August 2022
How do I grow my small business (for real)?
Digital Marketing Message
How to build a fully-integrated marketing strategy

If you are having trouble with your marketing, this article will help you understand why and how to fix it.

But what is marketing in the first place? When you start a business, the first few things you have in mind are profitability, covering costs, hiring staff, finding a location and so on. Surprisingly enough, only a few business owners go through a comprehensive business plan – inclusive of a SWOT Analysis, competitor analysis, market research and a unique selling proposition outline. And yet, a business plan is a propaedeutic foundation for a marketing plan.

But why do you need a marketing plan in the first place? Couldn’t you just develop a business plan and improve the rest?

The simple answer is no. No organisation can survive, let alone thrive, without marketing.

We could say that business is an entity and marketing is its environment, in which the business can breathe and grow. A bad environment, an infertile terrain, or a hostile ecosystem, can break a business – no matter how solid it was at its birth or the genius behind it.

Any business requires an appropriate marketing ecosystem to sustain itself.

There is a lot of confusion about what marketing is and what purpose it serves.

Marketing, for some, is the devil. That is because of past failed attempts, or the unethical work of dodgy marketers that spoiled the honest job of real professionals with business education and fundamentals.

When carried out competently, marketing really is an integral and irreplaceable part of any organisation, as much as accounting. To continue with the analogy, a marketing system is like an ecosystem where your business exists and develops. Without it, it’s like trying to breathe without oxygen. You get the picture.

Some business owners who don’t dispose of an in-house marketing department, try to postpone marketing practices for as long as possible. Or they attempt isolated marketing efforts that are short-sighted, fragmented and don’t abide by the whole organisation’s model and structure. And, of course, they fall short.

Worse of all, many business owners have disappointing experiences when engaging with some marketing agencies. They often hire marketers for short-term solutions that don’t take into account the business whole organism and without going through a proper audit. For instance, they may think they have lead generation problems when in reality they have a conversion problem.

And the marketer that they hired, might be working on the symptoms, instead of curing the cause.

That happens for two main reasons:

1) Marketing is not a one-off action that you can take occasionally. It’s a system that stands on a terrain and diversifies with a variety of roots and rhizomes.

2) Not all marketers out there have business training. Although they might know the software and the tactics, they lack the ability to audit the business and diagnose thoroughly.

What typically goes wrong with a company’s marketing attempts?

A common situation that happens is when a company decides to improve its organic presence and engage an SEO company to improve its ranking on the top page of the search engines. That sounds fabulous, at first. But when the company realises that their lead generation has not improved consequently and neither has the acquisition rate, they tend to blame the agency or the SEO practice in general. So they move to the next hot “strategy”, which may be Google Ads. But although google ads do improve their web traffic and lead, the acquisition rate remains low.

So the company is left puzzling over why organic or paid advertising didn’t work for them.

Does that sound familiar?

The problem with marketing tactics that are fragmented is that, as we have seen, fall short. Even when they bring some results, they are not inserted within a healthy system that works long term and diversifies its sources – and eventually, they are only temporary (and most of the time expensive) results.

What is the issue, then? In the example we’ve mentioned, it could be that the company that hired the SEO specialists, hasn’t realised that their website usability is poor, which jeopardises all of the business’ potential prospects. Or, that same company might have a very cool and intuitive web interface, but confusing messaging that discourages users.

Ultimately, weak branding will only confuse the public instead of attracting the company’s ideal audience – those who could really become customers. To give an example: despite the increased web traffic gained by performing google ads, that brand’s visual identity might appear unprofessional or “cheap” – when the company is actually selling expensive products. And there you have your conversion problem.

So, which is the solution? A better branding? Investing in user experience?

The answer is that there is no single tactic that alone solves your marketing problem for all. Sure, you may apparently lack only in one specific area, let’s say web design, and it may be easy to “fix” only that one problem. However, that is not marketing and it is not going to grow your business further.

Marketing is a system of interconnected parts that operates (and evolves) in tandem with the business organism.

To summarise, what typically goes wrong with a company’s marketing attempts is that whoever is in charge of marketing doesn’t conceive it as a structural part of the organisation, but just as a series of short-cuts, or a false start, to quickly meet a short-sighted goal. This can still produce scattered results, but there is no sustainability in it.

The first fix is understanding what Marketing is about.

Marketing is a kit of parts and the strategy is the puppeteer.

We often hear of how important public relations are for a business. Or branding. Or social media. Or web design. Or advertising. But how should you, as a business owner, approach all these multitudes of actions that have different scopes and methods? And should you necessarily pursue them all?

These are some of the doubts that are on the mind of entrepreneurs and directors we meet at the first consultation. And it is admittedly daunting for a business that doesn’t dispose of a marketing department to coordinate them all. Or to even manoeuvre one. Especially because a business owner has other urgent preoccupations than promoting and growing… like running the business. (Sometimes, an organisation doesn’t have an actual capacity to take on more work, and that’s why it is recommended to audit operations and systems before taking on advertising).

But the most important thing is to assimilate that branding, social media, websites, SEO, ads – and yes, even public relations – are all different and equally important parts of the marketing kit. And like a puppeteer, there is a delicate job of coordination, balance, structure and planning – to master them all.

Let’s be clear: marketing doesn’t mean you need to perform all the tactics available (so you can stop rehearsing for those Tik Tok videos for now).

Marketing means choosing the right ones at the right time. Marketing means disposing of intelligence with insider knowledge of the business it’s serving. An intelligence that plans, arranges and executes a set of actions that meets measurable goals – framed within a bigger picture, also interlaced with the business’s long-term plans.

This might translate into distributing all the marketing funds in the various facets – or focusing on one strategy at a time – but regardless, the choices with which the strategy is drafted are always well-informed – with professional knowledge not only of the business but the whole industry.

A marketing director is not an SEO specialist or a copywriter. A marketing director is a business analyst that masters project management, accounting, data and coordination of all the marketing facets. A marketing director plans and executes long-term strategies that sustain the interests of the company he works for. He does so by availing of a team of specialists (in SEO, Google Ads, Branding, Social Media and so on..) to create a florid, self-sustaining, diversified, holistic marketing ecosystem.

Or at least, this is the best practice.

How marketing drives business development.

Without any marketing, a business would not have a tone of voice, a website, or any way to be found either online or offline – and most importantly, it would have no direction and knowledge of why it exists.

You may argue that a business’s most important assets are its product or service. The other way to see it (the marketing way) is that without a purpose and people to serve, a business has no meaning to exist in the first place.

Surely, you have heard already that a business needs to solve a problem to be relevant. And that is true. But the knowledge of the problem itself and the emotional state of the people dealing with it, it is all a marketing affair. The way a company can connect with its audience, anticipate their objections, and make them happy on different and unexpected levels until becoming loyal, raving fans, that is a marketing affair too. Working on clear communication, so that the business is understood effectively – its message, its values and its offer – is also marketing’s job. Ensuring a company is found, both online and offline, and that people can be aware of what the offer is about, it’s, again, all marketing. Finally, the reputation of a brand, the quality of the offer, and the market’s surveys to understand how the landscape is evolving and how the audience think and feel, it is a marketing craft.

The list is not exhaustive, but the key point is that without marketing a business can’t be seen.

Each of the marketing disciplines, from branding to copywriting, has tons of depth and highly specialised knowledge – so that nobody can do them all greatly. But a marketing director is a specialist in knowing what needs to be done and how.

What is marketing

The second fix is to audit your marketing efforts.

Let’s go back to the previous example: that company that paid for SEO first and then Google Ads, without improving conversions. In fact, you can have as many leads as you’ve never dreamed of, but if you don’t make the sales, you still have a marketing problem.

So let’s say that company hires a web designer and a copywriter to improve the website (in the attempt to convert all the new traffic coming from SEO and Google Ads). Who is going to tell the web designer what are the best usability features for the target audience? Who is going to tell the copywriter what are the objections that users feel once skimming through the landing page?

Sure, those professionals have the skills and experience to carry out the task professionally, and objectively improve the website. But what if, at the bottom of it, there is still a branding problem?

Branding is the craft of defining a brand and communicating its value visually and verbally throughout all the brand’s touchpoints, including customer service and social media. A good branding strategy starts from the mission of the company and ensures that each brand’s touchpoints consistently build the company’s reputation and brand equity.

And yet, who has analysed the audience in the first place? Who has researched the competitors’ landscape? Who has carried out surveys within the current clients?

You see, all these professionals (copywriters, social media managers, web designers and so on..), have important questions to ask (if they do their job properly). Such as (but not limited to) who is your targeted audience, what is your tone of voice, your unique selling proposition and so on.

And those questions could be answered by the owner, of course. However, they would be way more informed if they were coming from a marketing department. All these professionals, indeed, need the guidance of marketing intelligence to really contribute to a company’s development.

In a nutshell, the first thing you need to do to fix your marketing problem is to hire a reputable consultant for a good audit. And there is no way around it. A study of your company and brand needs to be carried out to uncover all inefficiencies, weaknesses, threats and of course, the strengths and the opportunities. Only from a solid, comprehensive marketing plan do all the other tactics gain sense.

Like this old quote recites “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Marketing’s job is to uncover, plan, execute, adjust and keep improving.

The third fix is to execute the plan.

A marketing department would execute all the aspects of a marketing plan whilst always monitoring the performance of each and, most of all, always looking for improvement.

Let’s say you have a comprehensive marketing plan, but not an in-house marketing department. What do you do? There are several approaches you can adopt:

1) Hire professional individuals to execute the plan.

For instance, you can hire a brand designer to craft a brand style guide, which in turn you can give to a freelance web designer as a guideline to improve your website ‘“in brand”. Hiring different professionals has the benefit to tap into specialised skills, but it can be more expansive and daunting to coordinate.

2) You do it yourself.

There are many eclectic business owners out there that can build some code, design, write well and so on. Some really enjoy taking care of the marketing themselves. If that is you, go ahead. With your marketing plan on hand, you can ensure all the facets are under control: you can roll up your sleeves and do some on-site technical SEO or can use a Wix or Divi template to easily build a website that suits the requirements outlined by your marketing plans. However, be aware that doing proper marketing, with its multi-disciplined facets, is a full-time job.

3) Hire an all-around marketing assistant.

There are some all-arounder out there that are also skilled in web development, SEO, design and so on. Just make sure there is consistent reporting and that all the efforts are well-managed and well-planned according to your marketing plan/system. On the cons side, no professionals can specialise in everything – so your all-around marketing assistant might write great code for your website, but not be a good copywriter.

4) Hire an agency.

This is probably the best option, alongside having your own in-house marketing department. Agencies are typically composed of a team of specialists in all the marketing sectors, and therefore you can have access to all the talents and skills a marketing department requires. One other benefit is that agencies are potentially more updated with marketers than employees – as business owners themselves, to stay ahead of competitors they always need to propose the latest technologies and methods.

How do I grow and scale up my business for real?

Adcraft’s solutions to your marketing problem.

We, at Adcraft, started our marketing & creative firm with the intention (and mission) to solve the problems of small to medium size businesses with no marketing department and marketing problems. We put together a close-knit, well-managed, in-house team of specialists in the different output of the marketing field, to be able to work alongside our clients to change their problems from a variety of fragmented, short-lived marketing efforts, to a series of connected, thought-through, monitored strategies that deliver short and long term.

Most of all, our reputation (check our reviews to see what clients thought of our service!) means a lot to us – and so we are committed to not just serving our clients at best, but also to forming authentic partnerships, designed to last and bring mutual growth.

The truth is, that marketing is the discipline to strengthen and grow organisations. And we are genuinely passionate about growing business. It gives us the same satisfaction and thrill as we were growing our own firm.

On this line, we have created two core services that are designed to fix your marketing problem and fill the void of a marketing department in your organisation:

Our full-service agency.

Adcraft Studio offers Full-Service Marketing execution on a subscription-plan based. It works that you purchase a block of hours each month that we allocate to the execution of the plan we agreed upon. Our subscription model is flexible and value-based, with no string attached month-to month billing.

The obvious benefits are:

1) You can access a multifaceted, highly skilled Team of experts in each area of the marketing spectrum at the price of one part-time employee.
2) We tailor your plans according to your current, ever-changing needs with total flexibility to reduce or increase the block of house you purchase.
3) You can cease the contract at any time – with no lock-in fees or hassle whatsoever. As mentioned, we don’t need to trick clients to stick with us.

But most importantly, we don’t disperse marketing seeds around hoping that something will grow eventually. No, sir. Our Directors and Account Managers work closely with our clients, or representatives, to outline precise strategies to constantly improve – whilst coordinating our Team of specialists in the various task requested.

Basically, we become your own marketing department, without the risk of having to hire multiple employees or freelancers. That’s because we understand that nowadays, more than ever, organisations need to move forward with as much flexibility as possible. And of course, innovation.

CMO for hire.

We also understand that, for some business owners and for various reasons, it’s more convenient to have a person physically in the same office. That’s why we’ve created a Chief Marketing Officer for hire service: to allow businesses to have their own Marketing Officer, without having to commit to an employment contract.
How does it work? One of our marketing specialists comes to the client’s office to undergo all the marketing tasks needed – and outlined in the strategy drafted at the beginning of the engagement – and for as many as hours per week is required.

Our team of professionals are qualified and experienced to develop a personalised marketing plan that meets your specific goals and budget. We’ll then execute the plan, track its progress, and make necessary adjustments along the way to ensure its success. Contact us today to learn more about how Adcraft can help your business reach its full potential.

Again, this is about having a marketing system in place, whilst maintaining flexibility within the company’s operations.

Ultimately, our firm’s goal is to demonstrate how marketing is not a luxury – or a deceiving practice – but a fundamental part of any organisation’s decisional structure. Without this, many businesses are destined to make the wrong decisions and waste precious budgets.

Our approach is to practice consumer-centred marketing, which brings organisations steps ahead of competitors thanks to a developed knowledge (and connection) with the audience they are, not just targeting, but serving in the first place.

To conclude, we do marketing with a technical brain but an emphatic mindset (as Seth Godin wisely states: “You can’t be seen if you don’t learn to see).

We hope we help you clarify the role of marketing, the implications that it has and the complexity of the discipline itself. If you are ready to take one step forward and solve your marketing problem once and for all, we’d be happy to offer you a free consultation, to analyse where your organisation is at and what we could do to improve from there.

Who we are.

Adcraft is more than just a marketing firm – we are a strategic business partner that will shape your digital landscape and propel your business forward. We craft and deliver full-service marketing solutions that are fully integrated, coherent, and highly strategic. Our clients choose us because they want more than just a set of fragmented and underperforming digital solutions- they want Adcraft’s excellent reputation in offering strategic business partnerships. So if you’re looking for a partner who will help you navigate the ever-changing world of digital marketing, look no further than Adcraft. We’re here to help you succeed.

Best marketing agency in Wollongong

Sofia Cavalli

Sofia is Adcraft Studio's brand specialist and Creative Director. She handles brand strategy and brand identity for our clients. Sofia is an out of the box problem solver, building stronger brands for our clients.

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