During a fact-finding call this week I was asked, ‘What flavour of marketer are you?’
It made me smile as it’s such a great way to frame the confusion that many business owners face when it comes to marketing. There are so many options, and many business owners, knowing that they need to market their business but acutely aware that marketing is not their forte, face tough decisions on where to start.
So let’s look at 10 tactics that people often look to for easy-wins to kickstart their marketing and assess whether they’re likely to be the right choice for your growing business.
Social Media Marketing
Assumption: it’s easy and relatively cheap
Reality: No and no.
Social media is a powerful tool and can be a game-changer when managed well and as part of a holistic marketing strategy – but it’s frustratingly ineffective when done in isolation.
Today’s customer wants to self-educate about products before committing to a phone call or even a digital download, so your social profile really needs to be there for them. But the content must be good and the brand must be responsive to engagement. In terms of growth and leads, it’s important to accept that you have to pay to play.
- Social media doesn’t work on its own – it needs to be developed within an overall plan that includes other tactics such as email marketing, paid ads, direct mail and more
- Don’t start with social media unless you’re ready to invest in creating engaging content and cultivating an engaged audience over time.
Assumption: a quick and dirty way to generate leads.
Reality: Achieving effective, sustainable growth is neither quick nor dirty.
When you engage a growth marketing agency you may be promised several dozen leads a week, but those leads will only progress if you have literally everything other element of your marketing strategy in place: market research, target personas, positioning, UX, nurture sequence – all of it.
- It might be better to focus on getting better value from your existing channels before launching into new ones.
- If you have a solid strategy in place (and it’s working well), then Growth Marketing does represent a cost-effective way of driving more business through those channels. Negotiate how much each lead costs before engaging with any agencies that offer this service – preferably on a pay-per-conversation basis – so that there’s no waste when it comes to converting those leads into customers
Assumption: Quality content will draw in quality leads
Effectiveness: Huge but NOT immediate.
Content marketing is crucial but it’s important to understand that it’s a long game. I speak to organisations that invest time and money in producing a blog and are surprised when nothing happens immediately after publication!
Each piece of content should be informed by your brand strategy and positioning as well as your business goals. It should be guided by your SEO strategy and it should, in turn, inform your social media content and be a factor in your lead-generation mechanisms and nurture sequences.
Assumption: SEO is complex and expensive
Reality: SEO is certainly complex and it’s not a quick fix.
Google itself advises a minimum of 4-6 months before SEO efforts are noticed. It’s a long-term investment and can be considered expensive, but is it likely to provide a return on investment? Yes!
Website traffic is a necessary step in generating leads and converting those leads to customers, but in order to attract high levels of traffic to your website, you will need a solid SEO strategy in place.
“utilising SEO best practices and a longer-term strategy can significantly increase the value of your efforts. Your return on investment (ROI) will show through increased traffic, increased leads, higher online visibility, higher conversion rates, increased sales as well as building trust and credibility for your brand”
Assumption: Our social media manager can do it
Reality: Paid social is far more complicated than you realise
The platforms will have you believe it’s just a case of “add your credit card details, click on ‘boost/promote’ and you’re away”. Not true. In fact, there are multiple aspects to an effective paid social campaign, starting with the hook, copy and creatives, through to a deep understanding of the relevant algorithm, and the experience that enables you to interpret performance, optimise it, implement learnings and effectively capitalise on results.
Paid social can be an excellent way to build brand awareness and drive traffic to your website, but it’s not something you should take lightly. If you’re not careful, you could end up squandering a lot of money on poor targeting and negative impressions.
Invest in expertise. All paid social campaigns should be managed by an experienced professional who understands how the platform works.
Tip: I have yet to meet a paid social specialist that can provide expertise across every channel.
Each platform’s algorithm and best practices are unique. You might consider using one agency to cover them all – this route comes with its own pros and cons. I would recommend testing each platform discipline in phases. Work with a LinkedIn specialist, then with a Meta specialist, then with a Google Ads specialist. Test, analyse, iterate and ultimately, make informed decisions about how to proceed over the long term.
Assumption: Kim Kardashian
Reality: Your last customer
Despite the hype, influencer marketing doesn’t necessarily equal big budgets and Instagram (although those campaigns are effective in the right setting). In fact, Influencer Marketing is merely the practice of using the personal recommendation of anyone that has an influence on your target audience.
This could be an industry expert with a huge following on LinkedIn. Equally, it could be a professional just like your target customer, who had a great experience with a product just like yours.
- Start small. Make a habit of collecting and sharing testimonials; set up a referral system; leverage the enormous value of a happy customer. Think about it: what’s more impactful than a word-of-mouth recommendation?
- If you do eventually step up and pursue the paid influencer route, formalise your agreement (there are agencies that can handle this) and do not take any chances with the ASA’s regulations.
Assumption: by lowering your prices, customers will be more inclined to convert into paying customers; however
Reality: the maths simply doesn’t add up
Let’s say you run a price promotion and see a 50% increase in sales. Of that 50% in additional sales
- A portion of those customers will be ‘time shifted‘, meaning they would have bought your product eventually, your offer just brought their purchase forward.
- A portion will be ‘relocated’. In other words, they would have bought your product anyway, you just shifted their purchase from one outlet to another
- And a further portion will be ‘subsidised’. These are the worst! These buyers were always going to buy, you just let them do so at a reduced price.
The true incremental sales from that promo will be significantly less than your total sales suggest and in the long term, will negatively impact your net profit.
- Don’t run price promotions to drum up business. They’re a strategic tool, not a silver bullet.
- Instead, get creative on repeat business – how can you entice longer-term commitments?
- Don’t reduce the price: increase the perceived value of your offer, through additional services, add-ons and rewards.
The inevitable truth is that there is no single marketing tactic that can work effectively on its own. All marketing tactics are the product of a strategy. Invest in the strategy and the most effective tactics for your business will make themselves known.
Where to get started with strategy? Know your customer. Understand:
- Their jobs to be done,
- Their pains and motivations,
- What sources they trust for information
- What prevents them from achieving their goals
- What value you can add to their lives beyond your core offer
And use that information to build out a combination of activities that connect with them on their level. This will enable you to achieve both long-term brand awareness, and short-term sales activation.
I can help!
If you’re thinking that this all makes sense but you still don’t know how to bring it all together, ask me about my half-day consultation service. During a 4-hour strategy session, we’ll deep-dive into your business goals and marketing strategy to establish clear direction on what you need to do. Get in touch!