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Create a foundation marketing strategy to guide success in 2024

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Mike Sisti
Mike Sisti

The new year always brings a sense of renewal and refocused energy towards the possibilities ahead. What could you do to improve your company’s growth this year? If you’re like most successful companies, you spent the fall writing your business plan and developing a growth plan.

The business plan incorporates all aspects of your business into one document: sales, marketing, operations and administration. With so many aspects of your business, how do you focus on the key to your success as the year begins to unfold?

As a new sales season kicks off with the production season on the verge of being in full swing, how do you create focus for your team? Remember that plan you wrote last fall? Now is the time to execute and deliver.

Focus on foundation marketing

With so many pieces, which one do you focus on first? This is where the concept of foundation marketing is rooted.

Marketing strategy is the foundation of your business. Before you can create marketing tactics, you need to develop a foundation marketing strategy to develop your best message and provide the support structure for your sales, operations and administrative teams.

You wouldn’t build the foundation of a house without a blueprint. Similarly, navigating your business without foundation marketing leads to uncertainty, weak messaging and selling your services on platitudes.

Create distinction

Foundation marketing helps to uncover the best way to position your company to your prospects. Rather than going head-to-head with your competitors on the same features (price, quality and service), think about leading with new differentiators your customers value.

This approach creates an entirely new way to compete and a clear distinction between your company and your competitors. While everyone else talks about price and great service, you’re speaking about how easy it is to do business with you or how your agronomic program provides healthier turf for the long term.

This takes some real thought and the ability to ask the right questions about your business and the way you are trying to reach new customers. Once you’ve uncovered it, your marketing message will be stronger and allow you to build your sales, operations and administrative systems in a clear, consistent manner.

Your tagline matters

After building a foundation marketing strategy, how do you communicate it both internally and externally? How can you keep your team’s focus on the differentiators? This is where a carefully crafted tagline helps. A properly constructed tagline will quickly define what separates your business from the pack.

When I launched my first lawn care company in the early 2000s, New Jersey was saturated with several large national companies, franchise systems and some strong regional independent companies. How could my new company with no name recognition compete?

One thing I noticed was my main competitors sold their services on platitudes, namely, overused features that provided no clear distinction. To name a few: fertilizer, weed control, a green lawn and guaranteed service.

My company pulled soil tests for all new customers and then reported the results back to our customers. We noticed a couple of consistencies in our area. First, there was plenty of available magnesium, yet calcium levels were deficient. We shifted from dolomitic lime to high-calcium lime. Second, the phosphorus (P) levels were sufficient.

Before the zero-P initiative, most fertilizers contained P. We purchased a custom blend without P, which was better suited for our clients’ lawns and helped us save on input costs. Over time, we aggregated the results and developed an agronomic program based on the soil conditions of each territory.

As a result, we developed the tagline: “The first lawn care program based upon science.” There is marketing power in being first, it helps you stand out as a leader.

Now, was my company the first in the world to pull a soil test? I certainly doubt it. However, we were the first in our market to lead with that distinction.

Stay on track

As the days get busier, it’s important to understand where you want to go this year to take your business to the next level. Here’s to a successful year ahead with a focus on building your foundation marketing strategy.

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Mike Sisti

Mike Sisti is the North American marketing manager for FMC. Sisti formerly worked in the green industry as a franchise owner and grew his business from a startup to 1,000 accounts in four years.

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