LOOKING BACKWARD CAN MAKE THE ROAD AHEAD EASIER TO NAVIGATE
Fourth quarter will soon be upon us, which means it is time to start reviewing the progress of the current year and making plans for the year to come. This is especially true for marketing, since preliminary fact gathering is often an hours-consuming process and effective implementation of marketing plans can sometimes take a little time. Start by looking at the last 12 months, and answering a few questions.
Even if you are disciplined and specifically allocate your dollars in advance, chances are likely you’ve had a few add-on purchases throughout the year. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you haven’t blown your budget along the way. But knowing how much was invested will make evaluating and planning for the future easier.
Consider the various outlets you used to get your name out. Did all of them perform up to your expectations? Sometimes “amazing opportunities” deliver less than stellar results. This may be due to a salesperson over promising what his medium cannot deliver. Or, possibly, the channel chosen just wasn’t a good match with your target audience.
Hopefully you have employed a tracking mechanism of some sort. Most digital media provide access to analytical data. POS systems usually reflect special offers. Physical coupons can be saved and counted. Even anecdotal experience, though often flawed, is better than nothing. Use whatever data is available to generate a list of MUST DOs and DON’T REPEATs.
Maybe you learned about them too late, or had already spent the necessary dollars on something else. Either way, there are always new marketing avenues to consider. Research these enough to make an educated decision for the coming year and plan accordingly.
Business patterns ebb and flow. Product/service offerings are modified. Goals evolve. Competitors open and close. Media outlets come and go. Understanding what has changed will help you better prepare for the months ahead.
Taking a long, objective look at your current situation. You’ll probably find some things to regret and others to celebrate. But don’t hold back. Ask yourself the hard questions and plot the route for the success you want to achieve in 2018.
Next month, look for pointers on deciding how much to spend on marketing.
ANALYTICS HAVE BECOME AN INDESPENSIBLE ASPECT OF MARKETING
Consider this: spending on marketing analytics—broadly defined as quantitative data about customer behavior and marketplace activities—is expected to skyrocket from 4.6% to 22% of marketing budgets by the year 2020. According to Forbes magazine, marketers say barely a third of available data currently drives the decision-making processes in their companies.
It’s time to learn how to crunch the numbers.
A number of factors prevent marketers from using the analytics at their disposals. The biggest issue is not having the processes or tools in place to measure success through analytics. Wrapping your head around new technologies and capabilities can be challenging. To this end, having the right mindset is key. Embrace the possibilities that come with data analytics and choose to believe they can help your business grow.
Here at Visionworks, we believe that marketing is equal parts art and science. The same could be said about evaluating data, as you need the ability to think analytically and creatively to make the most out of the information. We look at the data for many endeavors—digital newsletters and pay-per-click, to name a couple—and use the results to make modifications to content. We can track what works versus what doesn’t, which makes us more agile. In today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, you need to be able to change directions quickly. Analytics help achieve that.
What do you do with your analytics?
ENTICE ONLINE ENGAGEMENT BY MAKING IT WORTH THEIR WHILE
A newsletters (ahem) can be a valuable part of an organization’s overall marketing plan. It portrays confidence, competence and relevance. But few people jump to sign up for a newsletter; the specter of repetitive contacts doesn’t build excitement. To really spur engagement, you need to lure them with something they value. You want their data. But that data isn’t free.
You can go about this a variety of ways. You could provide a white paper with “56 Industry Secrets” that can be instantly downloaded when the customer fills in their contact information. You could run a contest or giveaway that requires an email. You can tease “subscriber-only” benefits to encourage folks to sign up. Whichever direction you go, remember that the promise of a newsletter probably won’t whet many appetites. As with most relationships, you’re going to have to give before you get.
GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH ONE SIMPLE QUESTION
Does your mouth suddenly go dry at the thought of asking your clients and vendors for a—gasp!—referral? Perhaps you don’t want to be rejected after asking, or maybe you assume your connections already recommend you in their daily interactions. Truth is, no matter how highly your clients speak of you, a recommendation falls short of a solid referral. Plain and simple, you have to ask for referrals. And you have to be specific about what you’re asking for.
“Could you introduce me to a couple of people like yourself, with needs like yours, who could benefit from our services?” Chances are, you’ll need to ask more than once, as your clients and customers are constantly meeting and making connections with new folks. Again, use specifics when you ask. Which industries are you targeting? Or is there a particular business you are pursuing with whom your client has a connection? Make sure to get the name of a decision-maker. Ask them to make an email introduction or, better still, set an in-person meeting for you. People, for the most part, are hard-wired to want to help. If they believe in you and your work, they’ll likely vouch for you.
Once you get a referral from someone, make sure to thank them appropriately, and reciprocate the gesture when possible. This customer has put their name on the line to endorse and refer you, so show your appreciation.
If you want to grow your business, put a plan into place to ask every customer for referrals.