Exciting times. New horizons, renewed ambition, fresh opportunity – your business is at a point of change and you want to shake up the way you communicate to accelerate progress. Word of mouth has been the main way you’ve brought in the work to date. But you’re keen to make a bigger dent in the universe now, and proactive marketing has to be part of the picture.
If this sounds like you then what’s the right way to set about your new marketing drive? You want to make sure the approach you invest time and money in is sustainable – one that your organisation benefits from for the long term. How do you set yourself up for success and bring others in the business with you on the journey?
Here’s what Sharon and I have learned over many transformation projects to help you frame your new marketing drive.
What does successful marketing look like today?
Organisations that truly connect today approach their marketing in an interesting way – one that brings them success, but also feels right (and that’s important).
Those that succeed have a clear overarching purpose and focus their marketing on generously share their ideas and expertise with the world. They have a deep understanding of their specific audience and focus on helping over selling; connecting and serving that clearly defined community rather than shouting to the anonymous masses. This approach to their communication and business development activity builds trust and awareness in what they do and draws the right people towards them.
As any long-term reader of this blog will know, Sharon and I call this approach Valuable Content Marketing. Time and again we’ve found it to be the most powerful, meaningful and sustainable way to build awareness and trust and make a real impact in your space.
Refreshingly, the valuable approach is a very natural form of business development – never pompous, invasive or manipulative. Like so much of life, the success of this approach depends as much on mindset as it does on method. Think of marketing as ‘helping’, over ‘selling’, as ‘being of value to your customers’, and everything else falls into place. This is the kind of marketing that feels right, so it’s easier to get even the most cynical behind it.
That’s the theory. Sounds good yes? Right then, how do you make it happen in your business?
A roadmap to meaningful marketing success
1. Put your marketing project on the right footing
Like any project, a good indicator for future success is doing the groundwork properly in the first place. That means hard thinking before diving into tactics. Slow down and plan the project, paying attention to getting the goals and strategy right upfront. Then you can move confidently, full steam ahead, in the right direction.
We learned a lot from working with our change management clients Project One. Here’s their formula for setting your project on the path to success:
(Read more on this formula from Project One: https://projectone.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/POV201607-Are-you-set-up-for-success.pdf).
Put your marketing transformation project on the right footing. Treat marketing transformation like any other change project and take people with you on the journey – done with is always more successful long term than done to. Get crystal clear on your goal and objectives, create a shared vision that the wider team can get behind and give the process and time and the right resource to make it happen. This groundwork really matters.
2. Get clear on your message
What is it you want to say to the world? What do you want people to think and feel about? Uncover the inspiring message at the heart of all you do, one that captures the purpose and spirit of the organisation, with meaning for staff and customers alike. This is the golden thread to underpin all your marketing communications. Make it count, and start with the why.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek
3. Customer research is key
Look from the outside in. Communication that connects is customer-focused, not self-oriented. Listen to your customers and stakeholders – seek their feedback and listen hard. Listening to customers provides the insight that sparks the best message, product and marketing ideas, and helps support and drive through change.
4. Write your strategy down
Strategy is the antidote to random acts of marketing. The process of documenting or re-documenting your marketing strategy makes all the difference if you want to be more effective. Your marketing strategy is the means by which you make your website and content really work for your business. It forces you to make decisions on all the big questions – why, who, what, how, where and when. The process of documenting it will help motivate you to focus your activities and precious time around a clear goal.
5. Get your website content right
Your website is your key communication hub. Use the new message and insight to make it more customer-focused, with content that engages and connects. Wrestle those product and service pages into saying what your ideal customers wants to hear. Craft an About Us page that speaks to your audiences to ignite their interest. Both logic and emotion come into play when you’re writing your website content.
6. Share your ideas
Focus your marketing and communications on generously sharing your ideas and expertise in the content you create – with helpful and inspiring blog articles, newsletters, guides and other resources. Make this valuable, idea-led content the beating heart of your business development strategy and you’ll build trust and awareness in what you do. This taps into the way people buy today and brings your marketing to life.
“The more you help the less you ‘sell’ the more you sell.”
7. Choose the right channels and get the word out
The internet has empowered us. Communicate in the way that buyers want to be communicated with today. Social media, SEO, email marketing and online PR all matter. But face-to-face relationship development will always be an important channel, if it’s done in the right way. Make the job of your sales teams easier by equipping them with helpful content that differentiates, shortens the sales cycle and makes sales conversations easier. Widen your reach with expert PR. And consider speaking and events to show your thought-leadership and build awareness and trust with influencers and decision makers.
8. Organise for success and keep the communications coming
Make the ongoing creation and sharing of valuable content your marketing priority – structure and train your teams and recruit any additional help you need to make this new approach work. Support and inspire them as they learn this new way of communicating.
9. Measure, refine, learn….and continue
Up the value you deliver through your marketing over time. Setting meaningful measures and holding regular content planning meetings with the team will really help you here.
Take a phased approach to implementation
So that’s the approach but how do you make it happen? Not all at once is the easy answer! We’ve found that implementation is best approached in three distinct phases.
- Research and discovery – define your message and strategy.
- Prepare your platform – bring the message to life on your website, content and social media channels
- Get the word out – start proactively marketing
It’s a bit like a 3 Act Play – you can read more about this 3 ACT phased approach to making your marketing work here.
In our 18 years of helping people to market this way we’ve had the pleasure of sharing the journey with many fantastic businesses and organisations. We have learned what works and what doesn’t. We’d love to show you how to join up all the elements – your brand message, your website, blogging, social media, PR, email marketing and face-to-face sales/relationship building – for a powerful, united and very natural approach to business development.
Want to learn more for your marketing project?
- Read our book – you can download a free chapter of Valuable Content Marketing here
- Learn from past clients – Project One’s marketing story is a good place to start
- Get in touch – drop me (Sonja) a note firstname.lastname@example.org