Marketing Reboot for 2014 – Part 4 – Get your marketing message out there
By Nial Adams
The Best and Worst things about the Top 5 Marketing Channels.
For this fourth and final part of the Marketing Reboot Mini-Guide I want to bring all the previous elements together. So if you’ve not yet read parts 1, 2 and 3 then scroll to the bottom for the links.
So far we’ve looked at what the main engine is for marketing your business. It’s about systems and more importantly it’s about a systemised approach that lets you know if you’re winning or just wasting money.
If there is one big secret to marketing it is this; you will never be able to know what works until you try it. Yes, lots of experience will help you and learning marketing methods, strategies and tactics are essential. You don’t want to spend years figuring it out, so you need a shortcut.
And one thing you can do right from the beginning (especially if you’re a startup business) is to learn the value of testing and measuring everything you can. When it comes to marketing there are only two things you really need to know; did it work and what was the result?
The result is not just about what happened, new customers, new sales, but also was it really worth it? Putting it bluntly, was the exercise profitable? If you made more money back than you spent then your marketing activities have been a positive result.
Did it work? That requires a little more consideration. Did it bring you the result you were aiming for? Did you fulfill the orders you wanted to? Have you got the sort of customers you want?
Don’t fall in the trap of thinking that simply because you had a lot of activity that you’ve struck gold. Using marketing to get potential customers to your door is only half the task. Now you need to convert them into buyers. Best of all, you want them to want to buy from you and all this starts when you start marketing.
I can’t stress enough how important that this concept is to learning how marketing works. It’s about accepting that your role is about experimentation. You never really get marketing ‘right’ you just get better, or at least you should.
So the big truth of marketing is this; it’s all about the result. You really have to take emotion out of it and realise that the figures will tell most of the true result. Yes, of course you will need to take the long view in some things. Some marketing strategies take time to mature and will give bigger rewards further down the line. However, you must focus on the outcome you want now.
Marketing has moved on massively in the past ten years. Even over the last five years we’ve seen quantum shifts in the way people use online marketing to drive their businesses. That doesn’t look like stopping or slowing down any time soon. So you need to keep up your knowledge and tap into what’s really happening. The richest pickings are surely at the front.
We’ve also looked at why a value proposition is so important. Why it’s crucial for you to build an offer that your customers really want to engage with. Remember you’re not here to be selling to them but encouraging them to buy from you. To do this you need to know what they want and what really makes customers tick.
So understand who you’re selling to is just about as important as what you’re offering for sale. I believe most marketing fails not because it doesn’t engage but because it’s spread too thinly. The old days of ‘spray and pray’ marketing are out. They just don’t represent value for money when you consider how much waste is produced. Surely marketing should be like any other business function; economical?
So drive value out of your marketing and make sure it not only pays its way but it makes you money.
‘Getting your name out there’ –
How do you choose the right marketing channels? What are the best ones for getting the biggest result, are they expensive or require a lot of investment?
These are some of the many questions you’re probably asking if you are ready to take your offer to the market.
If you’ve already been running your business for some time and used different forms of marketing you will have some sense of what pays you dividends. You may still be doing some things that are simply costing you money, just because you feel there might be a loss if you stop doing them. Yes, something will change; you’ll stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t pay.
I know that seems harsh but it’s the one sure fact I can guarantee about marketing, doing the same thing over and over again and getting no result really is insanity.
For the past twenty years I’ve heard business people, business advisors and plenty of marketing people promote the idea of getting your name out there. Almost as if it doesn’t really matter how you do it, just keep spraying your message and eventually someone will listen.
If you think this is how marketing works then I hope I’m just about to save you tens of thousands of pounds and more. Don’t do it. Don’t fall into this trap. We now have the best opportunity ever to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. This is how marketing really works.
So you have your offer and you have your message. You know what you want your customers to buy from you and you know this will be profitable. Now the final step is finding and connecting with them. There are lots of ways of marketing and for the sake of keeping this article several pages short of a book, here are the top five (or most common five).
My opinions and guidance on these are drawn from over twenty years of experience of real world business marketing. Below I’ve aimed present a quick snapshot of the best and worst ways of the five main marketing channels. I offer these as a way for you to avoid the common pitfalls of marketing and the wasted expense that so many people suffer.
1. Online marketing – Your Website
I’m leading with this because it’s certainly a fundamental these days. It doesn’t matter if you run a florists or a management consultancy. You need a good website. It’s not so much about what other think; I’ve heard too many people say that they just want an online brochure and that will do.
It could be that your business only needs a simple website and a lot of the content may well simply act as a form of digital brochure but this is missing the point. Getting visitors to look and browse your site is pointless unless they know what to do next.
Sure, good websites can cost good money. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
Above all what you’re really looking for is a website that works. It needs to fulfill the requirement you set it. If you want to make money online then you need a website that works like a shop.
If you want it to generate leads for your sales team then it needs to be focused accordingly. Take it seriously.
PROS & CONS
PRO – Fast to create – Good websites can now be created in a few weeks, or even days, with tools like WordPress. Yes, you need to use someone who knows what they’re doing but compared to where we were a few years ago it’s so much quicker to have a good website produced.
PRO – Highly flexible – The big problem with print marketing was that it was very much a case of publish and be damned (and still is). Once the ink was on the paper there was no going back but with a website you now have endless levels of flexibility. If you want to update your website it can be done in minutes. Better still, you can continually improve and develop it.
PRO – Massive exposure – It’s reckoned that there are some 1.7billion Internet users worldwide. That’s a lot of people in one place. Your website has huge potential to reach a vast audience of people and if they’re looking for you, or a business like yours, then you have a direct route to their eyeballs. With this you can gain enormous marketing exposure at potentially very low costs.
CON – Nobody knows you’re there – It’s worth considering that along with 1.7 billion Internet users there are over 2 billion indexed web pages. And these are the only ones that can be found by search engines like Google. Building your website is of little use if nobody ever finds it. Learning what really works for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and now equally importantly Social Media Optimisation (SMO) is crucial if you want to take digital marketing seriously.
CON – An expensive toy – There are way too many people who really only ever see their business website as an expensive plaything. They never really know what it does, who visits it or if it actually results in sales profits. You should think of your website as if it were another member of your sales team. If it’s not making you money develop it, or replace it!
CON – It takes time and resource – Again, one of the biggest failures with websites is that they require constant attention. It’s no good leaving them to get on with it for months on end. You need to be managing it, adding quality content, connecting it to your audience and, above all, reviewing and tweaking it to get the optimum results.
2. Email Marketing –
There is no question about it, email marketing has been one of the biggest tools in the marketers arsenal for many years and it continues to prove highly valuable when used correctly.
A great deal has changed though and email marketing is certainly not what it used to be. Most of these changes are certainly for the better. Remember the time when you had to was through 100 spam emails to find the one you really wanted to read?
Today we take spam filters for granted and if you’re running a good setup on your email browser you should be almost completely spam-free. And I’m certain this is a good thing. Spam email worked for those people prepared to ‘go big or go home’. Spam marketing made some people millionaires.
Of course we now know that much of this was about spray and pray on a biblical scale, with millions of marketing messages being spewed out an hour by some highly unscrupulous marketers (and crooks!).
PROS & CONS
Email marketing is now a very different thing altogether. We can use powerful systems to manage our data, design and create our campaigns and measure the results with accuracy that makes us look like GCHQ or the NSA.
PRO – Top performing results – Yes, email is reported, by many independent sources, to be the top performing marketing method for cost:profit result. Get an email campaign right and you can see a bumper result that build customers and makes sales.
PRO – Dedicated eyeballs – One of the most important factors about email marketing is that it puts a dedicated message right in front of the intended reader. It’s a close to getting a letter as possible. Even better than this we can personalise the email in a number of ways. Some of the best performing emails don’t look like marketing messages, they look like personal messages.
PRO – Build your list – Email is still regarded as one of the best ways to build your customer or prospect data. Even though email addresses sometime grow old and die most people will keep a personal email address for years. In the meantime they may have moved home four or five times.
CON – Mine data first – There’s one big fact that’s often overlooked by those people who see email marketing as the only way; getting quality data first. It’s no longer viable (or even legal) to send emails to data that you’ve simply bought, rented or been given. This means you need to collect email data ethically in the first place.
CON – Grows with experience – It actually takes time and learning to find out how to get the best out of email marketing. You also need to get to know your audience, the quality of your list and what makes users open and click. There are some shortcuts to this, like learning how the experts do it, but on the whole you need to practice and learn.
CON – Consistency matters – It’s no good expecting to use your email list once in a blue moon. Building up large volumes of email addresses and then only emailing your community every now and again simply won’t work. If you’re not emailing your people at least once a month you’re probably wasting your time and money.
3. Direct Mail –
We’ve all seen it for all of our lives, Direct Mail marketing has been around since the beginning, and there’s a good reason for this.
Certainly the popularity of direct mail did take a downturn a few years ago. Partly because the shine had worn off an there was something new to replace it; email marketing and digital marketing generally.
It’s also suffered with a bad rap for a number of years. Some people have very strong views on junk mail and in a world that is now, thankfully, more ecologically sensitive there is a concern that it’s no longer acceptable. Many of the large and ethical print houses and fulfillment partners have realised this and changed for the better.
Better targeting, through better use of data has been one massive improvement. Another is the creation of Relational Data Marketing. This has been a massive advancement and has significantly changed results and efficiency.
Direct mail can now be highly personalised and much more relevant to the intended user. As I’ve always said, it’s never junk mail if it’s useful and relevant.
PROS & CONS
PRO – Smart marketing – Designing direct mail campaigns that are focused like a laser beam and highly personalised can generate fantastic results. Stop thinking about how many ‘mail shots’ you need to hit your targets, think about who your targets really are and what they want to buy from you.
PRO – Right in your hand – One of the big reasons direct mail can work so well is because it’s pretty much guaranteed to actually end up in the hand of the person you want to read your message. One of the hardest elements of marketing is getting the message to the actual end-user or prospect. Even if it’s is heading for the big, the recipient almost always gets a moment to consider what you’re trying to tell them.
PRO – Analogue is making a comeback – Strangely enough we are now seeing a reversal in some areas of marketing. Direct marketing has been making a comeback recently as we’ve become used to, and to a degree immune, to digital marketing. As a result response rates are actually going back up again.
CON – Publish and be damned – Timing is everything with a direct mail campaign. You get one shot each time. As mentioned above, once you’ve committed to the print run there’s no going back. It would be interesting to know how much money is wasted on direct mail each year simply because someone didn’t check a telephone number of the spelling of a website address!
CON – Larger investment required – By the very way that direct mail campaigns are build you need to go for numbers. There’s little point in considering it if you only want to send out a few hundred simple sales letters. Print and fulfillment costs as well as managing direct mail campaigns cost money and you need to work at the right scale to really see the maximum benefits.
CON – It’s still junk mail? – Despite all of the positives and the new approach to direct mail, which I think are worthy of serious investigation, there is a risk that it will still be seen as junk mail. Being sloppy or lazy and just spamming people’s letter boxes is the easy way to fail. Use good design, good campaign planning and make sure you’re in control of everything.
4. Print Advertising –
Now here’s a subject that I’ve often been accused of being highly critical of print advertising and for very good reason. I’ll state upfront that I take issue with the way a lot of print advertising is sold to marketing managers and business owners. Print advertising itself can be effective when you understand how to control the variables and run profit-focused campaigns.
We have to look back and realise that this really is one of the very first forms of direct marketing. The classic marketing works by people like Claude Hopkins may well have focused on this form of advertising but there are still very good lessons to be learned here. Much of what we understand from good print advertising directly translates to online marketing today.
Proceed with caution though, I’ve plenty of horror stories how people have burned huge budgets on advertising campaigns in magazines and newspapers only to deeply regret it. And I’ve been there myself!
PROS & CONS
PRO – Exposure volume – Getting the right advert in the right place can mean your message is directly exposed to tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. And if you’re bold enough to go for national press you can multiply that again.
PRO – Direct to user – Just like direct mail but by another route print advertising has the power to put your message in front of your user, right in their hands. Be it a newspaper, magazine, journal or other form, it’s good to know that the target reader has the chance to eyeball you message at close range.
PRO – Careful targeting – Magazine print advertising can be a powerful way to tap into a specific audience. If you’re marketing sailing holidays you can expose your message to people you know have a real interest in the subject. You haven’t got to find them either, the publisher and distributor takes care of all that.
CON – Repetition isn’t always the goal – You will be told that for print advertising to work you’ve got to expect to share your message multiple times before people will take notice. This is dangerously flawed thinking. Your advert should work, right out of the box. Run it multiple times and get more results but don’t believe that repetition is the only answer to get any result.
CON – Casting bread on the water – One of the major weaknesses of print advertising is the inability to accurately track and measure what’s happening. All you can do is simply cast it out there and wait for a bite. Don’t believe all the statistics you might be give, circulation figures are notoriously over-inflated and almost impossible to prove.
CON – Forget brand impression – Unless you’ve got a budget to burn forget about using print advertising to simply get your name out there. Leave that to the big boys. You need to focus on direct response advertising, as this is the only way to know what you’re actually getting back for your money. The call to action, which can be measured, is just as important as your headline, design or page position.
5. Social Media –
The darling of today’s marketing landscape Social Media has made a big splash and for many worthwhile reasons. In fact, I’d pin my flag to mast on this one and say that I very much support the view that it’s been a marketing revolution.
I also believe that it’s here to stay, in one form or another. So get used to it, learn how it works and get on with it. This time next year you’ll be pleased you started today.
There are challenges though; the pace of change and development being the biggest. Where do you invest your time, facebook, twitter or Google+ and are the others worth worrying about? There is no real definitive answer to this as Social Media is built on fast shifting sands.
A year ago I would have said that facebook still leads the way (depending upon what type of marketing you want to use), and it’s still the case that for digital advertising it still outshines many other options. However, now I know that Google+ is the stalking horse that so many people are still oblivious to.
Hot Tip; focus on Google+ if you want to build credibility and a real audience on Social Media AND watch your online search results go up.
Without any doubt, for almost every business, Social Media is now an essential part of the marketing mix. Approach it with care and learn how it works before blindly diving in and then wondering what all the fuss is about.
PROS & CONS
PRO – Highly engaged audience – Social Media marketing works for one very simple reason, people engage with it. There are some that would challenge this and it’s true, it can be hard to unlock this element but when you do it can bring a constant stream of opportunity your way. Nurture your community and you have an audience that will not only buy from you over and over again, they’ll tell their friends to do so as well.
PRO – Deep fresh data – I have no doubt and can see that mining quality data was one of the biggest reasons why platforms like facebook exploded overnight. Getting good data is one of the hardest things that marketers have to overcome. Social media handles this challenge brilliantly. No longer do we need to go out and ask for this information; people will volunteer to provide it and keep it up to date without even being asked.
PRO – Amazing speed of return – I love the fact that I can help a client create a campaign with Social Media and twenty-four hours later we know if the exercise was worth it. Comparing this to things like direct mail, it’s lightning fast. It also means that we can run lots of quick tests and get to the answer we want quickly and for modest costs. At present I see nothing to rival it in this respect.
CON – Where do I start? – This has to be one of the biggest obstacles for anyone wanting to get started with social media marketing. There are now at least four or five main platforms that you’ll need to learn. Deciding which one to invest time in isn’t always easy, as the platforms are all maturing rapidly. At the time of publishing this article I would say that facebook presents a great Business-to-Consumer marketing opportunity. Whereas Google+ and LinkedIn are far more attuned to Business-to-Business and the professional prospect.
CON – A resource vacuum – Social Media can be an excellent tool for marketing and I would suggest it should be at or near the very top of every marketer’s list. However it can be highly time consuming. It can suck up hours of time and effort. And this is where most people fail to make it work, they simply don’t dedicate enough resource to it. It’s powerful but it’s not just a quick fix.
CON – It’s not free – There’s a massive misconception in respect of Social Media marketing, everyone thinks it’s free. Sure you can use most platforms without physically paying to do so. This is changing rapidly though. A year or so ago and using facebook for marketing was a great way to connect your message to the word. Today you need to spend much more time on using the paid-for advertising tools and rely much less on the initial organic reach.
I’ve done my very best to give you a balanced opinion on these points for a couple of very good reasons. You can’t buy experience but you can borrow the experience of others. Knowledge doesn’t get depleted when you share it!
I’ve had lots of experience and have learned from the best, and the worst! I’ve seen marketing horror stories unfold and watched campaigns produce record-busting results.
The other big reason is because I really want you to spend your marketing money wisely. I’m very lucky because I don’t sell marketing. I’m not an agent for other providers and I don’t take commissions for products or services I recommend.
Before you step into marketing for the first time, or decide to move up the gears I encourage you to really think before you sign-off on anything that’s going to cost you money upfront. Always remember that marketing is first and foremost an accounting exercise. If the figures don’t stack up at the end then it has been a failure.
The thing is you will certainly need to fail a few times as you climb the ladder but that shouldn’t stop you from taking each step up!
If you’ve got questions or challenges please post them below, I’ll do my very best to answer them. And if you really are serious about learning what makes marketing work then hop over to this page –Flying Start Marketing Challenge – and find out how you can get on the programme.
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NialRead Parts 1, 2 & 3
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