Modern Marketing Madness
Modern marketing is all about the customer — from getting the right insights about your customers to delivering the right message on the right channel, at the right time. For small businesses, defining your brand and values is a key starting point. Then, it’s about building a smart strategy around those values — and measuring success so you can optimize along the way.
Define Your Brand and Values — Now
As luxury sports-apparel startup PlayerLayer knows from competing with some of the biggest names in retail (think Nike and Adidas), building a new brand is no easy feat. But social media has done a lot to level the playing field (pun intended!) for brands like PlayerLayer.“When you’re social, you don’t need a $100 million advertising budget,” PlayerLayer CEO Joe Middleton says. “You just need good ideas.”
With a defined brand should come a defined set of values and priorities, so your entire company stays united around a single set of goals that help define the culture. “Small businesses need to
define brand and values early on to compete,” notes Jonathan Hunt, COO of Desk.com. “If you are doing everything, you’re not doing anything meaningful.”
Know When Less Is More
As you’re building out your marketing strategy and hiring your team, it can be tempting to move in every direction at once. Marketing is a rapidly evolving field, with a host of competing technologies designed to help you keep up. Yet according to Dustin Tattoli, a Digital Marketing Specialist at Integrated Project Management Company, Inc., it’s important not to get carried away.
“Regardless of the sophistication of your marketing team’s capabilities, start with what makes sense for your business and don’t make the all-too-common mistake of trying to do too much,” Tattoli says. “Remember that less is sometimes more, and a diluted message doesn’t foster organic growth. It’s better to plan fewer, well-thought-out marketing campaigns for a short period than attempting 15 and falling short due to lack of process or resources.”
Know the “Why” Behind Your Marketing
In a recent episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, Kyle Lacy, Head of Marketing Strategy at OpenView Venture Partners, highlighted the importance of the “why” in marketing:
“A marketer’s job…is not to sit in a room and think of the next creative billboard we should create,” Lacy told podcast co-hosts Heike Young and Joel Book. “It’s understanding why people are driving by that billboard and creating content around that, using data.”
There’s another “why” at stake, too. Marketing isn’t just about understanding your customers’ or prospects’ motivations— it’s also about having a clear view of your own. What, exactly, do you want to achieve in each campaign, and how do you prioritize these goals? Without knowing why people are absorbing our marketing, and why we want them to absorb it in the first place, how will you know when you succeed?
Time to crack open those sixth-grade science books! To develop a truly data-driven marketing approach, you’re going to need a process — and the tried-and-true Scientific Method is just about perfect. Need a refresher? It starts with a question, followed by a hypothesis — your best guess at the answer. Then comes a data-driven experiment, followed by analysis of the results, and finally, a conclusion. While most marketers are good at the question-hypothesis phase, we don’t always follow through with a complete, data-driven experiment — which is a big miss, according to Luke Perera, a marketing and communications executive at First Mile, a fast-growing waste collection and recycling company.
“Experiment with different approaches to help you accomplish your aims,” Perera advises. “Try a number of methods and identify the one with the best success rate. You can then drop the others and back the best horse.
Look — Strategically — Before You Leap
Content marketing has gained traction in recent years not only because it’s an effective inbound marketing tactic, but also because it has none of the barriers to entry of traditional marketing. Rather than having to scare up thousands of dollars to fund a VIP event or an ambitious print advertising campaign, you can publish blog posts for free.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should jump in. Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute, says in a recent episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, “If you’re not writing down your strategy, it doesn’t exist.” Sixty-eight percent of B2B content marketers don’t have a documented content strategy — and without a documented strategy, you’re creating content without goals or purpose. If you’re going to start content marketing (or doing any other kind of marketing), be sure you have a clearly defined strategy that includes concrete success metrics.
Use Predictive Intelligence to Align Your Organization Around the Customer
Most small businesses are all too familiar with blurring the lines between sales, marketing, customer service, and product development. In some cases, a single person wears all of those hats at once — yet as your business grows, many companies lose that natural alignment.
To Alison Murdock, Vice President of Marketing for the predictive intelligence platform 6sense, predictive intelligence gives small businesses a chance to get it back — in a way more efficient way.
“As prospective customers evaluate solutions, they use a vast array of digital resources—some you control (website) and others you don’t (search)—and are leaving traces and time-sensitive interactions that tell us where they are in the sales cycle and the products of interest,” Murdock explains. Integrating with CRM systems of record like Salesforce, 6sense pulls all of those data points together into insights that help sales teams and marketers make truly data-driven decisions — and the companies doing that, Murdock says, will be “Silicon Valley’s next generation of winners.”
How Marketing Teams Can Shine in 2018
It’s time to fine-tune your workflow and sales environment. Here are some tips on how to revamp your strategy in 2018.
Attract and convert customers using a combination of free content and content gated behind a form. Your buyers are spending their time online. According to Forrester, 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. So how do you make sure you are a part of this research process? By becoming a trusted resource. Create a diverse portfolio of shareable content that will speak to a variety of buyers in different stages of the sales cycle. We’re talking about blog posts, infographics and slideshare presentations that contain personalized and actionable lessons for your target buyer.
Have systems in place to identify your best leads, and respond quickly. We know that when the time is right speed counts. Research has shown that as many as 50% of buyers choose the vendor that responds first. Know which customer actions (downloading demos, e-books, etc) trigger the sales funnel, and be ready to respond quickly.