These days, the “next big thing” seems to come along almost every day, especially in terms of technology and internet-based platforms and tools. As someone working to market a business to prospective customers, the opportunity to gain exposure has never been greater; but, great opportunities can also become hugely overwhelming.
Busyness without business is a signal that you need a stronger strategy.
If you find your “marketing to-do list” growing without the ability to tie increased efforts to increased bookings, it may be time to hit the pause button. Following are four steps to building a marketing program that can be planned, implemented and measured.
In today’s cluttered and fast-moving marketing space, people connect with meaningful, well-articulated messages. So, rather than a flash-in-the-pan campaign that passes as quickly as 140 characters in a Twitter feed, your marketing program should begin with a compelling story that has staying power.
That story is your brand, the foundational base to your marketing program. It needs a central theme and characters, conflicts and resolutions. And, it needs a point of view to carry it. When thinking about your company’s story, pair facts with feelings. What experience do you provide?
- What’s my company’s culture? What kind of experience does it create?
- What challenges do we help people solve? And, more importantly, how?
- What inspires me about my company and the customers we work with? Why do I keep doing it?
Your brand story is a framework for prospects to engage with. It helps give them a deeper understanding of your organization and the unique opportunity it offers. It should create consistent expectations that you can deliver through a consistent experience.
Step #2: You need a platform.
Whatever your story, you’ll need a marketing platform that allows your venue’s voice to be heard. It needs to provide a clear path for prospects to connect with you. While your website is your home-base, the other platforms that lead back to it require strategic consideration. Choose the social media outlets that are the best match for your target audience and message. For example, if you’re an interior designer, architect or chef, consider a presence on Pinterest. If you cater to a corporate crowd, LinkedIn and its networking groups may be a stronger channel. Twitter and Facebook may be appropriate for both.
Your entire online platform should be a two-way street: social media channels lead to your website, while blogs and web content can be shared through your social networks. At its best, the platform you are building becomes a sales funnel for capturing leads and nurturing prospects. Consider technology solutions that can be tied together with your CRM system and email automation programs.
By utilizing several programs and integrating them all through your website, you can reach a wider audience in specific, targeted ways.
Step #3: Content is king.
Now that you have a brand story and the means to reach your audience, it’s time to build upon the foundation. Bring the story to life through content that engages and educates your audience. This content should be strategic based on whom you are trying to attract.
Think about your prospects and ask:
- What do they need?
- How do they search for me?
- What can I provide that addresses their challenges?
Once you’ve identified their needs, you can begin to create content that is useful to them. Your content can take numerous forms – from blogs, white papers, and webinars, to videos, PDFs, and newsletters. It can even take on traditional tactics such as trade shows and PR pitches that are enhanced through online strategies.
With these various formats, you can create a relationship-building sales funnel. For example:
- You’re a consultant that helps corporate clients with training new employees.
- You wrote a blog, “5 Ways to Maximize Your Training Budget.” A prospect clicked it, read it, and got a new idea.
- Then, you invited them to download your free webinar on introducing new training strategies. Because it’s relevant to the topic they sought out, they’re happy to join.
- Now that you’ve proven your information is valuable, they visit your website again and contact you about bringing new training sessions to their company.
Your content showcased your expertise and engaged your prospect throughout the buying cycle.
Step #4: Finding results for your marketing investment.
To measure the effectiveness of these tools, you’ll first need to establish goals. These may include increasing website visitors, gaining friends and followers, and counting content downloads from your site. But ultimately, your program needs to result in more leads and more business on the books.
Knowing your goals will help you establish an evaluation plan that measures your success by campaign, by list, by keyword and by content. And you should be looking at results every week in order to tweak your plan as needed.
There are a number of online tools to help you with metrics. For example, Google Analytics pulls prospect engagement data together for greater insight. Or, there are even higher-level subscription-based tools that will let you perform a comprehensive evaluation of your entire marketing program. For example, at Allegory, we use HubSpot, an inbound marketing software that helps us identify prospects by name, keep track of repeat visits, manage campaigns through email automation, and maximize our social media schedule.
Rather than jumping into your marketing pants on fire, give yourself permission to slow down and reevaluate your marketing program. It is far more effective to execute a few strategic campaigns that tell a story and establish your organization as a resource.