First, here's something that is fast becoming the most fundamental aspects of marketing to get right, especially if you want to build a truly sustainable high quality organisation (of any size) in the modern age. Ensure the ethics and philosophy of your organisation are good and sound. This might seem a bit tangential to marketing and business, and rather difficult to measure, nevertheless...
Price is no longer the king, if it ever was. Value no longer rules, if ever it did. Quality of service and product is not the deciding factor. Today what truly matters is ethical and philosophical quality - from the bottom to the top - in every respect - across every dimension of the organisation.
Modern consumers, business buyers, staff and suppliers too, are today more interested than ever before in corporate integrity, which is defined by the organisation's ethics and philosophy. Good sound ethics and philosophy enable and encourage people to make 'right and good' decisions, and to do right and good things. It's about humanity and morality; care and compassion; being good and fair.
Profit is okay, but not greed; reward is fine, but not avarice; trade is obviously essential, but exploitation is not. People naturally identify and align with these philosophical values. The best staff, suppliers, and customers naturally gravitate towards organisations with strong philosophical qualities.
Putting a good clear ethical philosophy in place, and communicating it wide and far lets people know that your organisation always strives to do the the right thing. It's powerful because it appeals to people's deepest feelings. Corporate integrity, based on right and good ethical philosophy, transcends all else. Strong ethics and good philosophy are the fundamentals on which all good organisations and businesses are now built.
People might not ask or talk about this much: the terminology is after all not fashionable 'marketing-speak', nor does it correlate obviously to financial performance, but be assured; everyone is becoming more aware of the deeper responsibilities of corporations and businesses in relation to humanity, and morality, the natural world, the weak and the poor, and the future of the planet.
Witness the antagonism growing towards certain multi-nationals. People don't rail against successful corporations - they rail against corporations which put profit ahead of people; growth ahead of society and communities; technology and production ahead of the natural world; market domination ahead of compassion for humankind. None of this is right and good, and these organisations are on borrowed time.
People increasingly prefer to buy from, deal with, and work for, ethical, right-minded organisations. Whether an organisation is ethical and right-minded is becoming increasingly transparent for all to see.
So be one.
Aside from which - when you get your philosophy right, everything else naturally anchors to it. Strategies, processes, attitudes, relationships, trading arrangements, all sorts of difficult decisions - even directors' salaries and share options dare we suggest. It need not be complicated. The ultimate corporate reference point is: "Is it right and good?... How does this (idea, initiative, decision, etc) stack up against our ethical philosophy?"
Organisations are complex things, and they become more and more complicated every day. A good ethical philosophy provides everyone with a natural, reliable reference point, for the tiniest detail up to the biggest strategic decision.
So as you start to write your marketing plan, be it for a new start-up, a huge corporation, or a little department within one, make sure you put a 'right and good' ethical philosophy in place before you do anything else, and watch everything grow from there.