I’ve been helping clients develop and implement marketing campaigns for over 20 years (ok…I’m not an old fart, but a middle aged one). Throughout that time, I’ve seen patterns in campaigns that ring true – no matter what the industry. Whenever one of these basic elements is overlooked – the campaign, and the client, always suffered. So here’s a brief list of basic “strategy pillars” I think anyone should be mindful of when strategizing their next marketing effort.
First, make sure your message is customer driven. You know your product, and it’s easy to assume everyone else understands it – it’s so simple, right? To really be effective though, you need to appeal to the customer – who not only needs a basic education about you, your service or product – but has to clearly understand the value it offers them.
How do you find this out? Easy…just ask them.
In following the first point, be sure your contacting your target market in ways that are effective to them. Forget the trade show you always go to. Lose the ads in the magazines that feature your competitors. How do you contact your market most effectively? Again…easy…ask them. Don’t follow the pact… find a new means of contact, and give that a try. I can’t tell you how many people I recommend not to advertise, or not direct mail – the old “tried and true” is not always the most effective.
Marketing is a process…not an act. Too often I’ve seen clients give up after one or two attempts in any medium. If you’ve done your research, and have a creative approach that’s really creative, stick to the plan. Don’t give up if the initial responses aren’t what you’d hoped they’d be. Dedicate yourself to trying any medium or channel at least 6 times before deciding if it’s effective.
Lack of testing. If your clients tell you they read the paper…run a trial test in the paper, and stick to it. Over time, you’ll see a response increase if you sample a broad enough range of your target market, and follow their leads.
Way too much boasting, and not enough offer. I’m sure you like your service or product…but as I often ask: “So what”? Who cares what you think about it. Tell your audience what’s in it for them….not how great you think it is. Focus on their needs, not your feelings.
Too small an audience contact. No matter how you strategize it, marketing is about percentages (and sometimes, odds). The larger the target audience, the larger the potential response – given that the message is crafted in the right way. Play the odds… with the right approach, and you’ll see results. But don’t play to a small audience if you can avoid it.
Frequency, frequency, frequency. It takes repeated impressions to make it lasting. Some pundits say six… but I think that’s a low figure. Use different media to make those impressions…and over time, you’ll see you’re on the upward side of the “bell curve” of response.
It’s not hard to achieve real results…but it’s not easy, either. If you set a strategic plan that is based in research, then follow it with a reasonable budget – you’ll be able to measure your success, and learn how to maximize your ROI.
A whole different set of rules kick-in once you’ve gained that new customer…but that’s another topic.