how complex is your marketing

How complex is your Marketing?

Why you need multiple strands to your marketing plan

do you have a marketing plan

Developing a marketing plan for your business takes time. It takes you away from generating cash through delivering for your clients. Now I’m asking you to do it multiple times!


  1. Because the range of products or services you sell are not all aimed at one type of client.
  2. Because you have multiple Ideal Clients & target audiences.

Let’s use an example of a typical client for SME Needs: an IT services business.

Their Portfolio

The typical IT services business will sell a range of solutions:

  • IT support for a local server infrastructure
  • Cloud-based computing
  • VoIP
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
  • Internet connectivity, etc.

How Many Different Target Audiences?

A company with local servers is likely to be one of two types of company: traditional (1) (as in “we’ve always had local servers, why would we change?”) or highly complex(2), so that cloud-based computing become price prohibitive.

There are many reasons for buying cloud-based computing, including flexibility of working and Opex (over Capex) budgeting. This makes it compelling for small businesses (3) and to businesses who don’t want everyone in the office (4). Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony has very similar purchase reasons so lets leave them with 3 & 4.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity services have many flavours and are all about keeping the business running when something unforeseen happens. Whilst every company should have DR/BC plans in place, it is most often the remit of mid-size firms (5) and Enterprise (6) businesses.

Let’s be honest, we all need internet connectivity.

That can range from high data contracts on phones so one-man bands can tether their laptops, through TO broadband WITH to fibre-based connections and the complex setups that form Wide Area Networks (WANs). All of the above 6 Ideal Clients will need this.

If your marketing plan doesn’t consider multiple target audiences, click here

How Many Ideal Clients?

Within each of the company types listed above, there will be at least one decision maker and then multiple influencers that you have to convince to buy your services.

For our typical client, the everyday contact will be someone like the Office Manager, but they rarely have budget control and decision-making authority. That will reside with the Managing Director or Finance Director.

For some companies there will be an IT Manager in place, where the IT services business is a support provider and supplier.

For companies where remote working and flexibility are high on the agenda, the Sales Director or Operations Manager may be a key influencer.

If your marketing plan doesn’t consider multiple Ideal Clients, click here

What are the Issues they face?

Those who have known me from before my SME Needs days will know I used to work within an IT Services business. The vast majority of responses to our marketing were from irate Office Managers who had been told to find another IT services business, because their current one is rubbish/hopeless/too expensive.

For some it is a change in circumstances. Perhaps they are moving office and that is a good time to make changes or add to the technology spread. One more little bit of disruption won’t make any difference…

For each of the decision makers, there will be a number of issues they face and your marketing needs to look at all of these to ensure you can respond effectively.

If your marketing plan doesn’t address the issues they face, click here

How Many Key Messages?

Put simply, there needs to be at least one response to every issue your Ideal Clients face. The key message must help them believe you are the right supplier for them and can make their issues go away. There is likely to be multiple messages to counter each issue. Let’s look at an example:

Issue: our current IT company is rubbish.

Responses that won’t work:

  • We’re not. We’re brilliant – honest
  • X of their clients have come to us in the last year (never put down a competitor; it’s bad form)

Responses that will help:

  • We’ve not lost a client for X years
  • We’ve increased our client base every year for X years
  • Our engineers are all [insert relevant certification] qualified
  • Would you like to talk to some of our clients? Here is a list; please choose who…

If your marketing talks about you rather than your target audience, click here

How many Marketing Channels?

Different people respond to different marketing activities and you’re never going to get exactly the right one for everyone. However, you can determine which channels based upon the Ideal Client and what they are like. The more traditional Managing Director (No.1 above) may respond best to direct mail. The chances of him responding to a tweet are probably slim to none. That’s more for the people in (3) or (4). I will leave you to think through the rest of the target audiences, decision-makers and influencers you need to think about. Your marketing plan needs to reflect this.

To conclude

Unless you sell just one product to one target audience, you will have a complex marketing requirement that means a complex marketing plan. You will have multiple audiences to get multiple messages in front of, using multiple marketing channels. There’s no getting around that.

You need to think about all of this and then you can plan when and how this can be delivered.  It doesn’t all have to be done at the same time. There is nothing wrong with running marketing campaigns for each product at different times of the year. If your budgets allow, of course it would be good to run them throughout the year, but that is not always feasible.

We hope this helps.

Of course, if you want to talk this through, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 and I’ll buy the coffees.

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