Time to Get Strategic

Let’s just all admit it: Marketing in 2019 is hard. While there are multiple programs and strategies and ways to spend money reaching out to consumers, the way we talk about marketing doesn’t make it any easier. We have traditional and digital, marketing and advertising, data and insights. It’s all just a big jumble of everyone trying to understand what is going to work and what isn’t and none of us have a crystal ball. Now that we’ve all had our moment to vent, what do we do about it? The only answer is to start with the basics and focus on a strategy. The tricky part about that proposal? Having a strategy. Let’s think through were to start.

No marketer worth her weight starts to build a strategy without doing some research. That means understanding where the brand is currently, what it means to consumers, what you WANT it to mean to consumers, and what avenues are in place currently to help connect those ideals. Sometimes, this means doing research; sending out consumer surveys or talking to consumers in aisles. Sometimes, this research means sitting down and really thinking about these questions. Independent grocers are busy. They’re also generally well established. You likely have a mission statement on your office wall but does it truly differentiate you from all the other grocers out there? Have you thought about how the tactics you use to serve customers today have changed since you developed that mission statement? Making any headway in this marketing environment takes continual focus and a roadmap.

After you’ve had time to think about the research, next is building the tactical road map to get things done. Stop! Don’t execute yet. Just outline and think. It’s tempting to grab at the shiny object some sales guy in your office said would increase sales 10%. That program someone says won’t increase your labor or interrupt your operations is alluring, but remember costs aren’t recognized just in dollars. Sometimes, the tradeoff costs of jumping into one tactic without thinking down the road of where that tactic takes you could be devastating. It’s true we don’t always have a crystal ball to know when that’s going to happen but you’d be shocked at how often those inflection points become clearer when you ask questions. The other thing about building a strategy is to stop thinking about traditional versus digital marketing. In reality, it’s all just marketing. You may be less familiar with websites and shopper data but they mesh very well with tactics like direct mail and print ads that you know well. These tactics all work together to help you engage with consumers in different ways and in their own preferred venue.

Another tricky component of this research and roadmap is while you should think carefully about it; you can’t take a lot of time making decisions. There’s a point where you need to just go execute and see what happens. That means there will be times it doesn’t work. Taking a good look at what you’ve done and how it compares to where you were and what you thought it would do is supremely important. You’re going to spend money and not reach consumers. It’s inevitable. Get over that and try new things anyway. Some people call this failure. But if you’re paying attention, it’s more likely just improving for next time. There will be a next time, next program, new offering. That’s also inevitable. Time to get going.

Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate