How to Modernize Services & Create Sustainable Growth Through Strategy, Innovation & Brand Management

Introduction

Today’s public sector information and communications technology players – agencies, channel delivery partners and supply chain – have the passion and mandate to modernize their services and establish a sustainable beach head. However, they are often challenged to come up with a process and workflow model to drive the change management needed to make it happen. Given the impact of the all-digital age that’s upon us, such modernization has now become a digital transformation endeavor.

The pressure to innovate, grow and stay relevant, while driving out inefficiencies and costs, is being felt everywhere. The 7Is Marketing Mix System (“7i”) and workflow process was specifically designed to address these challenges through an agile and iterative approach that discovers, leverages and exploits core competencies to innovate, grow and sustain brand and mission success.

From individual contributor in product management for a Japanese manufacturer, at the start of my career, to leading marketing and sales of venture-backed start-ups in the valley and then corporate teams in the public sector, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with incredibly talented marketers and quality champions around the world. During the course of well over 100 major go-to-market initiatives, acquisitions and one IPO, the 7i model was born from the lessons learned.

The 7i model is a proven agile model for innovating and creating new, sustainable value. Its use of modern digital marketing techniques and cross-functional workflows play out as open and collaborative experiences, and when big data is ingested into it, the model becomes a unique force for driving digital transformation.

The model is not a fixed destination but rather an-going journey. It is in this spirit that I welcome your comments and feedback on how to improve upon it so that we may continue to benefit from it. Lastly, I hope that you’ll also share your own experiences in the areas of strategic marketing, modernization and digital transformation.

Modern Strategy – Digital Transformation and the 7Is

Creating a successful and sustainable services brand today is complex and complicated. The fast pace and competitiveness of global markets are no longer developments on the horizon, but rather, the current matured state of industry. Today’s market threats and opportunities are being created by disruptive technologies that are progressing societies faster than businesses can adapt. As technologists and marketers, is this phenomenon really that surprising?

For years since the origination of Moore’s Law around 1970, which stated that processor speeds for computers will double about every two years, we could only speculate what digitization would look like and the impact it would have on business. Now, as modern marketers in the networking and communications race, we have a responsibility to create new era business methodologies and processes that focus on digital transformation and the impact it will have on our economies, markets and consumers.

Attempts to update or create new marketing methodologies over the years remain one dimensional, requiring the use of multiple methods or solutions. Deficient of a modern marketing model that accommodates for new marketing sciences like data analytics and social media sciences, innovation and brand creation will wane.

A Workflow Process

The 7Is of modern marketing is a workflow system for strategic marketing and branding that promotes and empowers the service provider’s brand management as a modern marketing management tool. Open and collaborative, it’s designed to work cross-functionally, traversing any digital platform with pragmatic workflows and per-stage data scrums for real-time management of brand strategy. Marketing is art as much as it is science and the 7i model has proven to be a successful and innovative method of digital transformation to drive growth and brand sustainment.

The 7Is of Modern Marketing and Workflow System Wheel

Agile with Focus on Brand & Data Analytics

There are so many things that we are constantly being poked and prodded on to remember as tips or measures to win in business. We listen to the stories of digital Darwinism and we know we must transform our organizations and modernize to stay competitive. We know we must mine the data and make sure that our acumen and regiment is fast-paced and sharp. But how? What steps do we take? Who do we include? How do we know we’re not missing anything? Without some organization or method to follow, actions taken to modernize and grow will feel like you’re trying to sweep up live ants! The 7Is of modern marketing model provides a step by step process and workflow to innovate and sustain brand equity and growth. Today, overall success significantly depends on business intelligence (BI) and data analytics and the brand plan. The 7i workflow structure is designed to call out a review of your latest planning against your most recent data and brand plan between each stage to allow strategies, tactics and GTM plans to evolve in the most optimal way.

Scrumming for Cross-Functional Performance

Each of the seven stages of the 7i model has elements that can be worked in any order and the overall model iterates as a continuous improvement process. Because of these attributes, the workflows work well when managed through the scrum process. The scrum format works well with an agile and iterative process and is a practical way to quickly apply the appropriate resources where they are needed most and schedule work share ownership and time lines. The scrum usually begins with a marketing task review of the project backlogs, action to meet challenges and then prioritization of the next tasks. Scrums move planning along efficiently and help manage workflow on a daily basis, beginning the day with a short stand up meeting to circle around with the team addressing what each did yesterday, what they’ll do today, what challenges or obstacles are in their path and what resources do they need to move forward?

The 7Is Marketing Mix System – An agile workflow system for enabling, managing and sustaining innovation and the creation of the channel provider’s brand experience.

Marketing scrums help drive efficiency and fluid business processes for creating real digital transformation. The 7Is of modern marketing has a lot to do with collaboration and planning. None of us like to sit in a lot of meetings, especially long ones, so the scrum philosophy works well to keep projects moving along and on time.

The 7i model has 7 stages and moves clockwise. Each stage has 8 process elements which do not have to be worked with in any order, before moving to the next stage. Often, the stage elements are best approached as a mash up within a marketing scrum or they can be addressed methodically one by one or altogether as a project mission statement for that stage of the model.

In example, one of the elements in the first stage of the 7i model defines the mission and vision (for the venture, division, product, brand or campaign). But you may not have a clear vision (where you we going?) or mission (how are you going to get there?). What originally got you fired and to the planning table may have been a discovery of an opportunity within a segment or product, brought about from your own innovation or intellectual property. You may not be able to put together a vision statement yet until you have fleshed out the market segment data, SWOT/competitive analysis to analyze and frame up the real opportunity. Or you may have to sit down with the stakeholders and understand what they have in mind, even if it is your invention or idea.

Set Your Compass Heading

Interpret – Stage 1

To get a marketing, product, brand or campaign plan off the ground you need to set realistic goals and objectives in which stakeholders agree. To have the best chance for long-term success, your goals and objectives should be based on concrete evidence of your distinct and unique value. Just as important, your value needs to be assessed through data analytics and performance measurements against your real/proposed competitors in the niches you will serve. One need not be over-analytical at this; it is easy to be consumed by data; you simply want insight, validation and direction.

Data – how much is too much? The volume, variety and velocity of today’s marketing data or (intelligence) provides unprecedented opportunities for marketing analysts, yet also creates the daunting challenge of extracting meaningful value, efficiently, affordably and securely.

Interpreting unstructured or structured data for quantitative research, (global product data, social media, marketing reports) market segmentation or a SWOT and competitive analysis is a critical path to flushing or fleshing out your come/go-to- market mission, objectives and pre-product positioning. But you only need to peruse enough of the right kind of data to answer the key questions pertinent to your strategic marketing plan at hand.

The 7Is Marketing Mix System and workflow process | Stage 1 INTERPRET

Also important to any project or plan is establishing the overall vision and mission. Where are we going? (Vision) and How are we going to get there? (Mission). What problem are we solving or what value are we significantly enabling? What is our objective? What do we ultimately want our brand to promise? How will our solution provide value? How will it work and interact with the customer? (What, Where, When?). Getting to the right business intelligence will be your single source of truth and provide for the right foundation from which to continue proving out your go-to-market plan. The 7Is of Modern Marketing is business intelligence (BI) and brand management dependent. Oracle’s Endeca and Alteryx are examples of BI platforms and they are helpful to understand customer insights and market behavior.

Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Analytics. listen and learn the way people learn – by seeing patterns, associations and inferring. BI tools provide robust perception and foresight, when correlated with real-time data analytics. Interpreting the right data within the right context will prepare you with valuable insights that you will need as you move into the second gate of the 7Is of Modern Marketing – INNOVATE. Brands can establish themselves through innovation and can be sustained through an iterative innovation process. Key performance indicators (KPIs) monitor marketing strategy value or campaign performance can vary by customer.

Research. In the new context of BI, big data analytics, marketing research becomes a valuable asset when answering the questions “what problem are we solving or what are significantly enabling?

Quantitative and qualitative research methods have become more sophisticated over the years, but also more accessible, with new online tools and research-as-a- service models in play. Good research reduces risk and takes biases out of planning. It is also a confidence builder and a source for new findings that may prove important now or later. Are you solving a problem or enabling the creation of something valuable? VCs and other investors are great at bottom-lining your plan and will, rightfully so, draw a fix on the real problem at hand that you are going to solve.

Having competition is a must. They validate what you do. They help assess the value of what you do or provide. If you have an innovative breakthrough and truly no competitors yet, then you will still need to flesh out this question – “if you could hand pick a competitor(s) who would it/they be?” This will help as a guide to your branding plan and perhaps even an exit plan or final objective for this overall business initiative. There is an old marketing saying about competitors – “the best competitors are those you can choose.” You will have choices to make as to which segments to compete in and how you will compete. Niching yourself in an alternate segment or use case may decrease your overall revenue opportunity, but it may drastically increase your chances for short-term and sustainable success to the extreme of having a competitor be a potential acquirer.

The competition that we identify as who we want to compete against and where we draw our lines of play directly lead to our exit success or achieving our overall objectives. So, now we have gathered a lot of data in this stage, we know our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and we have pulled together and aligned our stakeholders by outlining multi-WIN objectives.

At some point in this stage, run a marketing scrum of current stage findings against the brand plan and any new relevant business intelligence or data analytics. Update all plans as required.

Discover Distinct Competencies

Innovate – Stage 2

Product roadmaps are more complex and dynamic today. Complexity does not have to be complicated, however. Be bold and allow your team to do what they do best. Fess up to your weaknesses, look at the gaps of opportunity, assess your strengths and secret sauce or proprietary value against the competitive landscape.

MRDs to PRDs. Research to review and understand, holistically, your customer’s life styles and behaviors at work and play. Don’t be overly concerned about delineation between B2B and B2C when fleshing out use cases and personas. Marketing requirements documents (MRDs) explain the features, functionality and benefits – sometimes beginning from an abstract point of view – that customers or segments require. MRDs are then converted to product requirements document (PRDs) which detail software, systems and engineering development requirements and specifications needed to achieve the objectives of the MRDs.

Roadmaps are not 100% dictated by customers. A product roadmap is usually based on a blend of requirements and specifications based on your organization’s intellectual properties, customer needs and market trends and research data.

Research is an important part of formulating any roadmap or go-to-market plan. Primary research comes directly from the customer (a.k.a. the voice of the customer) and secondary research is data that’s available in the open domain or your organization’s knowledge banks. Roadmaps also need to pass the pragmatic test of successfully answering the “why” or “so what” of the purchase element – “why will the customer buy this service?” Have the marketing and sales teams ask and answer this question in succession to identify make sure the key significant differentiators and competencies are in the recipes of the roadmap.

The 7Is Marketing Mix System and workflow process | Stage 2 INNOVATE

Uncover the real value. Here is an example of the “why?” Q&A exercise to value to drill down into why the customer will behave a certain way based on our positioning and value proposition strategy.

In this real example, this company had developed an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC microchip) with proprietary, patented software algorithms. It was the key technology that delivered a high level of quality and efficiency in broadband communications. They were building network communications routers utilizing an ASIC but did not have the CAPEX for a carrier-class-certified five 9’s hardened router so they considered opportunities in tier 2 and tier 3 network providers and this became a good entry point for us to prove ourselves, niche and grow. The “why” Q&A went something like this:

Q: Why will a customer buy OUR router with this technology? A: Because it’ll give them 100% quality of service (QoS).

Q: Why will a customer want 100% QoS? And again, why will a customer buy OUR router?

A: To be able to deliver, over their network, the capability of better services to selected traffic over various technologies.

Q: Why does the customer have to do that? And AGAIN, why will a customer buy OUR router?

A: To optimize their market reach, programming packages and ROI as they grow and scale.

Q: Why is it necessary that they do these things? And one more time, WHY WILL THE CUSTOMER BUY OUR ROUTER???

A: Because we are targeting tier 2 and tier 3 carrier and cable provider markets around the globe who need differentiation, flexibility and an affordable schema that scales and works! AND they will BUY FROM US because our solution SPECIFICALLY satisfies these needs individually and collectively, providing an even great value proposition.

Even though this examples sounds straight forward, you would be amazed at what you will uncover in the way of value prop statements and why you are doing what you are doing.

Exploit the gaps. Exploit the identified gaps with your value and minimize your risk along the way. Also, when resource starved, carefully depict your core value-add versus commodity to help determine the right mix of outsourcing required. You want to always “own” your core and beyond that if you can manage it cheaper, faster and improve quality. Owning your core does not always mean you must keep it in-house. Modern supply-chain principles enable you to extend your product management best practices into your supplier’s organization.

At some point in this stage, run a marketing scrum of current stage findings against the brand plan and any new relevant business intelligence or data analytics. Update all plans as required.

Establish Your Brand Voice

Identify – Stage 3

Brand objectives need to be credible, scalable and channel-friendly. Your customers want to know the reasons to be loyal to you and your organization.

What’s in a name. Referencing another successful start-up, the company was developing network management software for large and medium sized carriers. The founding name of the organization was Acanthe, (pronounced “A-Conth”) the name of a special botanical plant found in France, near where the development team resided. They chose this name because when you develop and draw out software management information bases (MIBs) they will often look like this type of plant. It makes perfect sense, right? But in Boston, where the accent is so heavy (and practically its own language!), the front office was answering the phones saying what sounded like “I can’t!” “Good morning, I Can’t Software, how may I direct your cawl?.”

Branding is also much more than about a name, logo, web or corporate communications design or color palates and tag lines. One of the main objectives of utilizing the 7i model is to create and sustain a brand. To do so, you need to uncover its unique “DNA” (as you did in stage 2) and give it an image that will align with your niche and resonate with customers.

Building around what was learned about your distinct competencies in stage 2, you need to set guidelines and objectives of what your brand (product image) will promise, the role it will play, the voice it will have and the culture you will establish to nurture your brand. What will the brand promise in it company leadership role? How will your solution provide value? How does it work and interact with the customer? Are you willing to die for it? Ha, well, that’s a bit extreme, but how far are you willing to go

(investment of capital and time) to protect your brand? The British Petroleum (BP plc) disaster in the gulf and the recent Volkswagen (VW) scandal are excellent cases to study the connection of a brand’s blueprint and equities to the depth of infractions and intent.

The 7Is Marketing Mix System and workflow process | Stage 3 IDENTIFY

This isn’t the canvas for such debate, however, these cases are good reminders to marketers, branders and stakeholders to calculate the risks along with the opportunities when you are establishing your brand’s identity.

Starts from the top. Company culture as your brand extension, or vice versa, is as popular today as it was during the dot com era. Professional lifestyles today seem always be on 24/7 and it is harder to delineate the lines between work, play and personal time. The underlying roots to this movement was born from operations in efforts to drive productivity and a little from marketing, in efforts to sell an ideology and gain a recruiting advantage. This has worked well, particularly in the US and successful companies like Apple come to mind when we study this kind of existential link to branding.

A truly “cool” culture is one that cares for the development of people while sustaining the brand and business. The best gift you can give your staff is the good prospects for a long-term career without having to look over their shoulders every day stressing. Rollerblading to work and ordering in artichokes on pizza for lunch in time for the interdepartmental table tennis playoffs is cool, especially if it helps deliver the very best of what you do from your customer’s perspective.

Establish strong value-props that address the financial and life experience impact of your customer, setting aside the features and benefits collateral you are clutching with white knuckles. Go the extra steps and truly play out how you are going to impact the lives positively for so many or the one.

At some point in this stage, run a marketing scrum of current stage findings against the brand plan and any new relevant business intelligence or data analytics. Update all plans as required.

Optimize Your Competitive Value

Invest – Stage 4

Research done, objectives set, innovative product/service roadmap specified and positioned and the plans are taking shape with the formulation of what is sure to be a memorable brand image. Now, what value can all of this bring from a pricing strategy? You deserve to have the best chance to receive the best return on your investment and you want to find the optimal pricing strategy based on what the market will bear. Is the price cap always at what the market will bear?

Continuous optimization. This stage is focuses on establishing value and price in a strategic manner. There are quite a few pricing models you can use when establishing your pricing policies, all which quite often utilize pull-through and loss-leader sales and packaging tactics. Pricing models are generally:

• Fixed + variable costs-based

• Competitive-based

• Objective-based Positioning-based

• Target segment-based

When marketing is done right, sometimes you create a unique opportunity to go a step beyond the optimal price position or what the market will bear. When we bring memorable (perhaps life-style changing!) value to the customer, repeatedly over time, we earn the right to ask the customer to invest in us by supporting a premium price point.  Creating exceptional customer value can also create an opportunity to become a part of the customer’s business ecosystem, or even more personally, their life experience set.

The 7Is Marketing Mix System and workflow process | Stage 4 INVEST

Do you think Apple prices their products based on a “what the market will bear” premium based schema? Perhaps but they also go a step further, leveraging their brand equity, asking us to buy into their ideology.  Apple then keeps working on how to keep making our lives easier and more enjoyable to live.

Ideology is permeated through branding and that’s why the 7i model workflow follows a tapestry of a continuous assessment and update of the brand strategy.  Also, however, when you significantly compromise your ideology or brand for greed, the wounds cut deeper into the minds of customers and a turn around can be more difficult and sometimes impossible to sustain.

VW had millions of advocates bought into their ideology and they are now spending billions of dollars to right their ship, teaching their future execs through the process of the perils of not doing things right and doing the right thing. A simple example of this point – consider the organic bakery just around someone’s corner. It always pinches just a bit to pay for their amazing coffee and scones but aahhh they are so good! You want them to make a fair profit and succeed. They ride that high wire balancing act well of setting the optimal premium price point per customer value point creation. This diet now requires their “ideology”!

Customer value creation builds brand equity and allows for premium price strategies.  Value can be further extended and sustained when considerations are given to bundling products or services and customer loyalty programs.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – TCO is a return in investment measurement that takes into account the value being created for the customer – either direct value or as a by-product. TCO measures the total cost to the customer of utilizing your solution in addition to other related costs that go up or down due to this solution being used. From a holistic cost analysis standpoint, this is the true measurement of the customer value being delivered. The attributes of this value are often articulated in customer value proposition statements.

At some point in this stage, run a marketing scrum of current stage findings against the brand plan and any new relevant business intelligence or data analytics. Update all plans as required.

Desired Customer Experience Defines Channels

Implement – Stage 5

Uncover the best deployment model for your product or service by focusing outside-in and around the customer. This also enriches your brand strategy which continues to evolve through the iteration process of the 7Is of modern marketing methodology.

Define the framework and elements needed to achieve the customer experience you’re creating. Consult your personas and use-cases you did in stage 2, Innovate. Once defined and budgeted, flesh out the business model and channel strategy required based on the sustained value to be created by each customer touch point.

Working outside in. Dimension out what the variables look like for each segment, objective and channel and run your marketing scrum against the brand plan. Look for anomalies and tweak based on the new scrum data. Prioritize a few go-to-market models so that you articulate to stakeholders the whole picture with options.

Organizations always strive to stay close to their customers to “have their ear” or keep an understanding of the voice-of-the-customer (VOTC), garnering feedback whenever possible. This can be resource draining particularly for startups or small companies. There are many types of channel strategies to choose from to find the most efficient and best way to market and achieve the end customer experience objectives.

Sell-direct, Sell-to, Sell-through and/or Sell-with channel strategies all offer their own unique advantages and capabilities. Most companies either focus on selling direct or 100% via a channel. It is difficult to do a great job at both a direct and a channel sales strategy, regardless of the size of your organization or supporting resources available.

The 7Is Marketing Mix System and workflow process | Stage 5 IMPLEMENT

Build your human capital resource or recruiting plan in the reflection of the culture being instilled to empower the brand plan and sustainability of the organization. Do you need rock stars? Can you afford them? Can you train in-house to acquire/build talent more affordably? Most of this depends on funding, stage of product life-cycle

(early adopter? early majority?), day 1 requirements, competition, intellectual property or overall objectives or exit strategy.

Drive out costs. It is impressive to witness how certain service providers are able to constantly innovate and grow new segments and then monopolize them by driving out their go-to-market costs during the early to late majority product life cycle growth stages. These organizations create segments or categories to lead and dominate in by being innovative. As soon as they capture majority market share, they launch yet again another new or next-gen service as they drive costs out of the previous set of services launched. This strategy requires healthy investment in innovation and a first-mover or first-to-market working culture. Competitors who are late to market or me too players, can have difficulties generating sustainable profits as they experience what feels like chasing price points to the bottom.

At some point in this stage, run a marketing scrum of current stage findings against the brand plan and any new relevant business intelligence or data analytics. Update all plans as required.

Get Creative – Execute With Integrated Marketing Communications Campaigns

Influence – Stage 6

Campaign objectives, target segments, product offering, branding face, messaging, promotions, call-to-actions, etc. should have now begun to take shape through the use of the 7Is of modern marketing workflow. They are ready for inclusion into a campaign. Now it’s time to leverage your planning to design a winning campaign utilizing the latest marketing platforms and tools. Modern marketing methods Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) campaigns utilize the right or appropriate mix of elements for campaigns such as public relations (PR), advertising, in-bound/out-bound marketing, social media, and rich content assets.

Trust your research and plans. Sometimes you have to take the road less traveled to execute the right go-to-market strategy and campaign. A case example is a startup that made carrier network management software. They were eventually acquired by IBM, but in their early days when their offering was still in beta, they realized that, compared to the competition, their solution was very technical and complicated to use but there was no turning back development. When used correctly, it would give a great accountability of network health, but it had to be used with great precision. The sales effort was going to take a lot of time and expense. They formulated a campaign and worked it through their channel. The current market leader was selling a popular auto discovery and reporting solution that required little effort, but also reported back a limited amount of information. Interestingly enough it was discovered that the customer IT shops were concerned that implementing such automation may take away network administration jobs. Leveraging the product and technical buyer situation, the company targeted this audience with a campaign called “Go Your Own Road”. Granted IT personnel wouldn’t be the chief decision makers to make the deal but they could

“break the deal” and so the bottom up sales and marketing tactic was very successful. IT got on-board to get “certified” on using the software while the startup’s channel partners spread the campaign messaging throughout organizations – “Nobody knows your network like YOU do Mr/Mrs Customer – so what you need are the right tools to help you do your best and go your own road.” The campaign kicked off with creative ads showed a hummer veering off a windy paved road onto the mountain terrain going “its own road.” The campaign was very successful and it put them on a sustainable growth path, brand and beach head niche.

The 7Is Marketing Mix System and workflow process | Stage 6 INFLUENCE

Get creative and follow the plan. Great creative within each element mix acts as a trigger, the execution arm or pre-close. The strategic and tactical actions of the Influence stage are always resource challenging and can generate vast amounts of work share. It’s important that you’ve worked through the previous stages of the 7Is of modern marketing before this stage so that stakeholders, objectives, offering, messaging and GTM channels are defined. Themes, messaging, CTAs and content have now taken shape as to what’s required. Trust your process – trust your segment plans and overall marketing plan, including your branding plan.

Know Thy Customer and their JTBD. Knowing your customer includes understanding their jobs to be done (JTBD) and focusing on what it is they are trying to accomplish. In this stage you are leveraging the innovation and value you’ve created to persuade your customers to trust you and, optimally, “invest” in you.

Set realistic campaign objectives. Business intelligence (BI) platforms, CRM and content management systems provide organizations with a solid basis from which to record, manage and iterate go-to-market operations and campaigns. They can be useful in determining marketing and sales performance, providing such data to help plan campaign objectives.

To help set the right campaign goals and expectations, define what a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and sales qualified lead (SQL) will be for you organization. A typical MQL is a prospect with a requirement, budget and motivation. A typical SQL is a prospect with a requirement, budget, motivation and engaged in a sales cycle

(opportunity funnel) with your sales team. Knowing your average product offer sales price, sales quota and opportunity-to-close ratio will determine how many SQLs you’ll need. Knowing your MQL to SQL conversion ratio will determine how many MQLs you’ll need your campaign to create. Knowing your average prospect-to-qualified-lead conversion ratio will determine how many prospects you’ll need to target to generate enough MQLs.

Simple example of how to decide the number of leads needed to achieve quota: The product is a pencil that sells for $1 in packs of 10/order. SQL-close ratio = 25%, MQL to SQL ratio = 25% and prospect list lead to MQL ratio = 10%. Sales quota is $1,000. Therefore we will need 16,000 list leads to generate 1600 MQLs which will create 400 SQLs to close 100 orders to achieve $1,000 quota.

Good campaigns resonate with the audience and articulate how to solve problems or make the customer’s life better. Good campaigns build momentum and create mind share and market share. Good campaigns are true and real and draw customers in, accepting you, eventually building trust with you to become advocates. Here’s what a solid marketing toolbox looks like to use in constructing winning campaigns:

The marketing toolbox – Educate + Advocate = Sales. Here is the elements in our marketing toolbox that we keep current and utilize for designing memorable campaigns:

Inbound / Outbound mix and %? – Inbound (permission-based) is typically a lower cost acquisition – viral, opt-in email, authoring stories, sponsorship, PR, thought leadership, community building, and earned social media. Outbound (interruption-based) is typically a higher cost acquisition – paid email, radio and print, sales calls, trade shows, banners, displays, and paid social media.

Elements Kit – find your mix of trade tools to educate and build brand awareness that creates advocacy and sales. The important trigger of a campaign are the CTAs you design or, calls-to-action. These are well designed, well timed “asks” of your customer to do something like download a white paper, opt-in to a newsletter, sign up for a webinar or dial a telephone number to schedule a demo.

A highly professional influence builder is public relations (PR), hinged on your journalistic abilities and a good PR plan (short-term, long-term and for crisis management). A by-product of a strategic PR plan is the eventual creation of earned media from the public domain. Paid and owned media is fine to produce and a part of the element mix, but the return of earned media solidifies advocacy building momentum and helps sustain your brand.

Viral (ref: Jonah Berger/Contagious, Why Things Catch On – Viral Model) – idea, message, goal, evaluate, grading (social currency/triggers/emotion/public story), inner remarkability, what if folks talk about it? and game mechanics

Analytics – Google Think, Google Trends (comparative, search share, consumer behavior), Google Correlate (search patterns, brand patterns), Google Consumer Surveys, SEO search and meta tags, traffic tracking (natural listings, organic, key- word rankings)

Social Media apps, tools and platforms – Feed campaign message to be relevant and insight conversation rather than broadcasting! MS Project, Sellfy, Adobe, Hubspot, mailchimp, twitter (develop your own hash tags # that you own), LinkedIn, Stitcher/ITunes, Marketo, Levick, JD Supra, Snag IP, heatmaps and Vimeo/YouTube

Creating original rich content – Too much of the marketing and sales enablement content you see today is just white noise; it’s either not relevant, uninteresting or not original. Strive to break through to your audience with quality story telling that challenges, starts conversations and engages.

At some point in this stage, run a marketing scrum of current stage findings against the brand plan and any new relevant business intelligence or data analytics. Update all plans as required.

This model is agile and iterates as a continuous quality improvement model. You can begin from the beginning with a brand new initiative or revisit any stage or element within the stages of the 7Is Marketing Mix System and workflow process.

About the Author – John Kostak is a senior marketing consultant at Cisco and adjunct marketing lecturer at George Washington University and Shepherd University.

© The “7Is Marketing Mix System” by John Michael Kostak is a copyright licensed under the US Copyright Office

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