bespoke marketing

Bespoke Marketing: A Tailored Approach for Startups

You probably get tired of having to answer the same questions over and over. After all, our lives seem to be an endless cycle of repeat questions.

  • What is your social security number?
  • When was your last physical?
  • What year were you born?
  • Do you drink more than one glass of wine/beer/spirits a day…a week…a month?

It feels like Wash, Rinse, Repeat. This may be how most business owners and leaders feel when they contact a marketing agency or fractional chief marketing officer (CMO) service.

The standard set of questions start:

  • Who is your target market?
  • What goals are you trying to achieve through marketing?
  • What are the markers of success you monitor to determine your marketing is working?
  • What marketing tactics do you use CONSISTENTLY?
  • What is your most productive marketing tactic?
  • What is your budget for marketing efforts?

However, your marketing and bespoke tailoring may not be so different from each other in several areas.

  • Marketing is a custom fit not a one-size-fits-all.
  • Marketing requires specific tactics and tools. Bespoke clothiers work with only the best fabrics, seamstresses and tailor.
  • Marketing just like bespoke clothing comes in a wide array of budgets. Depending on the level of customization, the budget for marketing increases.

Let’s see what happens when you begin to think of your marketing department, supporting marketing agency or even fractional CMO as a haute couture specialist or a bespoke tailor. Remember, they are trying to determine absolute best fit.


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Creating custom fit

ME: Who is your target market?

You: I just told you. We serve _____.  Why are you asking this again?

ME: I know you told me ______, but after you explained your current business model, product/service, and clients, my guess is that your business may attract _____.  Do you want to attract the target market you mentioned, or are you just telling me what you decided years ago when you started your business?

ME: What goals are you trying to achieve through marketing?

You: I want to make more money!

ME: Are there product lines that are under-producing? Are we attempting to drive traffic to those product lines to determine if they should continue? Or are we just growing your largest profit center even higher? What goals did you set as a company? My guess is that your goals are pretty specific. Just making more money is more generic. I am sure you need certain profit centers to make more money.  What are they? Who uses those services/products? What kind of marketing have you done specific to those services/products?

ME: What marketing tactics do you use consistently?

You: Nothing. That is why we are here! If we could consistently handle our marketing, we wouldn’t need you.

ME: I understand. However, there are probably things you do well. Do you ask for referrals? Does your staff share your Google Review Link? Do you network with certain groups regularly? Do you send out a marketing email monthly? Just because you aren’t doing everything you would like to do doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing something well. We need to know what those things are so that we can build on those and grow your exposure.

ME: What is your most productive marketing tactic?

You: I don’t know. We don’t track that stuff.

ME: Even if you don’t track those numbers, you can make a best guess. How do clients/customers report they found you? Google? Social media? Someone told them about you? They drove by and saw your sign? This will give us a starting point of how current new business is finding you.

ME: What is your budget for marketing efforts?

You: As little as possible with as much reach as possible.

ME: What I really want to know is whether your marketing budget is the first cut you make when you must make financial reductions. Do you keep your marketing budget consistent, or have you never really had a budget? Do you just make random decisions because something sounded like it would work or you had some extra money to spend? Do you believe that marketing is one of the driving forces of your business and you would never cut it unless it was a last-ditch effort?


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Designing your marketing

Owning or operating a business not only requires commitment, it also requires understanding of your industry/product/service and a fair level of risk tolerance. The questions your marketing experts ask helps them determine your level of each. Just as a fashion designer or bespoke tailor would want to know your level of fashion risk tolerance. Flashy silk lining or muted? Fabric with a lot of movement and flow or more structured pieces? Is your company open to new marketing channels or would you prefer to stick with more tried and true “classic”?

Just as you would tell a bespoke tailor if the article of clothing is for a season or for a lifetime of wear, your marketing can also be built with the same perimeters. Are we building season campaigns or designing a long-term plan to provide the company with a plan that will “wear well” for the next five years of growth? Some channels work better over time. Others seem to be more season or trendy.  While all fabric can be made into an item of clothing, you might not select wool in the summer or silk in the winter. The same is true in marketing. If your marketing team is building a long-term campaign that will span a leveraged growth plan for your company, they would choose marketing tactics and channels that would be better suited to long-term growth and development over time and wouldn’t change with the “seasons.”

So, the next time you reach out to work with your marketing team, a marketing agency or a fractional CMO and the questions start flying, maybe you will understand the questions they are really asking and be better prepared to communicate and engage quickly so that your marketing strategy and tactics can be employed efficiently.


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