One of the biggest hurdles to truly understanding effective marketing is understanding that marketing is an ongoing process and not one singular effort. This is hard for many of our clients to understand because they have just spent money on something like a website and all they want is for floods of people to start finding it and purchasing from them or reaching out about their services. Just slapping up a visually appealing website, building out a Yelp page, or creating a few social profiles in not going to instantly propel your business into success and instant notoriety. It is tempting when the economy is down and money gets tight to scale way back and marketing is often one of the first things to take a hit. We think this is, in fact, the time to double down and take a chance on your business. Especially in times of economic downturn, when your competitors may also be tempted to scale back, this is a time when you really could have the opportunity to make a splash. That being said, you need to be smart about your efforts and spend to see the greatest impact and ROI possible.
There is no shortage of other companies who are doing something the same or very similar to what you are doing. How are you going to stand out and differentiate yourself in a way that is visible and compelling to your audience? You need to make a plan and continuously work towards it to make a dent. You also can’t just put things on autopilot and never touch them. You need to check back in and make sure your efforts are generating the results you were hoping for and course correct if needed.
So, back to the cutting out marketing dollars approach...as a business owner your money is spread in a lot of different directions, just like your time. But, how are you going to get the word out there about your product or service and connect to your ideal buyer personas if no one has any way of finding out about you? You could have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it you are not going to be generating any sales. There are still ways to keep things lean, don’t fear those big-city marketing firm budgets. You can strike a happy medium between six figure marketing budgets and having to do-it-yourself and stretching yourself even more thin.
Let’s talk about a few approaches you could take to be smart about your marketing efforts:
I mentioned buyer personas earlier. This is a really important piece of the successful marketing puzzle. Understanding who your audience is will help you target your marketing dollars and efforts at a narrower audience of people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. How do you identify these people? If you have purchase or customer history you can start there. Are there similarities you can garner from that data? What problem are you solving for these customers? What do their interests look like? Do they frequent some of the same places? Are there shared demographics, like income level, education, family make-up, etc.? Some businesses have one strong contender and some have a few main buyer personas. Don't have prior purchase history? Still look at competitors and anything you can to make an educated guess at formulating these personas and start from there. Based on the problem your product or service is solving, price-point and other important facts about your product you should still be able to get a relative idea of what this target looks like. Like all marketing efforts this is something you should aim to define and check in on to make sure you were accurate and make any adjustments needed. Sometimes the personas change and you want to make adjustments accordingly.
So…you think you know who your customer is. Now what? Let’s go back to the problem you are solving for this person. The most effective marketing will highlight the solution you are providing people. That is what people care about. What can it do for them. Now, think again about your personas. Are there a few places based on their interests or tendencies where you are more likely to reach them? Those are the places that make most sense to start and focus your marketing spend and efforts on. Having a more targeted approach like this will increase the likelihood of a positive ROI and limit wasted spend.
Next, take this information and see how you should start applying it to things your audience will see. Does your company’s website communicate the solution you are providing in a way that is most compelling to the audience you have identified? Are the CTAs (calls to action) compelling and driving the user experience you are going for? Will the imagery and data resonate with the people you are trying to connect with and make your brand stand out from its competition? A confusing or annoying user experience on your company's website will cause your customer to go quickly clicking away and moving on to the next person on Google who did take the time to communicate to them in a successful and easily digestible way. Along this vein, is your website responsive and mobile-friendly? Most of your customers will be viewing your website on their mobile devise. Make sure you are updated from your 1990’s website where they have to zoom way in to even read the text.
Having just identified these personas, you may not have been using a keyword strategy that lends itself to target them or, as we often find, you may not be utilizing a keyword strategy at all. The more your keyword and content efforts can be targeted to those personas, while still remaining true to being written for your audience first, the better.
We would not start with Google Adwords. It is very easy to quickly throw away money and be disappointed with the ROI you get back. It requires a lot of knowledge, testing and adjusting for most Adwords campaigns to be successful. This is not knocking Adwords in any way. Google has created a very powerful tool that can be very effective if used correctly. It is just very complex in nature and requires a lot of knowledge and continuous attention to be done correctly. This is something you will have to dedicate significant time or money into getting right. Facebook, in our experience, has produced some incredible results for our customers. Their targeting for local businesses and certain demographics and interests is often one of the most affordable ways of getting your business in front of a broader, but more targeted audience. This process still requires adjusting to continue to get better and better ROIs, but we have found the results to be pretty unbelievable when done right.
What about just a general social media presence? There are too many platforms out there to do all of them, or do all of them well. It is more important to be strategic and consistent with your social media than to be on every single one of them. Take the time to create quality graphics and compelling messaging. Research your competition and develop a hashtag strategy that will help you reach more people in your target audience. Engage with your audience as they start to interact with you. The worst thing you can do is try to do too much and post infrequently. People will start to wonder if you are still in business or if you are taking your business seriously.
What about other forms of content? This is a slow, strategic play. We are huge believers in generating quality content to drive organic, targeted traffic over time. Your website pages will typically take 6+ months for Google to index. Once Google finds that you are consistently making the effort to produce quality content in the form of adding pages and blogs, this process can be sped up signifigantly. The other benefit to all of this added content, besides establishing yourself as an industry resource that can educate your consumers, is that with the right keyword approach you have more chances of reaching your audiences as they are searching for those various keywords. Read some of our other blogs on blogging and content generation for extended information on this.
What other types of advertising might make sense? Are you a local business that might benefit from a direct mailer? Semi-local and might benefit from purchasing a list that is more targeted to a specific type of person for making this mailing that much more effective? Is there a networking group you should start attending? Signage you should hang somewhere where your personas are likely to frequent? Maybe there is a conference or event you should exhibit at. There are many ways to go about things. What makes most sense for those you are trying to target?
We have started businesses from the ground up and helped existing businesses formulate new strategy for growth. We get it. You have a million things going on and it is so easy to get caught up in the day by day grind that weeks and months quickly go by without taking a step back to think or analyze what is and isn’t working.
Formulating a plan and deciding what you can take on internally vs. what you need to outsource to talented creative marketing professionals is the next step. Having a strategic marketing and business plan, sticking to it and adjusting when needed is the best way to set yourself up for success and growth. Contact the team at Strategy Driven Marketing to discuss where you are at and where you are looking to go.