5 Essential Marketing Tools

Your company’s vision, mission, positioning, promise, and value proposition. They’re like the crisply tailored suit that you can’t live without. These essential marketing tools should be durable, well-fitting, and reflect your style. (You may have to try on a few before you find the one that is just right.)

The process of creating these valuable marketing tools begins by getting to know yourself as a company. It involves discovering your core — not just what you do, but what you stand for. What your customers think about you. Your place in the market. Where you’ve been and where you’re going. Where you’re strong, and where you need to improve.

Start by conducting an honest assessment of yourself. Then begin to build a solid platform to support your marketing efforts — creating alignment, providing a benchmark for day-to-day decision-making, and defining your voice among competitors.

First of all, you may ask, why are these tools even necessary? Isn’t this just an intellectual exercise? Doesn’t everyone at my company already understand what we’re all about?

The answer is an unequivocal “no.” Many executives are surprised — even dismayed — to learn how employees communicate about their company and its products. Everyone in your organization needs to speak from a consistent platform and send the same messages.

Isn’t creating vision, mission, and positioning statements tough? While it’s true that some marketers occasionally over-complicate the process, there’s no reason it has to be painful.

The definitions below are based on those found in The Dictionary of Brand by AIGA, the professional association for design.

1. Vision

The aspirations of the organization; where the organization desires to be in the future.

Do you want to be a Fortune 500 company? Or are you hoping to open a second location? No matter what your size or business, every company must begin by defining its vision. This is the point on the horizon that you’re aiming for — what you ultimately want to become. Don’t limit yourself to what you can do. Dream about what you will do. Then put it in writing and share it with your employees.

2. Mission

A concise statement of the purpose of an organization. A statement that answers why you exist and what you are trying to accomplish.

The mission statement is all about the “why?” of your company. Do you exist to sell the freshest produce? The most comprehensive insurance? The best socks in the world? Whatever you’re trying to achieve, this is the place to state it clearly. And communicate it openly — mostly to your internal audiences.

3. Positioning

A brand positioning statement differentiates a product, service, or company in a customer’s mind to obtain a strategic competitive advantage. It differentiates the organization from competitors, it informs key messages, and it creates consistency in communications.

Why buy my brand instead of someone else’s? That’s the heart of the positioning statement. In a nutshell, it sets you apart from your competitors. It is the filter through which all external communications should pass. This is no place to be modest or vague. Speak up about your product or service. Your successful competitors are doing it loudly, clearly, and often.

4. Promise

The stated or implied pledge that creates customer expectations and employee responsibilities.

Your customers enter your front door, call your business, or visit your website with a certain expectation in mind. Through your reputation, you’ve created a promise with these consumers. You’ve built an emotional bond. They expect good food if you’re a restaurant, financial responsibility if you’re a bank, and safe and fun toys if you make playthings. If you don’t deliver, you’ve broken your promise. Worse yet, you’ve lost a customer. The brand promise is the place to articulate your message with clarity and sincerity.

5. Value Proposition

A brief, convincing statement that summarizes why a customer should buy a particular product or service. Why a product or service will add more value or solve a problem better than similar offerings.

What makes you better? What value do you provide that your competitors don’t? These two questions are at the heart of the value proposition. This statement should educate, persuade, and motivate the customer to choose your product or service over everyone else’s. Consumers have virtually unlimited choices in the digital age. That’s why your value proposition should be strong and definitive.

Ready to get started?

Ready for success? When the facts are right, the thinking is clear, the tone is perfect, and the writing is crisp, you’ll have a vision, mission, positioning, promise, and value proposition that will serve your organization for years to come.