Kate Midttun, Founder and Managing Director, Acorn Strategy offers her thoughts on the volatility in the Middle East market and what a good marketing strategy does to prepare for it.
“The only thing that is certain is uncertainty. In 2018, it’s difficult to plan past six months and there’s rarely a company that can afford not to be agile. The days of a fixed 12-month marketing calendar are well behind us.”
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strategise, quite the opposite, in fact, a good strategy will help you pivot faster than your competitors, make quick decisions and react quickly. It will also help you to build the barriers to entry leaving your competitors eating dust as they try to catch up.
So why aren’t people doing it? They’re too busy, they think they have a strategy (it’s really just a tactical plan with some activities), they don’t need one, or they can’t afford it. There’s an argument against each one and really any leader that can’t articulate their marketing strategy and how it plays into their corporate decisions is letting their company down. Marketing should be contributing to corporate success, not just making things look pretty.
From understanding the context of the economy, the trends in the market, customer behaviour and the factors outside of your control, you’ll start to understand where your opportunity truly lies. It doesn’t lie in following your competitor or offering a slightly lower price or doing something just a little bit better – these are some decisions that should add up to a much bigger playbook that can be turned and tweaked as market factors change.
By taking time to consider the space you occupy in the market you get real and stronger. For some, it’s a tough step and an eye opener, but for others it helps to build the foundations for future success. This builds the base of the offering that you provide to your customers and the reason why they’ll continue to return to you.
After understanding the market, the space you occupy and how you answer the demands of the market, you’ll be able to decide on a strategic direction for your marketing that will support in achieving your wider business objectives. Should you be aggressive as a follower, an innovator or just raising awareness. What are the various scenarios around the decision and why did you choose the direction – this part is critical to helping you pivot when something goes wrong.
Once you understand all of this, you can then define the target market you’ll be going after, what channels you need to use to be most effective and what individual activities are required to get the message across.
Last, but not least, you’ll need to define what success looks like on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis as well as how to measure it. At Acorn Strategy we’ve worked on many strategies to help identify the best path for companies. We’ve helped companies adapt quickly to external changes such as the Russian ruble and its impact on the real estate and leisure industries, the health insurance changes on the healthcare market, as well as recalibrating marketing teams to the new reality after the oil crisis.
If done properly, marketing should be delivering the customer based objectives of your business plan. Marketing should have a seat at the boardroom table and should be considered in big company decisions. Importantly, regardless of whether you have a marketing team or not, a marketing specialist should be actively involved in defining the pathway of your company.