Ever wonder what makes the difference between a market leader and the legions of mere contenders left battling it out for the crumbs?
Is it product superiority? Luck—or some kind of hocus-pocus?
The one-word answer is tenacity. Top brands never rest. Their leaders know the value of out-hustling all other players every day. Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and other massively successful CEOs almost certainly work harder than you do. That’s the tough news.
But a handful of less daunting factors are nearly as important. Here are five elements would-be market leaders absolutely must have to get to the top—and stay there:
Possibly the most important part of your marketing plan is a conversion strategy, because leads that never convert are straight-up wasteful. Your conversion strategy is a map of what each of your buyer personas (or prototypical ideal customers) must do to transition from stranger to lead, to prospect, to customer—and hopefully to evangelist. A good conversion strategy recognizes that prospects arrive at different points in their buyer’s journey, with varying criteria and depths of understanding. What does your conversion strategy look like? Does it identify and adapt to the various points of your sales funnel?
Even if your marketing is best-of-breed today, your top competition never rests. You must be continuously monitoring, measuring and improving what you do. Your continuous improvement plan should go beyond basic web analytics to include practices like heat-mapping and recording user sessions on your website, and gathering input at every touchpoint (online, by voice and in person) with your audience. Making small but strategic improvements every month based on real-world data is far more effective than a massive overhaul every three to five years. Leaders avoid the inefficiencies and risks of constantly playing catch-up.
Remember that it’s not always the best product or service that becomes the category leader. That’s largely the result of marketing. Your brand and how it’s built, positioned and supported are among the most significant factors in your ability to be number one. If you’ve neglected your brand, make fixing it a key focus now. Everything about your brand should be world-class, from marketing materials to your return policy.READ: Own It–Powerful Lessons from 3 Great Brands
It’s seldom a brand rises to the top without significant investment in marketing. Some experts recommend allocating 10% of total revenue to marketing, but there is no magic number. Microsoft invests 18% in marketing, Twitter invests 44%, and Salesforce sets aside a whopping 53% of its total revenues. What your own business can invest will depend on its reliable cash flow and other factors, but one thing is sure: leaders never cheap out on marketing. Even Steve Jobs, who had rare vision and rewrote the rules of marketing, didn’t try to execute it himself and espoused the importance of ongoing marketing investment.
If you’re not a Jobs or a Bezos (or even if you are), know your limitations. Not every business owner should lead the company’s marketing. That’s a role for a professional who profoundly understands branding and can visualize how it aligns with the company’s business goals. The good news: if genuine visionary marketing leadership doesn’t yet exist within the company, you can often find that role in a marketing agency. Look for a partner who listens carefully, speaks your language, is inspired by your business and understands where you want to be. Watch for a legitimate spark of passion.
Behind successful marketing there is always a lot going on. By putting together these five important pieces and with the help of a like-minded agency, you’ll be well on your way to dominating your industry.
My team and I love nothing better to educate and empower clients. Let us pull away the magic curtain for your business in a FREE Pro Branding Boot Camp by clicking the link below!
Laurier Mandin is president of Graphos, the Edmonton web design company, branding consultancy and digital marketing agency he founded in 1993.
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