So you’re ready to scale your marketing plan … but are you? In this article, we’ll talk about what it means to create a scalable marketing plan for your business, and how to set yourself for successful, outcome-driven growth.
Case study: McDonald’s – super-sized & scalable
When the first McDonald’s was founded by the McDonald brothers in 1940, it was simply that: the first McDonald’s. Granted, there were things about it that were unique – they employed a drive-up model that was fairly new to the restaurant scene, for example – but it wasn’t until about the third franchise opened that the potential for what McDonald’s could really be came to light.
When Ray Kroc entered the picture in 1954, he marveled at the efficiency of the McDonald’s franchise – the assembly line-like construction of each item on the menu and the ability to deliver “fast food” for a price cheaper than that of any sit-down restaurant. Kroc recognized (for better or for worse) that the McDonald’s model was, in today’s marketing terms, scalable.
By 1961, Kroc had bought the rights to the McDonald’s franchise name, but more importantly, its operating system. Today, McDonald’s is the world's leading global foodservice retailer and has over 38,000 locations in over 100 countries.
So why are we telling you this? Because whether you want to “super size” your meal or not, the McDonald’s model is an excellent example of how to successfully scale a business.
What does a scalable marketing plan look like?
Of course, you’re probably not thinking about opening a chain of fast food restaurants, so let’s talk about some important factors in scalable marketing that will be relevant to your business.
First thing’s first: what do we mean when we say “scalable marketing?” Simply, “scalable” means something that grows “at scale;” in other words, as your company gets bigger, how do you ensure that your marketing strategy stays efficient and effective for your evolving business needs?
From our perspective, there are the 4 key components, in no particular order, of successful scalable marketing:
- Adequate resources
- Strategic outlook
- Success metrics
- Long-term vision
In the following sections, we’ll review these 4 components and how they relate to your marketing goals. We’ll provide examples of scalable marketing best practices, and summarize key takeaways that you know what to think about when considering your marketing plan for 2022 and beyond.
Time & resources: is your team ready to scale?
It’s all well and good to want to grow your business, but just like with every other facet of the operation, your marketing team needs to be ready to scale with you.
A few years ago, I worked for a company that was utterly insistent that video production was the key to growing our market presence. Video case studies became a non-negotiable part of our marketing plan. Unfortunately, we only had one person with video production experience on the creative team; the rest of our workforce was writers, graphic designers, and podcast producers.
As a result, we had a lot of Jacks and Janes learning a new trade on the fly – and while those folks certainly did their best, the outcome wasn’t exactly Hollywood-worthy. Our video quality was substandard for the industry, but worse, we spent so much time and energy producing those videos that our other marketing initiatives – ad campaigns, infographics, blogs, newsletters – all fell to the wayside. As a result, we saw immediate declines in our site visits and audience engagement. Our effort to increase our market presence backfired as a result of inadequate resources and an under-qualified team.
When thinking about growing your marketing program, whether that’s increased paid advertising or building up a blog program, be mindful of the time and resources that go into implementing such initiatives.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before considering a new marketing strategy for your business:
- Do I have the right team in place (in house or agency) to accomplish what I want?
- Do I have the time and budget to dedicate to completing this project?
- Am I prepared to delegate responsibilities for this initiative so that other projects do not get missed or forgotten?
Merging strategic outlook with increased market presence
“Strategy” tends to be a buzzword in the world of marketing, but when it comes to scaling your business, thinking about short- and long-term strategy is paramount to success.
For our purposes, strategy includes:
- Understanding your value proposition
- Defining your audience
- Establishing objectives
- Building a marketing ecosystem
Understanding your value proposition
What makes your company or business stand out from your competitors? Is it that you are family owned and operated? Is it the quality of your products? Is it your authority in your industry? Whatever it is, you need to understand your value proposition – or, point of difference – before you can devise a marketing strategy that puts your differentiator at the forefront of your campaigns.
Defining your audience
Next, you have to define your audience. I don’t mean, “We sell radiators, so our audience is people who need radiators.” Instead, you want to put yourselves in the shoes of your audience.
Think about what your prospective customer values. Is price, quality, reliability, or customer service more important to them? Sometimes, it’s even useful to think about them in the bigger picture, beyond their identity as your customer: what do they eat for breakfast? Do they drive American cars or foreign? When you begin to understand and define your audience better, you are better able to create a marketing strategy that aligns with their interests, concerns, and priorities.
Of course, you can’t create a successful and scalable marketing strategy without understanding what the objectives of your marketing plan are in the first place. Before deploying a new marketing campaign, you must set a clear goal. This can be something as simple as increased clicks on a certain page or actual conversions from a lead.
In most cases, your marketing strategy will include multiple goals; that’s where creating your marketing ecosystem comes in.
Building a marketing ecosystem
Like any ecosystem, a marketing ecosystem is made up of a series of networks and interactions. In marketing, these interactions include how your campaigns and objectives work together to create your business’s version of “success.”
For example, someone who has never heard of your business isn’t likely to sign up for your newsletter out of the blue, but they may sign up for it after they chat with one of your colleagues at a trade show event. Likewise, someone may read a blog post of yours because they searched, “How does X work with Y,” and consequently make a purchase from you because they discover a need for your product or service.
As you consider ways to successfully scale your business, it is essential that you think about multiple avenues to interact with your potential clients and customers, and how these roads intersect within your future marketing ecosystem.
Clear, scalable success metrics
There are 3 types of numbers you should think about when scaling your marketing for your business:
- Audience data
- KPIs (key performance indicators)
- Business value
Audience data helps you define your audience, which ultimately helps establish your marketing strategy and how you are going to target potential clients and customers. Audience data includes things like demographics – age, gender, marital status, household income, etc. – as well as audience behaviors including time spent on page, click-through-rate (CTR), and conversions. You can use automation to collect, search, and assess audience metrics, both demographic and behavioral, through services like Hubspot and Sprout.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Audience behaviors can be directly related to your business’s KPIs, depending on the objectives you’ve set for your marketing campaign. KPIs, or key performance indicators, are a measure of performance over time based on set goals. For example, if you update your business’s website, you may want to see an increase in time spent on page. If you up your paid social campaigns, you may want to see increased engagement with social posts. Setting KPIs helps you target certain business objectives and assess whether your marketing campaigns have successfully helped you meet them.
Finally, it’s always important to think about what “value” means to your business. Is the sole target of your increased marketing efforts to increase the number of purchases, or is it to increase your brand presence in the market, and establish yourselves as a respectable authority in the industry? Think of it this way: depending on what you want your business to look like in 5, 10, or 15 years, you will ascribe different values to numbers like leads, followers, subscribers, buyers, or influencers.
As you consider scaling your marketing to grow with your business, it is essential that you define what “growth” really looks like.
Scaling with intention – future goals & vision
Before you can think about how to successfully scale your marketing strategy, you must consider the future goals of your company or brand. Do you want to become a household name? Do you want your products to be the go-to gift for a certain audience? Do you want to have the most extensive network in your industry among any of your competitors?
To return briefly to the McDonald’s story, the McDonald brothers had a very different vision for their business than Ray Kroc did. They were content to build a restaurant that could be enjoyed by families and friends, at a cost and pace that worked for everyone. Kroc, on the other hand, wanted a corporation. He wanted McDonald’s to own the fast food market and set the standard for what it meant to have the best supply chains and operating procedures in the world.
Neither of these ambitions was right or wrong. In fact, it’s probably fair to say the McDonald’s were just fine with their three, homegrown franchises, and Ray Kroc was more than happy with his multi-billion dollar fast food titan. The purpose of this example is to show that different goals require different game plans. So when you think about the future of your business, what do you see as your Golden Arch?
Ready, set, scale
Getting ready to scale your marketing efforts to grow with your business is no small task. You’ll want to make sure you have the right resources in place, a solid strategic outlook, set success metrics, and a clear understanding of the long-term goals and vision for your business.
Fortunately, your friends at Trailblaze Marketing are ready to help, with a team of marketing, content, and business experts who know what it takes to take your business from kid’s meal to Super Size.
Want to learn more? Schedule a call with Trailblaze Marketing today.