The Fourth Offering

by Holland-Mark | March 27, 2011

A Stanley PowerLock tape measure.
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“Offerings” are now at the core of the Holland-Mark delivery model. More service delivery methodologies than products per se, our offerings help make sure each client gets the benefit of our best thinking and experience, while giving us the ability to better leverage our Principal’s time across clients.

New Marketing Truths

Our offerings are based on a set of observations about common truths in the marketing process today, which we’ve observed consistently across categories and client types:

  1. That the way we buy has changed, and brands must be seen as imperative to grow and win in the Value Economy;
  2. That the way we sell must change, moving beyond the implementation of marketing communications tactics, to a set of more broadly focused and substantive strategic Marketing objectives required to make a brand Imperative;
  3. That the first of these objectives is to achieve Relevance of Offering, meaning alignment between internal perception of your brand’s core value proposition, and the external truth of what the market wants;
  4. That the second of these objectives is to achieve Clarity of Message, meaning the ability to communicate your core value proposition in a way busy, distracted prospects can easily grasp, get excited about, and share with other people;
  5. That the third of these objectives is to achieve Consistency of Experience, meaning reinforcement of the messaging around your core value proposition at every point of contact with the marketplace;
  6. That the fourth of these objectives is Driving of Engagement, meaning establishment of an ongoing and mutually beneficial dialogue between the brand and the external constituencies that matter to it; and finally…
  7. That having achieved these objectives, investments to maintain them will enable a brand can establish a virtuous cycle and a sustainable competitive advantage over time.

New Marketing Implications

Our four core offerings correspond with this approach, and the first 3 are pretty well defined at this point:

Sync™ is a fast-track planning and innovation methodology which shapes a product or service experience to align more closely with the right market opportunity and the reality of the customer need;

One Simple Thing™ (OST™) is a brand strategy framework which distills messaging down to a singular thought which is true, relevant, motivating, and distinct;

Every Point of Contact (EPOC™) is a comprehensive examination of the 360° experience of a brand, including all passive and active touchpoints with all constituencies.

The fourth has really come into focus over the last few months, as we’ve extended the thinking behind our social marketing-oriented Content Hub to incorporate offline marketing communications planning and tactics. Doing so led us to shift our focus a bit, away from either a digital- or an analog-only delivery model, and toward a set of objective metrics which enable us to measure and manage the impact of our marketing programs.

This fourth offering is now called Engauge. In a nutshell:

Engauge is an alternative to conventional media planning, where focus is shifted from the relative cost of impressions to the relative cost of results. Progress is measured in the migration of individuals through five “stages” – Targeted, Connected, Inquired, Closed, and Promoting – each of which can be measured and examined over time.

Building the “Sales & Marketing Machine”

The case for this shift in focus toward the measurement of outputs was made pretty powerfully the other night in a talk by a venture capitalist named David Skok at a Meetup of the Lean Startup Circle in Cambridge. His presentation (“Building a Sales & marketing Machine,” available here) was a huge hit with the startup crown in attendance at this event. This came as no surprise to us, since businesses at inflection points common to startups now comprise the majority of our client revenue.

But extending Mr. Skok’s model beyond the boundaries of B2B software-oriented startups requires enlarging its scope a bit. While we agree wholeheartedly that content-driven digital marketing should be at the core of most brand’s marketing communication programs, the fact is a little “push” communication is still necessary even after you enable the world to more easily “pull” what they’re looking for from you on the web.

Building the New Holland-Mark

While the evolution of these offerings will no doubt continue, with the christening of Engauge we’ve reached a kind of inflection point as well. In a way we’ve found our own “Product/Market Fit“, and the work of aligning our internal competencies and delivery model with it is well underway. As is often the case our web site reflects the agency we were 2 years ago, rather than the marketing consultancy we’ve become. We’ve now begun work in earnest on a new one to advance these ideas, but – as always – clients come first.

While the days are long and the change is not without it’s challenges, we’re incredibly grateful to the clients walking beside us to Imperative, and to the people on our own team being squeezed into new boxes and stretched into new roles to get them there.

They say change is the only constant, and that companies who recognize that and adapt to it are the only ones who succeed. It’s been a bumpy stretch of our journey to Santa Clara, but the road smooths ahead, and we’re grateful to be on the bus with you.

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