Tips to Help Focus Your Marketing Strategy
This is part 3 of my 4-part series on common marketing pitfalls. In the previous posts, I’ve discussed how to identify your unique selling proposition and how to simplify your marketing messages. Be sure to check them out if you have a minute!
In part 3, let’s shift our attention to another pitfall I see all too often… a disjointed, unfocused approach to marketing.
For most small businesses, marketing has evolved slowly over the years. They’ve been largely influenced by what others say they should be doing (whether that’s a vendor encouraging them to use a specific software tool, or a friend saying they need to be on Facebook.)
You know what it looks like… marketing becomes a collection of disjointed tactics:
- Sending an occasional email blast
- Running a print ad for a couple months in an local magazine or industry publication
- Starting a weekly blog… that quickly turns into a monthly blog… then a quarterly blog
- Creating social media profiles, but not having a longer term plan on how to promote them
- Submitting your website to a company that will get you on 1000 online directories
If any of this hits home, I’d encourage you to take a step back and reevaluate your current approach. It will take some time and effort, but your marketing will be much better for it. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Clearly Define Your Target (I mean REALLY define your target buyer)
You probably already have a good sense for who your customers are, but I’d like you to think about them more specifically: Are they clustered in a particular geography or industry? How old are they? Where do they meet (in person or online)? What business challenges keeps them up at night? What trends are they being impacted by?
Having a very clear sense of your buyer “personas” is a key step in helping you select the most effective marketing channels for your company. It will also help you create messaging and offers that are more likely to resonate.
- Take Care of Your Marketing Foundation First.
When most people think of marketing, they think about getting the phone to ring, or getting more traffic to their websites. These things are important, but they’re also a great way to flush a lot of money down the drain if you haven’t tended to the foundation of your core messaging and website experience. I’d compare it to trying to sell your home by hosting an open house – but when potential buyers arrive, all they see is dusty furniture and dirty dishes.
Think about your visitor’s first impression of your website. Is it visually impactful? Can they fully understand what benefit you can provide in the first 5-10 seconds? If you answered “no” to these questions, my advice is to stop (or at least scale back) your promotion efforts immediately. Then start doing the work of dusting the furniture and doing the dishes!
- It’s Not About Doing Everything.
There are a couple problems with this. First, it almost always creates a situation where your individual marketing tactics are underfunded. As a result, we’re not giving them a fair chance to succeed. Second, it becomes a very tough strategy to manage – with 10 elements all competing for your time and attention.
What’s a better approach? Let’s take that same $100, and spread it across only our top 4 marketing tactics. This allows you to fund each tactic at an optimal level. It also allows you to go deep in managing/optimizing these efforts rather than being stretched too thin.
Great marketing is not about doing everything. It’s about doing a few things great. I really do believe this.
- Go where the return on investment is.
This one is short and simple. As a good marketer, you owe it to yourself (and your company) to make sure every dollar spent is put to optimal use. Take some time to consider how each marketing tactic is contributing to revenue generation. Inevitably, you’ll find certain tactics consistently outperform others. These are the winners. Find ways to further optimize these tactics and consider making additional investments in them.
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to dump the tactics that really don’t seem to be achieving your objectives. Don’t feel compelled to stay with a losing strategy just because “that’s what your company has always done.” Your time and money are best spent on areas you know are producing a solid return on investment.
Hope this helps!