Nowadays, there’s too much at stake (return on investment, reputation, cash outlay, just to mention a few) to approach a marketing campaign with a “hit or miss” attitude.
However, costly marketing mistakes can be avoided by conducting your due diligence on the front end of the process.
Before you launch that campaign that you think is so catchy, you’d better make sure that the people you’re trying to reach will think as highly of it as you do. Your marketing is not supposed to be targeted toward you, it’s supposed to resonate with the demographic that you want to attract.
A lot of times business owners suffer from “myopia” when it comes to marketing their services. They’re unable to see beyond their own objectives and opinions, with a mindset of “Well, it works for me, so it will work for everyone else.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are marketing research firms out there that successful companies spend beaucoup bucks with to get into the heads of their prospective audience before any campaign strategizing is started. The more you know about your audience up front, the better chances your marketing campaign will hit the right chords with the right people.
Now, I just said there are marketing research firms that demand top dollar for their studies and analytics, but that doesn’t mean that if you’re functioning off a shoestring budget, you can’t conduct your own demographics research. Some tools/techniques to consider during your “audience discovery” period include:
Give a simple five- to 10-question survey to current clients. After all, they can (and should be) your best cheerleaders.
Pay attention to what your competitors are doing that seem to really be resonating with the target audience. After all, it’s the same demographic that you’re going after.
Keeping in mind the people you are trying to reach, identify the key aspects of those people—who they are, what they think is important, age, income level, education, goals and challenges. These are all factors that can be extremely telling when you finally sit down and start strategizing your marketing approach.
Your brand needs to be clear, concise and consistent in the minds of potential customers. Anything less can (and usually does) result in lost business. Contradictions in messaging and branding equates to mistrust in the eyes of your audience.
Develop a Unique Selling Position (USP), which conveys what sets your products/services apart from all your competitors. Not to be confused with a Values Statement, which is inward facing, a USP concentrates on your external audience. Ask yourself the following questions:
What sets me apart from my competition? (And the answer of “better” doesn’t count!)
Why should people buy from me instead of my competitors?
Do people see the value of what I’m offering?
What is the value that my competitors can’t also claim?
I know, these are tough questions, but when the answers are applied in correspondence with the personas you have developed, you’re on your way to marketing success.
There is a plethora of marketing channels to choose from today, both outbound (print and web advertisements, email “blasts”, radio ads, etc.) and inbound (blogs, SEO, opt-in emails, paid search, etc.). As mentioned before, the time you spend developing accurate personas and your USP is invaluable in helping you identify which marketing channels will best reach, impact and engage with the people you’re trying to connect with.
For example, say your target persona is soccer mom, age 32 - 38, married with two children, whose top challenge is not having enough time in the day between juggling kids’ activities with her at-home start-up business. It’s probably not a wise decision to have her receive an unsolicited e-mail in her inbox promoting your product. She wasn’t looking for it, she didn’t ask for it and she certainly doesn’t have time to read it. Instead, consider outdoor advertising locations (i.e. bus stop shelters) where she will drive past every day on her way to and from soccer practice. And since she relies on her smartphone as her lifeline, targeted inbound marketing techniques would be a great investment for that persona. (Caveat, if you have more than one persona, you will need to go through this same exercise to identify the right marketing mix to fit each one.)
While developing killer marketing campaigns for those potential new clients, make sure not to leave your “cheerleaders” (current customers) on the sidelines! After all, they’re the ones who’ve allowed you to have the budget to launch that new marketing campaign. Once you’ve engaged with your audience, keep them coming back with personalized correspondence, offers and value-add information they want and can use. When planned out with plenty of forethought, customized inbound campaigns will encourage repeat customers, who then will be promotional ambassadors as they refer family and friends to your brand. You can’t beat word-of-mouth referrals for “free” advertising.
So you’ve been running your new marketing campaign for the past three months. You’re pretty sure you’ve increased traffic to your website, but have you gotten the results you really wanted from the money you spent on the campaign? With today’s digital tools, it’s foolish to not track every aspect of your campaign, to make sure your ROI is meeting (and hopefully exceeding) your marketing investment.
And if all those analytics reveal something may not be performing up to your expectations—a blog isn’t getting the response you were hoping or that web banner ad isn’t getting the click-through rate you were expecting—try some A/B testing with the existing elements. Sometimes the smallest tweaks can make a huge difference in gaining traction. Switch some colors or images or change the wording on a CTA, then watch for and compare the results.
Even businesses with small marketing budgets can gain recognition and market share with the right message to the right people at the right time.
Want to see where your business is at in terms of marketing strategy?