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Though it might be tempting, building a marketing strategy from scratch isn’t a process that should be rushed, says Michael Oliver. True to form, the Marketing Director for MBK Search, a global recruitment firm operating in the risk space, has dedicated an entire quarter to overhauling the company’s marketing strategy.
“When I started I said, ‘Right, if we're going to start from the very beginning, we're not going to start with meaningless tactical things - we're not going to start posting on LinkedIn or setting up a Glassdoor page for the sake of it — if you want me to come in and do this, you need to give me at least a quarter to develop the strategy and actually do what marketers should be doing from the start,” says Oliver. “What that means is laying the foundations, doing market orientation, working out who your customers are, working out what the segments are, working out how you can target them, and then building a strategy from that.”
Sometimes, Oliver notes, that process might take longer than expected - and marketers need to get more comfortable with that. “Now, we’re in a position where we can start executing that strategy. For me, that's the exciting part, because I can say ‘Here's everything I've done, here's the preparation, here's the strategy, and this is what we're going to do to make that come alive.’”
He emphasizes the importance of having that strategy in place, backed up by qualitative and quantitative research, in order to make a case for every new initiative that follows. “It means that, if we're going to start doing things like newsletters and podcasts, there's a whole lot of thinking, evidence, and data to back that up, as opposed to just saying, for example, ‘We should set up a Tik Tok account because everyone's on Tik Tok.’ Now, everything we do has a solid justification for why we’re doing it.”
Oliver says every element of his marketing strategy comes back to three questions: “Why do we want to do this? What difference will doing this make? How will we measure the success of this? As long as I can answer those three questions, it means we're doing marketing properly. It might mean it's being done slowly. But I'm not worried about that, because this is a journey of two to three years. I know this isn't going to come to fruition until 2026 or 2027, so I’m not concerned if we don’t immediately see a massive increase in traffic to our website or if we're not dominating the world of LinkedIn just yet, because that's not the finish line - the finish line is three years down the track. That means we have the time to finesse, to try things out, to make mistakes.”
Too many marketers, says Oliver, get so distracted chasing the next big thing. Though Oliver has been an early adopter of AI himself, experimenting with AI-generated text and images, he thinks marketers are rushing to use ChatGPT and other AI tools, that they’re failing to invest the time in getting the basics right first. “There was a study that found ninety-five percent of digital agencies say that the marketing teams they work with don't brief them properly. These agencies often have to come back and say, ‘I need you to clarify this, this, and this’. We as marketers, as a profession, often aren't getting the fundamentals of our job right. We're not thinking about strategy. We're not thinking about market orientation. We're not thinking about a way to go to market before we fall in love with new tactics and new toys.”
Instead of panicking they’re going to lose their jobs to AI or racing to incorporate it into their work as fast as they can out of a fear of being left behind, Oliver believes marketers need to approach the use of ChatGPT and AI like any other marketing initiative and build a case for the role that it will play in their overarching strategy. “People need to say, ‘Okay, we have this device that can allow us to do x, y, and z, here's how we will use it, here's the difference that that using it will make, and here's how we're going to measure that difference.’ If you stick to that core belief - that you need to actually make a case before you do something - then you're not going to be out of a job.”
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