How to Make Your Marketing Strategy Real

In this day and age, your marketing strategy matters.

Few things are more confusing or mystifying to CEOs and business owners more than the idea of marketing strategy.

I think that’s due in part to simple misunderstanding by many who try to apply the concept, but it’s also due to the fact that marketing strategy is very malleable – that is to say, it can be many things.

A very solid way to define business strategy is the effective use of resources to reach stated objectives. Perhaps a more tangible way to define marketing strategy would be the effective use of resources to create and communicate a valuable and profitable difference in the marketplace.

Either way you can see there’s lots of room for interpretation.

But, rather than debate the proper way to define what marketing strategy is, I would like to share how to develop it, bring it to life and give it a voice. No matter how perfectly you state your marketing strategy, if it doesn’t live firmly in the tactics you employ to develop customers it’s all for naught.

There are three essential elements to making your marketing strategy more than a nice idea:

1. Determine a Core Point of Difference

This is how you state why someone should hire you as opposed to someone else who says they do what you do. It’s your unique value proposition and it must be developed with a narrowly defined ideal client in mind.

I’ve written about this idea frequently and suggest you download my free eBook on the topics of ideal client and on core difference to get very specific how to instructions on this element.

2. Create an Engagement Framework

Strategy based engagement thinking forces you to push your core marketing strategy into every marketing activity. I’ve developed a very powerful tool for building this kind of framework called The I.E.S. Marketing Touchpoints.

The I.E.S. Marketing Touchpoints is a concept that asks you to create processes, products, campaigns and engagement aimed at logically moving prospects and customers through three stages – Informing, Educating, and Selling. By viewing each of these stages as a place to reinforce your core difference as well as deliver key information, you create the kind of engagement that leads to your most profitable clients.

3. Map Content to Strategy

Once you develop your core difference and outline your I.E.S. Marketing Touchpoints it’s time to give your strategy voice. This is based done by mapping how you will communicate your core difference through content that creates awareness, educates, builds trust, engages and converts.

You won’t necessarily create every tactical element involved in implementing these three steps, but the planning process involved in fully developing your organization’s marketing strategy must consider these elements as three parts of the strategy puzzle.

How to Package Your Services

One of the tools I’m successfully employing right now is packaging.

Now, for many Presidents, CEOs, and Business Owners, the idea of packaging is limited to boxes and bows. But in a service oriented business, packaging is all about how you package ideas, concepts and principles in ways that define your core difference, methodology and brand.

Here’s the thing I’ve discovered for certain as I’m on this journey – effective packaging of your particular form of service is the path to far greater profits.

I’ll use some examples from my company to shed light on the various opportunities behind this concept of packaging for service oriented businesses.

Brand

The name of my company was not always Indispensable Marketing, but I chose that name as the foundation for my “strategy-first and educational” approach to installing a small to midsize business marketing process. Even the concept of installing marketing created a new package for how to think about marketing.

My brand then inherited some of the mostly positive associations that people already had developed around all things indispensable (Seth Godin – Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?) and that further enhanced the idea that what I was doing was unique.

Point of View

Another crucial element to this idea of packaging is what I call your “point of view.” I developed 7 foundational principles that the Indispensable Marketing process is built upon and each of these steps became the building blocks for creating a consistent and persistent message for how my approach to marketing is unique. (Here’s theebook that outlines those 7 steps if you’re interested.)

The point of view runs through almost every element of content for awareness, education, trust building, conversion and follow-up. It’s the basis of ebooks, workshops and paid consulting.

When you create and nurture a meaningful package of principles you also start to build a common language that your community, can begin to understand, share and extend.

Methodology

While our point of view helps tell the story that attracts potential clients, it’s our working method that helps us stand out and deliver results. We have 7 stages, all named and communicated, that each client goes through on the way to creating and implementing their unique marketing action plan and process.

When providing a service it’s essential that you are able to both demonstrate the tangible deliverables that are coming down the path and orient the client as to where they have been, are now and are going in the process.

Process

Every one of our stages breaks down into a series of named and branded deliverables. This tightly packaged approach has lots of flexibility but it also keeps the level of consulting consistent in a way that it can be duplicated in the hands of others.

Again, this provides a highly detailed road map for what many might consider an intangible. Packaging like this allows you to turn intangibles into tangibles consequently making them much easier to sell.

Tools

We’ve created a set of about forty tools that we employ in various ways with most engagements. Again, these tools have names, many are client facing and most are used to educate as much as help in the delivery of a consistent end product. (Here’s an example we call The Verbal Logo #5)

Tools handle the routine so we can focus on the creative and tools can be used over and over again creating a much more effective and efficient way to work. (These tools are also used heavily in the lead conversion process.)

Pricing

My final and perhaps most important aspect of why I’m going down this packaging thinking has to do with pricing. I’ve noticed most service firms sell their time and are often assessed by the “going rate” in the industry.

My focus is on selling a package because then I’m selling on result based work. Which is another way of saying it no longer matters how long it takes you to get a result, the evaluation is based on the elements of the package and the total perceived value.

A sale of a seemingly intangible thing comes down to “here’s what I’m going to do, here’s what you’re going to do, here are the results we can expect and, by the way, here’s what it costs.” This is the value of a highly developed and fully packaged service.

The end goal here is to develop an long-term asset that makes your way “the way.”

The Problem With B2B Advertising (And How to Fix it)

When it comes to B2B lead generation I will always place advertising as the final piece to the puzzle, not because I don’t think it has much value, but because it’s so much more effective when you are doing many other activities prior to buying ads.

Ironically advertising is the easiest marketing tactic – anyone with some cash can throw up ads and generate a few clicks and maybe even leads with very little effort.

The only problem is that the leads are often uneducated and unqualified.

Here’s how you generate all the educated, qualified and permission based leads you can handle:

The way to create the highest quality leads is to invest in teaching them how to be ideal clients.

When you employ many other lead generation tactics first, you can use your advertising to drive prospects to any number of educational opportunities, such as newsletters, in-person seminars, video tips, webinars, eBooks, and, reports, knowing that the traffic you send to these elements will do the proper job of educating and ultimately selling.

Make sure to give this content a catchy title, something like:

Home Services Industry

  • How To Catch Your Landscape Contractor Lying To You
  • 7 Things to Check Before Calling for Service on Your Air Conditioner or Furnace
  • The Ultimate Home Owner’s Guide
  • 10 Ways to a Lower Power Bill

Marketing Services

  • 5 Ways to Teach Your Business to Market Itself
  • 5 Useful Research Tools Your Competitors Don’t Know About
  • How to Build an Customer Base that Builds Your Business
  • How To Make Your Business Irresistible To Sponsors

Health

  • What Every Senior Must Know About Obama’s Health Care Changes
  • 13 Things Your Pediatrician Won’t Tell You
  • How to Eat Anything and Lose Weight
  • 101 More Things You Can Eat to Slim Down

Property Management

  • 7 Quick Tips for Staging Your Home to Rent
  • 3 Incredibly Useful Reasons to Hire a Local Property Management Firm
  • 7 Things That Cost You When Renting Your Home
  • 5 Things You Must Get From Any Property Management Firm You Hire

Demonstrate Your Brilliance

Use your B2B advertising toward getting the prospect to take some form of action right then and there. This approach allows you to deliver independent value by demonstrating your expertise in a non-threatening way, and on the prospect’s own terms, before you attempt to make the sale.

Your Best Salesperson in Print or Digital

This type of B2B advertising allows your ad to represent your best salesperson, gets an appointment (attention), goes out there and makes a case for your business, offers proof that you can provide a solution, shares facts and makes a very specific offer or defines the next steps.

Question: What do think about this approach? Would you do something different?

The Best Way To Explain the Marketing Process

Many business owners, sales professionals, and marketers have been taught the concept of the funnel. The idea being that you bring as many leads into the top of the large opening in a funnel and push the ones that become customers through the small end. The problem with this approach is all the focus is on the chase. The real payoff in marketing is when you think more about how to turn a lead into a raving fan for your business.

Recently, I created the concept of the I.E.S Marketing Touchpoints. The focus is on informing, educating, and selling  – the total customer experience that ultimately leads to referrals and marketing momentum.

I use the diagram below in presentations to explain the logical path a lead should follow to participate in your fully developed I.E.S. Marketing Touchpoints. This concept is one of the key elements of the overall Indispensable Marketing process, but I could conduct entire presentation around this one slide as it seems to be the best way to explain the marketing process in simple and manageable terms.

The Marketing Touchpoints

When you overlay my definition of marketing – “everything you do or say that your ideal target customer sees and hears” with the intentional act of turning seeing and hearing into informing, educating and selling you get the entire logical path for moving someone from initial awareness to raving fan.

The key is to strategically develop contact points, processes and product/service offerings for each of the 3 phases of the touchpoints.

1. Informing (Who you are and What you do) – Your networking, ads, article, and referred leads – Your web site, reception, and email newsletter
3. Educating (Value Proposition and Sample Brilliance) – Your marketing kit, white papers, and sales presentations – Webinars, evaluations, and nurturing activities
3. Selling (Before, During and After the Sell) – Fulfillment, new customer kit, delivery, and financial arrangements – Post customer survey, cross sell presentations, and quarterly events – Results reviews, partner introductions, peer 2 peer webinars, and community building

Far too many businesses attempt to go from Informing to Selling and wonder why it’s so hard. By creating ways to gently move someone to educating, and perhaps even creating low cost offerings as trials, the ultimate conversion to buy gets so much easier.

In order to start your thinking about the I.E.S. concept and gaps you may have ponder these questions:

  • What is your free or trial offering?
  • What is your starter offering?
  • What is your “make it easy to switch” offering?
  • What is your core offering?
  • What are your add-ons to increase value?
  • What is your members only offering?
  • What are your strategic partner pairings?

Marketing Is Your Most Important Process

A lot of people ask me what Indispensable Marketing is. Usually Indispensable Marketing represents one of the various parts they’ve come into contact with.

Process

There’s this blog, a newsletter, eBooks, self-study workbooks, and teleseminars.

Even with all of those tangible representatives of Indispensable Marketing, more than anything it’s an audacious idea that marketing for the small to midsize business can be effective and generate real results when practiced in a strategy-first and process fashion.

It’s my experience that any business, regardless of industry, can benefit from this view and that marketing can be stripped down to the effective implementation of these 7 steps and a big part of my business purpose revolves around bringing this message to the small to midsize business world

  1. Develop goals before strategy, Strategy over tactics – Base all decisions on your marketing goals then an ideal customer and core message of difference
  2. Embrace The I.E.S. Marketing Touchpoints – Look at every potential informing, educating and selling prospect and customer contact point and design a remarkable experience
  3. Adopt the media company model. – Commit to producing content that builds know, like, trust and educates
  4. Create an obvious choice web presence. – Develop a plan that takes advantage of the SEO and social media aspects of being found as the obvious choice
  5. Operate the 4 leg lead generation. – Use technology to create multiple ways to generate leads via networking, advertising, public relations, and referrals
  6. Develop a lead conversion process. – Develop a sales process that everyone in the organization can use from initial contact to results review
  7. Live, breath, and sleep by the marketing calendar. – Make marketing a habit by establishing monthly, weekly and daily action steps

Grab Your Free Copy of “7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success”

Cover eBook 7 Steps

Free eBook: 7 Steps to Medical Practice Marketing Success

Practiced effectively, marketing is simply a process.

While this may be hard for some practice owners to come grips with, like those who feel that “marketing is a strange form of creative voodoo thinking,” marketing is not only a process—it may be the most important process in any practice. Please complete the form to receive your report.

Cover eBook 7 Steps Medical

A few of the things you will learn in this report:

Step 1: Goals Before Strategy, Strategy Over Tactics

Step 2: Map Your I.E.S. Marketing Touchpoints

Step 3: Create a Content Road Map

Step 4: Build an Obvious Choice Web Presence

Step 5: Operate a 4 Leg Lead Generation

Step 6: Make Lead Conversion a Process

Step 7: Live, Breath, and Sleep by the Calendar

Here are the 7 core steps that make up the simple, effective, and strategy-first Indispensable Marketing Process.

FAQ: 7 Common Medical Practice Marketing Questions

1. What type of marketing do you suggest I use for my medical practice?

I suggest you use a combination of direct response ads and solid industry specific seo to lead potential patients to your website where you can educate them on the benefits of good medical health.

2. How do I reach my target patient?

The good thing about the internet is you can target prospective patients with keyword terms they use to search for you. If you have optimized your site properly interested parties can find you. Then it is up to you to provide compelling content to earn their business.

3. What one thing can I do to improve my marketing?

Differentiate your medical practice from all the others. Base it on your strengths and communicate it to your prospects.

4. How do you get patients to call?

You have to provide valuable content in various forms, so interested patients will give you their contact name and email to receive a copy of the information. Once connected, you nurture leads with additional content of value.

5. What is your education and back ground in marketing?

I have a marketing degree in the real-world everyday experience of doing marketing and over 8 years of experience in entrepreneurial ventures. My experience has taught me the best way to learn marketing is to do marketing. Nothing comes close to actually breathing and living out what you do and the value you bring to clients.

6. Do you consult in areas other than strategic marketing?

Strategic Marketing is the only form of consulting I currently provide.

7. How do you track your marketing and know if is making you money?

I suggest using Google analytics or vendor specific analytic tools to measure your marketing. It gives real time reporting on social media, inbound links, seo, keywords and Pay per click medical marketing campaigns.

3 Types of Content That Every Architectural and Engineering Firm Must Employ

The creation and distribution of content has become such a significant aspect of effective marketing that it requires a high place in the strategy conversation in most every Architectural and Engineering firm.

aec content marketingThe word content is confusing enough as it’s bantered around these days, but it’s also difficult for many Architectural and Engineering Business Owners, Presidents, CEOs and VPs to come up with a big picture view of the role content plays in the acquisition of clients.

Strategically, the word content must mean more than a blog post or a blank sheet of paper each day. You must begin to think of your content as a total body of work that is being built to serve your firm over time.

You must understand and create content for the most important keyword phrases for your industry, the essential themes of education in your firm, and your company’s core points of differentiation.

You must also think in terms of your content as a tool that moves prospects from awareness to conversion and in this effort there are at least 3 types of content that you must address. Each type must be considered as part of your overall content strategy.

1. Content that builds trust

One of the first jobs of your content is to bridge the gap from awareness to trust building. Your SEO efforts actually marry with this type of content to make sure you are both found and found in abundance.

  • How to content – specific advice or tips and tricks
  • Testimonials – endorsements from happy clients
  • Articles – articles you’ve written or that mention your firm in outside publications

2. Content that educates

Once you create awareness and trust a prospect will be hungry to find out much more about your unique approach, your solution, your story and your firm.

  • White papers – not boring, dry technical stuff, your best writing tying a bigger topic together
  • Newsletter – Weekly or monthly education that nurtures their interest
  • Seminars – in person or online, these allow prospects to learn as well as engage

3. Content that converts

This last category is one that gets overlooked in the write for writing sake view of content. Ultimately, great content has the ability to call and convert prospects to the action of buying.

  •  In person events – live events are the absolute best way to use content to close
  • Case studies – deep studies into the success of another client act as tangible proof in the buying decision

Many Architectural and Engineering firms have become so focused on RFPs, proposals and interviews that their marketing efforts take a back seat. Hopefully these examples we’ve shared will give you some inspiration to revitalize your content for your marketing program.

Need Help? If you’re an Architectural and Engineering firm interested in content marketing strategy, or want to give your marketing plan a strategic boost, contact us today.

Richmond City Area Group Coaching Program Opportunity

  The Indispensable Marketing Strategy Before Tactics Program

In this unique, live and in-person four session group coaching program, participants will learn how to develop the strategy that is perfect for your business. Most small business owners dive into marketing without any real plan other than to try a few marketing things that might help them sell something to someone. But, then, sometimes after a great deal of frustration, they learn that growing a business, without any clear strategy or process, only leads to more frustration.

A solid marketing strategy is the rock that consistent business growth is built on. In this 4 week group coaching program we focus on the tools needed to create the marketing strategy that is perfect for your business. We will discover a narrowly defined ideal client, value proposition and core marketing message.

Two sessions over Four weeks with Two very distinct objectives

Session One – Strategy – Discover Your Goals and Ideal Client

When it comes to marketing goals you must specifically define the results you
want to achieve, or the primary reason you are marketing that supports your overall business goals. When it comes to targeting a market many people simply look for someone who needs (or who they think needs) what they do and then they try to offer it to them.

This may be the greatest single recipe for small business disaster.

In this session we introduce the concept of “Goals Before Strategy and Strategy Over Tactics”. We’ll start by asking you to set specific goals and analyze and benchmark your current client base with an eye on identifying your “Ideal Client”.

Once you discover your ideal client you must define them in a way that is very easy to understand.

You then must begin to communicate this definition to everyone in your business, your bank, your vendors, and those you network with, so that they can clearly understand who else might benefit from your products and services.

Now of course this opens up another can of worms. Once you find your ideal client, you must be able to communicate how your business is uniquely qualified to solve their problems.

You see; marketing your business never really ends. (See Session Two)

November 4th and 11th, 9am – 10:30pm
Bizworks Enterprise Center, 2545 Bellwood Rd, Richmond, VA 23237
(Limited to 5-10 participants)

Session Two – Strategy – Creating a Unique Core Message and Differentiation

In this session we’ll focus even on the discovery and communication of a core point of differentiation that informs and drives every tactical aspect of your marketing.

We commit to things we believe in and companies that get that make their entire marketing about purpose instead of product. We’ll focus on making your well communicated sense of purpose a major part of your point of differentiation.

We will then wrap things up on focusing on defining, molding and communicating your culture in ways that support a positive brand experience in order to create a very powerful source of business.

November 18th and 25th, 9am – 10:30pm
Bizworks Enterprise Center, 2545 Bellwood Rd, Richmond, VA 23237
(Limited to 5-10 participants)

Investment: $1000 $800 $500

$357

This is the same workshop that people across the United States have paid over $1,000 to attend, but because this is the first time we have presented this program in Richmond we have decided to take a very unique approach to pricing.

We know how much value this material and thinking can bring to your business, but you may not yet –  so we’re willing to shoulder some of the risk and work to prove it before we ask you to pay anything close to $1,000.

 Interested in finding out more information?

Visit http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-indispensable-marketing
or email Patrick McFadden pmcfadden@indispensablemarketing.com

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Ask For Advice Before Asking For Help

Anyone that’s heard me speak or read my ebooks knows that I believe marketing strategy is far more important to SMBs than marketing tactics.

I also believe that asking for advice before asking for help is far more important for any business especially small to midsize businesses.

You thought you knew what your business needed. You hired a specialist company to create it for you. Then once it was complete and operating you discovered it wasn’t what you really needed. Then what you really discovered is you’re not as clear about your needs as you thought.

Where Did You Go Wrong?

Many business owners discover it’s not always best to hire a specialist who gives you what you asked for. It’s often more helpful to start by hiring people who will ask you good questions, to help you determine what you really need.

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know.

The solution is simple. Ask for advice before asking for help. Hire a strategist or an advisor before you hire a specialist. A strategist will challenge your assumptions and create clarity on needs and priorities before everyone leaps into action. I’m not saying there’s no room for specialists. I’m just tired of tactics first and strategy to the rescue.

A Specialist’s Job Is To Skillfully Do What You Ask

Specialists often assume you know what you need. It’s not their job to second guess you, even though you may be:

  • making decisions based on assumptions
  • unclear on requirements and options
  • unsure about the order of operations
  • unfamiliar with how to direct your specialists
  • unable to evaluate their work, or
  • unaware of the long-term costs and implications of your project

A Strategist’s Job, By Contrast, Is To Ask Why

Job one for a strategist is to understand your situation, constraints, needs and success criteria. They challenge assumptions, clarify requirements, help determine the order of operations, direct specialists, evaluate success and work within the context of long-term costs and plans.

It’s obvious why we hire specialists to complete tasks and projects. There is immediate gratification and the perception of progress. Strategists are likely to challenge assumptions and send us back to a point we thought we were past, potentially delaying our progress.  Strategists can be frustrating to deal with as they tend to make us think before we act and make choices based on information and facts over emotion and desire. They can be annoyingly dispassionate, logical and methodical. Which is exactly why you should consider hiring them and how they create value.

Measure Twice And Cut Once

Think about it. “if you hardly have the means to invest in a solution once, where will you find the resources to do it again?”

I’ve come to see strategists as insurance against impulsiveness and inexperience. I also find their fees typically add between 10 and 20% to my project costs, in exchange for saving me the lost time and expense of starting over. The more often I repeat the mistake of leaping into action, the more often I seek consulting before I invest in new initiatives. I hope you will do the same.

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm in Chesterfield, VA. We help small to midsize businesses create marketing plans and growth processes that generate leads and close sales.

What Your Marketing Consultant Won’t Tell You About Generating Leads

Lead generation is a numbers game and a momentum game.

Generally speaking there is NO one magic way to generate a tons of leads. 

IMG_1519Granted, for some businesses there are more effective ways, but on the whole long-term effective lead generation comes down to a combination of networking, advertising, public relations and referrals – the lead generation quadro as I like to call them.

It’s my belief that you need to employ all four approaches in order to generate the right kind of know, like and trust building that will attract your ideal customers.

3 Things Your Marketing Consultant Won’t Tell You About Generating Leads

1. While lead generation used to consist of broadcasting messages, it must now rely heavily on creating the right content, delivered to the right person, at the right time.

2. Active lead generation now comes about through multiple touches initiated through multiple channels.

3. There is rarely one dependable way to generate all of the leads a business might require to meet objectives. It’s the careful blending of four legs: networking, advertising, public relations and referral generation that creates the repetition, credibility and control needed to get a prospect motivated enough to pick up the phone or schedule an appointment. 

SECRET SAUCE: The key to making this blended approach work, however, is the commitment to valuable, educational content distribution.

  • Networking that integrates educational content gets conversation.
  • Advertising that promotes educational content gets viewed.
  • PR generated by way of educational content gets shared.
  • Referrals made by way of educational content gets action.

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm based in Chesterfield, VA. We help small to midsize businesses get the strategy right so marketing tactics get results.

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