This may be hard for you to come to grips with but “marketing is a process, not an event.” It can be compared to breathing. You can’t live very long from a single breath. It takes many breathes, one right after another. Marketing is the same. You will not attract, obtain , and keep customers with one marketing action. You keep breathing to stay alive. You keep marketing to generate leads, make the phone ring, cause people to ask for your product, visit with you, request for more information or try a test run.
To understand how to approach marketing for your business, it may be helpful to understand my definition of marketing: Marketing is getting someone who has a need to first become aware of you and then trust you enough to buy.
Below you will find the seven essential steps that address today’s marketing and sales challenges for organizations and small businesses. I’ve developed these 7 steps for creating marketing success from working and having discussions with businesses owners and CEOs over the years.
1. Focus on Vision Before Strategy
Vision and strategy are both important to your marketing success. But there is a priority to them. Vision always comes first. If you develop a clear vision, you will attract the right strategy. If you don’t have a clear vision, no strategy will save you.
Once you get clear on what you want, the how will take care of itself.
Most business owners don’t take the time to ask, “What is my vision for the business?, What do I want my business to be?, or What do I want to be known for?” Devoting time and energy during this process is the most important of any successful business. We ultimately end up with creating a picture of your business as it exists in the future.
2. Make Customer Experience Your X Factor
Nothing matters more to a business than how they make customers feel. How the customer feels determines whether your business survives or sinks. The secret to every businesses growth is word-of-mouth marketing, not the marketing done in the pages of a magazine, newspaper, trade publication, on TV, or other media outlets.
Word-of-mouth is generated because you made the customer experience referable. If someone chooses to refer your product or service, I then call that a “referable experience” because that’s what we share, our experiences with a product or service. (Products includes your blog, podcast, newsletter, online radio show, and more.)
3. Become the New Media Company
Today you must commit to creating content much like a publisher might. Not just any content though, you need to create content that works as marketing.
The Internet has disrupted the traditional sales process, allowing the prospective customer or client to begin on their own terms via search and social media. This means savvy business owners or marketing departments must adapt to the information-empowered prospect in a fashion that more resembles courting than it does selling.
The best way to produce content that works as marketing is to have it focus on the problems and desires of prospects and customers. It’s all about delivering independent value with content before you attempt to make the sale.
4. Create an Online to Offline Presence
Even if you do the majority of your business offline and in person, in today’s world, you must have an online presence. The majority of today’s purchase decisions involved some amount of research online. Your business must be easily found online, easily engaged online, and easily communicated with online. This requires a focus on:
- Content Marketing,
- SEO and
- Social Media participation.
The smart way to approach this is to treat content marketing, social media and search engine results as aspects of a holistic strategy necessarily centered around content.
Of course, this also means integrating your online presence and activity into every offline business function.
5. Educate to Generate and Close Leads
Don’t think of yourself as a salesperson but as an educator and partner to your prospect. This healthy mindset improves both your perspective and your chances of closing.
Today’s shift in buying now demands a very tangible way prospects can experience your offer. Continuing to build trust through demos, audits, trail offers, samples, assessments, etc. is such an essential element of buying. Really this is an audition and it’s where you need to educate more than anyone could possibly consider doing.
Prospects want to be able to sample your expertise, product or service and it’s the easiest way to move people to actually buying all-in, particularly in highly competitive and highly priced situations.
The reason this approach is so effective is that no hard selling has to occur, you get to control the sample offering, the client gets value whether they agree to hire you or not, and finally, you get a value-based start in the engagement.
6. Build a Reliable Sales Process
In the same way that your marketing generates leads, you need to also take that same approach when a prospect wants to learn more. Have a well thought out road map that every new lead walks, a way to develop trust and rapport, and a proven process for orienting new clients can positively influence the bottom line conversion results you experience.
7. Create a Marketing Calendar
The one thing that is finite for any business is time. There is always more month than time.
So you must identify how and when you would like to launch your program to market your products and services. By creating monthly projects and themes, weekly action steps, and daily marketing appointments, you keep the focus, enthusiasm, and creativity on marketing.
Follow your marketing calendar even if it doesn’t seem to be producing results. Avoid the temptation to alter it for at least a few months. Give it time, remember process not an event.
The reality is that marketing is an ongoing process. Once you go through the seven steps and build your marketing process, you want to constantly be reviewing, documenting what works and what doesn’t, and changing your approach accordingly.