Accountability. What is it, and how long does it last? Chances are you and your sales team have spent the better part of a day sitting around a table analyzing last quarter’s sales projections, and why they weren’t met. Again. The “excuses” jar is full to brimming, defenses are up, and you’re left not knowing what to believe, much less what to do. Often times the culprits blamed are a change in the market, ineffective marketing, the time of year, the president, the stock market…the list goes on.

Eventually the conversation turns to possible solutions, but shortly after the meeting, and after everyone has gone their own way, it seems that the insights discussed dissolve faster than french vanilla non-dairy creamer. Things go back to the way they were before, and nothing quite changes. No, we weren’t eavesdropping at your meeting. This is, in fact, the biggest issue companies face in growing their business or adapting to changes in the market place.

Your solution is accessible, but not simple. And it is in understanding that the latter is true that prevents companies from being led off course. If one searches for the answer on Google, they will discover a number of seemingly quick fixes, none of which are actually quick. Adwords will reveal the existence of software such as Asana and Monday that may promise by their very existence to streamline your marketing efforts. They can, indeed, but only if companies are willing to do the work to utilize them properly.

Marketing departments and personnel are only as strong as their knowledge base, and must constantly be willing to learn how to build the brand and generate sales using up-to-date best practices. Without this willingness, growing your company’s revenue will remain a dream relegated to the temporary optimism of the quarterly marketing meeting.

It is your team’s task to outline a clear marketing strategy that aligns with your business plan and company’s purpose. You must take into account your target audience and customer base, and the analytics of what has worked, and hasn’t, in past efforts. What are your sales objectives? In what direction do you visualize your company moving? Consider consulting with marketing experts who’ve been around long enough to see both wins and losses. Your strategy should be a comprehensive blueprint, underpinning the larger umbrella of your business plan. Your goal is, of course, a healthy, encouraging ROI. 

Consider Market Penetration solutions. That is, how can you increase your market share by gaining new customers, and encouraging current customers to buy more products? Often the answers are to be found in Product Development, the creation of new products or services for your existing market, as well as ways to improve an existing product or service. How can you extend your existing product line for those already buying from your company, and those who have yet to discover your business? Would it serve your business to expand geographically or to target new audience segments? Where can you grow and expand?

Think about Brand Foundation. Analyze and seek to understand your brand. What are the emotional and practical reasons why customers choose your business over another? Look closely at your target market, both existing and potential customers. Draw up profiles, preferences, and personas to further delve into what makes these segments tick, and what encourages them to make a purchase. Expand upon those discoveries in your marketing efforts. Take a look at your Competitive Landscape for further insight into your own business. Who are your closest competitors, and what sets you apart? Aim to differentiate your brand by distilling its essence and capitalizing on that. 

Your strategy should consist of bringing your position to life with messages that are sure to reach your target audience. To implement each idea you’ll need a strategy brief, the campaign idea, and an engagement plan. These can be implemented successfully only after you’ve done the groundwork to understand who you’re targeting, and how best to reach them. 

When you take the time to strategize fully, outside of the designated and often obligatory marketing recap meeting, you’ll be poised to use all of the tools and software available to see great results and ROI.