You’ve probably heard the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately, this maxim doesn’t always apply to marketing. The industry is constantly evolving, and failing to keep up will result in your business falling behind.
If print ads in your local newspaper or direct mail “coupon value packs” have gained you valuable business, then good on you (however you’re an anomaly). For those who want a more dynamic marketing strategy, taking a comprehensive consensus of all the marketing/advertising tools you use (and have used), will reveal how to best plan moving forward. It will also help identify what kinds of new approaches should be introduced to make your marketing efforts even more successful.
1. Take Inventory
Print Collateral. When all the existing and past marketing materials are spread out on a table, I’ve heard comments range from “Wow, that’s pretty cool” to “Aaargh! We didn’t send that out, did we?” It’s amazing that when we ask a new client to provide us with all the different marketing collateral they are currently sending out, they oftentimes have no clue what all is “floating out there.” Especially if they have salespeople who rely on using their own collateral.
After surveying the entire inventory spread out before you, sort collateral into two piles: “Worked” or “Didn’t Work.” To determine the pile, ask yourself if that piece of marketing brought in new leads/customers. A simple yes or no answer will dictate which pile that piece belongs in.
Other Outbound Efforts. When taking inventory, don’t forget to consider other outbound efforts you’ve tried:
- Print ads
- Web ads
- Direct Mail
- Radio advertising
- Shaker signs
…you get the idea.
Online Efforts. A company’s website can (and should be) one of your most prominent marketing tools. Does your website serve your audience well by giving them what they need, when they need it, where they’re looking for it? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” or “I’m not sure,”—your website, unfortunately, needs to go under the “Didn’t Work” category.
After you have categorized all your current and past marketing and advertising endeavors, take stock of the results. For a real eye-opener, apply a dollar amount to the ones that ended up under the “Didn’t Work” column!
2. Consider Other Marketing Strategies
If you haven’t already entertained the thought of expanding your online presence, consider capitalizing on inbound marketing:
Search Marketing. Although this strategy has been around for a while, acronyms like “SEO,” “SEM,” “PPC” and “CPC” are still foreign to many small businesses, and therefore, aren’t part of their marketing mix. Consider the following statistics, and you may want to reconsider:
- Organic search drives 10 times more traffic to shopping sites than social media.
- More than half of consumers perform online research before buying something.
- Integrating PPC with organic SEO efforts results in a 25%+ increase in clicks and & increase in profits over isolated efforts.
Blogging. 81% of online consumers read and trust advice from blogs. Of course, the blogs need to be informative, providing answers and solutions to questions and issues those consumers are searching for. Additionally, they need to be optimized in order to gain traction with search engines. Again, all very technical sounding, but statistics don’t lie when it comes to effective blog writing.
Content Marketing. This approach goes hand-in-hand with blogging, and is integral to converting visitors into leads and ultimately into customers with content targeted to a specific audience (or persona).
Social Media Marketing. These platforms can be the perfect opportunity to get your name out to the masses for little more than the time it takes to maintain your accounts. Identify which platforms are most appropriate to your target audience, and measure the ROI of your efforts through metrics like reach, traffic, leads, likes, followers and conversion rates—oops, starting to sound “techie” again… All these metrics are easily attainable, and understandable, by putting an online marketing automation tool in place.
Full Inbound. Blogging, social media marketing, content marketing, lead nurturing, email marketing, SEO, etc. all fall under the umbrella of inbound marketing. The best ROI results are attained when a full inbound marketing plan is in place, along with a marketing automation platform that seamlessly keeps these elements working together. The amount of inbound efforts you implement is up to you, but consistency is the key to success. Budget will dictate how much and how often, but, once again, statistics have proven that aggressive, well-executed inbound efforts pay off handsomely relative to the dollars expended.
3. Commit and Implement
After taking full stock of your “Did” and “Didn’t Work” inventory and identifying the marketing budget you have (relative to your gross/projected revenue), you can now take the next step and commit to a strategic marketing plan that encompasses the best and most effective outbound and inbound marketing tools available to meet your company’s specific goals and budget.