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Marketing Strategy

Strengths-based Marketing

Are you familiar with the CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly StrengthsFinder)? No, it isn’t one of those Facebook quizzes meant to lure you into surrendering all of your data. It’s actually a pretty neat tool from the folks at Gallup. It is meant to identify your talents and what you are naturally good at. 

It is still available as an actual hard-cover book that explains what each of the 34 possible strengths are and ideas for action, as well as tips on working with other people who excel in each area. The book is still called StrengthsFinder 2.0, but newer versions also include the CliftonStrengths branding. You will find all of the same information if you take the assessment online and use the e-book, and the price is about the same either way.

No, I’m not paid to sell any of these products, but I recommend them just the same. I have not gone in for the premium CliftonStrengths 34 results, which apparently shows you how you rank in all 34 categories and gives tips for improving in the areas where you are “weaker.” I am personally only interested in the original, and coincidentally more affordable, Top 5 CliftonStrengths. (Here are resources on similar exercises that are actually free!

No business or nonprofit is too small to benefit from investing in this activity.

Amanda Evrard, JTE Communications

CliftonStrengths is one of several strengths assessments or personality tests executives assign to their employees as a team-building exercise. Some companies even require one of these tools as part of the application or onboarding process. I believe these assessments in general and the CliftonStrengths Assessment specifically are useful tools for teams of all sizes, including solopreneurs. No business or nonprofit is too small to benefit from investing in this activity.

Why should I care?

Why? Because when asked point-blank what our greatest strengths are most of us don’t really know. We can probably say which Harry Potter house we would belong to, whether we are more of a Carrie or a Charlotte, and maybe come up with a few things we think we are good at. Knowing what we are naturally good at and understanding these things at a deeper level is not only personally fulfilling, but it can also help you to successfully lead and market your organization.

To date I have used the knowledge from the original book as well as the book Strengths Based Leadership to better understand my coworkers as well as to write cover letters and resumes and to prepare for job interviews. I continue to use this information to build my business.

Two of my Top 5 fall under themes that are arguably innate ways of being that cannot be taught or gotten rid of. I understand that I am driven by core values that I believe give purpose to my life. I accept that I think strategically, I am mindful of patterns and evaluating potential obstacles, and I most often make decisions based on what I believe the most likely outcome will be.  I find that these strengths are the driving force for my approach to marketing for myself as well as for my clients.

Marketing and PR are fields that are not widely known for their ethics, altruism or integrity, but I know it doesn’t have to be that way. As a consultant I choose to work with people and organizations that are mission-driven and have big dreams of improving our world (I lovingly call them do-gooders). I love consulting because I know that I am good at helping others see the big picture and proposing solutions that they can put into action.

My other three Top 5 all fall under the Relationship Building theme. While I am at my core an introvert, I am still drawn to people because I enjoy seeing the potential in others and nurturing growth – both personal and professional. I am empathetic and flexible. These are traits that make it easier for me to facilitate clear communication between organizations and their target audiences. Marketing truly boils down to relationship building between an organization and its clients/customers, and I am grateful to be working in a field that values my strengths.

The next time you are wondering how to best market your organization, take a moment to reflect on your own strengths. Are you using your talents to develop your marketing plan?


What is Marketing?

And why do I need a consultant?

The term “marketing” has many definitions and subsets, but broadly speaking marketing is anything you do to persuade people to buy your product or use your service. It is all of the activities and tools you use to connect your target audience with your special sauce.

No matter what your industry is – if you manufacture widgets, serve food, provide professional services or human services – you have a special sauce, something about your organization that distinguishes it from all of its competitors. You could be objectively producing the greatest sauce the world has ever known but it isn’t going to do you any good if no one else has ever tasted it and no one wants to buy it. You need marketing to find out who your potential customers are and to convince them to engage with your product and support your business. Paid advertising, printed materials, branded swag, earned media coverage, public events and social media posts are all examples of marketing tools you might choose to promote your special sauce to the sauce-lovers in your community. Marketing communications is using those tools to tell your story and to build relationships that will allow your business to succeed.

Large companies and nonprofits have big marketing and communications teams on staff to create and implement marketing plans and to monitor and analyze their activities. They may also employ full-service marketing firms to do all or some of this work for them. According to The CMO Survey ( released in August 2019 US companies allocate between 7.1 percent and 11.1 percent of their budget to marketing.

That is all fine and well for multi-million-dollar corporations, but what about the rest of us? If your budget is closer to $500,000 a year you probably can’t afford to hire a marketing team or a contract with Epsilon ( If you are not a marketing pro and 7 to 11 percent of your budget is not enough to support a full-time or part-time salary plus marketing expenses it probably makes sense for you to consider working with a smaller marketing consultant.

Working with a consultant means you get all of the benefits of a marketing professional but only pay for what you need when you need it. You do not need to worry about hiring and training staff or investing in marketing tools that might not end up working the way you expected. You might want to have a consultant create a marketing plan for your organization and provide coaching to your existing staff to help you implement it on your own. You can work with a consultant to identify which aspects of your marketing plan are feasible for you to do on your own and have the consultant focus on the elements that you can’t do yourself. Or you can have a consultant do most of your marketing tasks so you can focus on the rest of your organization.

JTE Communications would love to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with you to learn about your special sauce and see how we can help you persuade more people to try it, to buy it, and to tell their friends to do the same. Click here to get started.

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