When your marketing efforts aren’t generating the results you want, it may be time to re-evaluate what is not working and why. A lot of marketing efforts depend on your business. Are you a large company with a recognized brand trying to expand or a startup trying to gain recognition in an already competitive market? Are you selling a product online? Do you specialize in localized services like landscaping, insurance, real estate or chiropractic care? Are you trying to drive traffic to your website for more views or attract new clients from across the country? Is your goal to fill a yoga class or attract and retain regular massage clients?
Examine these key areas where you may be falling short:
Audience: If people don’t know you exist, it’s going to be hard for them to find you. Similarly, targeting the wrong audience definitely won’t generate results. You need to strategize how to reach your target market, but first you need get clear about who that is. What does your ideal customer look like? New clients in a localized area who need or want your services or people from across the globe that want to buy a product? Take a minute to brainstorm and even write it down: Who will buy or want my services? Why? How? When? Where? For consumer product customers, consider some of these demographics: Location, age, gender, marital status, income, education, family size, occupation, and buying frequency. The audience will be different for business-to-business customers versus service-based industries. Focus your efforts on the group that will increase your income, buy what you are selling, or want to hire you for a job. Even when it comes to social media, communities and topics demonstrate preferences for particular social channels. Not all platforms may be effective for your audience. Beyond publishing interesting content, you have to put that content in front of the eyes that will find it interesting and respond.
Strategy: Sure it helps to have a catchy tagline, but connect on a human level and people will respond. Ineffective marketing is often due to failed or misplaced strategy. It needs to be consistent, repetitive and a priority. Just like you need to know you audience, you also need to make sure your message hits the mark. Tell stories and use testimonials. Appeal to their sensibilities. Relate your product or services to their needs. Identify and empathize with the reader. Convey that you understand how they feel about the challenges they face. Then reveal what you have to offer. Include details of your solution and how it will solve their problems and/or meet their goals. Be convincing in why your product or service is the best. Your delivery strategy could take many forms: social media, website traffic, direct mail, radio or print ads, free calendar listings, or even posting flyers and leaving business cards in high-traffic areas or on community bulletin boards. Consider the ways you can have the widest reach for the lowest cost. Even if you try some of the free options and they don’t work, you haven’t lost much. Practice your elevator pitch, your word-of-mouth marketing, and be ready at every opportunity. It might be time to host an open house, speak in front of a target-rich group, join the local chamber of commerce, or sponsor a Facebook contest.
Message: Perhaps you are trying to drive visitors to your website or to open an email or blog, but you need to capture their attention long enough so that they read the content. Remember the basics of effective marketing copy. Get to the point. Be clear and concise. Keep it simple. Write in active voice and use a conversational tone. Your marketing copy is powerful selling and conversion tool. The right content can and should evoke emotion, appeal to reason, explain solutions, and direct the reader to take action. Drive home the benefits of what you have to offer and how it will exceed their expectations. Use keywords, hot-button terms, persuasive language, and some psychology to arouse the readers’ emotions and entice them to find out more. The more questions you can answer for your reader, the better. Don’t give them time to “think about it” or check out your competitors. Tracking traffic, behavior metrics, and demographic information can provide a more robust picture of audience preference and interest and help develop content that earns traffic by anticipating and meeting reader interests.
Consistency: Are your efforts consistent? One challenge for small business owners and entrepreneurs can be finding the time to do everything. Marketing often gets overlooked or pushed to the back burner. Remember that one-time advertising almost never works. Whether it’s posting on social media, sending out an email newsletter, or buying a print ad, focus on consistently delivering relevant content in a manner that reaches the right audience. Check out what your competitors are doing. Take a look at your past few months of posts and note the day and time of publication. It might be time to change it up. Or maybe you created a Facebook page but never update it. Facebook does greatly restrict the reach of posts, but it’s still good to have current posts and content in case a new customer wants to check you out. Monitor the page views, engagement and overall response across all platforms and identify which platform sees the greatest sharing/interaction per post. Audiences may be turned off at the unreliability or not wasting their time if you’re publishing at an inconsistent rate or putting out subpar content.
Investment: Marketing takes an investment of both time and money. If you have a small budget, you really need to determine how to get the most return on your investment. Relying on all free avenues may not cut it, but it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of them in addition to some paid advertising in the way of print, billboards, radio or social media. It may be time to spend more on marketing or use your budget in a different way. If you’re a solo entrepreneur, dedicate a few hours a week to marketing your business. If your company is growing, it might be time to hire a marketing person or a marketing firm to handle it for you. Develop a budget, implementation plan and dedicate someone to get it done.