Whether you are excited to put together your business’ first marketing strategy or are ready to update one that no longer seems to be working, it can feel like a Herculean task. Where do you start? What do you consider? How do you weave it all together?
Because we develop marketing strategies for our own clients on a regular basis, here are my tips to ensure your strategy fits your business:
Start at the beginning
If you don’t have a marketing strategy yet, start by answering:
• Who are you?
• What do you produce (services or products)?
• Who is your target demographic?
• What are the best channels for them? (More on this below!)
• What are your differentiators?
• What is your value proposition?
• Which channels will accommodate that value proposition?
The answers will provide the guidance you need to move forward.
Analyze your current strategy
If you already have a marketing strategy in place, answer:
• What are you doing?
• What channels are you focusing on?
• What resources are you devoting to marketing?
• What messages are you using?
• What engagement mediums are you investing in?
Analyze what is working, if you have collected measureable data, so you know what to get rid of and what to focus on.
Research your target demographic
Marketing is about reaching the target demographic that will help you grow, not necessarily who you are reaching or working with now.
We recently went through this exercise with a medical practice. Their current patients are older, and they decided to go after a younger demographic – 20 year olds who will eventually be parents. We did a direct mail campaign for them in a certain geographic area, and they got tons of responses. People were walking into the office with the postcard in hand. And it’s all because we did the research of who the target is, what’s important to them, and how to reach them.
Think through messaging
Messaging is typically tied to a challenge faced by a specific demographic. You need to focus on the “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me) when developing your messaging. It’s all about the benefits your product or service provides the end user, and not the list of features it has. For example, college students have to stay within a tight budget when planning a vacation, but a successful professional might not. So tailor your products or services to add value and help illustrate how your can help alleviate the challenge.
Sometimes, however, demographics don’t matter because the challenge is the same for everyone. While working with the manufacturer of prosthetics sockets, we found that the biggest challenge their patients were expressing was finding a great fit, whether the patient is 5 years old or 82 years old. All of the messaging we created focused on how they provide the perfect fit, essentially capitalizing on the ultimate benefit gained by the end user.
Choose the right marketing channel(s) for your strategy
Let’s break down the most common marketing channels, so you can better understand what might and might not work for you:
Website – Everyone finds everything they want on the web, so you have to have a website that speaks directly to the challenge of your target demographic and frames your products and services as the solution the end user has been searching for.
Social media – Social media allows you to extend your reach, but it might not be a good fit for your particular business, or certain social networks may serve your goals better than others. For example, if your target demographic only uses Facebook, you have to find creative ways to weave your value proposition into specifically tailored messaging that will resonate. Or, invest in advertising channels that social platforms offer you.
Traditional advertising – Unless you have enough funds set aside to maintain a sustained campaign, traditional advertising mediums are not necessarily going to yield favorable results. If you have niche products and services you could certainly maintain a more focused advertising initiative in trade mediums, and that would help with your brand awareness. Otherwise, however, placing one-off ads in print, radio or television outlets are not generally going to provide the maximum benefit to your brand or your company.
Online advertising – Online pay-per-click (PPC) or pay-per-impression (PPI) campaigns are a much better way to spend your money if you are looking for a broad reach and the flexibility to modify your resources regularly based on measurable results. You’ll probably get 10-20 times more exposure than doing one TV ad. But again, it has to be a long-term campaign.
Public Relations – PR is very effective for marketing! It’s not just about informing other companies or the public about what you’re doing. You can build a whole campaign around PR by promoting webinars, appearances, speaking engagements, editorials. It’s a great way to create awareness of your brand and generate traffic to your website.
Direct mail – If you want to reach consumers, postcards are very effective as long as they include an enticing offer. If you are trying to target the C-suite, however, postcards will never reach their desk. Send a letter via certified mail, which will be opened and read, either by the assistant or the C-level executive.
Email marketing – Converting new clients with email is actually pretty tricky. The email has to be sent to a large list for it to be effective, because open and click rates are usually very low. You might already have a great list of past and present clients, and you can only upsell them further via email. If you want to reach new people, you have to devise effective mechanisms to collect email addresses. Giveaway campaigns, free online content dissemination, or incentive-based campaigns can help you build your email list quickly. However, once it is time to send the emails out, just like direct mail, your email has to be associated with an enticing offer.
Newsletters are a really, really good way to build brand awareness and stay top-of-mind with your current list. If people don’t unsubscribe, that’s great – even if they don’t read your emails. If you’re providing free information and people value that information, they put it in their back pocket and will reach out when they need something or your email catches them when they are in the right frame of mind to take action.
I know this is a lot of information, so take some time to digest it. If it still feels like it’s too much for you to take on, let’s talk! We can help you develop a marketing strategy that is tailor-made to your particular business.