Once upon a time marketing was pretty straight forward. You had a few options to choose from: yellow pages, direct mail, print, trade shows, perhaps radio or television, and maybe a few other options. That has changed drastically today – the number of channels and tools are mind-numbing. Here are just a few of the additional options available:
- All the traditional channels mentioned above
- Websites (which need to be responsive for mobile devices)
- Online advertising (PPC ads, banner ads -including retargeting, social media ads, etc.)
- Email marketing
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (of course), Pinterest, Instagram, etc.)
- Video (YouTube, Vimeo)
- Blogging (including platforms like WordPress, Medium, and Tumblr)
- Marketing automation (Infusionsoft, HubSpot, Marketo)
- Online reviews
- Location and proximity-based services
- Mobile marketing
- And on and on…
Marketing is becoming more fragmented and more complex and is more dependent on technology than ever before. And technology is also changing the way that people (i.e., customers and prospects) are buying, researching, and communicating with others. This means that our marketing has to change along with our customers.
In his book What’s the Future of Business, Brian Solis points out the change in how people are influenced in the buying process:
“In an increasingly social and mobile world, the ability to influence decisions reaches beyond search, in-store, and traditional media. While traditional media’s influence is trending downward, not surprisingly, mobile and social are trending upward.”
Within mobile and social there are multitudes of options for you to consider. There’s a good chance that you feel overwhelmed by all the choices, and rightfully so. Here are four questions to help you filter through the noise and make sound marketing decisions for your company and get your marketing unstuck.
1. Who are your customers?
“Seriously? This is the first question?” Yes, this is the first question. Your customers (and mine for that matter) are changing. Their needs and how they interact with their peers, competitors, customers, and vendors is always evolving. What was true about your customers last year may not be true for them this year.
- Which type of smartphone does your customer use? iPhone, Android, or something else?
- How does your customer like to be contacted? Phone, text, email, instant messaging, Twitter DM, LinkedIn message?
- Do they value creativity or promptness more?
- Which websites do they read for information?
- Do they prefer to read content or watch a video?
- Which of your competitors have they talked to in the past three months?
- What do they tolerate about your company or your products?
Action: Sit down with some of your customers and have a good conversation with them. Find out their likes and dislikes and ask for ideas on how you can improve. Remember, business is ultimately built on a relationship of trust and listening is a great way to start building that foundation.
2. What do you want your customer’s experience to look like?
Pause for a moment and consider every touch point that your customer has with you. What do people hear on the phone when they call your office – a friendly greeting or a dry, automated system that tells people to guess at the right extension? What does someone see when they first walk into your office or your store? What do they smell? Can customers easily find the address for your business on your website from their phone when they’re in the car? What reviews are they reading about your company online? Are you tracking customer feedback?
Why is this important? Because people will ultimately share their experiences with others on and offline. And in today’s world, one person can share their experience with thousands in a matter of seconds. So the bottom line is this – do you have a customer experience worth sharing?
Action: Take some time to map out every touch point your customer has with you and intentionally define each one. Walk through it from the customer’s point of view. Identify what’s broken and plan for opportunities to delight your customers. If you have loyal customers, great! Ask them how you can make things even better.
3. What makes you different from your competitors?
“Customer service is what makes us different.” “Quality is what separates us.” And the list of cliche answers goes on. The reality is that these answers don’t make a bit of difference to your customers unless you have some way to back it up. Do you have statistics to verify? Are your current customers saying the same thing? Your competitive difference needs to be something that your customers and prospects will value.
Action: Talk to your current customers and ask them why the do business with you and not your competitors. You might hear something that stands out as your differentiator. Also, take a look at 7 Ways To Brilliantly Differentiate From Your Competition by Shawn Sandy.
4. How are you going to (specifically) grow your business?
Going to battle (or market) without a plan is foolhardy. I’m not talking about the 30-page plan that you put on the shelf and never look at again. I’m talking about an actionable plan that documents what needs to be done, by when, and by who.
Evaluate the feedback you received from your customers (assuming you took the time to ask and listen). Consider what you learned, what resources you have available, and what your goals are for the next year (or heck, just the next quarter).
- Are you trying to reach new customers? Maybe you need to run a few PPC campaigns to get some traffic to your website.
- Are you focused on upselling your existing customers? Utilizing email could be the best way to engage your customers and educate them on other services and special offers.
- Are you focusing on building referrals? Using a customer survey might be a great way to identify your most loyal customers who would love to share referrals.
Action: Write down your goals, which customer group you’re trying to reach, what resources you have (or could make) available, and specific steps you can take to reach them.
If you need help, reach out to a friend, consultant, or other peers who have successfully marketed their businesses. You can’t afford to do nothing.
Jeep image source: Flickr