A Good Time Retool Your Marketing Efforts
It’s natural for many business owners to take a breath and coast through to the end of the year. However, by doing so, your competitors may be letting their guard down and creating an opportunity for you to gain an edge by retooling your marketing efforts. Here, we offer some considerations to help you make your mark, distinguish your business, engage your audience and build relationships with your colleagues. Hopefully, you’re already doing some of these. Nonetheless, they should still be revisited on a regular basis.
1. Refine Your User Personas
Although you may already have a good idea of who your audience is, instead of thinking of them as a group, try viewing them as individuals or subset groups. Who are these people? What makes them tick? Are their buying decisions driven solely by economics? What other factors come into play? Understanding and identifying your perfect customers enables you to focus more energy on high-value prospects and tailor specific campaigns and incentives to them. Personalizing your message can also be very effective. And, in this day of electronic marketing, it’s easy and more affordable than print.
2. Enhance Your Customers’ Experience
Customer experience is everything. It’s vital to see your business the way others view it. If your messaging is all about you, try flipping it to be all about them. But, make sure you’re doing more than just changing the “we”s into “you”s. Find out your prospects’ emotional buttons to identify ways to address them and determine the best communication channels to reach them (website, social media, public speaking, content creation, etc.). Here’s a hint: their genuine needs likely transcend the product or service you’re selling. If you’re unsure where to begin, survey your best customers to understand their habits and expectations. You may need to offer them an incentive to participate.
3. Engage in Real-Time Marketing
The days of taking a shotgun approach to marketing and promotion are over. Instead of casting wide advertising nets like we did years ago, you need to be where your prospects are looking. That means understanding them, where they get their news, what entertainment they like and more. Markets can be driven by a multitude of outside forces, including current events, social change and technology. Look around, see what’s going on and find a place where you naturally fit. Use your voice in a way that reinforces your relevance and offers value to your audience.
4. Build a Customer Community
Clients need to be continually engaged. Consider creating an online forum for your customers to provide them with an opportunity to interact and exchange ideas. By moderating the forum, you can keep the conversation on track and, more importantly, reaffirm your position as the go-to resource for what you do best. But, don’t stop there…
5. Create a Network of Trusted Allies and Cross-Promote Each Other
Enlist colleagues who offer complementary services or products to widen your influence and bring objectivity to your efforts. Find those who are willing to meet regularly, learn about each other and cross-promote. A primary goal should be uncovering opportunities to share subject matter expertise and drive your market instead of just following it. This sphere group can also be a community “board of directors” to bring accountability and challenge each other’s thinking.
6. Embrace Video
Your online presence is about much more than just having a website and Facebook page. People expect to be engaged and informed. One great tactic that is becoming easier and more affordable is to produce videos for your website and social media channels. (Google LOVES to see videos on a home page.) Videos can include tips and best practices, commentary about current trends, product demos, event recaps and, especially, client testimonials. Video content has become an important part of the customer sales journey. So, make their journey a fruitful one for both you and them.
7. Bolster Your Thought Leadership through Blogging
Buying decisions are not solely based on price. People will pay a premium if they feel they are dealing with an expert and gaining more than a quick fix to an immediate problem. More and more, it’s the expertise of the business that is the distinguishing factor in the buying decision. If you have a blog, remember, it is for sharing, not selling. Try publishing posts that provide answers to common questions and address pain points. Empathy is a very powerful tool! Share what you know that others will find helpful. By doing so, your prospects are more likely to come into the sales funnel trusting you because you’ve already helped them. If you’re unsure what to write about, solicit ideas from them.
8. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
If your website is not mobile-friendly (what we call “responsive”), what are you waiting for? Mobile use now exceeds desktop use, especially on web searches. Unresponsive websites compromise the user experience and are penalized by search engines. There’s no excuse for having a website that is not optimized for every device. If you don’t think you can afford it, then you’re looking at it for the wrong reasons. This is now part of the cost of doing business in a mobile world.
9. Set Realistic Budgets
If you’ve set lofty goals for the coming year, make sure your marketing budget doesn’t undermine them. That doesn’t mean more money as much as it means smarter spending. If you’re looking to outsource your marketing, be sure to research what you should expect to pay. As you engage candidates, look for those who offer advice and value beyond the project at-hand. Marketing should be viewed as an investment instead of an expense. So, weigh your investment against the cost of inaction. If you don’t think you can afford it, perhaps you can trade services to help offset the cost.
Take a Step Back
As the calendar year winds down, it always a good idea to take a step back to revisit and refresh your marketing. We did it last year and it resulted in significant changes to our market positioning. And, we’re better off by doing so. But, don’t go overboard and be too disruptive. You don’t want your market to sense a lack focus or over-reaction to short-term market dynamics. Uncertainty is a major turn-off. Make sure any retooling is done with purpose, has a long-term strategy behind it and helps your audience. This is not about hard-selling or self-promotion. By engaging and informing your audience, the promotion will come naturally.
When you meet new prospects, network or attend industry events, the moment you hand out your business card, your credibility will be on the line. If you’ve taken a long time to build a first-rate reputation, don’t let a second-rate website undo it.
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Evolving technology keeps all of us on our collective toes, makes us more aware of our competitors and presents more opportunities to distinguish ourselves than ever before. Moreover, it adversely impacts those who fail to embrace it.
To succeed in marketing, we need to avoid the distractions and focus on the fundamentals. We need to pull ourselves out of the bubble in which we live to see ourselves the way others see us. It’s this uncluttered view that helps bring the clarity and objectivity that lead us to a sound strategy.
Never Make Assumptions about Your Audience. That seems like an obvious rule, right? But, we all do it to some degree. It’s human nature. We follow our gut instincts. We proceed without having the data to back up our actions. Remember New Coke?
It’s always a good idea to take a step back and be more introspective about your unique qualities and strengths. By looking beyond short-term distractions, we often discover that we still have a place to fit in.
You seem to be great at what you do. You have a terrific product. Your media coverage has been impressive. You’ve been serving the industry for decades. But, what does it mean to your customers? What’s in it for me?