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Friday, 1 March 2013

Is Your Marketing On Track? The 4 Point Check

We're two months into the new year now and your marketing plan is in full flow. Yes?/No?

Like the rest of us, good intentions are often derailed by new opportunities, fresh ideas and all manner of life getting in the way. If this sounds familiar then the good news is, it's relatively easy to get back on track by considering a few basic questions.

1. What are your marketing objectives?

Look at your marketing plan and remind yourself of the agreed definition of marketing success e.g. increase revenue by X%, drive business growth by Y, produce Z number of new leads per month etc. Keep this on your desk, stick it to your pinboard and refer to it often. Once you start to implement, marketing resources can quickly find themselves stretched. Keeping your agreed objectives visible, helps the business understand where and when you can be flexible.

2. Are your communications working?

Think about what you have to tell the world and make sure you know who cares enough to listen.
  • Look at the months ahead as an ongoing conversation with your target audience(s). Your outreach ideally needs to take them from strangers to your product/service to advocates of it and that doesn’t happen overnight or with one email blast 
  • Make your messaging clear, concise and consistent. Stay away from business speak and make it conversational if possible. Your customers are just as smart as you are, so don’t send communications that you wouldn’t be delighted to receive yourself 
  • Talk benefits rather than features. The only person really interested in your product/service is you. For everyone else you have to create a need, solve a problem or generate enough excitement that they decide to buy 
  • Quality of your content should be the driving force. Before you send anything, think – so what? Never send an email to your installed base telling them you have updated your website, unless there’s an actual benefit to them knowing that (i.e. downloads, discounts etc.). Otherwise you’ve just interrupted their day for nothing and that’s a wasted opportunity 
  • Think about your ‘call to action’ on each communication and prioritize next steps in your outreach based on how your customers respond to the last one, rather than pigeon holing them too early. Make sure to work with your sales team on this one 

3. Keep monitoring which tool(s) are most likely to help you meet your objectives

I’m constantly amazed when companies launch into social media campaigns without knowing why they’re doing them or indeed if the people they’re trying to reach are even on Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • Think combination campaigns, which use multiple channels to reach your audience e.g. if you’re staging an event, you could send an email, set up a micro site, link to this from your blog entry, tweet, post details on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. You’ll also want to produce a printed document for the sales team to leave behind and if you use great imagery you might even get picked up on Pinterest! 
  • Go where your audience are. If your target group read a particular publication then you’d obviously want to advertise there. In the same way, influential bloggers can make or break an idea or campaign. You don’t have to be everywhere - just where your customers are. 
  • Look at how your various customer groups have engaged with you in the past. You’ve probably got multiple data stores, (even if its just excel spreadsheets on each sales persons laptop). Revisiting this information can really help you personalise your outreach 
  • Before selecting, draw up a pros and cons list for each tool which might do the job e.g. Twitter is great for immediate, small amounts of information and interaction, but the immediacy means information is quickly out of date or lost and 140 characters might not do your message justice 

4. Check that your marketing is building the future you hope for - test and measure

Used properly your marketing tactics should not only achieve your immediate goals but also enhance the overall customer experience.
  • Make sure that all outreach adds value to your brand. In this wonderful world of information sharing, you can never really predict where your messaging might go, so craft each piece to reflect your brand values and what your company stands for and you’ll always be proud 
  • Make it clear how customers can contact you, not just to take up the offer, but to provide feedback, ask questions and engage. Remember long-term relationships are built on trust and hiding behind an ‘info@’ email address doesn’t inspire confidence, unless you respond to it within an hour or less (which would then be a definite ‘wow’ factor)

Above all, make sure your marketing delivers on the promises made to your customers. Future years marketing budgets and ultimately customer loyalty, are won or lost on this fact.

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