If you were to rate your marketing on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, how would you rate it? I have asked this question hundreds of times over the years and have kept a log of the results. The average answer is 4.3. Most businesses admit their marketing is less than average.
I firmly believe that marketing is the single most important function of every business. Without a way to generate new customers (and keep your existing ones) on a regular basis, you are out of business, period. You may be thinking: If this statement is true, then why don’t businesses get more serious about their marketing?
I believe they are confused. There are so many different “gurus” touting different strategies, and everyone has their own agenda to push whatever they are selling. I’m here today to implore you to make four pivots in your marketing to help you grow:
Pivot No. 1: Invest more in your marketing.
Let’s tackle the most uncomfortable pivot first: your marketing budget. The short version is: you are probably underinvesting. Not once have I seen a marketing budget that was large enough to accomplish the goals that the organization was aiming for. I also have never seen a budget that says, “Unlimited if the ROI is there.”
The budget should candidly be unlimited as long as you know your marketing math. That math is simple: If you put X dollars in, you get paid out Y dollars in business. As long as the business is profitable (and you factor in the lifetime value of that customer in the equation), you should keep scaling up.
A general rule of thumb ranges from 8-12% of gross sales. This varies by industry but is a general guideline. Start investing more to acquire a customer, and you will grow.
Pivot No. 2: Fix your marketing mix.
Far too often the marketing mix is determined by things that have simply been done in the past. For example, businesses that do trade shows year after year because they always have. I am not saying trade shows are bad, but I need you to understand where the attention is.
Where is the attention for the types of people (or businesses) you are looking to attract? Not where you think it is, but where is the actual attention? This is the type of data that should help determine your marketing mix.
Generally speaking, I can tell you that the vast amount of attention right now is being spent on mobile and social media. Knowing this data, where do you think you should be investing your time, energy and budgets? And, no, the answer is not in billboards.
Make sure that you are focused on marketing where your customers are going today and in the future, not where they were five years ago or more. My disclaimer is that if you have tactics that are working and they’re backed by data, don’t omit those simply because I’m telling you that more attention is on digital, mobile and social. Continue investing in those channels, but make sure that your marketing mix is diverse and focused on attention.
Pivot No. 3: Create a marketing strategy.
Do you have a strategy? Word of mouth shouldn’t be your entire marketing strategy. On the flip side, a 273-page document isn’t a marketing strategy. A marketing strategy is simple, to the point and focused on the marketing activities and actions that will drive more results to your business. It is not something that is read once a year and then sits on the shelf. In order to align the organization, your strategy must be clear and conveyed to all.
Put together a simple marketing calendar that is only 60 days into the future. On it, put the following:
• What is the marketing activity? (Refer to your answers from the marketing mix in pivot No. 2.)
• Who is in charge of the execution?
• What is the budget for the activity?
• What are the outcomes?
• What are the next steps?
Stay a month or two ahead of the plan versus a year ahead, allowing your plan to be nimble.
Pivot No. 4: Develop a content strategy.
There is an immense amount of content being produced each and every minute across the web. There won’t come a time when you can produce enough content for all the platforms across the web. It’s just not realistic. Even people who do this for a living (think Gary Vaynerchuk, who has a crew of people who follow him everywhere) say they don’t produce enough content.
Most businesses are average at keeping up with content and less than average when it comes to spreading that content out across the web and on various platforms. Mediocre content will produce mediocre results.
There are two potential paths that you can choose to go down:
• Take the amount of content you are already producing and commit to getting it published on as many outlets as possible.
• Stop posting a little bit of content across a few platforms and instead focus on posting more content on one platform, going all in with that one platform.
Decide if you are going to focus on one key platform and post more there (ignoring the others), or commit to ramping up your content production to be more effective on all the various platforms.
The choice is yours and comes down to commitment and resources. I would much rather see you take your content production up 10 notches and go all in everywhere, but for many, this is not realistic (at least today).
The list of pivots could go on and on, but these are four critical marketing pivots I am suggesting you make to get your marketing firing on all cylinders and to ensure your business stands the test of time.