During a recent conversation with a prospective client, they spent some time explaining what business they were involved in and how the list of marketing activities they’d been using to promote their business hadn’t been yielding the results they wanted. As the conversation progressed I interjected several times with the question “why they’d taken that particular decision”. After the fourth time of asking the exasperated reply came

Because we’ve always done it that way”.

And that’s an easy rut to fall into normally driven by:

  • Not enough time to research alternative options
  • Lack of skills and experience
  • Wrong advice
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Apathy or procrastination
  • An “I know best” attitude

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

Albert Einstein

If you’re still marketing your business this way you need to understand this.

Digital disruption is happening NOW!

There seems to be a lack of understanding in parts of the business community as to how much digital technology is disrupting traditional business models and how it has changed the buying behaviour of their target audience. They still fail to grasp that the power now lies in the hands of the consumer rather than the business and this has been driven by easy access to vast amounts of online data available on companies and their competitors.

That’s a critical point to understand and it affects large and small business, most people who have a problem to resolve turn to the search engines to find a solution. Google pull in search engine results from various sources including websites, newsfeeds, review sites and social media. So even if you don’t sell your products or services online you still need a strong online presence to raise brand awareness and direct people to your bricks and mortar store.

Most local searchers take action within an hour of conducting their search by either visiting or calling the business premises, can you afford to be missing out on these opportunities?

Most local searchers take action within an hour of conducting their search by either visiting or calling the business premises Click To Tweet

Traditional media isn’t dead but it’s in decline and the stages of that decline vary from industry to industry. To be successful means taking the parts of traditional marketing practices that still work for you and supplementing your marketing strategy with digital marketing techniques.

So if over the last 10 years your marketing mix has consisted of print advertising, catalogues, mailshots, trade shows, e-blasts through purchased data lists and generally targeting or interrupting people when they’re not ready to buy then perhaps now is the time to be thinking of an alternative option.

Here are some additional ideas to consider to move your business forward.

Five tasks to consider as a next step

1) Audit your marketing activities

You need to determine the results or the Return On Investment (ROI) you are getting from each marketing activity or campaign in order to understand if they’re successful and providing good value.

Prior to any marketing initiative it’s important to establish the criteria by which you measure success or else it’s just down to gut feeling. Identifying KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) upfront will provide a guide to campaign performance but they always need to be measurable. In fact the preferred option is to follow the SMART concept of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed/Targeted objectives.

From a sales and marketing perspective KPI’s are normally based on measurements such as the number of ebooks downloaded, the number of new customers acquired or the revenue attributable to each campaign etc.

Your online analytics package e.g. Google Analytics will provide the data to help measure your metrics against your KPI’s. Most Google Analytics users only pay attention to the top level measurements such as the number of visitors to the site per month but digging deeper provides a great deal of useful information such as the top landing pages, referring sites including social media platforms, number of visits to your site via a mobile device and average session duration. Knowing what’s working and what isn’t will help guide your efforts.

Points to consider include:

  • If you’re running a PPC campaign link your Google Analytics and Google AdWords account in order to see PPC details in Analytics. This can be very useful when looking under Multi-Channel Funnel, top conversion paths within the Conversions section. This shows the different actions that contributed to a conversion.
  • Make sure you add tracking code where necessary to any links on your email marketing content. Many ESP’s do this for you but if you need to do it yourself use the Google URL builder tool.
  • If you have any video uploaded to YouTube you can link your YouTube account with Google Analytics.
  • You can get your Google Analytics reports emailed directly to your PC on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.
  • Free social media monitoring tools such as social mention can provide an indication of activity across social networks.
  • Drive your offline audience to custom landing pages designed for each specific campaign where conversions can be measured. Use unique email addresses, telephone numbers or coupon numbers on print ads or direct mail shots.

Key tip: Don’t just measure for measurements sake. Determine the purpose of your content upfront and use the appropriate platforms/packages to measure the interaction relevant to your goals and objectives.

Set your KPI's and metrics upfront before you implement any marketing activities Click To Tweet

2) Plan for the future

I’ll continually make this statement till I’m blue in the face in the hope that the idea catches on. You wouldn’t expect a builder to start work on your new home without a written plan of how they intend to go about the build. So why do many business owners continually make decisions on an ad-hoc or gut feeling basis with no real idea of the end game (except survival). Your chances of survival must increase if you have an identified path to take to achieve your goals. Don’t worry, the plan can be amended as changes on the ground dictate but the end goals needs to be identified and strived for.

Having a written marketing plan that your team agree with and understand helps keep your marketing programme on track, it guides decisions and allows budget and resource to be allocated and prioritized.

A marketing plan should be a live document that evolves as your marketplace changes, not something that gets written at the beginning of the year, put in a drawer and forgotten. Having a written document with key objectives allows you to consider the implications of how any market changes will affect your business and whether you need to amend or update your plan accordingly.

“if a man does not know to which port he’s steering, then no wind is favourable”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Points to consider include:

If you want to stop your competitors eating into your market share, grow faster than your competitors, consolidate your business and increase your market reach, then you need to have a good understanding of:

  • What it is you want to achieve
  • A clear understanding of how you are going to accomplish this
  • The current market situation
  • The competitive environment
  • A clear understanding of the value you provide to your customer base
  • The resources you need to succeed
  • How you will judge success

Creating a written plan will enable you to focus your activities and resource, help drive your business decisions, reduce risk and manage costs.

Having a written marketing plan to help guide decisions will give you an advantage over businesses who don't. Click To Tweet

3) Debunk the myths

Far too often businesses get stuck in a rut and continue blindly following the same old paths, getting the same old results (if they can be measured) e.g.:

1. The sales manager will tell you “if we don’t exhibit at this trade show our customers will think we’re in trouble”.

A. It’s easy to inform your existing clients by email or social media that you’ve decided to give this tradeshow a miss and you’re concentrating your marketing activities on alternative channels that should provide them with more useful information and support.

2. The magazine editor will tell you “if you don’t continue taking the ads I’ll have to give the slot to your competition”.

A. So what! If you’ve decided that you’re not getting the return on magazine advertising that you need, let your competitors waste their marketing budget. Magazine editors have been using the argument that your competitors are advertising in the mag, so you should be too, for too long. This argument is based on the fact that your competitor made the right decision in the first place.

3. The sales team will tell you “our customers never look online, they want a hard copy brochure or catalogue”.

A. More than 90% of people turn to the internet to find solutions to their problems. Research abounds telling us that most buyers have travelled between 60 and 70% along the buying journey before they engage with a sales person or business (on their terms). If they can’t find you, you’re potentially missing out on masses of opportunities without even knowing. Brochures and catalogues may be useful but make sure you offer them in downloadable formats and promote them online and offline.

4. The data seller will tell you “these are targeted email addresses guaranteed to bring in new business”.

A. Have you or anyone else you know willingly signed up to something where they say “we will sell on your data to anyone who wants to buy it, they will then send you lots of emails that you won’t be interested in and try to sell you loads of stuff you don’t need or want”.

Didn’t think so.

Every business should build their own, targeted database through its own marketing activities and a lead capture mechanism. Click To Tweet

4) Take an inbound marketing approach

Inbound marketing techniques use the power of the internet, social media and search marketing to act as a pull mechanism to draw visitors towards your offer. Its central tenet is the creation, publishing and promotion of interesting, relevant and educational content targeted at your key buyer personas.

Here’s how it works

  • Searchers have a problem to solve and like most of us they turn to the search engines and tap in their key phrases to try to find a solution.
  • You as a company have solutions to offer.
  • The content you have published on your website and elsewhere online have been indexed by Google and other search engines and acts as a magnet, attracting people searching for solutions to their search query.
  • And voila, the searcher gets matched up with the solution provider and click through to your site. It’s a bit more complex than that but that’s the basis of it.

Points to consider include:

Create a content marketing engine and use that content to help those searchers find you.  Identify topics that your audience are interested in, create content around those topics and distribute this information across the web, social media platforms, paid advertising and to your email list of prospects. This will increase the odds of your business getting found, and chosen over the competition.

Rather than view the content in isolation plan it as part of a story, perhaps through a series of articles, blog posts and even video that focuses on resolving the searcher’s challenges, not on promoting your own company.

This approach offers many advantages. The keyword rich content attracts searchers to your site, the visitors to your website are more engaged, you get more quality inbound links to your site and improve your search rankings. By keeping your visitors interested in what you have to offer they are more likely to return to your site. To get started:

  • Make a list of possible content based on supporting your marketing objectives
  • Prioritise that list and focus on topics where you will get the most interest
  • Focus on a selected (segmented) audience (think personas)
  • Highlight what you want your audience to do after reading or viewing that piece of content e.g. the Call to Action (CTA)
  • Determine the best medium for your content e.g. text, images, video, infographics etc.
  • Plan how you can re-purpose that content across multiple platforms
  • At each stage of the content development process ask the question “Is this still in line with my initial objectives?”
  • Plan out your activities using an editorial calendar to keep things on track

Content Marketing In Action

If you need more evidence to determine if this approach works, read how a Devon based SME evolved their traditional marketing activities away from a push-based, interruptive marketing model towards a pull-based content marketing approach to help drive (international) growth.

5) Link back to point number 1

Continually monitor and analyse your results and keep testing.

In Summary

With so many marketing channels available, choosing the best mix to market your business can be daunting. Google state that before a consumer makes a decision to purchase from a business they have gone through at least 18 marketing touch points (in many cases this can be several hundred).

Leaving success to chance is no longer a viable option. People respond to businesses that understand their needs so it’s vital that you’re continually measuring the impact your marketing has on your audience, you understand the audience intent and react to that.

If you need further information on how I can help your business grow. Check out my range of marketing services and consultancy packages.

Give me a call on 01803 413481 or email help@andrewleonwalker.co.uk

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