A Step-By-Step Guide To Marketing Your Business [ A Marketing Formula ]
11 Comprehensive Marketing Strategies,
From Planning To Lead Generation.
By Jason Delfos, President & Founder of Mad Group Consulting, Inc.
IT’S TIME TO MOVE ABOVE THE NOISE. Every year more competitors come into your space and make your marketing efforts more difficult. There is simply an overwhelming amount of noise in advertising and marketing. It’s too easy to be invisible, obscure, and even forgettable. Since most businesses can spend no more than 5% of their gross sales on marketing, it’s important to spend this budget wisely with a well-planned tactical approach. As you read through this step-by-step guide to marketing your business, you will notice how we guide you from research to brand preparation, marketing preparation to marketing execution, and finally testing, tracking, and tweaking to case study documentation.
Before we get into the details of marketing, we are assuming you have refined and articulated your vision, core focus, and core values as an organization. Everything you do in marketing should be aligned to these three things. This creates the guideline for messaging, promoting the brand, the target markets you care about, and the numbers you need to achieve through marketing.
Step 1 — How To Correct The Foundational Mistake Most Companies Make
Understand who your best prospects are and what they appreciate most. When choosing the best prospects to market to, there are a few questions to ask yourself before you begin. Do your prospects align with the values of your company? Will they add or detract from the vision your company is committed to? Will they be enjoyable to work with, and can your team be inspired by their quest? Are they low hanging fruit? Are they attainable with the resources you have? Do you have the resources to serve them well? Lastly, will they be profitable for you and do they have the resources to become a long-term client? Once you’ve answered these questions and you’ve created the parameters of your best prospects, now it’s time to do your research on what matters most to them and their influencers? What and where are their emotional trigger points (will they react to your messaging)? What are their needs occasions? What is their lifestyle like? And what walls will you have to tear down to build their trust?
Step 2 — How To Really Get The Edge On Your Competitors
Understand who your competitors are and how they are positioned in your markets. It’s not enough to be trustworthy or competent these days, because your competitors may also be trustworthy and just as competent. The key is to understand the “perceived” differences between you and them and then highlight them if they can add leverage to your message. A great way to do this is to create a comparison chart. A comparison chart is a list of services and attributes that you place side-by-side against your competitors and the industry at large. This highlights in plain view where you stand compared to them, and how high your standards are versus the industry standards. We recommend that you be as honest as possible in portraying your strengths and weaknesses, and we also recommend that you give proper credit to your competitors. By this act of transparency, you build immense trust and increase your chances of your viewers contacting you for more information.
Step 3 — The Marketing Jackpot Most Companies Ignore
Understand what is unserved or underserved in your markets. As a consumer have you ever asked yourself, “I wish this thing came with a…” or “If only they made this thing stronger, lighter, smaller, more flexible…etc.” Also, “It would be great if there was more variety, for much less…” Or even the opposite, “…less variety, less often, with more exclusivity…”. These are just examples to demonstrate that in every market for every service and every product, consumers and businesses are wishing for more. Richard Branson started Virgin Airlines because no airlines offered a direct flight from the Virgin Islands to the US in 1984. He also started Virgin Mobile because college students didn’t have enough credit to get cell phones, hence the beginning of prepaid phones. Markets are always underserved and you can be the company that identifies and develops solutions to fill some of those needs, which will help you stand out from the crowd, especially if you add these differentiators to your comparison chart.
Step 4 — Make This A High Priority Item…
Act on the biggest complaints in your industry. Another important area where you can add value is to identify what the biggest complaints are in your industry and then try to be the company that addresses these. It could be subpar service, quality, reliability, or availability. Since businesses these days are innovating more rapidly than ever, it’s important to be constantly improving just to stay competitive. If those improvements zero in at key focal points of discontent, then you may be a more attractive choice to potential clients than others in your marketplace. But in all cases, these complaints are opportunities to get ahead of competitors and they should be capitalized upon in your marketing efforts.
“Can’t they make these things stronger?”
“Every company we call is closed on Saturdays…”
In fact, if you address these most common complaints, you can promote this in your marketing. The fact that you make things more convenient for your clients, or do them better or faster should be a distinctive part of your brand message. Highlight them as game-changers and be specific in the details so prospects believe you.
Step 5 — If You Don’t Have This… You’re Going Down!
Build brand trust by connecting emotionally and increasing your likability factor. This may seem like an odd or simplistic recommendation, but likability is the number one factor for separating competitors at the top of the market. The difference between the top three competitors in each market is so minuscule that it’s truly difficult to compare competence or differentiators. This is when “likability” becomes the separator. Human beings are emotional decision makers and if people like and connect with your brand there’s a good chance they’ll do business with you. If they like you they will most likely trust you. Survey Monkey reports that two-thirds of adults in the US say that trust in a brand has a great deal (31%) or a lot (37%) of influence on their decision when making a big purchase.
One of the most effective ways to build likability and trust within your brand is to put “personality” into your messaging and visuals. Add flavor, humor, wit, attitude, moxie, cleverness, warmth, and passion into your headlines, sub-headlines, and wherever you can in your body text. Try to avoid matter-of-fact writing. Try not to be dry, sterile, and hyper-literal. Show who you really are at your most relaxed and charming state and readers will pick up on this and be more receptive and responsive. Just like in life, people will gravitate towards those whom they like best, not necessarily those that are the best.
Step 6 — How To Create The Ultimate Marketing Plan
To generate leads and attract the clientele you desire, we recommend a multifaceted, multi-tiered approach to your marketing.
1. Start With Specific Goals — Units To Be Sold or Dollars To Be Earned
Start with your goals and work backwards. Your goals are different from your projections. Your goals should be set higher than your projections because you are going to allocate time, money, and effort to change the course you’re on.
Once you have created your goals in dollars or units, then it is time to understand and outline which revenue streams will get you to those goals. In other words, break down the services that will get you to those goals and understand how much each service will earn you. If it seems difficult to do that with the current services you offer, you might have to introduce new services or products to get you there.
2. Outline Your Tiers And Leads
Once you have your goals defined by each service you offer, or by the products you sell, now it’s time to estimate the number of leads (phone calls or inquiries) you will need to get you there. The way to do this is to look at industry averages and your own averages to see how many leads you will need to close the required amount of deals.
We recommend going a step further and breaking down your client sales into tiers. For example, the clients that spend the most would be top tier sales or tier one clients. Then tier two clients would be mid-range clients, and tier three clients would be lower dollar amount sales, usually the bulk of your business. Once you have broken these down and estimated sales in each tier, you can now estimate leads needed in each category and devise your marketing strategy according to these tiers. Now you can allocate marketing dollars and programs that will reach each of these clientele groups, plus you can create up-sell programs that will move clients to a higher tier.
3. Combine Digital Marketing With Traditional Media Marketing
We recommend breaking down your marketing approach into two main categories, Digital Marketing and Traditional Media Marketing. Digital marketing might include, Email Marketing, Google Paid Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, Digital Banner Advertising, Social Media Marketing, and all things internet related.
Traditional Media Marketing might include direct mail campaigns, letter writing campaigns, magazine ads, posters, trade shows, radio, TV, flyers, billboards, and all things non-internet related. Please keep in mind that these marketing mediums might need to be coordinated to support each other. For instance, if you send out a direct mail piece, it might be prudent to back it up with an email campaign directing the same prospects to landing pages or your website.
A recent survey showed that 33% of consumers don’t trust in those brands that don’t offer printed communications and 69% would never choose a company with no printed bill option for transactions. Though digital marketing may be the most effective and efficient means for generating leads, it might not always be the best way to convert leads into clients. A hand-written letter to a prospect or a lead may be far more effective than a text message or an email. A brochure picked up at a car dealership with an insert providing useful pricing information and comparison charts may be more connecting and effective than information from a website. Every touch-point of the customer journey should be evaluated to see whether digital or traditional marketing should be used.
4. The Big Mistake—Avoid Underestimating What It Takes To Generate Good Leads
Remarkably few companies are thorough enough with their approach to creating marketing plans. Most often they are haphazardly put together without specific details or approaches. Quite frankly, most companies severely underestimate what it takes to really attract great clients.
Once you’ve chosen the marketing mediums that you think might be most effective to reach your audiences, it’s time to estimate the number of leads each medium should bring you each month and each quarter. Your budget needs to allow for the number of leads you are aiming for. Please be realistic, and do not underestimate the effort and the money it takes to generate good leads.
5. The 12-Month Marketing Calendar
Once you’ve broken all of these down into estimated leads generated by marketing mediums, tiers, and services or products sold, it’s time to create a twelve-month spreadsheet showing what marketing mediums you are using each month, and how many dollars you are allocating to each medium each month. In addition, you need to estimate how many qualified leads you expect to generate each month. Please estimate on the lower side of averages until you have dialled in each marketing program with A-B testing and tweaking.
Now that you have the twelve-month calendar organized by each marketing service or medium that you’ll use to get you to your goals, it’s time to get more specific about the strategies and actions you will need to deploy each quarter to get you there. It will be very difficult to plan more than one quarter in advance. Break down January through March, April through June, and so on. Once you have broken down all of these details of your goals, audiences, leads, marketing mediums, calendars, and activities, you are ready to move forward on developing targeted prospects for your business.
Step 7 — You Won’t Be Considered Unless You…
Stay top-of-mind. When you create your quarterly or annual marketing plan and budget, be sure to develop one plan for long-term return on investment (ROI) and another for short-term ROI gain. For instance, if you are competing for market share, it is super important to be seen, heard, and talked about frequently—in other words stay top-of-mind. This is important so that you are not forgotten when potential clients are ready to make purchasing decisions. You always want to be amongst the top two or three choices when the conversation arises to make a buying decision. Staying top-of-mind may not pay off short-term ROI, but it is every bit as important as an instant ROI marketing program. In fact, we usually recommend running both short and long marketing programs simultaneously. You simply can’t entice buyers constantly by great offers and call-to-actions. It is imperative to attract people to your brand and namesake through educating, informing, and being a friend to those who would benefit from your expertise whether they are a client or not. This is where brand marketing comes into play.
Brand marketing is just being your prospect’s best friend. Actually, it’s less about marketing and more about inspiring quotes, educational how-tos, gift ideas for your birthday, getting real with emotionally connecting dialog and human-like conversations. These are all excuses to reach out on a monthly or regular basis to connect with them. According to MarketingCharts.com, recent research has found that in the US, almost 2-in-3 consumers (64%) feel that companies have lost touch with the human element of the customer experience. So spend time and money on long-term brand marketing while you also focus on short-term programs.
Step 8 — 11 Tips For Creating Irresistible Call-To-Actions
Improve short-term ROI with these Call-to-action tips. For a more direct approach to marketing a call-to-action is one of the best ways to attract attention and sales. A call-to-action (CTA) is an offering, invitation, or emotional prompter that get’s people to take an action they otherwise would not have taken. The question to always ask yourself when creating a Call-To-Action is, is it irresistible? Does it make you want a thing more now than ever before? Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating call-to-actions.
- Understand what your competitors are offering before you create yours
- Calculate what the average lifetime value of your client is and then decide what you are willing to part with to get that client. (To learn how to calculate Average Lifetime Value – click here)
- Make your call-to-actions difficult to refuse
- Make them trustworthy and believable
- Make them clear an precise and be upfront about their restrictions
- Add a limited time-frame and a sense of urgency to them
- Complement them with other supporting benefits
- Be honorable and never try to deceive
- Use promo codes to track success
- Package your offerings with other complementing products or services. eg. Free drink and fries with the purchase of a burger
- Understand that call-to-actions don’t have to be about direct and immediate ROI. They can be an invitation to an event or an emotional plea to learn more, or, to simply to subscribe to something. Whatever they may be, please have a goal in mind for what you want them to achieve for you.
Step 9 — Improve Conversions By Over 400% With This Approach
Create tactical marketing funnels on your website. It’s tempting to design your marketing with a direct selling approach, but we recommend introducing your prospects to helpful information before you ask for the sale. This is a great way to build trust and introduce them to your company without scaring them. In addition, since Google rewards websites that have high click-through rates, this marketing approach can create a higher organic website ranking which in turn gives your traffic a boost. To paint a more vivid picture of a website marketing funnel, this diagram shows how visitors filter down from a wider audience to a select few who may become leads and clients. As an example, for every hundred clients that visit your website, it is typical that two of them may become leads. 2-4% is average depending on which industry you’re in, however lower and higher traffic-to-lead ratios are common.
There are formulas and tactics for making effective marketing funnels, but top things to consider when guiding them through your website are to whet their appetite with a provocative headline and brief content that has them digging for more. Once they have clicked into a different page, give them helpful information that benefits them and prompt them to take an action, or learn more. Continue this sequence of giving information and prompting action. The deeper they go, the higher the chance of them taking action. Do this throughout your website or landing pages with various products or services and watch your leads and click-through rates increase.
Step 10 — The Most Powerful Formula For Success…
Test, track, tweak, and repeat. Marketing is often about failure. The sooner you accept that the sooner you’ll be successful in your marketing efforts. The key is to fail small and soon. But to minimize failure and losses, you’ll have to spend time and money on research and testing. Read as much as you can on best practices and successful campaigns within your industry. Get advice from marketing experts and listen to them through trial and error. If you have chosen a seasoned marketing professional, your personal opinion might not carry as much relevance as theirs. Remember data will tell the story about your successes and failures. Comprehensive AB testing will give you data information. But don’t rely only on bits of data, stick to a comprehensive strategy that’s measured over time. If quick ROI is your goal, remember that quick ROI comes after months and sometimes years of trial and error. In other words, quick ROI is very hard to come by and often includes luck.
After you’ve tested, tracked, and tweaked your marketing you should be left with the highest performing campaigns. Use these as your go-to campaigns, but don’t stop there. Keep testing against the best campaigns using tried and true methods you’ve developed through the process. This is where you start to see your investments pay off tremendously. If you stay with a long term approach and make improvements along the way, you’ll feel you earned your success rightfully.
Step 11 — A Winning Format For Creating Case Studies
Case Studies and success stories can be an extraordinary tool for convincing prospects that you can achieve success for them. If you format your case study properly, you can show viewers the progression from start to success and give them specific details about the journey. For example, you can start off with a compelling title that states your results and then follow a format that looks something like this: A “Title & Subhead”, An “Overview” paragraph, A “Challenges” paragraph, A “Solutions” paragraph, A “Results” paragraph.
The goal is to tell a coherent, easy-to-follow story that includes charts and statistics, before and afters, praises and testimonials, and any information that tells the effect your efforts had on their success. Please note that the case studies should be written by your company, not the client. If you wait for the client to write one for you it’s hardly likely it will get written, and especially not in the manner that would satisfy you. The best way to approach this is to write it as accurately and forthcoming as possible, then ask your client to endorse what you’ve written or write a testimonial that supports it.
How To Stop The Bleeding And Missed Opportunities:
Though this guide to marketing your business might be overwhelming, it has left out volumes of information that are needed to master marketing planning and execution. Hopefully though, this has given you a step-by-step overview of how to approach your marketing so that you don’t waste time, money, and brand equity in mediocre marketing. For professional advice or marketing planning please reach out to us at MAD Group and we will let you know if and how we can help you. Cheers to your future success.