business (and how to work with one).

As a new driver, I have learned not to question my navigation system. Despite the occasional unexpected detour, Apple Maps and Google Maps are pretty much 100% accurate. I never begin a trip — whether to another town or to Whole Foods — without entering the desired destination and hearing the familiar digital voice taking me to my destination.

The genius behind this directional miracle is not lost on me, especially when it comes to using it as a metaphor with clients. One wouldn’t set off on a voyage without a map or even a destination. Why then would a business owner or executive begin to address marketing issues without a similar roadmap?

A marketing strategist is that navigator who can set the direction, coordinates and pace of such an important journey; assuming the role of an architect of sorts with a marketing plan, becoming an important partner in the growth of the business.

With a clear, well-conceived marketing plan a brand can leverage all available resources, both traditional and digital. With technology and digital marketing knowledge requirements changing daily, the role of a strategist has changed as well. As strategists at Influence, we strive to inform our clients as to how to use the best mix of all available resources to achieve growth objectives.

Often we take control of defining and shaping the scope of the project for our client. Our top-down view — similar to a navigation satellite — allows us to predict roadblocks ahead and adjust our strategy accordingly. This approach also allows us to bring into focus a vision of the success of a product, including the tools needed to achieve the desired brand perception.

Is a strategist appropriate for your brand?

Marketing departments can become overwhelmed by available tools, channel management, timing, reporting as well as ideation, social media content creation, SEO, and so on. The marketing strategist will begin by performing a “deep dive” in a company’s marketing processes and materials.

A strategist will start a project with an audit of the client’s digital assets, as well as those of their competitors. From there, by introducing a digital focus, the strategist works closely with the in-house marketing team to develop an international web presence and online marketing strategy. This method provides a clear roadmap and coordinates all relevant digital channels and tactics (i.e. websites, content marketing, networking on social media, e-commerce, search and social advertising, SEO, marketing automation, apps, media/blogger outreach, etc.) into one actionable plan. We define our objectives with our clients in a three-year growth plan.

Part of our methodology as marketing strategists includes:

  • Performing detailed research into a brand’s product category and its competitors across multiple markets.
  • Deconstructing competitive best practices in digital marketing and creating benchmarks.
  • Defining web architecture by detailing what sites and social assets the brand will maintain in various versions.
  • Conducting web asset audits to map a brand’s global web presence and assessing the effectiveness of each asset over a time period.
  • Working closely with the various specialists involved with the implementation and management of digital strategies.
  • Identifying opportunities to use digital technology to enhance a brand’s overall marketing mix: product, price, place, or promotion.

There are other areas where we play more of a supporting role. These are areas where we are asked to use our research and analytical skills to:

  • Support the marketing director with research, analysis, and reporting in related areas, such as market research, target segmentation, and brand strategy.
  • Provide a sensible structure for digital brand assets and recommend distribution channels.
  • Participate in new business initiatives often by providing digital Intel on companies and markets.
  • Provide recommendations with client’s brand messaging and positioning in order to comply with brand perception in the market.

What to look for in a strategist:

The most important thing to consider when you are thinking about hiring a strategist is how well do they know your industry and how well they know your business? To a business owner or brand director, a strategist becomes a trusted business partner facilitating communication with the marketing team and expanding the repertoire of tools.

If you are considering hiring a marketing strategist for your brand or product, here is a list of questions you may want to ask:

10 important questions to ask a strategist:

  1. What combination of tools will you use to diagnose the issues in my company?
  2. How do we define mutual success goals for the project?
  3. Will you help our team define the specs of the project to achieve precision and accuracy?
  4. What is the average lifespan of a proposed strategy?
  5. Will the strategy include proposed capital expenditures and technology improvements?
  6. What kind of reporting processes will you implement to help define ROI?
  7. Will you sign a non-disclosure agreement?
  8. Do you have experience in Public Relations and will you be able to also instruct our PR department?
  9. Do you use outside technology partners for implementing portions of the proposed strategy?
  10. Which brands currently possess a marketing strategy you admire?

Navigation technology, like marketing, is a sophisticated web of innovations designed to simplify the voyage from point A to point B. It is easy to operate but there is nothing simple about it. The right strategist will ensure that your marketing goals match your resources, and will guide you to your destination, safely and with certainty.

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Simoudis Image Design develops brand identity, brand strategy and digital marketing programs for exceptional brands. Influence is its marketing consultancy based in New York.

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