Marketing is changing all the time, just like anything else. If you are a marketing manager or director or own a Raleigh business, you know it’s challenging to keep up with the different aspects of our work. After all, there are many ways to approach marketing, with inbound and outbound options plus general branding and then subsets of tools within those. Most marketing managers are too busy as it is.
We attended the annual Internet Summit in Raleigh in November, and not just because it takes place at the Convention Center next door to our office. (Though that helps!) If you were too busy to get there, no worries. Here are seven things we learned that you’ll find useful in your daily marketing efforts or when planning for next year.
Start with your business.
If something isn’t working, marketing may not be to blame. The work of marketing is to spread the word about the amazing work you do. Except … What if the work isn’t amazing? We’ve worked with businesses who have negative reviews online that specifically called out things within their organizations that should be changed. But the company often wants to blame the customer. “People are mean. People complain too much.” True. Online reviews are a harsh world. However, sometimes, those reviews are an accurate reflection of something you’re not willing to admit or address. Social media is not a tactic; it’s a symptom. That nugget came from the keynote speaker, Seth Godin, and you should read his books. His point with that: if you’re awesome and that authenticity is shining through, your followers will, er, follow. You won’t have to work as hard because your fans will do some of the work for you.
Action: Take a step back and re-evaluate your company from the core offerings to the customer experience. What can you do to make your business better?
Find the right audience.
If the business is awesome, but something still isn’t working, ok then it’s probably your marketing. Marketing is finding ways to tell people something. But what if we’re talking to the wrong people? Godin told a story during his talk about a comedian who stood before an audience of thousands and was on fire, telling his best jokes, with amazing timing. No one laughed. He stood up there, sweated, and got through his set only to find out the audience didn’t speak a word of English. In other words, if they aren’t laughing at your jokes, you may not need to tell different jokes. Instead, find the right audience. One of the most significant challenges company owners face is narrowing down their audience because you feel your product or service is good for everyone. First, that’s not true no matter what you sell. Second, even if it is true, you don’t market to everyone. You market to those who will hear your message and feel it — or at least get your joke. Finding your audience isn’t just about creating a persona: Jane the 37-year-old mom who works full-time and lives downtown. It’s also about being yourself and being OK with that. And that’s far more challenging than finding people.
Bonus Tip: LOCAL. “Near me” searches on Google doubled in 2017. Depending on your business, you don’t need to advertise to all of North Carolina, so save yourself the money.
Action: Dig deep on yourself and your messaging as well as those to whom you are speaking. Are you, the message, and the audience in sync?
Most people say they want to measure but then don’t. That’s because measuring is hard work, and you have to implement the systems to do it. We can share with you your SEO and social media reports all day long, but there are plenty of other items you need to track to see what’s working and what’s not — both in your marketing and your business. One big example: customer value. How much does the average customer spend, how much do they buy per year and what’s the average retention? If your new customers spend $500 twice per year and stay for about three years, each is worth $3,000. Studying this means digging through your data, but it can be done. Knowing this will guide your marketing, sales, and business.
A few other examples, but not an exhaustive list:
- Cost per lead
- Sales revenue
- Website traffic
- Traffic to lead ratio
- Landing page conversion
- Social traffic versus conversion
Action: Choose one metric to start measuring, preferably your customer value. This figure also will help guide your marketing budget for next year. Sit down with your bookkeeper and dig through the spreadsheets to determine the number. Once you figure out one metric, take another one and figure out how to measure it. And so on.
Don’t get hung up on measurements.
I know; we just told you to measure but then tell you not to get hung up on it. And here’s why: You may be getting all excited about the wrong measurements. So many people focus on their social media follower count, for example. But what does that number tell you? Almost nothing. Popularity doesn’t equal more money in this case. If you hire an overseas company to increase your social media count because you think that matters, they will likely set up dozens of fake accounts or create bots to follow you. Sure, there are some real people in there, too. But having 1,000 followers who don’t care about you is worthless, and you just wasted your money.
Action: Stop counting each new follower and like. Figure out each month how many of those are taking any type of converting action, such as clicking to your website/landing page.
Align your marketing and sales efforts.
Another gem from Seth Godin: Marketing is what we do at our desk; sales is what we do at their desk. I love how he captured that. Your sales team is out there on the streets and sitting at other people’s desks to sell your service. Marketing provides the story and materials for your sales team. In turn, sales teams provide a lot of useful insight into potential customers. The two should work together.
Action: Get your teams talking regularly. If you have a large enough team, consider letting them switch roles or shadow for a week to learn about each other’s jobs. (Check out our case study on what happened when we worked with a client’s sales team.)
Get better clients.
You know your good clients from your bad without even having to glance at the roster. Your good clients pay on time, think you’re a bargain, coordinate with you, offer the information you need, and more. Your bad clients complain about the work and the price. Or they disappear for months on end and then email you asking what you’re doing for the money. You may have offered them too low a price to start. Your good clients are worth more than the money they pay because you can ask them for testimonials or to share your social media content. Good clients become part of your sales team. Think about it and ways to leverage that (without abusing them).
Action: Review your client list and make it a goal next year to fire one terrible client. If you must, wait until you acquire a new one in exchange.
So many options, not enough time. Focus.
Every year at this conference we walk back to the office, brain abuzz with ideas (or is that just the sugar rush from the cookie?) Plenty of people are offering you, dear marketers, ideas to help and tools you can buy. There is always another shiny object to chase, another opportunity. Stop. Take a deep breath. Make a plan. As we’ve said for years, marketing without a strategy is just doing things.
Action: Review your marketing actions this year. If you’re measuring, you can determine what is working and what is not. If you see something “shiny” that might work, consider it, but do so carefully. Will you allocate more budget or move something? For example, you can finally stop advertising in the Yellow Pages and spend more on PPC — if it’s working.