It may be hard to believe, but 47% of small to medium sized business owners have no idea if their marketing strategies are actually working? Even more perplexing, many businesses have no solidified marketing plan in place. If you’re a business owner or responsible for marketing in your business, here are the (3) essential components you must have to find marketing success, regardless of your marketing budget.
1. Know Your Demographics
If you don’t know who your target market is, you won’t know how to reach them. This is essential. You can’t get very far if you don’t know your demographics. This is where you want to spend your time to get started.
- Build Personas
Some companies believe that their target market is “anyone” or “everybody,” but it’s impossible to sell to this group. When you build personas, you get extremely specific. Now you’re selling to Sally, who is 32 years old, mom of a first-grader and a four-year-old, works part time in her daughter’s daycare center, is active in the elementary school’s PTA and spends a lot of her online time on Pinterest and Facebook. She has been married for eight years, and her husband is an attorney. Together they earn $250,000 a year and they own their three-bedroom home, along with an SUV and minivan. She manages the budget for the household and makes the majority of the family’s purchase decisions.
If you know that Sally is your customer, you can identify where she lives, works and plays so that you can craft your message specifically to her. That results in a higher level of success with your efforts. Online tools like Smaply, can help you determine who your company’s target personas are and map out a plan to target them.
If you’re not sure who, exactly, your current customers are—or who you want to target—collect demographic information from prospects and/or customers at the time of sale. Then you can begin to build personas to be more precise in your efforts.
- Survey Customers
Without asking questions, there’s no way to obtain answers. And information is the key to your successful marketing plan. Try SurveyMonkey.com or even point-of-sale surveys. Ask questions of your existing customers, potential customers and the customers who chose a competitor. The answers you receive will help you make better-informed decisions moving forward.
- Utilize Your Sales Team
In companies with employees who are “on the streets,” valuable feedback can be readily obtained. Ask your sales team what they’re hearing from customers and your target market, plus anything they’re hearing about the competition. Salespeople are on the front lines when it comes to knowing who your customers are and what they want. Put them to work collecting information as well as sales.
- Conduct Competitive Analysis
Do you know what your competitors are up to? If you’re aware of what the competition is doing, you can make better choices with your own business. Can you focus on a different niche or tap into a market they may be overlooking?
To learn more, sign up for competitors’ newsletters, visit their websites, follow them on social media and check them out at tradeshows. Read industry-specific websites and journals, as well as join industry organizations. If you’re competing online, try spyfu.com, which gives you insight into keywords and tactics the competition is using to drive traffic.
2. Know Your Metrics
It’s up for debate who said it first, but it’s definitely true that “what gets measured gets managed.” You have to know what’s happening with your marketing, especially how your digital marketing, aka website and social media, play into your efforts.
First off, if you aren’t using Google Analytics, start today! You need to know who’s coming to your website, how they’re getting there, on what kind of device they’re seeing it, what pages they’re visiting and how long they’re staying on the site. This free resource will allow you to track leads and improve your website so you always get the maximum return.
Google Analytics is great for organic and paid advertising, allowing you to determine how much your cost-per-lead expenses are. Remember, though, to track not just your website leads. Ask everyone who comes to your business how they heard about your brand. It could be word of mouth, social media, a specific marketing campaign you created or the website. Never assume it’s just one. Plus, knowing the answer to this question allows you to track which channels are working best.
Remember that you always need to ask for the sale. Have a specific call to action on each marketing component: each page of the website, social media, flyers and brochures and any media advertisements.
3. Dial in the Customer Service
According to a 2014 American Express survey, 78% of consumers have not completed a transaction or intended purchase due to poor customer service. The customer experience is huge in today’s marketplace, and it’s a big way to differentiate your brand from the competition. And keep in mind that we live in a very connected world where news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many people as those who hear about good customer experience. In fact, poor customer service could single-handedly undermine all of your positive marketing efforts!
Loyalty is worth more than its weight in gold. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs says that loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as they spent on their first purchase. So what is that worth to your business to keep your customers happy and take good care of them? To help increase the customer experience, it takes effort from all levels within the organization, from the CEO to the sales team. Everyone needs to be on board.