Companies work every day to develop qualified leads, but many do not achieve the results they want. Not everyone is taking the time to put in place a proactive strategy even though they should, strategic marketing isn’t an easy one two three activity, and the U.S. marketplace keeps getting more crowded with new brands and offers that seem to never end. Enter a simple strong strategy: The way to clear sailing from prospect to qualified lead to customer. Ok, it’s not entirely simple, but the strategy should be.

In 1957, McDonald’s sold 15 hamburgers. Today, they have sold over 300 billion. Their restaurants can be found in 119 countries serving 58 million customers each day in 31,000 stores worldwide. They employ 1.5 million people. Needless to say, they are successful.

How would you feel about 58 million customers served? Actually, it’s not important how you feel about it, it’s what you are going to do about it that counts. So let’s take a few moments to review some keys to building a successful strategic marketing program.

Understand Your Funnel: Marketing spend is largest at the top of the sales funnel. Much of the time it’s necessary because the company does not have a well defined strategy in place so a very large net is required to deliver an appropriate number of ‘qualified’ leads. A huge amount of uplift can be realized by simply being more selective in who you target. 100 highly qualified sales prospects are far more valuable than 10,000, or even 100,000 that are not qualified. Yet, the majority of companies purchase enormous lists and e-mail or mail to them every day with astonishingly low success rates. I have tried this and can tell you it doesn’t work. In most cases, it burns your marketing spend down to the point you don’t have enough resources to continue the dialogue.

Understand Your Approach: Your strategic marketing should not be structured as a catalog. While common sense informs you to be concerned with expressing your full content, the head of the process is key. It’s what drives a successful program. Many companies make the mistake of flooding their website with tons of photos and copy. While some believe this positions them as an expert, even the expert on a topic, smart marketers have realized that the whole tonnage thing doesn’t work well with prospective customers. They want to find what they are looking for quickly and easily, and not be pushed off by so much information they can’t find what they would like to purchase.

Understand Your Customers: We have word of a few such successful marketers who get this: McDonald’s, Starbucks, Disney, Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, and the host of all leading brands. What is it they do that others do not? Across the world you will find their stores and websites delivering the information and results their customers want down to the products and services they offer. Here in the states, strategic marketing should cast for our multi-cultures with relevant experiences. So customers are served at those specific stores in the way they prefer. How did this happen? Because a bunch of people took the time to find out what they like, dislike, prefer, and what would earn their trust and they put in place a system to deliver it to them on a day-by-day basis.

Whatever your product or service, you need to figure out what you do better than everyone else and condense it down into a simple to understand statement. Some call this your value proposition or your brand promise. Whatever you call it, you need it before you spend your next hard-earned nickel on marketing. Doing so will allow you the necessary funds to both drive your funnel top and optimize your messaging once they arrive at your website. One without the other doesn’t work. And that’s the strategy thing you should be investing in to achieve your stated objectives.