Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you lived in a world where clients knew exactly what they wanted and where to find it? A world where you received a steady stream of high quality leads for your products and services from clients who paid on time and with whom you loved to work. Sounds like pie in the sky right! But moving toward that utopian dream is what marketing is all about.
Get your marketing right, and you can attract the right type of enquiries from the right type of clients at the right price point.
The problem is that turning that dream into reality isn’t as easy as most of the marketing guru’s out there claim. The purpose of this article is to get you thinking about the most important part of your marketing. The bit that many business owners skip over in favour of the latest, shiny marketing tactic.
We could fill a book, in fact, several books with information on the latest, supposedly greatest, marketing tactics. Email Marketing; Social Media Marketing; Content Marketing; Lumpy Mail; Print Advertising; Pay per Click Advertising; Video Marketing; Networking; Sponsorship etc.
And you could spend a whole lot of time and money experimenting with some, or all, of these tactics without getting any sort of reasonable return. The reason for this is not necessarily because you have chosen the wrong tactic, but because you haven’t got a coherent strategy in place to start with.
I’m talking about helping you get clear about your marketing strategy rather than the tactics. So, I’d like to invite you to join with me as we look at how to get your marketing strategy right.
Get clear with your marketing strategy first, and then focus on the tactics.
WHAT TYPE OF BUSINESS DO YOU WANT TO BUILD ?
Are you a growth business or a Lifestyle business?
Growth companies, as their name suggests are focused on sustained rapid growth and expansion over several years. To do this, they usually need the help of investors who in turn expect a significant return for their support. Growth companies typically have revenue targets in the millions of pounds range.
In contrast, a lifestyle business is driven primarily by the need to support and sustain the lifestyle of its owners. That’s not to say that lifestyle businesses aren’t profitable, but they tend to be less ambitious regarding growth.
It's important that you are clear about which type of business you want now, as this will have a significant effect on your marketing strategy.
Where is your business right now?
What's your turnover and profit margin?
How many customers have you got and how do they compare in terms of profitability?
What products do they currently buy and how much opportunity is there for upselling and cross-selling?
What markets do you currently operate in?
What are your products and how do they compare in relation to sales volume and profitability?
How much do you want to grow your business by?
How many customers will you need to achieve that?
Which products and services will provide the growth you need?
What new products and services are you planning to develop?
Is there enough growth potential in your current markets?
What new markets do you want to enter?
So now it’s your turn. Use the questions above to stimulate your thoughts. Capture your answers in a document and then formulate a statement that describes the kind of business you are aiming to build. P.S. If you have a business partner, involve them in this activity to as it is vital that you have a shared vision before proceeding further.
To build a strong marketing strategy, you have to be clear with your business and your goals.
DEFINING YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMERS
The second stage in developing your marketing strategy is to nail down some descriptions of your ideal clients. Why? Because generic, one size fits all, marketing campaigns are a recipe for failure. Take TV advertising for example. Have you ever watched an advert and thought “I don’t get it?” or “That’s a stupid advert?” Of course, you have, and the reason is usually that that advert was designed to appeal to someone different from you. And the same applies to all forms of marketing including sales letters, websites, social media campaigns, etc.
The best way to do this is to create something called a buyer persona. This is a bit like a person specification for a job. It describes a detailed outline of a typical type of customer regarding their Role, Goals, Challenges, Demographics and Background. There is no right way to create a buyer persona and a quick Google search with throw up a host of different templates. Pick one that you like and then use it as a starting point.
Many business owners skip this step because they find it difficult but, believe me, the rewards far outweigh the effort that goes into producing these profiles. Once created, these buyer personas will pay you back, time after time, by helping you and your staff make a host of better decisions including;
Which media to use to get your messages in front of tour target buyers?
Briefing your copywriters and content creators to create high converting content for all your marketing materials including websites, email campaigns, brochures and advertisements.
Tip: If you already have an existing client base, do some analysis to identify your best customers, then use them as the basis for your personas.
At a Glance:
Age : 39
Location : London
Family Situation : Married with two children
Job Role : Corporate Procurement Manager
Family : Spending time with his young family.
Recognition : Wants to be seen as an expert, and to be appreciated for what he does.
Career progression is important to him.
Pressure from Board to reduce FM spend.
Travels UK wide visiting company properties which means spending time away from his family.
Finds it hard to keep up with the increasing demands from his business and still make time for his family.
Wants reliable contractors who don’t need a lot of supervision.
Uses Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends.
Has a profile on LinkedIn and is active in several groups.
CRAFTING YOUR KEY MESSAGE
As alluded to earlier, identifying your buyer personas make it much easier to develop appealing marketing messages and related content that will resonate with each of your target profiles. Sadly, too many business owners simply copy what their competitors are saying and so fail to differentiate themselves. If you are serious about wanting to create compelling marketing campaigns, you need to follow the guidance in this article.
The firsts step is to identify their pain point(s), the second is to show how you can reduce or cure them. Sound simple? Of course, it does, but it’s not as easy as you might think. Let’s spend a little time looking at both steps in a bit more detail before you put fingers to keyboard to craft your own messages.
Differentiate yourself and create appealing marketing messages for each of your target profiles.
Step 1 – Establishing your target buyer's’ pain points
As you might expect, pain points will vary from buyer to buyer and may be different depending on whether the customer is buying for themselves personally or on behalf of their company. Here are some examples to get you started.
Corporate pain points typically include problems that:
Cost them money, time or resource
Increase the risk of things going wrong
Harm their reputation
Personal Pain points include things that:
Make their job harder or less enjoyable
Cost them money or time
Endanger their own safety or security
Negatively impact their reputation
The better you understand what keeps your potential buyers awake at night, the better able you will be to:
Craft specific, targeted marketing messages that they can identify with and be motivated to respond to
Develop new products and services that better solve their problems
Review the personas you created in the previous section. Have you clearly identified their pain points and challenges? Are you sure? Are you just guessing or have you taken the time to ask your existing customers? A little market research here can bring big dividends. Test your assumptions before proceeding.
Clarifying your key messages:
Many amateur marketers make the mistake of choosing their marketing medium first and then deciding what to say. This lack of overall strategy means that you are likely to end up bombarding your prospective customers with a multiplicity of conflicting messages, leaving them confused and bewildered. Is that what you want?
Your marketing will be much more successful when it delivers consistent, relevant messages to each target audience, irrespective of the marketing medium chosen. That’s why you need to create your core messages up front BEFORE you start to decide which routes to take to reach your prospective buyers.
So, now that you have created some examples for yourself; stop and look at your current marketing materials including your website; marketing flyers; brochures; sales emails, etc.
Do your current marketing documents:
- Reflect your customer's pain point ?
- Show clearly and succinctly how your product/service addresses them ?
If they do, well done, you are ahead of the game! If they don’t, then I have some good news and some bad news for you.
The good news is that you are not alone. You are making the same mistakes that many business owners make.
The bad news is that, if you don’t do something about it quickly, your business is likely to fail!
More good news! – You now know what you need to do to start putting things right.
Remember : Focus on the right marketing message before choosing the channels you will use to deliver it.
CHOOSING YOUR MESSAGE DELIVERY CHANNELS
Finally, you are ready to think about which tactics you may use to deliver your carefully crafted messages to your specific target audiences. As we mentioned at the start of this article, going straight to the tactics, without first having outlined your marketing strategy, guarantees disappointment and even disaster.
Typically, we can subdivide the various message delivery mechanisms into several broad categories
With so many different channels available how can anyone choose the most appropriate ones to use?
The answer comes back to our earlier questions. (I did say that they were important, didn’t I?)
What type of business are you seeking to build?
Who are your target customers and where do they hang out?
Being clear about the former clearly has an impact on how much you need to be prepared to spend and, since the costs associated with the various delivery channels can vary enormously, this, in turn, will influence which media you can afford and which you can’t.
Also, the better you understand your customers, the better able you’ll be to decide which media to use to reach them.
It’s the same with marketing. There’s no point spending a fortune advertising on one social media platform if your research shows that most of your customers prefer a different one. And, it’s crazy to ignore a channel because you personally don’t like it, when you know that your prospective customers love it!
Let’s start by taking a long, hard, objective look at your current marketing tactics. The questions below provide a powerful but uncomfortable, place to start.
Always think about where your customers are and what they like to deliver your message efficiently.
What marketing channels are you currently using?
Why did you choose them?
How well are they working for you?
How do you know?
Now, armed with the above information, what changes might you make to the way you reach your target buyers?
What are you going to do differently ?
Which marketing channels are you going to drop or modify & why? (Remember, the fact that an activity isn’t generating the desired results may not mean that it is wrong. The medium may be right but your messaging may wrong. Look at both carefully before deciding)
Which marketing channels are you going to use more and why?
What new marketing channels might you experiment with, why, and how will you evaluate their effectiveness?
TEST AND MEASURE !
The final principle I’d like to share with you in this article is about the importance of finding ways to assess the effectiveness of all your marketing activities objectively. Marketing is part science and part art, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make every effort to measure its effectiveness.
Here are some examples of the things you can measure. We’ll be linking each of these to more in-depth articles in the coming months, so remember to bookmark this page and to check back regularly.
Lead Source Analysis
Whenever a prospective buyer contacts you to make an enquiry, make a point of asking them how they found you, and recording this information in a spreadsheet or CRM system. When small business owners remember to ask this simple question, most find the results valuable and often surprising. For example, some discover that their website is much more valuable than they thought, and so they choose to invest time and money to make it even more successful.
Generating leads is all very well, but if you or your staff are poor at converting those leads into sales, you need to do something about it. Research shows that most businesses overestimate their conversion ratio by 100%. Tracking your conversion rate is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your business revenue.
Website Traffic Analytics
One of digital marketing’s many benefits is the ability to collect objective data on the number of visitors to your site and what they do once they land there. If you haven’t already got access to web analytics tools like Google Analytics, talk you your webmaster ASAP.
Here are some examples of a few of things you can measure with web analytics:
The number and location of visitors to your website (traffic).
The source of that traffic; e.g. Google Search, Facebook, Online directories, etc.
Which marketing campaigns generated the most traffic.
Which pages do people visit, how long for, and where did they go next.
Email Campaign Open and Click-Through Data
Using a professional email marketing platform like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, AWeber or Infusionsoft needn’t cost the earth. Choosing to use these platforms delivers many benefits including improved delivery rates, compliance with anti-spam regulations, and the ability to send pre-written, personalised email sequences automatically. Another benefit of this type of software the data they provide to help you maximise the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
If you already have access to one of these platforms, I recommend that you check the following KPI’s
Clickthrough Rate – This is the % of email recipients who click on a link within your email.
Conversion Rate – As its name implies, this is the number of people who clicked on a link and completed your desired action e.g. bought a product or filled in an information capture form.
Bounce rate – This is the number of emails that couldn’t be delivered successfully, giving you an indication of the accuracy of your email list. This info will allow you to delete any out of date email addresses quickly.
Google And Facebook Advert Analytics
Unlike print advertising, online advertising gives you the benefit of detailed metrics about the effectiveness your online advertising campaigns. You can track each advert’s performance and fine tune your advertising by comparing the effectiveness of variations on the same advert. Sometimes changing just one word in your advert can increase click and conversions dramatically. Warning. Online advertising can be incredibly powerful, but it requires a degree of expertise and time that most business owners simply don’t have. In my experience, the most successful online advertisers use a professional to create and manage their online campaigns for them.
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