Top five tips on how to create a long-term marketing strategy

By Cat Allport, above, Chief Marketing Officer at Quality Engineering consultancy, Roq

Since being founded in 2009, Roq has delivered strategic Quality Engineering consultancy and tailored services and solutions to some of the world’s largest organisations on their most important technology initiatives. I joined Roq in February 2022 as Marketing Director, bringing over 25 years of marketing, brand, and communications management experience, and have been on a mission to rapidly develop Roq’s marketing function.  

Recently, I’ve become Roq’s first Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), moving onto the Roq leadership team to help the company achieve its vision of becoming the UK’s leading Quality Engineering consultancy.

I’m excited to be progressing my career at a technology company that values the importance of diversity and inclusion, helps to address the gender imbalance of women in the technology industry, and more specifically, of women in senior-level roles.

I’m now focused on executing Roq’s long-term marketing strategy and helping the company achieve its strategic goal of at least doubling the company turnover and the number of staff over the next three years. Here are my top five tips on how to create a long-term marketing strategy.

  1. Clear understanding of business objectives

I’ve found that Roq’s open approach to everyone having a clear understanding of the company’s objectives has been the strongest advantage in all marketing planning. We use the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) company-wide, which gives us a robust VTO (Vision/Traction Organiser) that states one-year goals, a three-year picture, and our 10-year vision that is seen and signed up to company-wide.

We have a specific, tried and tested way of working, which we call The Roq Way.  It’s something that we have embedded throughout all our client engagements, from the early stages of the relationship, through ongoing delivery, until we finally finish a piece of work. Broken down into its five key components, it’s a model that lends itself very well to developing a long-term marketing strategy: discover, design, engage, deliver, and complete.

Having that clarity of what needs to be accomplished, combined with a clear approach to implementation makes identifying and application of short-term marketing plans for more immediate effect and long-term strategies to achieve broader business objectives much easier and ultimately, on delivery, better adopted by stakeholders.

  1. An evidence-based approach

Everything needs to be based on data, not assumptions. That means solid, quantitative market data (size of the audience, size of the opportunity, segmentation), qualitative data, and substantive competitive analysis. Use the data for strategic market positioning and, subsequently, more targeted messaging in campaigns, for service and/or product line development, building personas – the list goes on.  Data is fundamental to strategy.

This obviously applies to commercial growth – marketing to your future customers, but also to other growth objectives – such as positioning your business as an employer of choice. Job candidates’ expectations have changed, and particularly for tech companies experiencing a digital skills shortage, attracting, and retaining talent is key.

You can’t do this in isolation – collaboration is key. For example, you can’t afford to have a difference in opinion between sales and marketing on the size of the prize.  In my experience, working in isolation opens the possibility of the blame game and let’s face it; we’re all in it together.

Sales and marketing teams need to walk this road together. Nobody knows the clients as well as the people who work with them day in and day out. Whether that’s service delivery or account management, let your colleagues help you gain the best understanding of how your clients tick – whether it’s to keep your existing customers or to gain new ones with similar needs. Again, thinking of employer branding – your HR/People Team is going to be able to give you invaluable information. Work as a team!

  1. Clearly defined objectives

A combination of long and short-term objectives per target segment or criteria is needed.  They should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timed) goals that dovetail into the wider business goals – incremental steps toward the destination.

Personally, I’m competitive and love a scorecard. It drives me forwards, but in general terms, clear, quantifiable goals help you to accurately keep track of success across marketing campaigns. This, in turn, gives you the opportunity to adapt when things aren’t going as expected.

Continuous improvement is a key component in the way that Roq works – it’s a founding principle in our Quality Engineering Ecosystem. We challenge ourselves to continually look at making small but impactful changes throughout our engagements to ensure that changes are manageable, measurable, and leave a positive legacy.

Therefore, it stands to reason that this tried and tested approach would also be reflected in our marketing approach, and I urge other companies to take the same reflective approach.

  1. Room for changes

As mentioned before, continuous improvement is important but can be time-consuming, so it’s crucial to allow time to amend, enrich and enhance strategies from new data, analysis, and feedback for more effective campaigns and to work around plans that need to evolve. We need to be mindful of making space to work with market and environmental changes.

There’s a lot happening in the world right now; there’s no getting around it. We live in VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) times. Recent years have shown that you need to be able to adapt at speed. At the more extreme end of the scale, things can happen that can flip your strategy on its head – priorities change, and goalposts move (Covid-19 saw this happen on a global scale).

Now we’re in a period of economic volatility, so shifting buyer behaviours are a very real dynamic that need to be considered. Change happens, both positive and negative, and it’s always good to balance time for planned activity with time for reactive activity. Right place, right time!

  1. Cadence and consistency

For many businesses, this VUCA world is creating a very challenging business environment. Many potential customers are either being frugal because of their own rising overheads or exercising extreme caution because of what may come in the near future.

For marketers experiencing this scenario, it can feel like campaigning into an abyss, so it’s important to factor in a good cadence of content with consistent messaging to remain relevant and front of mind for when people are ready to spend again.

At any time, building cadence and consistency into your marketing plans as part of your overall brand, marketing and communications strategy creates a heartbeat that sustains brand recognition, credibility, and trusting relationships.