You know the game. You turn over cards until two pictures match and then everyone yells snap. The more turns that go by without a match, the higher the level of anticipation and the louder the eventual shout.
Small businesses often approach marketing like a game of snap. They produce some content and then throw it out there - in print, online, maybe a bit of telemarketing. No real strategy in place. Then the waiting game begins, until a lead is found and everyone can claim success (yell snap).
Marketing is not a game of chance. At it's simplest, it's about communicating your message to those who want to hear it, to help them choose your offering over the competition.
It takes time to produce great content, so you owe it to yourself and your customers to get that communication right.
Group 1 - Total strangers to your brand
Let's think of them as future customers. All marketing that you do to this group is going to be interruptive, since they've never heard of you before. We all hate junk mail so whatever you say has to be compelling in 5 seconds or less. Imagine you're at a tradeshow. What could you do/say to stand out?
Group 2 - Previous interactions and existing Customers
They've heard of you/your brand before and may have even purchased something. The marketing that this group needs should move them along the sales cycle. Educate them. Expand your content to build on what they already know. Challenge their assumptions. This group needs engagement. Show them why they should care and you'll see results.
Group 3 - Repeat customers
Your biggest supporters. Repeat customers are marketing tools in their own right. They can tell you what they like/don't like (product development) and build your brand through word of mouth (PR). This group have invested time and money to keep you in business and the content they receive should reflect this. You need to validate their decision to stick with you. Can you offer them sneak peaks, exclusive news, invite them to participate in a way that acknowledges their status? Social media makes this easier than you'd think.
So, when you've produced a great white paper, webcast, press release, blog entry etc. think about how it can be reworked to meet the needs of each group. Then think about how each group will want to receive those messages - smart phone, ipad, social media, direct mail, youtube video etc. Its a sure fire way to get lots more snaps ; )