Successful Marketing Requires Doing

Doing marketing is always the hardest part. Successful marketing essentially boils down to everything you DO or SAY that your ideal customer sees and hears. CEOs, business owners, entrepreneurs, managers, directors are all typically remarkable at their technical expertise, whatever that is. The point is that you mostly likely didn’t take on that responsibility or start the business because you love marketing.

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Marketing is doing and doing leads to having – whether that’s revenue, profits, leads, or awareness.

Marketing strategies don’t fail in the mental creation. They fail in implementation. Ensuring effective implementation of marketing strategies is one of the highest payoff activities for success. A successful marketing plan will never produce results without successful execution behind it.

When it comes to getting marketing done, we’ve learned that start-ups and organizations can take their business to the next level by doing these three things.

  1. Choosing action items. The act of choosing, is the act of succeeding. When creating a marketing plan part of the deal is that you can’t get everything (tactical activities) that you possibly want done. The best way to approach the situation is by choosing marketing strategies and tactics that align with your business goals. Do you need press releases for awareness goals? Will the website need updating to capture qualified leads? Is researching main competitors a priority for communicating a unique position?
  2. Managing marketing activities. Measuring and control are parts of good management. Using a simple chart or marketing dashboard to monitor marketing initiatives and accountability will increase implementation effectiveness. If you don’t have a chart or dashboard, use the plan itself as a weekly review tool.
  3. Daily follow-ups. When it comes right down to it, marketing plans fail because those responsible for getting specific tasks done aren’t being followed up with. Following up and checking due dates on a regular basis will increase the effectiveness of your marketing. Poor execution will always trace back to poor follow-up. This is tough for start-ups and small business owners because of distractions, deliveries, and everyday business routines that have to be done.

The key to successful implementation of a marketing plan is execution, the actual doing of the planned marketing activities.

Initiatives don’t get completed by stating them on paper – they require an installation (action, management, and follow-up.)

3 Epic Marketing Shifts Business Owners Must Know

Marketing has gone through many changes, especially in the last decade. Our marketing focus has shifted from traditional print to online, from direct mail to social media, e-newsletters and blogging. Not to mention the speedy adoption of mobile devices and consumer’s addiction to real-time communication.

times are changing

 

To help sketch out the reinvention of marketing and put it in a larger context, I’ve compiled three epic marketing shifts business owners must know about and that has changed the way you market forever.

Advertising and marketing are no longer the same thing

For 100 years marketing meant one thing and we could all agree what is was: “advertising.” That meant a plethora of TV commercials, billboards, outdoor media, glossy magazine ads and jingle radio ads.  It was a method used by traditional mass marketers, that gave big companies the opportunity to make average products for average people.

Let me say here, that marketing and advertising are not the same thing. They used to be, but they’re not the same thing anymore. Everything is marketing – the name of your business, products and services, how you comport yourself, determining whether you will be selling a product or service, how you run your business, the method of manufacture or servicing, how you bid on projects, the colors, size, and shape or your product, how you perform for clients and customers, the packaging, how you build relationships, the location of your business, the advertising, the PR, etc. You’re either judged on these things, or you’re being ignored.

All media is now optional 

Business owners must fully understand, that in a noisy world “attention” is worth quite a bit, and ought to be cherished. That all media is now optional – no one is going to look at your content, Like your status update, retweet your tweet,  or open your email unless they want to.

Every interaction comes with a cost. No, not in dollars, but in something worth even more: the attention of the person you’re interacting with.

The network effect is the most powerful 

The network effect answers one key question: Does it work better if my friends use it too?

The classic example is the telephone. The more people who own telephones, the more valuable the telephone is to each owner. This creates a positive externality because a user may purchase a telephone without intending to create value for other users, but does so in any case. Online social networks work in the same way, with sites like Twitter and Facebook becoming more attractive as more users join.

Business owners need to fully understand the power of the network effect and how they can (with some creativity, enthusiasm, and energy) employ tools or processes that makes their product or service more valuable the more people use it.

3 Ways to Better Understand Your Customers and Generate More Sales

Would you like your advertising efforts to bring in real results?

How about have your referral programs double (2x) sales?

Do you want more quality traffic to your website?

Maybe, even have your service and product pages generate a flood of new customers or clients?

 

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An excellent way to accomplish those objectives above is to constantly learn more about your customers or target markets.

The hard cold truth is that understanding your customers allows you to market your business more effectively and generate more sales.

If you’ve never had strategic listening conversations with customers or target markets before, do it ASAP as it is the best way to:

  • improve your advertising efforts
  • double sales of your referral marketing programs
  • drive more quality traffic to your site
  • create product and services pages that convert

Now, much has been written and spoken about understanding your customers or target markets but below are the three ways start-ups and organizations can get the ball rolling as they can provide a great foundation for getting at what’s truly important to your customers. Start talking to customers every month and you’ll be rewarded with insight and sales.

3 Ways to Better Understand Your Customers and Generate More Sales

  1. Talk with your best customers. Your best customers have the following two behaviors: they are profitable and also refer business to you. Not to mention it’s not practical to engage all of your customers in a conversation. Discover who your 5-10 best customers are, then email or phone them asking for feedback on your marketing, sales and service processes.
  2. Use Rapportive. I personally use this Gmail plugin and recommend you use it to find out more about your customers before you email them. We are living through a clutter world and personalized communication always breaks through the clutter. Emails that are anticipated, personal and relevant get opened today.
  3. Eliminate “yes” or “no” questions. My motto is to “go Oprah” on your customer base and make sure you ask open ended questions. Some of the things you’re after is the LANGUAGE your customers use when describing why they buy from you, the WORDS and PHRASES your customers use when explaining what they value about what you do, and the DESCRIPTION of the perfect buying experience. You can’t get that by asking them to rate things from 1 to 10.

Far too often start-ups and established organization create advertising campaigns around irrelevant pain points and features, referral programs that don’t create referral motivation, and optimize their websites around industry specific jargon and terms when their ideal customers really pay attention, engage and respond to other communicating factors.

4 Essential Questions For Understanding Your Ideal Customer

Discovering your target market or ideal customer is a foundational element of getting any business on track, and is especially relevant for start-ups, small businesses, and midsize businesses.

ideal client

Compelling marketing communication is favored by your ideal customer, but if you don’t speak their language, talk about their pain, know their habits, desires and values, you’re missing a lot of opportunities.

There are countless ways to research your ideal customer and everybody talks about target markets, but on this day you will learn the 4 essential questions for helping you get clearer on this idea.

1. Who will benefit the most from your products or services?

The common answer to this question is “everybody.” If you think every possible human being is your ideal customer chances are you’ll waste your greatest resources time and money.

To answer this question begin building a detailed profile of your current customers. Group your most successful accounts (profitable+refer you).

2. Why do they do business with you?

This question is great for understanding your ideal customer. It can measure how effective your promotion, lead generation and sale process is working.

In order to successfully answer this question you need to “go Oprah” on your most successful accounts. Schedule some time to interview current customers that are the most profitable and also refer business to you.

3. What characteristics do they have in common?

Once you have a profile of your ideal customer, you should start analyzing the common characteristics they share. Start asking yourself some questions about these people: what industry are they in?, where are they located?, what size is their organization?, what do they read?, what do they listen to?, what challenges do they face?, how do they buy?

The answers to the questions above are not always available, but thinking about them in correlation to your ideal customer may allow you to narrow your niche and sell aggressively to it.

4. How can you best service their current and future needs?

Your best prospect is a current customer. Your second best prospect is a past customer. These two target markets already know, like and trust you. When thinking about understanding your ideal customers ponder serving their current and future needs.

This could be considered a customer service question, since winning and keeping customers is the result of effective marketing, but the real opportunity is when you can uncover a unique positioning or an innovation. Push yourself to discover their current and future needs. Ask ideal customers, “what are the top 3 challenges they’re currently facing?”, or “what are current vendors or suppliers doing that they don’t like?”

Start focusing on your target market or ideal customers today. You don’t have the time or resources to waste.

Ask For Advice Before Asking For Help

I believe that asking for advice before asking for help is far more important for any business especially start-ups and SMBs. Here’s why:

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.

5 Trusted Advisor Behaviors You Must Embrace Right Now

Do you want to be a successful coach, consultant, counselor, mentor or professional?

When professional service people start talking about being a trusted advisor these days, and they’re doing it a lot, they usually default to things like good advice,  a feel-good process, throw in some consultative salesperson tricks and we’re on the trusted advisor track.

I’ve been coaching and consulting for a handful of years now and with every emerging “coined term” there seems to be an equally reactive rush to embrace the accompanying tactical behaviors and it’s what leads people to do things that don’t make sense.

Below are five trusted advisor behaviors you can no longer ignore as they’ve become universal and cross industries and demographics in undeniable ways. And they make sense!

1. Take notes.  It works in every industry. It shows prospects that they can count on you to remember and do what they’ve been talking about.

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2. Provide testimonials. Showcase what third party vouchers have to say about you. This will vary from industry to industry, but examples include case studies, references, ratings, warranties, and certifications.

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

3. Strategic noting. Write down something your prospect says and follow up on it later. For instance, if your contact mentioned a large project the last time you spoke, bring it up during your next call. A simple question like “How’d that initiative work out?” will do the trick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Prove proactivity. Keep up to date on your prospect’s industry, and bring major changes to their attention before they reach out to you. For instance, the sales team at a tax firm should closely monitor the new tax rollouts and regularly offer to sit down with their prospects to sort out how the new guidelines affect them.

Here’s a framework that I’ve dubbed “Proactive Proof” to convince your clients and prospects that your firm is proactive. It forces you to get the right answers to questions that showcase why your clients and prospects should see you as an a trusted advisor.

  • What’s going on inside the company?
  • What’s happening with notable parties outside the company — competitors, suppliers, etc.?
  • Who do the buyers you’re working with report to, and/or who are the influencers in the company?
  • How does this company “keep score” metrics-wise, and how do you help them in what they do?

5. Exhibit chemistry.  Be friendly, clear,  and understand your prospects’ nonverbal cues and then start mirroring them. **My hands are only in my pocket for a reason! ;)**Patrick McFadden at Haley Buick GMC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question: What do you think about these behaviors? 

 

Patrick McFadden on The Art of Educational Marketing [Video]

Business Owner and Marketing Expert Patrick McFadden says that ” Educational marketing is all the marketing we’ve got left.”

Indispensable Marketing - The Art of Educational Marketing [Front Page]

He goes on to say, “Teaching your customers and giving your customers the resources to believe you is new marketing.”

What is educational marketing? You’ll have to watch this five-minute video to learn more.

Interview with Patrick McFadden from Owl Train U, LLC on Vimeo.

A 15-Question Process for Painless Target Market Research

Target market research is one of the most important types of research you’ll do throughout marketing your business. It’s also one of the most difficult.

I believe that most businesses are uniquely suited to serve a narrowly defined target market or ideal client.

Determining just who that is, and making their description a central theme of all of our marketing communications, is one of the foundational elements of good marketing strategy.

There are countless ways to research, measure, analyze and theorize about your target market or ideal target client, but experience tells me most small businesses don’t have to look very far beyond these 15 questions.

  1. What gender is your target market? Are they male, or female, or an even mix?
  2. How old is your target market? The age of your target market determines the presentation of your brand.  It also affects the tone and message you use when you connect with your target market.
  3. What habits do they have? This describes what your target market likes. Habits are also sometimes referred to as psychographics and relate to values, beliefs, and lifestyles.
  4. What is their income level? Is your target market middle-class, wealthy, or barely able to pay the bills?
  5. Where do they live? Is your target market national, worldwide, or just your local neighborhood?
  6. What are their hobbies and interests? Does your target market share any of your hobbies and interests?
  7. Do they have any special needs or health issues? It’s important to take special needs into consideration when researching your target market. For example, some people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury can have seizures if presented with bright, flashing colors. Does your target market have any special needs you need to be mindful of?
  8. What media do they read? Is your target market avid blog readers? Do they even know what a twitter is? Knowing what media your target market reads will help give you insight into the topics that interest them.
  9. What other websites do they visit most often? Again, knowing what websites your target market spends the most time on helps you understand what topics, issues, and leisure activities are important to them. It also gives you some clues about how and where to promote your company.
  10. Do they subscribe to any magazines or publications? Knowing which magazines your target market subscribes to can be a great source of research. For example, most magazines have media kits available on their websites that detail the demographics and lifestyle of their readers.
  11. What is their greatest fear? Something that reduces or eliminates the fear of your target market  is a powerful means of attracting them.
  12. What is their greatest frustration? If your target market is frustrated over a problem, how can you build your company around the solution? If you can do that, your target market will feel excited they’ve found the answer to their problem in your company.
  13. What is their greatest hope or dream? Does your target market have a common hope or dream you can incorporate into your company that they relate to?
  14. What event or need causes them to search for what you offer? Do you know what causes your target market to seek your help in the first place?
  15. Is there anything you have in common with them? Sharing a common interest, problem, skill, or passion with your target market can give you a huge advantage when building your company. The common ground you have will help your target market identify with your company and engage them faster – encouraging interaction and more sales.

The answers to the types of questions above are not always available, but pondering them in relationship to your target market or ideal customer may allow you to more fully address their wants and needs in every interaction and communication.

Answered: Your Most Burning Small Business Marketing Questions – July 2014

The last Friday of every month I like to take some of the questions I’ve been answering from small business owners and share them here on Indispensable Marketing.
These answers are originally ran on Quora.

No matter how many years (or days) you’ve been at this marketing game, the questions keep coming up.

In many ways, it’s a constantly shifting and evolving landscape.

In others, it’s the same as it ever was.

We’re wrapping up this last Friday of the month by taking our best shot at your best questions.

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Q: What are the most important things to consider when designing an appointment setting process?

A: The most important thing to consider when designing an appointment setting process is to make sure the prospect feels in control of the process and that you give them the opportunity to talk about what they want.

This is accomplished with one question. You must always ask the prospect, “is there anything else you would like to discuss during our time together?”

Q:  What are some social media etiquette rules?

A: My social media etiquette is to let generosity be your guide.  It’s called the giver-taker Rule or the 95% content 5% selling Rule or the 30-to-1 Rule. What matters is the number of deposits (shares, retweets, likes, pingbacks, reblogs) versus the withdrawals (promotional messages) you make from your audience. I don’t know if the verbiage,  the percentages, or the ratio is exactly right, but what I do know is that you must remarkably make more deposits.You have to add value before you start extracting value.

Q: What are the best SEO tips for a new startup?

A: The best SEO tip for a start-up is to understand SEO has traditionally been about optimizing web page copy by targeting keyword phrases in certain frequencies and densities. And yet search engine research shows that almost 85% of the total factors that determine how a web page is ranked in a search engine is based on things that happen off the page itself.

Modern SEO is all about crafting content so compelling that other people want to promote it by linking to it or sharing it, which increases your trust and authority and helps the pages you want to rank well for certain keywords.

Q:  How can you attract potential leads (target market) online using your content?

A: Today all consumers are information-empowered. In fact, consumers nowdevelop relationships with content. And to be successful with creating content that builds your business, companies need to be where their customers are and know how to engage them in a meaningful way.

Content marketing is about publishing content that focuses on the problems and desires of the prospect and customer. Healing prospects and customers true pain points with content (okay, a bit over the top, but true none the less).

How to Create Content that Builds Your Business

Q: Does chain marketing/network marketing really work for every one?

A: Of course not that would be like saying, ‘there is a one shoe fits all business.” One key to making MLMs work is to Choose your recruits carefully – make sure they are a “fit” for direct selling. 

Don’t compound the bad reputation of MLM companies by “recruiting” anyone who breathes.  Select people carefully who really are a good fit for that business model.  You will reduce your headaches by choosing people who are outgoing, self-starters, and have a track record of success.  Yes, you will have fewer numbers in your downline – but you’re looking for quality, not quantity.  You can rocket to success by having ten winners as opposed to thirty whiners and complainers.

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm in Richmond, VA. We help small to midsize businesses get new or better results from their marketing efforts.

How Is Small Business Blogging Different From Regular Blogging?

In short, regular blogging is simply a hobby. Small business blogging  is a low-cost way to create opportunities to get your website found by ideal clients that you want to find it, so you can generate new leads and customers for your business.

small-business-blogging

It’s also important to note that when you’re doing small business blogging, your blog posts are about a particular subject matter related to your business. For instance, Indispensable Marketing is a small business strategic marketing company, so our blog talks about small business marketing topics — taking a business and strategy-first approach to marketing your business, discovering your ideal client, lead generation, etc. Your business blog will talk about subject matters that are related to your business.

One key component to small business blogging is your visibility online. Visibility online is exactly what it sounds like — being able to be found and seen on the internet. This could mean your business pops up a lot in search engines, on social media, on other people’s blogs as a guest writer, etc. Business blogging for the small business is one way to help get your company out in front of people looking for your products or services on the internet.

A small business blog is a marketing channel (just like social media, direct mail, email marketing, etc.) that helps support business growth. It does that by driving traffic to your website and providing opportunities for that traffic to convert in some way. Traffic for various businesses might convert differently — some aim to turn traffic into leads to hand over to a sales team, others may aim to convert traffic into customers via an online transaction — but ultimately, small business blogging will initiate conversions that drive more business.

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