Getting the basics right

BUILDING A STRONG MARKETING OR NEW BUSINESS PROGRAM depends less on creativity than on getting the basics right.

Too many businesses head off again and again in some new direction – with marketing, strategy, or some other new thing – while everything they’ve tried in the past, including building all the basics – is left behind in a shambles.

The siren call of the new – especially something they see as new like a blog or a FaceBook page – has great appeal. But unless your new business infrastructure is built on a solid foundation, piling more on top isn’t going to amount to much. And eventually, it could all collapse.

So what should you do? Start on the new and exciting? Or fix what you already have and get the basics right?


The smartest and most profitable answer is almost always: get the basic right first. Get your plan and strategy, a solid brand, clear messages, good products and services, and some first class tools in place. Get your marketing team built with competent, talented people, agree on your direction, and then figure out the best ways to pull others – including your customers – into the tent.

I know. It’s not fun or sexy. And it’s not glamorous and cool. But let’s not kid ourselves. How many opportunities are you going to miss because your story wasn’t told well – or perhaps at all? Or because you weren’t considered a player?

Here’s why starting with the basics is critical: Marketing and communication works best when your message is simple, clear, and repeated again and again. Consistency matters enormously – both in terms of leveraging your investment and as a way to measure and compare your results. If you are always trying new things, you can forget about the repeated part.

Every effort becomes a new start – and requires considerably more time and financial investment than repeating or even updating what has already worked for you in the past. For instance, if you often change where you advertise, it can be like starting completely from scratch each time – new rep, new artwork, new ad sizes and specifications, new pricing, new customers (who may or may not be within your target demographic), and no track record to compare the results to. That’s why companies rarely make progress when they try one new thing after another.

So take a hard look at the basics of your marketing before you approve that flashy new project . When the basics are all in place and working well, then it may be the right time to branch out and add something new.

Carl Francis

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