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The Critical First Step for Your Successful Marketing Strategy

Dog chasing shadows

by Georgie Gallagher

(And why you may be chasing shadows with your marketing?)

As a marketing consultant I’m often blown away by how untargeted and slapstick some businesses approach their marketing efforts.

I’ve seen companies jump on board to be involved with social media with no real understanding how or why it could affect their bottom line. I’ve seen knee jerk spends on media with marketing funds blown away in a flash with no real results. I’ve seen money wasted on attendance at expos that don’t even appeal to target customers.

 This is meant with no disrespect. These are excellent businesses that have highly intelligent people running them. Great products, great service, the latest IT systems and yet their marketing isn’t treated with the same systematic approach as other areas of their business.


Marketing is not an exact science, yet it’s changing. With data today we are becoming more and more informed. It’s our job to pull this intelligence into your marketing system so you can hone your marketing activities into what works and what doesn’t.

 So what's the first step needed for your marketing strategy?

It’s simple really. Talk to your clients and customers. This is one of the first steps I take with every client engagement. Your customers are an absolute wealth of knowledge when it comes to how you should go about your business.

They’ll be the first to tell you when your service is letting you down. They’ll be the first to tell you if you aren’t communicating well with them. They’ll let you know if they don’t feel special – or maybe if they do.

In-depth interviews carried out by an independent person will give you insights that are invaluable. Of course, we now have access to brilliant and cheap survey tools to review more of your clients but these in-depth interviews are very predictive.

A clear understanding of the characteristics of your strongest supporters can then help guide who you are aiming to attract in the future. Where are they located? What are their needs? Why do they buy from you? What media do they consume? These and other key insights will then help you shape and form your marketing strategy so you know it is targeted to produce results.

Georgia Aquarium

I’ve just read a great article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “Marketing: boosting Demand In The Experience Economy”.

 In this article they show how Georgia Aquarium in the USA analysed and dissected it customer base to determine its marketing strategy. They understood the needs, wants and profiles of their clients and looked for other similar groupings of individuals to attract. This directed their strategy and resulted in 10% increase in attendance and 12% increase in revenue.

Their analysis was very sophisticated using the latest data however it’s similar to what we did for AQWA here in Western Australia when the business rebranded in 2001.

We determined the profiles of each targeted audience, spoke with them to determine what they wanted more of and what they didn’t like, and developed marketing and communications activities around then. We successfully grew AQWA's local client base by over 50% over Summer 2001/2002. This trend continued in the following summer.

So how can you put this into practice in your business?

No matter what your business size, really understanding your clients is the ultimate first step in producing a valuable and results driven marketing strategy for your business. Speak to your clients. Develop a well developed survey. Look for trends. Then, and only then, start forming your strategy. 

Do anything else and you’re just chasing shadows.

Georgie Gallagher is the founder of Wildmoon, a specialist consultancy focussing on brand development, marketing strategy, marketing communications and strategic content marketing for SMB's.