David Meyer

Resolution #2: Follow Your Marketing Plan

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu – The Art of War

November 12, 2018

Now that you’ve determined your marketing strategy, it’s essential to plan the tactics to help you reach your sales goal. This should seem like a logical next step, but most of our clients come to us for help executing tactics before they’ve done any strategy development. What they’re really trying to do is cure a symptom without finding the cause of the pain. Most people don’t go to the doctor asking for rotator cuff repair; they tell the doctor that their arm hurts. Then, after a series of questions (and tests), the doctor determines the cause of the pain…and (hopefully) cures it.

Now that we know the causes of the pain, planning the tactics is relatively easy. It’s easy because the heavy lifting is done. You know which groups to target, when to reach them, and what messages will resonate most with them and will motivate them to take a measurable action. You’ve also outlined their buying process, identified influencers, and know the key motivators for each of them.

As you can imagine, every situation is unique which makes writing an article that applies to each opportunity a bit challenging. Instead of detailing the specific pros and cons of every marketing tactic under the sun (there are probably thousands), let’s look at the a few of the biggies. This won’t be comprehensive, but will hopefully address 80% of most businesses needs.

Also, tactics should be tested whenever possible. Try different copy, different days of the week, tweak the call to action. Chances are, you’ll learn from each campaign and continually improve your results.

Branding

I can’t tell you the number of times clients have asked us to rebrand them when we’ve found other solutions that solve their problem. Sure, there are a ton of bad brands and logos out there. Unfortunately, spending money on a new logo, new sales collateral, etc. doesn’t have an immediate return on investment. There are cases where a re-brand is in order, and I’m not going to dismiss the value of a good brand. But if you have an established brand that isn’t hurting you, rebranding can be expensive and likely not have any immediate payoff or ROI.

Direct Marketing/Marketing Automation

If you’ve got a well-defined target market and a clear, compelling call to action, direct marketing is tough to beat. Email is certainly inexpensive, but your average target is struggling to keep up with over 120 emails/day.

Emails should be short, to the point, have a strong subject line and a clear call to action.

When economically feasible, we recommend using a customer relationship management system (CRM) and marketing automation tool such as HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, SharpSpring, Act-On, or Hatchbuck to make the most of your opportunities.

Ideally, you can create ‘personas’ for each of your targets. This enables you to provide them with messages that will best relate to them regardless of their position in their buying cycle.

Additionally, these tools allow you to learn more about each prospect with every interaction. Did they download a whitepaper? Did they look at specific pages on your site?

With the right tools, your sales team can have all the information they need to close the deal or at the least help open doors to new opportunities.

Web

Usually, your website is your most prominent marketing tool. Think of it as your store front. It’s always up and running and is totally under your control. It’s up to you to provide the best user experience possible. How easy is it for prospects to navigate? Does your site make you look as ‘big’ as you are (or want to be)?

Too often, clients use their website to tell clients what they want to say instead of telling clients what the clients want to hear. Remember, you are NOT your target audience. Use keywords, links and backlinks to improve organic search rankings. Create landing pages specific to campaigns. Capture data that goes into your CRM.

Think about your own experience using the web. It’s a self-selecting process. Don’t overload each page with every detail about your company; prospects are happy to ‘click to learn more’ if they’re engaged.

Social Media

While not the right vehicle for every client, most companies should have a social presence. At a minimum, they should monitor what is being said about their brand and their industry online. Today’s consumers are more educated on marketing and also more jaded than those of the past, and sad but true, false news spreads faster than the truth, and can create permanent damage to any brand.

For those that employ social media, we’ve found it’s best to have an ‘editorial’ calendar (that’s flexible, of course) to make sure plans get executed and remain on strategy.

SEO/PPC

At an 18.2% yearly growth rate, the internet remains the fastest growing medium in 2015 (source Advertising Age, 12.31.15). The reliance on banner ads is declining, but pay per click and search engine marketing remains very active. When is the last time you clicked on a banner ad on purpose? The key metrics to watch for with pay-per-click is the cost to convert and lifetime value of a customer. As long as the math works, and you’re getting a good return on your investment, it’s likely worthwhile. Just remember, like every other medium, TEST. Your ad could always be doing better.

Print

Despite the rumors, print is not dead. Sure, the classified section is gone (thanks, Craigslist) and most people get their news online. The most promising segment in the print category for most of our clients are trade pubs, or highly targeted magazines. These remain ‘must-reads’ by most executives and decision makers who need to keep abreast of innovations and trends in their industry.

Public Relations

Earned media (PR) is worth way more than paid media (advertising). Stories are written by independent journalists, and are far more trustworthy than advertising. To leverage PR, you have to play the long game. Know what writers you should target, and in addition to putting a release on the wire (which helps SEO, by the way), follow up with the journalist/blogger personally, and tell them why you believe the story is newsworthy to their readers. Do your homework, it’ll pay off.

Again, this list is by no means comprehensive, and recommendations will vary depending on your business and particular needs. What’s most important, is that you find the tactics that will have the highest return on your investment, and continually monitor, measure and modify as the market changes. And with that plan of attack you have everything in place to win the sales war against your competition.

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David Meyer

There are a lot of great story-tellers, but there aren’t enough story-understanders. When clients have trouble explaining a new value proposition, David can name that tune in fewer words than they imagined possible. When prospects come to us with a symptom, David asks the (sometimes hard) questions that get to the root of the problem. Then he solves it. After decades inaccount management and creative roles, David is able to bridge the gap between creatives and clients (and back). Oh, and he can tell stories, too.

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