As we drive through 2016, you have no doubt been reviewing your planned marketing programs. It seems like the marketers I talk with in my network are always asking the same questions: How do I find more leads for my funnel? Where can I find more customers? Where do I start first? Crazy, I know, but I bet it haunts your dreams, especially when sales are light.
A few years ago, I was asked to abandon the company’s current marketing plan and create a plan that I thought would make sense. This was the first time I had cart blanche freedom to really sit down and think about strategy, customer acquisition goals and tactics. No doubt you all have had some role in a scenario like this if you are running a marketing department. Where do you start and why?
To start, if you haven’t read “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim, I would highly recommend it. I participated in a seminar focusing on the principles of the book and it was life-changing from a marketer’s point of view. This provides an innovative look at essentially the SWOT analysis of your company and then provides the framework for thinking differently in order to compete. Second, I am a theme guy. In order for me to tie a marketing strategy together, I need a rally cry to use to motivate and capture my internal audience. What I am about to share has worked well for me mostly in the B2B space, but it can work well in the B2C arena, as well. Think linear with a hint of Prezi!
The first step in preparing your team to compete and look for new business is to focus on SAS:
“S”trategy – Take the step back NOW! What marketing tactics are you doing right now? What is working well? What can you tweak to work better? What is new? How do you acquire customers? This all needs to revolve around strategies that support the business goals. If you know them, write them down. If you don’t know them, start developing them with a cross-functional team. Remember, marketing affects the entire company. If you have them, reinforce them. As marketers, we are very good at doing, but don’t have the time for thinking. Now is the perfect time.
“A”udience – Always think of the marketer’s golden rule… market unto others as they would like to be marketed to! Who is your target audience and how do they like to be communicated to? Figure it out through surveys or internal feedback from sales. You can’t be all things to all people, so identifying the core audience can start narrowing down your tactics and optimizing your marketing dollars.
“S”chedule – Have a calendar, but not just for tactics—a true planning calendar. I really believe having two calendars makes sense when it comes to marketing strategy. The planning calendar serves as the strategic compass mixed in with budgetary numbers and ROI forecasts, adding in blue sky initiatives. The tactical calendar is just your weekly checklist of items to execute. The marketing drumbeat must always go on.
Now that you have these in place, what is the next logical step? How do you attract the right customers with the right message at the right time? That’s where COW comes in.
“C”ontent – It all starts with content. Whether it is a video, download, infographic or collateral piece, starting here is the most crucial step in developing marketing campaigns that work. Your call to action can be an order or a call, but convincing prospects that your product or service fits their needs is the key. What if the prospect is not ready to buy? Using content for lead nurture campaigns fits not just B2B campaigns, but also B2C. Find your subject matter experts in your company and start brainstorming pain points, differentiators, case studies and benefits that have/will motivate prospects to buy, and put them into riveting pieces.
“O”nline – Now that you have those great content pieces, think digital. Look for ways to execute your branding and acquisition tactics online first. I am in total favor of an integrated marketing approach to mix online and offline tactics, but online gives you better tracking, faster feedback and numerous ways to update the message if it is not working. Look for lead gen opportunities where your customers search. Identify trade publications and social media groups that may be a good way to not just advertise, but offer editorial opportunities to reinforce the “expert” message.
“W”ebsite – Where do you lead these prospects to? Your website. But… it must be responsive for mobile and optimized for lead capture. You need to understand your website visitor behavior and what pages they visit. Make sure that you have lead capture opportunities on most pages like forms, e-newsletter sign ups and immediate contact options. Create consistent tracking and branding with landing pages for all of your campaigns. The worst thing you could do is drive all of this great traffic to your website without the means to nurture, track and sell.
There is a lot to do, but keeping it simple and taking a step back helps make sure you are coordinated from business goals to marketing strategies to tactics. But it all starts with hitting your target audience to reap the rewards of your marketing Cash COW!
We are a Cleveland-based marketing consulting firm helping companies in highly-competitive industries acquire more qualified leads faster through “action-oriented” marketing strategies. Our goals are to better align marketing to your business goals, shorten the sales cycle with more qualified leads and increase awareness through an effective integrated marketing approach.
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