Unsure how to steer your business into this uncertain future? Here is the key.

If you’re a leader navigating your business through these uncertain times, the obstacles can seem overwhelming. It’s a relief to know there’s one truism that will always remain the same, regardless of the turbulence around you.

That is; your business has by far its best chance of surviving if you align it entirely around your customer. Let them be the beacon that you steer towards and what makes your business stable.

And then, your commitment to your customer will be key to your future prosperity.

Hopefully, you’ve been keeping on your existing customer’s radar, so you spring to mind first when this is over.

But also, perhaps it’s time for some purposeful recalibration. When you don’t know what the future looks like, it’s best to start by re-evaluating whom you want your customer to be. After that, you can think about how you can best serve them.

I recently worked with someone who said she hated working with builders. And yet, builders made up 90% of her paying customers!

We’ve all experienced how easy it is to fall into patterns and then how difficult it is to get out of them. Sadly, many ties are disintegrating right now, but at least we can thoughtfully and purposefully build new ones.

When choosing customers, consider who inspires you; which people and organisations you enjoy serving.

And make sure you have a strategic marketing plan to help you find, understand and provide value for your customers and define your long-term goals. As an alive, evolving document, a good marketing plan will give you direction in any situation. 

If your customers are your beacon, a marketing plan is your friend and guide that will help you traverse the rough terrain towards them most efficiently.

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For those of you who already have a good marketing plan and will weather this storm, make sure to revisit it more often than usual during this unstable period.

Businesses are in an uncertain environment that’s changing daily, but focusing on your customers and your long-term goals can give you stability and energy.

History shows that companies that come through the other side of crises come out stronger than ever.

So I’ll sign off with a quote from Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Focus on the evolution of your customer and make sure you evolve with the

'It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.'

What is Marketing and Why Businesses Should Care

Our businesses can provide for the life we dream of, and be so valuable to our customers that it is a pleasure to work. Your business can be irreplaceable, adored, and a marketing function can do it for you. But…. 

You’re put off by the ‘M’ word.

Marketing is a crucial factor in the success of nearly every business. Still, at the same time, it’s become almost a dirty word. So why the disconnect?

It’s because many people associate marketing with advertising, manipulation and tricks. Actually, when business owners question the value of marketing, they’re usually confusing it with lesser marketing communications tactics. Advertising, selling, a website with SEO, social media etc. are all just small parts of marketing. And manipulation should have nothing to do with it.

Even if you love your product and service, customers will only turn up for you if they see the value for themselves. True marketing creates positive outcomes for both you and your customers. 

At its bones, marketing is the function in your business that is responsible for creating value, communicating value, delivering value and exchanging value with your customers.

Value is actually essential. So what is it?

Unfortunately, ‘value’ has become a victim of its own success and is now a business buzzword. Like all business buzzwords, it gets watered down by misuse. Put simply, benefit minus cost equals value. And these costs and benefits are often not monetary. It’s been said, ‘There’s no such thing as too expensive; it’s just that things either have value or don’t have value.’ 

Therefore, how can you knock your customers’ socks off? What do you need to do for the value to be so apparent to your customers that they wonder why they wouldn’t come to you?

Consciously creating value is a central marketing principle. And without it, business owners are leaving money on the table all the time.

If you think it’s all about you, you’re missing out.

Beware of creating a product then looking for ways to sell it. Called ‘product concept’, this is the traditional but dated way of operating that requires lots of hard selling. The job is not to find the right customer for your product, but the right product for your customer. This is a marketing concept that results in both a more prosperous and a more gratifying working life.

Therefore, one of the responsibilities of a marketing function is to help your business to understand your customers’ needs and desires; both unspoken and explicit. Everyone in your business can gather the information that will allow you to be relevant to your customer and to communicate with them effectively.

But at the heart of any successful value creation is a great product or service. Everything that happens before your customer or client starts using your product or service is just a marketing promise.

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The aim is an honest win-win, where there’s positive value for both your business and your customers. This way you build trust and a long-term relationship.

Marketing in the real sense of the word helps businesses purposefully create an entire customer experience that your customers are happy to invest in repeatedly and to tell others about. Your whole organization unites to contribute to this value. Which, in turn, creates an engaged and meaningful workplace. 

Have all cylinders firing for take-off.

If you picture your business as a plane, your products/services are its elegant wings. You, your people and your other investments fuel the flight. And your marketing is your plane’s engine. 

Even as you need wings for flight, marketing is the function of your business that will lift you higher and propel you forward. As a business, you can glide along on wings for a while. But a quality engine will move you faster and put your business on surer footing into the future.

What is a Marketing Plan?

Even when you know about marketing, it can still seem abstract and overwhelming when you try to apply it to your business. With so many balls in the air, most business owners prefer to spend the least bandwidth possible on marketing. At the same time, you want to feel confident that what you’re doing is extremely effective.

This is the beauty of marketing plans. 

They are living documents that clearly articulate your specific business goals, then take you carefully through the steps to achieving them. 

Once created, marketing plans act as a filter to guide you through all of your marketing opportunities. So instead of worrying about ineffective and costly decisions, you can make a marketing plan and move forward. Then it’s a valuable tool for you to refer to whenever you need guidance in the future.

By its nature, a quality marketing plan is a simple document. When designed by experts with creativity and vision, strategic marketing plans will step you through complex business environments. The best is refreshingly jargon-free, easy to understand and therefore, implement.

Notably, a good marketing plan is relevant to the entire organisation, not just its marketing function. As such, its creation is a joint effort involving all key business areas from finance and product development to sales and marketing. It’s a unifying and motivating project with big rewards. And it’s a powerful guide and support for solopreneurs.

Do You Need a Marketing Plan?

If you’re happy to spend hours every day on marketing, and you’re confident that you know exactly where your business is going and how to get there, maybe you don’t need a marketing plan. 

So it’s a trick question; every business needs one!

Leadership teams find that their marketing function becomes clear to them if they have a marketing plan. They are able to see exactly what needs to be done to achieve their goals, and how to do it.

Because while uncertainty is paralysing, clarity is energising. Marketing plans give businesses clarity, take out the guesswork and reduce risk.  

They are the one resource that will optimise every resource your business has. 

In short, from one-person businesses to huge multinationals, NFPs, privately-held or public; every organisation needs a marketing plan.

Oktorise Weekly

Subscribe to Oktorise Weekly, a mixed-media publication aiming to entertain, educate and invigorate you as you go about your business of leading a business. Delivered weekly to your inbox, it is sure not to overwhelm but to energise.

As a living document, quality marketing plans are designed to readily evolve as conditions change. So ensuring your company is adaptable and resilient. As a result, marketing plans are instrumental in times of upheaval, such as now with COVID-19. 

Oktorise marketing plans, which we develop together with our clients, are a long-term investment for your company. They’re easy to understand and enjoyable to use. And once created, they provide a motivating platform that will keep your entire organisation aligned.

Get in touch so we can make the most of every resource you have – your businesses’ most efficient path to full potential. 

Dream often, dream big! But also, read this.

'Life's greatest regret is not to reach your full potential.'

I think this quote applies as much to companies as to individuals.

Some people are happy just to make a living out of their business.

Others aim to pass their business on to the next generation or to build their businesses’ value to sell it, all while making a real difference to other people’s lives. 

The quote above will probably resonate with those who want their businesses to do more than simply pay their bills.

So what is potential? It’s the capacity to develop capability and traits with effort over time.

Where does capacity come from?

Many things, but the root of capacity is a dream. To be clear, this is not related just to dollars – dreams like that lead to dead ends. Similarly, they must be compelling enough to elicit effort over time.

So, with your dream in mind, set a goal that’s specific and measurable. And then create a plan that sets out how you are going to achieve it. 

As Stephen Covey explains so well in his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “All things are created twice; first, the mental conceptualization and visualization and a second physical, actual creation. Becoming your own creator means to plan and visualize what you’re going to do and what you’re setting out to accomplish and then going out and creating it.”

"All things are created twice; first, the mental conceptualization and visualization and a second physical, actual creation."

We intuitively understand that most dreams worth having require plenty of effort for actual creation. Thankfully, if the steps to achieving that big dream are mapped out clearly, you won’t need to put in as much effort.

Oktorise Weekly

Subscribe to Oktorise Weekly, a mixed-media publication aiming to entertain, educate and invigorate you as you go about your business of leading a business. Delivered weekly to your inbox, it is sure not to overwhelm but to energise.

And as much as anything, planned steps deal with the overwhelm innate in big dreams. You could just be procrastinating because you’re overwhelmed!

Give your dreams a chance. Give them structure and the focus of a plan.  

If you want your business to reach its potential, start with an audacious dream.

Make it clear and make it wild. Then make a plan and enjoy your work.

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