Marketing Resolutions: Hold your horses!

The start of a new year often sends people into a frenzy of accomplishing a slew of goals and resolutions. The same often goes for companies at the start of a new quarter. From a total refresh of the brand to more “simple” marketing initiatives, companies often set numerous goals for their marketing efforts that they want to achieve sooner than later. While productivity and moving forward are great things, trying to do everything at one time can end up being counterproductive if you’re not careful. Here are a few things to consider before diving headfirst into changes in your marketing.

Why are you doing what you are doing?
So you have your goals and your strategy all set. Make sure you know why you’ve planned the changes/updates that you have in mind for your marketing. It’s important to be sure you and the rest of your team are aware of what the light at the end of the tunnel is for your brand. This will help to put things in perspective as you set out to tackle your goals.

What are your priorities?
There may be ten things that you want to accomplish in a year; however, in reality only three of them may be able to be done and done well. Figure out what your priorities are. This way you can give those things the attention and resources that they need to be done well. The other things don’t have to be put on hold completely, but they shouldn’t be tackled as aggressively as your main priorities.  This will also help you establish the look/feel/tone for your most important projects so that your smaller projects can follow suit. It will also help avoid total confusion from your team about what the REAL priority is. Just remember, if you overbook, you’ll never be able to fully commit and execute to the best of your ability.

What do you have resources for?
Take a good look at your manpower, your financial situation and any other resources that you may need to accomplish your marketing goals. Maybe something that you thought was a priority isn’t financially feasible. Before you go for broke, analyze your entire situation to be sure you are making the best decisions for your company. Perhaps you can push that more expensive goal back and instead work towards accomplishing three more affordable ones.

What makes the most sense?
Maybe this new initiative is cool, but doesn’t necessarily make sense for your brand at that moment, or maybe it doesn’t make sense at all. Look at your goals and determine what makes the most sense, that way you don’t mistakenly put off another priority or waste resources.

What is your strategy?
How exactly do you plan to institute your new initiatives? What is your timeline and how will you handle transitional phases? These are important things to consider. For example, if you will be getting a new logo, what promotional pieces will you update first? If you have labels, when will you be due to print your next run? Will the new logo be ready by then? If labels still have old logos, will other direct product-related items continue to carry the old logo until the new logo is used?

Is everyone in the know?
Are all of your team members aware of your company’s goals and the ones that are being prioritized? Will these new goals dictate changes in individuals’ workload or in the focus of their day-to-day? Make sure everyone knows the overall goals, the why, the priorities, the resources that each is to be allocated, and the method in which these new initiatives will be realized in the company. This is absolutely crucial for consistency and for a true company-wide effort to push your brand forward.

Everyone gets excited about achieving new goals and beginning new initiatives; however, make sure you think things through thoroughly to avoid as many fires as possible and to create as seamless an experience as possible for your end-user.

Do you have goals for the new year or the new fiscal year? How do you approach tackling them? Please share in the comments!

Keep your marketing fresh in the New Year

With the New Year approaching, many companies will soon begin their “New Year, new _____” promotions. While that is totally season-appropriate marketing, maybe it’s time to deliver the same message internally. Start-ups have the benefit of having a clean slate with regard to their brand’s identity, values and approach to marketing. Seasoned businesses, which often have seasoned members of the company and decision-making positions, don’t have that benefit. For those businesses, the threat of growing stale or stagnant with regard to their marketing grows larger with each passing day.

Has your business been around for a while? What are you doing to keep things fresh? I drew several parallels between marketing and dating and this is one that I neglected to mention. Just like you have to keep your relationships fresh in order to prevent them from dulling out, you have keep your marketing/engagement with your consumers fresh as well. While the identity and essence of your brand should essentially remain the same, if fresh ideologies don’t present themselves, it’s very possible that your company’s marketing will start to speak to only the people in your company. Here are some suggestions for ways to keep your company’s marketing fresh.

Bring in new talent
I agree with promoting from within and rewarding those who have stuck with your company and performed well; however, it is important to have a team with a diverse background so that you can get a wide variety of ideas and concepts. Look at JC Penny. The department store retailer brought in an Apple exec to take over the reigns as CEO. The company soon after instituted the ‘shops’ concept , which is modeled after the worldwide electronic and software corporation, Apple. The new concept brought in by a person from a completely different retail background has proved to be innovative and successful for the department store, and even competitors, like Macy’s are taking note.

Get external trend and market reports
If you have a larger company, I’m sure you already have a person or team in place to do research on trends, consumer behavior, etc; however, who’s to say that your internal research personnel isn’t relying on the same data, day after day, month after month, and year after year. Consulting with an outside agency could allow your business to tap into new resources from which to assess and plan your marketing strategy.

Get feedback on your marketing materials
Whether you gather your own focus groups or call on the marketing and advertising departments of universities, get your ads and campaigns in front of people to see what they think about them. Do they find them boring? Do they leave a lasting impression? This type of feedback can be helpful information to help you move forward in a positive direction. You could also consider emailing your consumers a survey with incentive, say, maybe 10% their next purchase. The survey could ask questions that gather information about the best place and approach to presenting your marketing efforts.

What do you do to make sure you keep your marketing fresh? Do you agree with my suggestions above? Do you have any of your own? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Commit to your marketing strategy

Whenever you set out to do something important, one of the first things you need to do is to decide what and how much you are willing to commit to it. Marketing is no different. Once you have a marketing strategy set, you need to decide exactly how much time and money you are willing to commit to it and you need to stick with those commitments. I have witnessed companies set strategies in place and then decide to jump ship in reaction to a competitor’s strategy, or they are not impressed with the sales a couple of weeks into the strategy and so they bail. The result? A rushed and ill-planned alternative route that likely everyone is not onboard with or aware of. The result of that? Inconsistencies in the way that the company speaks to consumers.

While some marketing strategies yield immediate sales, some efforts are most effective with leaving an impression with the consumer and nurturing relationships that may result in brand ambassadors (super-loyal consumers who spread the word about your brand just because). So don’t get so caught up in whether or not your numbers are shooting through the roof after you initiate a strategy. You have to give it time to run its course, especially if you haven’t even gotten any metrics on your efforts. That’s why you should set a minimum time commitment and stick to it. Don’t bombard your audience with messages because you change your strategy on a whim. Trying to keep up with the Jones’ and lacking dedication to your strategy can hurt you tremendously in the long run.

If you work at a larger company, jumping ship from strategy to strategy can be really discouraging, frustrating and confusing for your team and the company. When people spend so much time and energy to produce work for a given strategy, only to see aborted, the damage to their morale can be huge, especially if it happens often. You can’t expect your team members to get excited about working and ready to give their all if they have been shown that their work won’t live long or be given the shine they thought that it would receive.

I realize that sometimes things happen and you have no choice but to change up your strategy. Situations that involve legal issues or situations that unknowingly alienate or insult a significant group of your consumers are examples of times where changing your strategy may be necessary. However, reactions to the competitive environment or lackluster sales are not reasons to abort strategies that you and your team have worked hard to develop and implement. Plain and simple, commit to your strategy.

Power in partnership

Image via WP Clipart

One of the key factors in marketing a product or service is knowing your target audience. Once you know who you’re targeting, you can take that information to seek out businesses who have a similar target audience and whose product/service complements yours, rather than competes with it. Joining forces with a complementary business can help spread awareness of your product/service to their following, while offering that business the same advantage. A partnership can also allow for assistance with planning and funding certain marketing efforts. When I say partnership, I am thinking of the following:

  • A joint promotional event that brings people face to face with both brands
  • An agreement to share and mention each other’s content and brand
  • An agreement to be each other’s ‘preferred’ brand, for example, if you are a physical trainer and you are partnering with an owner of a new gym, you could agree to bring your clients to that gym, and the gym owner could direct patrons who request personal training to you and your business

When approaching another business about a partnership consider the following:

  • Make sure the business offers a product/service of quality that you would not mind having your brand associated with
  • Make sure that your product/service is of high enough quality that another brand wouldn’t mind being associated with it
  • Set objectives for results you hope the partnership will garner
  • Establish the expectations for the partnership, for example, if you’d like the other business to mention your brand’s Twitter handle or Facebook page at least once a day, that needs to be discussed so that there is a fair and equal exchange of publicity on each brand’s part
  • Develop special coupons/promo codes for the partnered promotions as a tracking mechanism
  • Record your sales, social media following, etc before the start of the partnership and at the end to determine the effectiveness

Do you or have you partnered with another business? Were the results positive?

6 parallels between dating and marketing

Marketing should be approached like dating is generally approached. Check out some parallels that I think can be drawn between the two.

Image via “Life of a Thirty Something”

PARALLEL 1

In the dating world
A female doesn’t want to be considered a chick who will be sought after to close the deal. A female wants to be considered and treated like an intelligent woman who is worthy of transparent, honest, sincere conversation and wooing. Her interest must be piqued and a ton of work must be put worth before closing the deal should even be a thought.

In the marketing world
Today, consumers don’t want to be considered [potential] customers who are sought after just for their money. Consumers are smarter and they care more about how they spend their money. Consumers want to be treated like people – people worthy of transparent, honest and sincere communication. Their interest must be piqued, and an effort must really be put forth to close deal and get the consumer to spend his or her money.

PARALLEL 2

In the dating world
So you’ve closed the deal for the first time and you don’t call the next day. There’s a pretty good chance that you made him/her feel used and if you don’t ever call, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ll leave a bad taste in his/her mouth and you’ll just be a mistake of the past.

In the marketing world
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is important. Following up with consumers who make purchases or have experiences with your brand is crucial. You need to let them know that you appreciate their purchase and their time, and that it was more than you just taking their money and then losing all interest.

PARALLEL 3

In the dating world
Spending quality time matters. Life may be busy for the both of you, so every chance you get to spend one-on-one time, you should try your best to make it a positive, memorable experience. After all, relationships are all about the interactions that you have, how those interactions change your life and the emotions that those interactions evoke.

In the marketing world
Always, always, always – quality over quantity. You want to be the first brand that a consumer recalls of when thinking about your category; however, rather than bombarding them with half-stepped marketing attempts, you just need to try your hardest to make sure that every experience that a consumer has with your brand is positive and memorable, and hopefully, leaves them wanting more.

PARALLEL 4

In the dating world
People seek potential partners who will grow them and complement them. You may have the looks or the sense of humor, but how will you make their life better? They don’t want to waste time on a person if there is likely to be nothing positive in the deal for them.

In the marketing world
Fluff is nice. But if the fluff isn’t letting the consumer know what the benefit of your product or service is, then it’s likely that they may not take it seriously. Let consumers know what problem your product or service will solve in their lives.

PARALLEL 5

In the dating world
Until you’ve won each other over completely and made a commitment, you’ll always have to worry about him or her getting swept away by somebody else. If you want him or her to only have eyes for you, you need to put in the work and make them feel loved and appreciated enough so that they don’t want to even consider others. You want them to trust you and you want them to be loyal.

In the marketing world
Competition can be brutal. Everyone wants to dominate the market. This is why it’s so important to try to create brand advocates – people who are dedicated to your brand and will spread the word about how great it is and who wouldn’t think of switching over to the competitor. Identify your potential brand advocates and be sincerely grateful for their enthusiasm about your product/service. Reward them for their dedication and keep them engaged so that they STAY brand advocates.

PARALLEL 6

In the dating world
There are just some instances where one or maybe both adults are not looking for anything serious. They are looking for something very specific which doesn’t necessarily involve a relationship. If you want to be the one to satisfy that want/need, then the only thing you can do is make your time shared is so memorable that they automatically seek you out to satisfy their want/need.

In the marketing world
There are some products and services that people will always need, but that they don’t necessarily put too much thought into. Even if you sell fly swatters, you may not have to spend millions on advertising, but you still need to do what you can to make the consumer automatically reach for your fly swatter. Whether it’s something as basic as product placement, you need to do what you can to make the consumer automatically turn to your brand to satisfy their most basic wants/needs.

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