It’s a New Year, and both individuals and companies are setting ambitious goals for the coming months. Often, companies shoot for sales and revenue targets, but rarely do they put the right frameworks in place to generate enough leads and touchpoints to support those revenue goals. If this sounds like your organization, it may be time to up your marketing game.
Like with any goal, you need a combination of focused strategy and high impact, high ROI tactics to get you there. In marketing there are a thousand things you could do, but at the very least there are a few things you should do, no matter what type of business you have, in order to have a solid brand and long-term growth and results from your marketing efforts.
A Clear Market Position
Do you know exactly where you fit in the marketplace and what you uniquely bring to the table? To clearly carve out a niche and target the right customers, you must know and be able to communicate what you do better than anyone else and which customers are the best fit for your business. Using a vanilla or blanket approach to your market positioning and branding waters down your offer and makes it hard for customers to connect with your company. Instead, take a hard look and make sure you have a well-defined and relevant market position and have identified the value proposition to the target customer. This will help you carve out the rest of your marketing strategy and define your core messaging.
Brands who have been in business for a while, and who had established a clear market position at their initial launch, may still need to revisit their positioning to ensure that it is still true and relevant. This is because over time industries, technology, markets, and even your company can change dramatically. As a result, your competitive advantage can change (or disappear) as can the key value proposition. It’s important to revisit it often and ensure that you have a clear position and are marketing it properly.
On Point Branding and Collateral
Every piece of marketing and sales material you generate, from your business cards to your website, must be consistent, quality, and speak to the value you provide. This is one area where you most definitely get what you paid for. Many companies erroneously think they can leverage cheap resources and still get high quality sales and marketing collateral. The cheaper solutions tend to be mass produced, meaning, your marketing will look and sound exactly like a thousand other companies on the market. To truly define and own that market position we mentioned earlier, you need to have a clear and distinct brand visually as well as physically. The look and feel of all of your marketing and sales materials – your pocket folders, business cards, office space, website, etc.-- must evoke the right emotions, ideas, and actions and communicate the right value (and price point) you want to capture.
This is even more important for high value products and services, such as luxury goods or professional services like engineering or consulting. The quality of the design and the production are critical for conveying the higher price tag you hope to garner. High dollar goods and services need to invest a bit more in their presentation in order to attract high-end clients.
A Digital Home Base with Oomph
By now, everyone should know that its critical to have a website. It’s not enough to throw up a couple of generic “about” pages and list your services. The crowded digital landscape requires a website that is a living, breathing, evolving entity. This means generating new content through blogs and resource pages and regularly updating old pages and posts to keep all content fresh and relevant. Not only is this essential for driving SEO (getting found online), customers have come to expect websites to provide more than just a means for purchasing a product or service. They want to be educated and/or entertained and receive value before and after they purchase. Also, regular content gives people a reason to keep coming back, which is the foundation for building a community of followers that stay connected outside of a transaction.
This is not just a buzzword. Quality thought leadership is the hallmark of an established and valuable brand, especially for knowledge-based companies and professional services firms who sell specialized skills and expertise. Buyers for skilled services expect to be advised and educated every step of the way. Also, since skilled services tend to be much higher ticket items, and thus, higher risk for the buyer, it takes longer for a prospect to feel that they can trust and believe that the company can and will deliver. Thought leadership helps build trust in the company and in the professionals providing the service.
Because it is a higher price point, skilled services also have a much longer sales cycle. Thought leadership fuels the marketing engine that drives business development and moves the buyer from prospect to client without relying solely on personal interactions from seller-doers or business development professionals. That’s because thought leadership feeds PR, lead magnets, blogs, emails, and other content marketing that supports lead generation and all the touchpoints along the business development cycle.
Email Marketing Machine and Automation
To capture leads and drive repeat business from existing customers, companies in every industry need a solid customer relations management (CRM) system with integrated email automation. This system ties to key lead magnets, shares critical assets, and tracks user behavior so all teams can identify opportunities and continue to enhance the customer experience while increasing touch points that drive conversions (aka sales). Integration is key, as many companies have piecemealed solutions for email marketing, opportunity tracking, customer management, etc. Separately these tools don’t paint a clear picture of customer behavior, they don’t streamline the experience, nor do they provide cohesive and comprehensive insights for leadership and sales teams.
Not only is it important to integrate and streamline these functions, it’s also important to simplify them. Too many companies over customize to the point that data integrity is lost, and reporting is near impossible. A minimal number of data points that identify segments and paint a clear picture of behavior is all it takes to really drive value and insights.
Sensible Social Media Presence
Just like websites, most companies understand by now that a social media presence is essential to marketing in the 21stcentury (for now, at least). I use the word sensible though, because after years of avoiding social media, growing number of companies have now put too much time and effort into social media marketing, often at the expense of other marketing channels and while not generating and capturing the qualified leads they hoped for. Some companies even go so far as to put all their marketing eggs in the social media basket, forgoing any owned media channels (such as a website) in favor of the platform du jour. This is often to their detriment as social media platforms change constantly or even go out of business – remember Myspace? Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and the likes are in business to make money. They will change and evolve in ways that benefit them and their shareholders, not your company. Many brands have suffered as a result, becoming invisible almost overnight and having to rebuild their audiences and pay for exposure they once enjoyed for (almost) free.
These elements are the foundation of a vibrant and sustainable marketing initiative. Without these in place, no amount of flash or advertising is going to drive the results you ultimately want to see, especially in the long run.