No matter how you look at it, Spring housecleaning always feels like a chore. But, once you get it behind you, everything seems fresher and you come away with a sense of real accomplishment. The same can be said about refreshing your marketing. However, the stakes are usually a lot higher. In the household, you can get around to freshening things up at your own pace. With your business, procrastination and complacency are not options. Things are moving too quickly, and you don’t want to find yourself playing catch-up.
Here are five things you should consider to tidy-up your marketing.
1. Get Tuned into Your Competition.
Have new competitors entered the marketplace? How are they presenting themselves? How does your business stack up? Listen to what they’re saying and make sure you can respond or, better yet, pre-empt them. Learn from their smart moves and, more importantly, their mistakes. (Knowing their shortcomings uncovers opportunities to distinguish your business from theirs.) Check out their website, look at their ads, see how active they are on social media. What are they doing, what are they saying and how are they saying it? Are they offering specials, discounts or other incentives? Maybe you should consider doing the same … or, better yet, something different, something more.
Your competitors are likely not going away anytime soon. So, the more you learn about them and find ways to fit in while distinguishing your business, the better chances you’ll have of getting noticed and standing out. REMEMBER, this is not about copying them. It’s about uncovering opportunities to differentiating your business from theirs.
2. Revisit and Review Your Promotions.
If you’ve been using the same promotional channels for a while, revisit them. Determine if they’re working for you and whether or not you need to change things up or consider alternatives. If you’ve been running the same ads over and over, you’ve likely benefited from frequency and recognition. (That’s assuming you’re running them in the right places.) But, there’s a fine line between being consistent and getting stale. People tend to gloss over the same ad they’ve seen time after time. So, consider a tweak or two to freshen things up. Be sure to maintain the same brand voice and general look and feel. Drastic changes can send the wrong message or demonstrate a lack of focus.
Making a few changes here and there will breathe new life into your promotions and give people a reason to pay more attention. Maybe it’s a new spin on your message. Or a limited-time offer. Or something seasonal. Try to react to current events and market shifts. Most of all, make sure any campaigns you run are showing up in front of your prospects. The days of taking the shotgun approach are over. Instead of blasting ads everywhere and hoping something sticks, you need to be where people are looking.
3. Adapt to Changing Social Media Habits.
If you’re active in social media, it’s vital that you stay on top of the latest trends. Social media is moving very quickly as users are becoming more sophisticated. What may have been a good tactic a year ago might be yesterday’s news now. Make sure you’re following your audience and understanding their habits. For example, younger users are quick to switch platforms. So, they may have moved away from where they spent their time a year ago.
Pushing posts, launching “like” campaigns, adding links from your blog and running ads are some ways to create a buzz about what you’ve been up to. These can be very effective tactics to get the word out, build awareness and reinforce your brand. You don’t need to go full throttle. Running ads on social media allows you to start slow, see how they perform and make adjustments. It’s not that expensive and could bring in some quick returns if you have the right message. Remember, the traction you gain is often determined by the incentives you offer. (More about incentives below.)
4. Make Sure Your Website is Working for You.
In many ways, your website is the face of your business. If you still don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you have fallen way behind, and are hurting your business. What’s keeping you? If you rely on organic web searches to generate leads, you must have a mobile-friendly site. If you don’t, your website will be penalized in mobile search results and be ranked after all of your competitors who have mobile-friendly sites. And, believe me, they do.
Keep your website from becoming stale. As search engines continually index the Internet, they can see which websites are changing and which aren’t. Those with more activity get ranked higher. Those that become stale get penalized in search results. Try doing simple things like adding new photos or videos to your home page (YouTube is now the world’s second-largest search engine), or something more adventurous, like creating a blog and sharing your expertise. Client testimonials are very effective. If you’re doing things right, why not solicit testimonials from your best clients and create a new web page for them? Then once they are published on your website, ask your clients to post them as Google Reviews.
Usually, the most important part of a website is the call to action. Free consultations are meaningless, because everyone offers them. You need to offer useful incentives to your audience to give them a good reason to provide their personal contact info. It could be coupons, new client specials or useful downloads that position your business as the go-to source. Create a unique landing page with a simple form for each offer. But, keep the contact forms simple. The more info you ask for, the less inclined people are to provide it. You likely won’t get this right the first time. So, take a trial-and-error approach. A good rule of thumb and nice gesture, is to redirect all contact form submissions to a thank you page to show your appreciation, provide next steps and offer freebies.
5. Consider Hiring a Professional
Nothing beats home-cooking, except when it comes to your marketing. If you’re not professionally trained and have been getting by doing your own marketing, it might be time to get more serious. Sooner or later, you’ll need to bring in the pros to help raise your profile. This is simply the cost of doing business. It should be viewed as an investment, not an expense. Going cheap will reflect poorly on your brand and hurt your business in the end. And, by the way, your more-serious competitors have likely already taken this step.
If you don’t think you can afford to hire a professional, work out some trades or payment plans. You might be surprised how willing people are to work with you. By doing your own marketing, you’re taking time away from the things you do best (like making money to pay for marketing) and devaluing your time. And, it usually shows.
Spring is right around the corner. It’s a season of renewal and rejuvenation. So, shake off the rust, get out the broom and add some polish to your marketing. If you’re not sure how or where to start, let’s talk.
Do you have an outstanding business with an identity that doesn’t stand out? Are you in an exciting start-up struggling to excite others? Does your great track record still not help you gain traction? Perhaps there’s a disconnect between your brand image and your brand identity.
I recently visited the websites of some of the top design firms in the world. It was both inspiring and, truth be told, slightly intimidating. However, despite that, I did notice one consistent problem with a majority of them.
In many ways, your website is the face of our business. It’s usually your first and best opportunity to distinguish yourself, connect with your prospects and tell your story. If it’s not engaging, well-designed, easy to navigate and informative, it could undermine your marketing efforts.
We’ve collected a number of the more salient points from our blog and are presenting them as a marketing reality check list. A good number of these apply to new or small businesses. But you’ll also find that some of the largest corporations in the world make many of the same missteps.
We often get too close to our business to see it the way others do. We build a virtual bubble around ourselves and lose the perspective needed to make sound strategic decisions.
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.
Common clichés, tired sales pitches and unrealistic claims no longer work. In fact, they’ll likely be viewed as disingenuous and undermine your marketing efforts. Here, we’ve outlined five ineffective marketing messages and what you can do to avoid using them.
Even if you’ve been able to put a check mark next to that spanking-new website on your marketing to-do list, get out your eraser. Your work has only just begun. A successful website is never once-and-done.
As the calendar year winds down, it always a good idea to take a step back to revisit and refresh your marketing. Your business will be better off by doing so. But, don’t go overboard and be too disruptive.