Strategic Marketing That Challenges Your Thinking and Approach

The Ultimate Secret Of Successful Marketers That No One Talks About

Every CEO, Business Owner, VP of Marketing, Director … marketer essentially wants to know the one thing they can do to get massive results, the magic pill they can take, the one bit of advice from an expert that will turn the ship around.

patience

Truth is, marketing is mostly a bunch of hard work, done consistently. However, there is one thing that every marketer can do that works  – the one ultimate secret to give your business a shot at success. Want to know what that is?

Develop strategic patience. Every successful marketer has this secret weapon. It takes a while for prospects to trust you, and if you change your marketing, media, and identity, you’re hard to trust. Success comes to those who begin with a plan, and have the strategic patience to move beyond the need for instant results.

The reason great marketing is so powerful in the first place is that it doesn’t manipulate, it persuades — it’s useful information, presented in an accessible, interesting way.

Discovering that takes strategic patience. More great marketing has fallen short due to impatience on the part of the marketer than for any other reason.

Your resourceful website might not do the job. Your aggressive direct mailings might not deliver as well. But your website and direct mailings, combined with your telephone follow-up, email newsletter, seminar, advertising, publicity and patience get the job done very nicely.

It’s your strategic patience that wins the award for the profits generated by your marketing.

So the secret in a nutshell is this…

It takes a special person to stay the course while marketing effort after marketing effort fails to hit home. It takes remarkable discipline to remain with the marketing program when instant results are not produced.

You must restrain from making changes in your marketing programs and develop the willingness to continue executing a marketing strategy despite the absence of quick financial strokes.

You must have more strategic patience than your competition.

Marketing continues to be a collision of business, science, art, and strategic patience. It works. But it rarely works instantly. That’s why the most crucial vehicle in that collision called marketing is your own strategic patience.

The 4 Core Elements of a Successful Lead Generation Strategy

I often get asked by business owners, organizations, franchises and associations which one or two or three marketing tactics have been the most successful for businesses or have the greatest results.

lead gen

 

Public relations, networking, referrals, and advertising are often the answers to that question, but the answers are different for each specific business and organization.

Today’s integrated lead generation program consists of always communicating, sharing information, and solving problems, all through an educational approach that blends the use of public relations, networking, referrals, and advertising.

Essentially, a lead is generated through information collection. That information collection could come as the result of a shopper sharing contact information in exchange for a coupon, or a person filling out a form to download an educational piece of content.

1. Public Relations

There are two kinds of PR: publicity (which is going to fade away) and there’s public relations which is story telling. Storytelling is going to get more and more important. A core principle of marketing is getting the word out about your business to your target market. In marketing there are many ways to do this. PR just happens to be the one that is powerful, credible and a low-cost (or no-cost) tool, but often underutilized by start-ups and organizations.

2. Networking

This is the only marketing tool you can count on in any economy. Networking with colleagues, strategic partners, vendors, reporters, customers, and local communities is a high quality way to increase revenues and share information, referrals, endorsements, and assist other people. The two cornerstones of networking you must master is the follow-up and differentiation.

3. Referrals

Generating referral can and do happen, by luck, but the more you can formalize the process or put a process in place to make them happen, the quicker you’ll realize increased sales through referrals. Generating referrals today can be easy, viral, organized, automatic and profitable.

4. Advertising

Most SMBs dislike advertising because of awful past results. Advertising works, it’s just that most of the creatives that produce or sales professionals that sell advertising don’t have a clue how to make it work. Your advertising must be highly targeted (focused on a target market), done at the right time (when ideal customers are looking for help) and in the right place (where they’ll find you). Successful advertising is goal-directed, focused on audience and message and sells not a product or service but action. Before you can begin working, you need a clear idea of the needs and attitudes of your audience and the action you want them to take.

The measure of any lead generation marketing program is the quality and volume of leads it brings in. By generating the right leads, you’ll queue up your sales efforts for success, and ultimately drive revenue for your business.

The 5 Biggest Strategic Marketing Mistakes Small Companies Make

Usually I talk about how to think and approach marketing in a different way for better results whether those results are to get more customers, increase your conversion rate, differentiate your business, create content assets, etc.

marketing-mistakes

But you also need to know about the factors that will erode your business.

If you want your business to thrive, watch out for these five strategic marketing mistakes. Get them straightened out and you’ll get your business on the road to robust good health.

#1. Not Identifying a Who

This may be the greatest single mistake for small business disaster. Small businesses are often just telling their story to whomever will listen = everybody.

The problem with this approach is if you think everyone that breaths is your ideal customer chances are you’ll spend money in the wrong media channels and time at the wrong events or on the wrong platforms, wasting your greatest resources of time and money.

Instead, identify your ideal customer. Use your existing customer base to identify the characteristics of your best customers. With that information, develop a detailed profile of your ideal customer. Then, show up in the media channels and in-person events where prospects that most closely fit the profile will be. You may be featured in fewer publications and meet with fewer people, but you’ll close more sales.

#2. Using Customer Expectations as Differentiators

Quite often I will ask small business owners to tell me what’s different about their business from others. The most common answers are, “we have the best price, we give our customers a quality product, or we have better service.”

I’m here to tell small businesses that communicating price, quality, and service are no longer strong enough reasons to differentiate your business for a potential prospect. These are all customer expectations.

The difference needs to be in the way you do business, how you package your product, the way you sell your service, the way you answer the phone, your appearance on a sales call, your signage, marketing kit, etc. – it’s all in the way you provide your service or product.

#3. Communicating What You Do Very Blandly

In marketing your small business, your job is to help the prospect actually understand and perhaps even feel how your business is different from every other business. And lacking this ability to communicate and capture what you do is a recipe to compete on price.

This mistake often occurs at networking events when small business owners or employees are asked, “So, what do you do or tell me about your company”

The typical bland response for many is to say . . . “I’m in the cleaning business, I’m an consultant, I’m a plumbing contractor or I’m a account specialist.”

Your response needs to communicate and capture what you do, who you help and the results they get. [Example] “I show sales reps how to close more deals.” “I help young couples retire rich.” I teach divorced women how to manage money.” “I give wealthy individuals peace of mind.”

#4. Assuming Branding is Just a Logo

It’s popular nowadays to put all your eggs in one basket — but even if your logo is eye catching and interesting, it can’t shoulder the whole load of your brand. And it means nothing if potential prospects are frustrated once they experience your brand.

Just as important as getting the logo right is creating a experience that customers love. That’s why your business must strategically identify and deliver an great experience in the many ways that prospects and customers come into contact with your brand.

Think through all the ways customers and prospects can come into contact with and experience your organization. A great place to start is to identify these three core areas: marketing touchpoints, sales touchpoints and service touchpoints.

#5. Creating Content Instead of Content Marketing

Almost every small business has heard about the need to produce content in marketing has grown as today is more about being found—earning attention—and less about going out and hunting. Unfortunately the mistake is that it’s being interpreted by most as “write more content.”

The word content itself has a lot of hoopla around it today, but there’s a huge difference content and content marketing.

Plenty of small companies have been using content to market their business for a long time, this isn’t anything new—whether it’s a proposal, magazine, ad, brochure, rack card, marketing kit, email, stationary, blog post or newsletter. Most of this content is entirely promotional, focused on the company: their products, services, accolades, features and benefits—not the customer or the information that they are most interested in and find valuable.

Content marketing is the creation of free valuable content that has a marketing purpose. That purpose is awareness, educating and building know, like and trust, enough to do business with you. The goal of content marketing is consumption, then behavior.

Start employing content marketing by creating content to answer common problems or questions customers have with your service or product. You can also develop content that shares creative ideas for getting more advanced results from your service or product.

Positive Customer Experience Is the New Lead Generation

Traditional lead generation is dead.

Okay, maybe I am overstating my case.

Traditional lead generation may not be dead, but, in a low-trust and short-attention span world, it has morphed. Dramatically.

Positive Customer Experience Is the New Lead Generation

The Shift in Lead Generation

It used to be that small business owners and organizations could go into the marketplace and hunt down new leads and customers with a targeted approach. The rule-of-thumb was to find a message that worked, and distribute that message through a medium that reached the right people.

With the advancement of technology and the internet a posture shift in lead generation happened. This same-old approach was no longer effective.

Today our prospects are armed with ad-blocking tools and technology that allows them to tune out any message that doesn’t interest them. Not to mention social media created two-way communication between brands and customers.

The New Lead Generation

Growing a business today takes getting people talking. This is how referrals happen, PR happens, SEO happens and links happen.

A recent survey on what motivates customers to make recommendations – essentially get them talking – stated, a whopping 93% of respondents cite “a positive experience with the brand.”

A positive customer experience is the new lead generation.

The end result of a positive experience is a happy customer and happy customers are the most potent marketing asset any organization can leverage. It’s the most powerful lead generation channel.

Perhaps more importantly, a positive customer experience + a happy customer is the greatest lead generation tool available.

If being found offline and online by prospects is the new form of lead awareness, then trust is the new form of lead conversion. Trust happens rapidly when people choose to talk about you.

Positive experiences are worth talking about and thus is the new lead generation.

So how does a company go about creating the most positive customer experience possible?

Read here: The New Rules of Starting, Building and Maintaining Your Brand

7 Ways Your Business Comes Into (or Should Come into) Contact with a Customer

Every business talks about improving customer experience or creating a great customer experience, but most organizations drop the ball and never really deliver one. Creating an exceptional customer experience is pretty simple if you have your customer in mind at every contact point.

7 Ways Your Business Comes Into (or Should Come into) Contact with a Customer

Great customer experience is the new lead generation

If being found offline and online by prospects is the new form of awareness for lead generation, then trust is the new form of lead conversion. Trust happens rapidly when people choose to talk about you. A great customer experience is the most effective form of lead generation.

Map the contact points

One of the most useful and valuable tools your (or any) business can create is a Customer Contact Point Map. The idea behind this tool is to use it to map all the ways your customers or prospects might come into contact with your brand and then go about making sure that each contact point is designed to create a better customer experience.

Ive put together a list of seven contact points here, but it can vary a lot depending on your business.

  1. Marketing – Promote your educational articles, tip sheets, how to guides, seminars and benefits instead of products and services. Deliver flowers or cup cakes for no reason. Make asking for referrals a condition of doing business with you.
  2. Sales – Make the sales process easy and fun by choosing a relaxed environment to sign deals, educating with price guides, comparison sheets, or case studies, employing one-click buy options online or recommending similar products or services online with purchases.
  3. Service – Create policies and guarantees your customers love and want. Maybe a new customer kit detailing the who, what, when and how of your organization or a way to measure the results customers are getting.
  4. Educational Content - Why not educate your prospects and customers with videos, workshops or guides on how to better use or get more from their purchase
  5. Delivery – Create a certificate for your new business relationships. Ship your packages with partner coupons. Deliver your product on bikes or your software on usb drives.
  6. Follow-up – Have your CEO write hand-written notes of thanks or make it a point to measure the level of service every customer is getting
  7. Finance – No one likes getting the bill! Dress your receipts or invoices up with key marketing messages, new offers, and positive quotes. Add personal notes, jokes, or let a graphic designer loose to make your invoice a remarkable contact point.

All of the things mentioned above are examples of contact points that could enhance your customer experience and get people talking, but it’s the collective focus on the entire map that really pays off.

The New Rules of Starting, Building and Maintaining Your Brand

Any smart marketer or branding consultant will tell you – branding has changed. It’s no longer just about clever creative and timely ad placements.

So how does a company go about turning its product, its service, or even itself into a brand?

branding

Advertising agencies would have their clients believe that any winning brand rests on a foundation of clever slogans, memorable logos, and maybe some well-placed media buys. Granted, these marketing tools play a role in reinforcing brand identity, but they can’t be expected to shoulder the entire load of becoming knowable, likable and trustable.

The New Rules of Branding

No matter the size of your business, the new rules of branding demands you communicate the points of difference of your brand through all company touchpoints and customer engagement efforts. It’s all about becoming knowable, likeable and trustable.

The consistency in how you engage and are remembered, will then build brand identity, brand equity and emotional connections with your customers.

Think through all the ways customers and prospects can come into contact with and experience your organization. A great place to start is to identify these three core areas: marketing touchpoints, sales touchpoints and service touchpoints.

Marketing Touchpoints

  • Advertising, Public Relations,
  • Networking, Referrals
  • Content, Social media
  • Website or physical location
  • Employees
  • Community involvement

Sales Touchpoints

  • Sales materials
  • Phone calls
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Discovery
  • Presentation
  • Closing

Service Touchpoints

  • Customer service content
  • Billing
  • Transactional emails
  • Service or support team
  • Online help center
  • Follow ups

Building a strong brand is only possible one way: having the most positive experience. Whether you’re starting a brand, building a brand, or maintaining a brand your experience must be positive.

In today’s world price, quality, and service are no longer prime differentiating features. These are all expectations. The difference needs to be in the way you do business, how you package your product, the way you sell your service, the way you answer the phone, your appearance on a sales call, your signage, marketing kit, etc. – it’s all in the experience you provide.

The New Rules of Content, Marketing and Service

The new rules of effective marketing now requires that content is part of the strategy conversation in almost every business.

new rules

The word content itself has a lot of hoopla around it today, making it difficult for many small businesses and organizations to think and approach it with the clarity needed and discover the role it plays in the customer life cycle.

On a strategic level, content must mean more than a blog post, status update or tweet. You must think about your content achieving a strategic business goal or objective. Building an asset to serve your small business and organization over time.

The Future of Marketing (with Content and Service)

The future of marketing is about guiding a journey that the customer wants to take. Customers need guidance and an experience that allows them to behave like they want to behave.

If you aren’t creating content that shows customers how to get more out of what they just bought or how to do something, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to provide customer service in a format and way that customers increasingly want.

The New Rules of Content, Marketing and Service

There are lots of ways to attract prospects to your business, but the true measure of marketing success is always retention. When it comes to retaining your customers, one of the most effective marketing tools is what is I commonly refer to as customer content.

Customer content educates at a higher level, builds on trust and leads to customer loyalty, which leads to customer recommendations, which means more customers and is the best way to employ content in a strategic manner.

Suppose you own a company that offers HVAC services you may want to offer customer content that tells your customers how to troubleshoot before calling a service representative or how to lower utility cost or what key information to provide when a HVAC representative is present.

Providing this information could save the customer money (and you) on a service call; and positions your business, as an expert. It also demonstrates that your business cares about its customer experience, not just the monetary transaction.

Once you’ve got your customer content, consistent distribution is king. Of course, your website is the number-one place to host it. Include it as part of your customer service page. Share links to the content in your newsletter, on your social media profiles. I would even go to strategic partners with a similar target market and ask them to share this content with their customers and you’ll do the same.

Expand on your customer content by:

  • Creating content to answer common problems or questions customers have with your service or product.
  • Developing content that shares creative ideas for getting more advanced results from your service or product.
  • Upsell additional products. If there’s a complementary add-on that increases the results your customers get, include it.
  • As a bonus, customer content not only answers customer service questions, but also serves to drive traffic to your website and build your business’s reputation. Using keywords that ideal customers search for will help you be found, earning the attention of these prospects and also spread awareness of your business.

Done right, customer content allows your small business and organization to create content that achieve business goals, becomes a business asset, and positions you to keep existing customers and attracts new ones.

Selling to VIP the Very Invisible Prospect

I recently was contacted by an international prospect that found my business through content online via the search engines. During our conversation this international business owner said, “she read my articles, downloaded my ebook, my approach really reasoned with her, and she knew that I could help her organization and would like to explore ways to make this happen.”

This very scenario signals the change in the buying process for B2B marketers and business owners.

“Marketing and sales has changed because buying has changed.” 

Today’s buyers are invisible until they’re ready to purchase. They don’t call up a company and ask for a brochure or wait for a salesperson to come calling. Today’s buyer does their homework online, asks their network for suggestions and essentially creates their own brochure.

Much of what you have to do to attract and be found by that buyer is call inbound marketing and inbound sales and it applies across the business in audience development, sales and even service.


Marketing Teachable Moment: What is Inbound?

Sharing is caring and inbound is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your ideal customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.


That buyer is constantly invisible and for business owners to sell to them they must employ what’s now become the foundational sales and marketing tactics that will carry a company’s marketing efforts into the next decade:

Content Marketing

Content is the new branding it’s how invisible buyers come to know, like and trust you and your firm. The goal of content marketing is consumption, then behavior. Education, then decision.

Business owners and b2b marketers must publish content that focuses on the problems and desires of their prospect and customer. Healing prospects and customers true pain points with content (okay, a bit over the top, but true none the less).

Teaching vs Selling

You need to tell stories, share examples of other people’s success and start to paint a picture of how you can solve the customer’s problem. I feel with this approach, the trust barrier is removed. It’s a great way for other people to relate to you as someone who delivers value, without the exchange of money.

Some of the best ways to attract people to you is to teach through workshops, seminars or articles.When you develop a reputation for being someone who can teach people, then you get invited to places where you have the opportunity to sell.

P.S. Good blogging is a form of teaching.

Building a Platform

This is the final piece to the puzzle.This content must be located on a digital property you own and control. It is where your suspects, prospects, customers, and advocates come together. It can be as simple as a:

  • weekly podcast,
  • quarterly magazine,
  • monthly newsletter,
  • forum,
  • TV show,
  • daily blog or
  • as complex as a self-hosted community.

No matter what it is, it’s where you direct all internet traffic. Why? Because this is the place where you can best sell your ideas, services or products. You control the microphone and determine who has backstage access.

Any organization, from solopreneur to marketing and sales department, that is not focused on guiding a customer journey through content and personal connection is bound to be left behind in the buyer driven environment we live in today.

4 Marketing Process Elements to Activate Your Marketing Plan

A powerful, action-oriented marketing process is an essential part of every organization, and offers an enormous opportunity to differentiate and grow your business.

marketing plan-starting

There are undisputed benefits to developing a marketing process— a marketing process activates the marketing plan, creates control, guides priorities, generates accountability and provides a way to measure your results— along with lead generation, sales, and customer service processes to grow.

The general rule is: the more you install a marketing process, the greater the return on your investment.

However, developing a marketing process with the tools, strategies and tactics you need is not easy. It requires planning, thinking time, ideas and installation, long-term vision, internal and external expertise and often a willingness to do something and get it done.

More than anything, it requires the ability to be patient. It takes a while for prospects to trust you, and if you change your marketing, media, and identity, you’re hard to trust. Success comes to those who begin with a plan, and have the patience to move beyond the need for instant results.

4 Marketing Process Elements to Activate Your Marketing Plan

1. Plan your marketing using a strategy-first approach to clearly identify your target market, define your positioning and create an identity.

Discovering your target market or ideal customer is a foundational element of getting any business on track.

Your marketing requires a positioning strategy for success. You’ve got to carve out a mental position in the mind of your target market or ideal customers.

Your identity is everything a customer or prospect sees and hears about you and, most of all, what they remember about you. The basis of an identity is who you are and what you do.

2. Build a marketing foundation which consist of an online content platform, social media profiles and marketing content.

When I’m talking about an online content platform this is a digital property that you own – a website, a podcast, a quarterly magazine, a weekly newsletter, slideshare presentations, or even a TV show. You have to be the producer of the content and create an asset.

Social media profiles are a great place to start because that’s where the attention of ideal customers is shifting. It’s also very, very important to understand you don’t own these profiles, your’re renting them.

3. Implement and execute the marketing strategy with the right promotional and lead generation tactics.

Proper implementation and execution of today’s lead generation activates (no matter the size of your business) consists of always communicating, sharing information, and solving problems, all through an educational approach that blends the use ofpublic relations, networking, referrals, and advertising.

4. Maintain marketing over the long haul by putting lead generation, sales, and customer service processes in place.

The main reason marketing efforts fail is because they require too much time.

How much of your employees or your time is spent re-inventing the wheel when it comes to your marketing and selling?

With marketing processes in place, everything you’ll need to attract, educate, follow up and convert a lead is right there. Organizations can even put tools and processes in place to automate many of their marketing functions.

Webinar: How to Be More Referable

Learn how to build your business through referrals.

Download this paid webinar to learn how to become more referable and create a referral motivation that gives you a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.

 

Building the Marketing Strategy: A Blueprint For Start-ups and Those About to Start

I’ve been teaching, advising, and consulting start-ups for a handful of years now and there is a missing link to marketing success.

strategy

Building a powerful marketing strategy (one that’s perfect for your start-up) is often that missing link to marketing success.

The key to getting any start-up on track is three fold. First you must discover your target market, then you must create and communicate your positioning and thirdly build your identity and brand.

Most start-up founders start marketing without any real marketing strategy other than to sell something to someone.

Meghan Codd WalkerI will say that anyone who wants smart, modern marketing ideas that really work, Patrick is your man.

Meghan Codd Walker, Principal at Zuula Consulting, LLC

How to Create a Marketing Strategy That Is Perfect for Your Start-up

In this unique LIVE in-person seminar, you will save time, money and yourself from the frustration of information overload by learning how to develop a marketing strategy specific to your start-up, a step-by-step process to discovering your target market, the best way to create and communicate a powerful positioning, and set the foundation for building a highly recognizable identity and brand.

During this one hour seminar we dive deep into strategic processes every start-up and those about to start ought to consider as he or she sets out to grow his or her business.

Seminar Topics

Discovering Your Target Market – The first step to building your marketing strategy is to define who makes an ideal customer for your start-up. In this opening segment we outline all the steps that go into a start-up discovering their target market.

Creating and Communicating Your Position – A clear positioning is the rock that start-up growth is built on. Pricing only matters to prospects when they can’t tell the difference between your products and services and a competitor’s. In this segment we focus on the tools needed to create a powerful positioning strategy for your start-up. We will find and communicate your start-up’s unique point of difference.

Building Your Identity and Brand  – We will cover this a great deal in this fast paced seminar. Anytime a customer or ideal customer comes into contact with your start-up, there are experiencing your start-up’s identity and brand. We will be covering all the elements that can either support your company’s identity or detract from it and the only way possible to build a solid brand.

Indispensable Marketing - The 7 Elements of Small Business Growth - Blurb

Space is limited to keep this seminar very EXCLUSIVE

February 18th – one hour – Limited to 10-15 participants

How to Build a Marketing Strategy That Is Perfect for Your Start-up

RVA-Startup-

February 18th – 9:00 am – 10:00 am – 1703 N Parham Rd Suite 100 Richmond, Virginia 23229

Just to reiterate, not only do you get one hour of LIVE in-person advice from Patrick laying out how to create your start-up marketing strategy, but you also get:

  • Worksheets
  • A chance to ask your questions before and during the event
  • Connected with other entrepreneurs
  • Did we mention it’s only $75?

Investment: $75 

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