Marketing is one of those business functions that you can have a go at. If it doesn’t go particularly well, you may get away without doing too much harm to your business.
But to take it to the next level and make a positive impact on your business growth, you need to develop a strategy and plan and manage your marketing in a joined-up way. In other words, without a clear sense of direction or if your marketing is sporadic and unplanned you won’t achieve your goals.
In this article we look at the key ingredients for successful marketing – from strategy, to content, to engagement, to the importance of design – to help you build and grow your business.
Steering the ship – a strategy for success
When a bobsleigh team prepares for the Winter Olympics they don’t just pitch up on the day, jump in, push off and hope for the best.
Instead, each team member follows an individual fitness regime to ensure they maximise strength and endurance. They use an Olympic-standard bobsleigh, clothing and coach.
Crucially, they work as a team, determining who is best suited to be brakeman, pilot and crewmen/pushers. With roles assigned, the team must train to a planned schedule, aiming to perform to a high level consistently to secure top places amongst tough competition.
In short, they do everything possible to give themselves the best chance of success.
The bobsleigh team needs a strategy, and it is just the same for any business.
Without the right people, in the right positions, with the right tools and training, and a clear sense of direction, they are not setting themselves up for success. So making the time to develop a robust marketing strategy is worth its weight in gold. And it is just as important for a SME as it is for a large corporation.
Once the company knows where it’s headed i.e. where it wants to get to in a set time frame (such as year, or 5 years), the marketing strategy can be developed. The marketing strategy needs to be aligned to the business strategy otherwise it all falls down. Successful marketing generates results. Visit our website to find out more about how to develop a successful marketing strategy.
Content is king, the alpha and the omega
If you are responsible for marketing at your company, you’ll probably have heard the phrase ‘content is king’. Without decent quality content to engage your customers, prospects and followers, all you’re left with is “sales” communications. So really, content is the alpha and the omega – the beginning, the end, and everything in between.
Content comes in many forms, although often we think of writing a blog article much like this one. But as technology develops and potential buyers become savvier and, quite frankly, harder to engage because of the vast amounts of content, our content needs to become smarter and savvier.
So, what other types of content are there?
As the internet and social media started becoming an indispensable part of our lives, there was a subtle shift towards more “designed” content. Infographics were everywhere – their simplicity was well received and their ‘flat design’ set the design trend for a couple of years. Many websites took on this flat 2D look.
Fast forward a couple of years to 2017 and suddenly videos were everywhere. Not the formal, educational videos of the late 90’s / early 00’s. The new style videos were short and engaging while still being informative – with a mix of animation and explainer-style videos being most popular.
During the second half of 2017, it became clear that videos aren’t going away any time soon and our social media feeds are now full of designed videos as well as, the increasingly popular, live videos.
As we stressed earlier, it’s great to produce and share quality content but it needs to be planned. That doesn’t mean we can’t be reactive to current affairs, in fact we must be reactive to developments in our industries. However, our proactive content needs a clear focus. Take a look at our ‘10 ways to become a great content marketer’ article to find out more about this.
A home for content
With your editorial plan in place and quality content being produced regularly, you need to decide where to publish. A few years ago, the most logical place to publish your content was your website. While this is still sensible – in fact, it should be the central repository for your content – there are other digital platforms that can be used to publish content and which you may then use to plug back into your website.
For example, your videos can be published on your YouTube (or maybe Vimeo) channel. From there you can embed the video onto your website. You may write content for publication on a leading industry website. Although you could link to the content from your website (and social media) it also makes sense to reproduce the content on your own website and cite where it was originally published.
If you plan sensibly, one piece of content can be republished in a variety of places. It’s not a new concept. Produce once; use many times.
Your personal LinkedIn profile, for example, is a great place to publish an article – assuming you’ve written it of course! It is also worth considering how much you can get out of one written article. Can you reproduce it as an infographic, or turn it into an explainer video using an animated video package such as Renderforest or Biteable? In much the same way as people learn differently, people also absorb content differently and by communicating the same information in different formats means that your content is likely to achieve a much greater reach and engagement level.
Spreading the message
We’ve touched on this already but let’s look at sharing your marketing content in greater depth. If you’ve written an article and posted it on your website, you may think that your job is done. Right? Wrong. You are relying on your audience to use their telepathic skills to know that you’ve published new content and be proactive enough to visit your website to read it.
If only life were that simple.
With such an array of content in circulation vying for attention, you can’t sit on your laurels. Assuming you already have established social media channels, use these to post your content. If you’ve produced 4 pieces of content, don’t post them out all at once – give each piece its moment of glory!
If you stay in touch with your customers and prospects with an e-newsletter, this is an ideal way of sharing your content. Make sure you are GDPR-ready if you are using this method to communicate.
Let’s talk social
Social media has taken the world by storm. Love it or hate it, if you’re a marketer there’s little chance of avoiding it.
Instead, you need to harness it, embrace it even, while being mindful that it’s an ever-changing beast! Many business owners wrongly believe that social media is not appropriate or relevant for their business. But it’s important to have a voice in the places where your customers or prospective customers are gathering their information and forming their opinions.
Check out the conversations on Twitter and Facebook – despite the latter’s changed algorithms and data policies it’s still the world’s most popular social platform. You may not like it, but if your potential buyers and customers are spending time there, you need to be there too.
In summary, if you were hoping for a ‘just do Instagram and Twitter’ statement, sorry to disappoint. Every business is different. So are its marketing needs and so are the information habits and requirements of its customers. Your marketing agency should be able to help you by developing a social media strategy based on research for your business.
Creativity in your design
SnapChat’s shares plummeted in February 2018 when Kylie Jenner tweeted her dislike of their redesign. Most likely this social media giant will quickly recover, but it’s a great example of how a reputation can easily be tarnished if it lacks the visual appeal.
Appearances can be deceiving. So, if you are producing fantastic content, but your website’s design is sadly outdated (for example) a prospective customer may well contact your competitor instead of you.
It sounds very shallow doesn’t it? And yet, we have seen businesses with a strong strategy and effective marketing effort not growing because their visual presence is old and tired.
Your brand is your reputation and, unfortunately, first impressions do count. So, ensure that your company’s identity is strong and consistently applied across all of your marketing channels.
The unseen ingredient
Finally, there’s a vital – if unseen – ingredient that must be included in your marketing mix.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the invisible part of the jigsaw that can make the difference between your business being found in Google or being the needle in the haystack that’s always just out of sight.
Not familiar with SEO? If a business is looking for a new accountant, for example, they’ll typically place ‘reputation’ and ‘trust’ high up their list of decision priorities.
They’ll probably factor in “word-of-mouth” in forming their opinion, but will almost always ‘Google it’ too using search terms like “accountants in [town]” or “[service] accountant in [town]”. Often (but not always) the firm that appears at or near the top of a page of search results will get the call – or at least the website visit.
If your SEO is working as it should, prospects should be able to find you – on page 1 – in around the 0.66 seconds it took Google to return ‘about 144,000,000 results’ when we Googled ‘Accountant’.
144,000,000 – that’s a staggering number.
Obviously, that’s a very broad search term but even when we Google ‘Accountant Royston’, it returns nearly 100,000 results.
And so, the challenge is for your marketing to help you secure first place in much the same way the bobsleigh team does, by using its strategy, methods, experience and skills.
Ready to take your business from A to B and beyond?
C4B Media is a marketing agency that provides joined up digital marketing and creative design for businesses. Whether you are looking for adhoc support or a regular monthly marketing service, visit the marketing packages page on our website or talk to one of our team on 01763 877110 to see how we can help you.