Click to Print

Marketing From the Inside Out: Clarity + Alignment = Traction

Part three in a three-part series: how to create a values-based marketing plan
June 3, 2002

This is the last of a three-part series in Marketing from the Inside Out. In the first article, I offered four guidelines for marketing: express your passion, honor your values, use common sense, and find a need and fill it. In the second article, I laid out a fundamental marketing analysis, which included the importance of examining core values at a corporate and personal level. Now we will explore how to create a values-based marketing plan.

The biggest obstacles in my life were usually put there by me. To quote the cartoon character Pogo, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." As a life coach, one of my jobs is to help people get out of their own way. In their hearts, they know what they want to do. They know right from wrong. They know when they are lying to themselves. They know they have choices. But sometimes they forget. Instead, they get in the habit of reacting to external demands, or following the herd, instead of listening to their own inner wisdom.

Clarity & Alignment
Hopefully the earlier articles in this series helped you gain some clarity about your product, your marketplace and your most authentic style of communicating your message. You also had an opportunity to explore your core values and to see where they were aligned with how you do business. Now it is time to put it together in order to gain some traction in today's mercurial marketplace. Begin with a situational analysis. This includes an external analysis as well as a self-analysis.

The external analysis includes:

The self-analysis includes:

Gaining Traction
You are now ready to identify strategic alternatives based on your company strengths and core values. The goal is to develop a sustainable competitive advantage (SCA), which has three components:

1. The SCA must be important to the marketplace. (Find a need and fill it.)

2. The advantage needs to be substantial enough to really make a difference. This can be challenging in a saturated market, but becomes easier when one focuses on a specific niche.

3. It needs to be sustainable in the face of environmental changes and competition. This also speaks to how the company defines itself. The classic example is the railroad industry. Were they in the business of running trains or in the business of moving people and goods? How you define your business will have an impact on your ability to adjust to external factors.

Strategic Alternatives

There are three basic types of strategies: differentiation, low-cost and focus or niche.

Selecting the Strategy
To select the most appropriate strategy, consider the following questions:

Examples of how this might apply to a product or service business are given below. Notice how the product or service offering reflects the values of the owner.

Product-Based Business
Chef's own salad dressing
Service Business
Industrial cleaning business
MissionTo bottle and sell well-known restaurant chef's private-label salad dressing to 1) begin product line and generate revenue and 2) publicize and increase name recognition of restaurantTo become the largest cleaning service of office buildings in the greater Seattle area
Investment LevelSmallMedium
SCAAward-winning chef developed this house-favorite recipe and uses it nightly in his famous high-end restaurant.All bonded, legal-resident employees. Provides highest quality with lowest cost.
Core ValuesAesthetics, leadership, independenceHonesty, wealth, service/contribution
How Core Values Are HonoredBeautiful packaging and highest-quality ingredients. Branded products will contribute to long-term financial independence and enhance restaurant recognition.Only using legal residents (even though illegal aliens would work for less). Carefully managing overhead, through computerized scheduling, multilingual checklists and other economies of scale. Helping the immigrant community by providing employment benefits, which also minimizes turnover.
Marketing StrategyFocus strategy: gourmet cooks and purchasers of high-end specialty food items. Distribute through gourmet shops, online gourmet retailers, the restaurant and through its Web site.Low-cost strategy. Highest-quality service for lowest cost.

Pulling It All Together: The Marketing Mix

An effective marketing plan will address the 4 Ps: product, price, place (distribution) and promotion. The following decisions should be made based on your values, mission and strategic goals.

Product Decisions

Price Decisions

Distribution Decisions

Promotion Decisions

Two last things to think about:

1. When external factors change, your marketing program must change as well. For that reason, revisit your situation analysis and strategic alternatives on a regular basis. A marketing program is not cast in stone. It is a reflection of the situation at a point in time.

2. Do not assume that you can make customers change their current behavior patterns. It is a much safer strategy to adapt to existing behavior patterns. Marketing does not "make" people buy goods and services. Wise marketers monitor the reasons people purchase and then adapt their programs accordingly.

The key to marketing from the inside out is in developing your skills of making supported and reasoned decisions that are grounded in a sound marketing analysis and are in alignment with your core values. The world is moving quickly, and the Internet allows your customers to educate themselves, compare prices, understand your company structure and even check you out as an individual. The BS detector is set on high, and it is the most authentic products and services, those that offer true value for an expressed need, by people with ethics and honor, that will survive and prosper.

Rebecca Cooper is a professional and personal coach who works with visionary people seeking to create and live authentic lives. She helps provide clarity, illuminate choices and reflect the passion of her clients. To explore what's next in your life, e-mail her at or visit her Web site at