Marketing can seem like a new and scary frontier to the uninitiated, but the basics are easy to learn and make a lot of practical sense. Let’s look at some techniques you can start using today to kick off your marketing journey.
- Get SMART
When you consider the basics of marketing, it’s never long before someone brings up the acronym “SMART,” which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. These represent 5 qualities that any marketing effort should have, and are essential to planning your campaigns. Let’s go through them in order:
Specific: Think how your company would particularly like to grow by way of this particular marketing campaign. What’s the goal here? Is it increased profits or revenue? Is it increased market share or breaking into a new market? Define what you are looking to achieve.
Measurable: You must ensure that the goal you have formulated above is measurable. Think about how you would measure this growth or change – if there’s no way to measure the goal’s success with hard results or figures, the goal may need tweaking.
Achievable: How capable/likely are you to achieve this goal with a little extra work? You must make sure you’re working within the realms of possibility. What’s best here is to formulate a goal that’s a little out of your comfort zone, but is ultimately possible at a push.
Realistic: Similarly, you need to make sure your results are achievable given your current abilities; allowing for a few setbacks, and considering finite resources such as time and energy.
Time-bound: Give this objective a realistic deadline; this way you have an endpoint to work to and the effort won’t just carry on forever without getting anywhere. A set deadline gives you and your team something to work towards and a rough idea of progress as you are going along.
It’s of utmost importance to start off by taking stock of the current talents and abilities at your disposal. This is a crucial step regardless of whether you are working with a team or you’re on your own. What talents do you have access to on the whole? Is anyone in your team good at anything specific relating to marketing? If you’re lucky, you may have a hidden designer or copywriter in your midst!
General skills aren’t to be overlooked here – organization, efficiency, and timeliness are all beneficial. When working within a team, it’s always a good idea to consider which personalities work well with each other, and which people’s skills are compatible with whom. There may be some partnerships within the group that really bring the best out in each other.
The digital side of marketing is important too. Regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, digital marketing, content creation and social media are more important than ever. Before plunging yourself in head first, create dummy profiles on the social media platforms you’d like to be present on and get a feel for how each one works and the business side of each community behaves. You may find that a particular platform is not a good fit for your business, or you may make a few rookie mistakes – but because you’re using a dummy profile, mistakes aren’t the end of the world. If you’re not sure where to start on social media, Facebook and Twitter are essential, so it’s a good idea to start there if you’re unsure.
It also pays to familiarize yourself with other important tools relating to marketing online; social media management tools and email marketing tools are key. Some argue that collecting an email list – organically, without paying for a list of subscribers – is one of the most important things you can start doing.
Also, consider whether your website can incorporate blog functionality. If in doubt, speak to the people that built or maintain your website to find out. It’s important to update your blog regularly; ideally, create and post one blog post every one to two weeks. That’s an ideal frequency, but see how it fits in with the quantity you can realistically produce, and tweak if necessary. Remember to share a link to any of your blog posts to social media, but don’t just post it once and forget about it; remember to post any previous content regularly as long as it’s still valuable and relevant.
Any marketing journey needs to be built on a solid foundation of market research – marketing before you know who you are marketing to and how will only waste your time and effort. The best way to get started is to ask three simple questions of people who have done business with you or shown interest in you previously:
- How did they find out about your company?
- What online and offline publications and resources do they use to find out about your particular field or industry?
- What are their most notable problems and queries that relate to your services and industry?
Each one of these questions has a practical application. The answers to the question that will give you an insight into where and how you are currently most visible, so advertising here or through similar channels is likely to bring success because it’s already working for you in some way. Question b’s answers show you where you could promote yourself to be seen by people looking for what you provide, and especially where you can promote any blog content. The answers to question c. should list the most common problems for you to advertise your solutions to, as well as ideas for creating blog content and social media posts.
After you’ve got these answers, your research isn’t over yet! You’ll still need to observe the online and offline marketing efforts of competitors and related organizations – social media and trade publications are a good place to start. How do others generally present themselves? What features do they advertise most notably? How do they interact with people online? What content of theirs do they share? Through this observation, you may also be able to identify things that you can provide that your rivals can’t. So bear in mind whether you can spot any gaps in the market too.
- Action Points
Finally, a few extra points for you to put into action:
- Make sure that all your materials are relevant to your brand, well-designed and professional. It’s imperative that your branding carries through to all online and offline channels; business cards, flyers, website, social media accounts; they all need to tie into the same general colour scheme and brand identity.
- Don’t craft your marketing campaigns around your company and their story. The best marketing focuses on the customer, their problems and the solutions you can offer to solve them. Thoroughly research your potential customer base and the problems they face in order to do this.
- Most of us have seen some kind of campaign where the company has tried to crack a joke or made a comment that has reflected on them poorly. Sometimes it may be tempting to use humor, but if you’re in any doubt about trying to be humorous or clever: don’t.
- For those of you not used to producing regular content such as blog posts; coming up with ideas regularly can be hard.
- Remember the old adage: “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” This isn’t a suggestion to plunge your company into the red, but don’t try to do everything on the cheap either. Stick to a budget, but prepare for a small amount of flexibility either way.
Feeling more confident about planning your next marketing campaign? Hopefully, these practical steps will set you up for success. Good luck!
Have you used any of these marketing strategies? What successes did you have? Please share your experiences down in the comments!