Four Pillars of Marketing for Profit-Minded CEOs (OPINION)

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Despite not having a magic bullet to make your business more successful, I can share four powerful weapons that will increase your success dramatically if you use them strategically.

These weapons will not surprise or amaze you. In fact, you might feel like one of former NFL coach Vince Lombardi’s players when he would tell them, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

Nevertheless, knowing a football exists is different from skillfully using it to throw touchdown passes. Similarly, knowing about these weapons is not the same as using them to gain a competitive advantage. Therefore, using the four weapons successfully will require your strong leadership to score touchdowns consistently.

Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” Drucker knew that without customers no business could survive. I would add that the purpose of a business is to get and keep profitable customers.

Drucker also said, “Business has only two functions: marketing and innovation.” Your business needs innovative products, ideas and services, and marketing helps you understand your customers and make them aware of your offerings. I will leave discussion of innovation to another day and focus here on the four fundamental strategic pillars of a marketing strategy.

Despite the obvious importance of marketing, many businesses market poorly and have not proven how their efforts generate profits. Additionally, executive teams often view marketing only as a tactical, low-level function.

In light of the challenges faced by business owners, executives and marketers, as well as the myriad of complex marketing technologies available, I want to help you use marketing as a high ROI strategic weapon that will dramatically increase your profitability and market position.

This won’t come from focusing primarily on product campaigns or sophisticated marketing technologies, but rather on developing your marketing strategy around the four fundamental pillars of strategic marketing.

Focusing on those four elements can set you apart from competitors, and provide the foundation for innovation in areas such as product development, distribution and customer service. These four pillars cut across your physical and digital presence, and apply to all your business units.

The four pillars are easy to understand, but difficult to execute consistently. Their successful and consistent implementation requires hard work, commitment, discipline and continuous measurement.

Most businesses either omit them altogether or execute them sporadically and deprive themselves of thousands or millions of dollars of additional profitability. Some even go out of business because they fail to build these into their strategy.

These four critical and interconnected pillars of strategic marketing are:

• Brand promise;

• Marketing analytics and automation;

• Referrals;

• Leadership.

Your brand promise identifies your value proposition, why you’re in business and what your customers can expect from you. A strong and clear brand promise provides a powerful marketing message, meaningful differentiation, and amplifies the impact of marketing analytics and automation.

Marketing analytics and automation helps prioritize marketing and sales personnel and investments. It provides insights into your customers, products, and markets that can give you a competitive advantage. The presence of sound strategies and skillsets in this area lets businesses develop an organized and effective referral strategy.

A referral strategy is a way to acquire new customers inexpensively through recommendations from existing satisfied ones. There is no better way to build your business than having happy customers telling friends and family about the virtues of doing business with you.

Of course, strong leadership is needed to tie all of these together. The best marketing strategies are consistently successful only when your senior executives provide passionate support. 

Scott McClymonds is the founder of Fayetteville-based strategic consulting firm CEO Velocity. He can be reached at [email protected], 479-263-0774, or