CEO’s Corner: When GOOD marketing isn’t exactly EFFECTIVE marketing
Earlier this week I took a call from a new prospect. She and her husband are the owners of a very successful heating and air conditioning company. While the company was already engaged with another marketing agency, the owner of the business was becoming less and less convinced that their current marketing efforts were actually leading to new customers and additional revenues. In fact, most of the “leads” being reported were actually originating from existing customers.
Hearing a prospect’s account of under-performing marketing isn’t all that unusual. But I’ll be honest, 8 out of 10 times it’s a matter of unrealistic client expectations – doing very little marketing and expecting huge returns. So my suspicion at this point in the conversation was that the prospect’s marketing efforts were simply limited. Perhaps they just weren’t doing enough to see the desired results.
But then I began to look deeper… my knee-jerk assumption was very wrong. The company WAS actually making a significant investment in their marketing, and (from what I could see) their current marketing partner WAS working hard on their behalf. I saw a newly updated website, new content for the company’s blog, daily management of social media activities… many of the things you’d associate with “good marketing.”
So why the lack of results?
Because GOOD marketing isn’t always EFFECTIVE marketing.
By that, I mean every business is unique. What’s effective for one company doesn’t automatically constitute a success model for another. Unfortunately, life in many larger marketing firms is all about turning and burning – selling the client on a cookie-cutter package of services (e.g., Package A includes a new website, monthly hosting, 4 blogs per month, and posting to 3 social media networks). What’s missing here is the bigger picture, the strategic approach to doing the MOST EFFECTIVE thing for a specific client and within a specific client’s budget.
So back to this prospect’s situation (Call number 2)
During a second call with the prospect, I encouraged her to think a bit broader. Who and where are your customers? What % of your revenue is coming from new vs. repeat customers? What’s really helped your business earn new customers over the years? What differentiates your company from your competitors? What’s the most important factor a prospect considers before picking up that phone to schedule service?
The path to effective marketing JUST GOT A WHOLE LOT CLEARER. Here’s what I learned:
- Despite the dollars currently being spent on digital marketing, the most rock-solid lead source was hyper-local print ads. Good old-fashioned neighborhood publications.
- Google AdWords was used in the past, but it was abandoned due to lack of proper targeting (one example… the prospect told me they received calls from people needing a tow truck in Washington, DC – Obviously not good!).
- While they’ve tried to collect customer reviews over the years, the efforts have been hit or miss.
- The company had no true strategy or process to proactively market throughout the customer lifecycle (from initial lead through lifelong customer).
These facts changed the game, and it most definitely necessitates a shift in the client’s marketing spend. NOT necessarily more dollars, just a reallocation of dollars to achieve better results. More specifically, here’s where we’re headed in the short term:
- Dial back the expenses and effort around social media (I know… all the marketers reading this can’t believe I just said that. I did. We’ll keep a presence, but for now, limited dollars should be spent where we can quantify a return).
- Dissect the entire prospect/customer experience and build a process to automate from end-to-end – attracting prospects, converting prospects into customers, measuring customer satisfaction, staying in touch, earning repeat business, and consistently generating customer referrals.
- Create a systemic process for capturing and publishing video and text-based customer reviews. Reviews are a HUGE deal for local service-based businesses. They help organic search rankings AND they help win customers.
- Returning to Google AdWords, but in a way that is properly targeted to the local community.
- Identifying additional local print publications, local team/event sponsorships, and opportunities to serve the local community.
I hope this quick case study has been helpful. As a business owner, you know your business better than anyone. While you should never need to live in the minutia of marketing tactics, you DO want to keep your eye on whether your current strategy is delivering real results. If they aren’t, it’s time to rethink your approach to things.
Until next time!