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When RC Turned The Tables On Ourselves

by Julie Poulos

A Case Study of why strategy is the first step before branding, technology, and marketing

When I meet a business owner or marketing manager for the first time, they don’t even realize they’re entering the “pre-strategy” phase. Before we meet, I send over a Business Profile that asks questions about their business and the challenges they are facing. Questions include sales and marketing goals, year over year (YOY) historical sales data, buyer types, and competitors. This intake form prepares us to make the most out of our conversation.

Why is the strategy phase so critical as the first step of our go-to-market strategy + branding + technology + marketing process?

It helps us make the data-driven decisions required to:

  • Determine the unique space you can own in a customer’s mind
  • Construct the brand architecture, image, and messaging
  • Design and develop a website for the user experience
  • Prioritize who to target, the content the buyer is seeking, and the best-fit marketing tactics

Too often people want to put the cart before the horse, and when we turned the tables on ourselves, we did the same thing.

So, what happens when we try to shortcut our proven go-to-market process?

We make assumptions which result in less effective brand communications and often requires us to circle back and try again. We made this mistake last year. For us, it meant launching two brand story refreshes within eight months.

Seven years ago, we realized we were not serving our clients well by only building a brand or website without understanding why. So, we re-positioned ourselves from a project-based agency to a program-based agency, providing +strategy, +branding, +technology, +marketing.

Last year, we were ready for yet another change.

With seven years of experience, we have become very confident in our strategy-first process and we have aligned ourselves with clients who value research to inform decisions. So, why was it this time last year that we chose to shortcut ourselves? I’ll tell you why – it’s the cobbler’s children have no shoes bit! With several years of a growth trajectory, we had little focus on our own marketing. Hmmm, does that sound familiar? We know we are not alone.

We thought we knew better in 2017, and we decided to update our brand messaging. But we did it in a vacuum. We even did an internal brand launch with our team, a tactic we find so critical to have corporate-wide consistency in brand communications. As the year rolled on, we had an epiphany that took us back to ground zero, and we had to start over. It doesn’t get any more inefficient than that.

This is exactly why we moved away from building websites without doing the strategy and branding phase first.

We found that by the time you need a new website, which is usually considered “the answer” to all marketing problems, you need to revisit your business landscape and answer these questions:

  • Are you targeting the same customer and buyer types as you used to?
  • What are the challenges they are facing?
  • What are the triggers that put them into a research or buying cycle?
  • What are today’s market factors that should be taken into consideration?
  • How is your competition positioning themselves and going to market?
  • What are the areas of opportunity to focus on and prioritize?

The challenge we were facing is probably similar to yours. How do we break through the clutter and have our brand communicate the value we bring?

Being a growing business and in witnessing our clients’ evolutions, we recognized two common challenges that were impacting business success:

  1. Sales teams were not equipped with the processes, tools, and technologies to support the marketing efforts
  2. Workforce recruiting, employee engagement and retention strategies were not supporting the company as sales grew

We knew we needed to reposition Red Caffeine to address these challenges, so we launched our own strategy. Here’s what we did:

  • We researched the market as to who were addressing these needs
  • We interviewed prospective clients in a wide variety of industries, sales volume, full-time employees
  • We performed an online audit on ourselves to dive into the analytics of how well our website was performing, what pages were garnishing the most traffic, what keywords competitive companies were using, and what type of ads were worth investing in to capture market share
  • We researched the influencers that were focused on these challenges, such as HR associations in the employer branding space and companies within the Great Game of Business community
  • We redefined who fit our ideal customer profile and who did not

The outcome? We positioned ourselves as a Growth Consultancy.

Our offering would focus on two main areas:

  1. Sales enablement: to build the tools, technologies, and processes that better equip sales teams to be known in the marketplace, respond to qualified leads and nurture relationships  
  2. Employer branding: to help organizations build a talent strategy to attract, retain and engage their people

If we had only taken our own advice and used strategy to empower and validate our assumptions, we would have launched our refreshed brand and website sooner. What I love the most about this experience is that it serves as one of the greatest values and differentiators we bring to our clients. It sets us apart by showing that we are not satisfied with the status quo.

We are not simply a marketing or website development company. We are in continuous development of our “perfect blend” of +strategy, +branding, +technology, +marketing to be a growth engine for our client’s business. We are essentially a guinea pig to test and try and succeed and fail. Our own experiences push us to evolve our offering and truly live our purpose of entangling ourselves with our team, clients, and community to fuel meaningful impact.

I hope you connect with our “case study” on whatever challenges you are facing. Connect with us to chat about how you can become a growth engine in your industry.