Your inbox (and head) is no doubt brimming with good advice & resolutions for the coming year. If you are still grappling for clarity on the marketing aspects, here are a few recommendations to build into your plan:
1. Make your web strategy bigger than your website
Your website is a vital marketing tool but it’s not the only place on the WWW that needs your focus. Most businesses put all their web energy into their company site and wonder why they don’t get much benefit from it in terms of leads.
“75% of your focus should be on what is happening outside your website,”
say Halligan and Shah in their brilliant new book ‘Inbound Marketing’. They recommend an increase in general web activity in order to draw people back to your website. Good advice. For 2010, consider social media, posting articles on affiliated websites, contributing to related forums, pay per click campaigns & email newsletters; all with links back to useful content on your site. For maximum exposure: ”make sure you and your company’s DNA shows everywhere, across hundreds of sites” (Seth Godin).
2. Produce useful, informative content
The purpose of marketing is to connect with potential customers. Marketing literature that simply screams ‘We’re the best!’ is no way to start a relationship and build trust. Instead of shouting at your customers, try connecting with them. Create useful, informative content that helps solve their business problems. Become a useful resource.
The attitude should be not ‘Look how great we are!’ but ‘Look how useful we are – we have the answer to your problem’.
In terms of content, there are many options open to you: articles, ‘How to…’ guides, whitepapers, case studies, webinars, videos, e-books – the list goes on. Whatever medium you chose, make the content valuable to your buyers: help them: educate them; prove your expertise and earn their trust until they are ready to buy. Valuable content sells.
3. Think niche
Struggling to position your company effectively and generate leads? Step back: stick your stake in the sand and target your marketing efforts at a particular niche. The more precisely you can describe your customers and address their issues the better. This is a contentious subject as Guy Kawasaki describes:
“Many entrepreneurs are afraid of being ‘niched’ to death and then not achieving ubiquity. However, most successful companies started off targeting specific markets and grew to great size by addressing other segments.”
If you want to sell successfully, you can’t be everything to everyone. What do you want to be known for? To make your life easier start by identifing a target market and develop your service to be ‘remarkable’ in that niche. Anchor your pitch by telling your chosen customers how you will solve their specific problem. Don’t be afraid to turn people away. Narrow your niche for more leads.
4. Get into social media
Face it – social media is now mainstream and for good reason too. Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are immensely valuable business tools for professional businesses and consultants. Used effectively they’ll help you to build your community of contacts & extend your reach; they are easy-to-use broadcast channels for your ideas and content; they open up a dialogue with other experts, customers and contacts, refining your own expertise. Social media enables buyers to ’see who is talking sense’ in the sector they’re interested in, giving information to build knowledge and trust before entering the sales phase. NB: This route is most effective when combined with a business blog (to share your ideas) and a newsletter (to maintain contact).
5. Remember your existing customers and contacts
“Stay in touch. Too many businesses chase new businesses chase new business when existing customers and contacts are far more valuable.”
So says smart marketeer Mick Dickinson and he is right. If you want to make life easier and more enjoyable this year, don’t just focus on trying to wrestle strangers through the conversion process: devote more time and effort into communicating with your current contacts regularly, in ways they appreciate and find useful.
Keeping in contact in ways your customers find valuable is the most effective route to consistent sales. If you communicate regularly in ways they appreciate, they’ll reward you with referrals and new business. A monthly email newsletter is a very effective way to do this – Mel Lester, a US-based management consultant I follow on Twitter, produces the most valuable, targeted newsletter I’ve seen to date: see - http://tinyurl.com/yenvzqd.
I really hope these 5 suggestions help you. As ever, I’d be fascinated by your feedback: how are you going to promote your services this year? Anything important I’ve missed off the list?