Keeping Your Marketing Efforts on Track

Is your marketing based on a detailed, well-thought-out strategy and plan? Or are your efforts simply a compilation of random marketing activities you think you should be doing?

Random activities will keep you busy for sure, but will they keep you focused and get you where you need to go? Or will they just result in frustration and abandonment?

If you want your marketing to be more than just a bunch of tasks on a list, you’ll want to take the time to evaluate what you’re doing. And more importantly, why you’re doing it.

Not sure where to start? Make a list of everything that falls into your marketing bucket, and then ask yourself these key questions for each one:

1.) Does this activity align with our brand? 

It’s easy to think that any marketing activity will be good for your brand. But there’s a big difference between brand recognition and brand strength. Just because people know your name doesn’t mean they want to be associated with it.

Some businesses instinctively say “Yes!” to every brand opportunity that comes along, without thinking about whether or not it aligns with their core company values and goals. Sponsoring an event? Partnering with another organization? Considering product placement? It’s critical to evaluate whether or not these things make sense, not just from a monetary and/or exposure perspective, but from value alignment and PR perspectives as well.

Before you do any marketing or sales activity, ask yourself the question, “Does this portray what we want to say about our organizational brand and identity?” If the answer is yes, consider this question again from your target market’s point of view: “Will our key customer demographic feel good about this? Is it consistent with our mission, our image, and our why?”

If the answer to either of these questions is no, strike the activity from your list. And do it completely guilt free. Your time and resources can be put to better use elsewhere.

If you feel good about the opportunity and the value alignment, then by all means, participate. But always assess the activity and the results after the fact to see if it lived up to your expectations and purpose.

2.) Does this activity inspire client engagement and loyalty? 

It’s easier to keep a happy customer than to win over a new one. Client loyalty and engagement not only helps you hang onto your biggest fans, they can also lead to genuine, heartfelt referrals. Which leads to more happy customers!

Keep this question in mind when considering any marketing task or activity. Yes, marketing can bring you new leads and customers, but putting the majority of your focus on future clients at the expense of your current clients is a huge missed opportunity.

A single happy customer who consistently sings your praises and recommends you can be much more valuable than a giant pile of cold leads.

3.) Why are we doing this?

It’s easy to get caught up in a set of marketing activities you feel you should do. Some marketing guru says you HAVE to be on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But do you? It all depends on what you are looking to accomplish.

When it comes to marketing, one size does not fit all. To be effective, you’ll want to center your marketing goals, strategies, and activities around your business model, your ideal customer profile, and your specific objectives. Are you looking to create brand awareness? Generate leads? Build credibility in your industry? Expand your feel-good factor? Depending on who you are as a business and where your customers are, Instagram may or may not make sense.

You can waste a lot of time and resources listening to every marketing recommendation that comes your way. Even more so if you attempt to implement them all.

Before you jump into the next big marketing idea, pause. Back up. Take some time to think about what you want for your marketing, your brand, and your client experience. Then ease back in, choosing your activities carefully and strategically based on those things.

4.) Can we do this?

Coming up with a solid marketing plan is one thing. But implementing it is another. As you are evaluating your choices, you’ll need to consider these key components as well:

  • Brand identity – Are you clear on this? Choosing a clear marketing strategy without a defined brand is nearly impossible.
  • Staff and resources – Do you have the budget and capacity to take on the marketing activities you’ve chosen?
  • Internal processes – Do you have the team and systems you need to follow up with new leads, take on new clients/orders/requests and provide a great customer experience?
  • Accountability and results – Are you choosing activities and/or metrics that can be tracked and quantified? If not, how will you know if your work is paying off?

Once you’ve defined who you are, what you want to accomplish, and whether or not you have the necessary tools, people, and resources to make it happen, you can put together a marketing strategy that doesn’t just keep you busy, but keeps you on the forefront of your clients’ minds. And keeps your organization moving in the right direction.


Photo by David Carillet 

How Do You Define Your Marketing?

As you develop your marketing programs, are you looking at your competitors for inspiration, or are you focused on what your clients want?

If you’re letting current/standard industry practices determine how you need to market your business, you could be missing the boat.

If you want to create a compelling marketing program that attracts new customers, you need to focus your energies where those prospective clients are and what they want. For example, if you don’t think you need to blog or tweet because your none of your competitors are doing it, you’re not seeing the full picture.

  • Are your clients online?
  • Are they researching products and services before they make a purchase?
  • Are they scrolling through their Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram feeds?

If so, it makes sense for you to be there, too.

Don’t make people search far and wide to find you. Make it easy for them to see you, understand you, and get to know you now— before they even realize they need you.

Stand out in the crowd

Your target market wants to know what you have to offer and what makes you different. Even if you’re offering the same basic things as other businesses, there’s something special about you. Something that sets you apart. You talk about it in staff meetings, on the phone, and in business meetings. It’s part of your company training, your company culture, and your company DNA. And yet so many companies allow themselves to get stuck looking at the competition for marketing cues.

If you want to be appealing to your clients, you need to go directly to the source. Yes, you should have an idea of what the current industry standards are. But you should also realize that they may not get you where you want to go. To make the greatest impact, you’ll want to look to your clients and prospects themselves for inspiration. Specifically, your best clients and your ideal prospects.

Do your homework

Carefully review your target markets. Look at their preferences, their behaviors, and what they are doing on line. Ask your best customers what they love about your company, your service, or your products. Ask them why they chose you initially and why they keep coming back. Doing so will give you a much better idea of what they value in your company rather than simply evaluating the marketing efforts of your competition.

Once you’ve done your research, you’ll be able to build a marketing program that reflects right back at your clients and prospects exactly what they want and value.

Hit the right target

Think about it – you’re not trying to get your competition to do business with you. You’re trying to attract happy customers and clients.

If you look just like the other businesses in your space, you will have effectively erased any competitive advantage you may have. The more you watch and emulate your competition, the more you risk being just another ____________ company.

But if you focus obsessively on your clients, and consistently communicate how you can help them or make their lives better, you’re going to stand out as the superior choice.

  • How can you make your customers’ lives easier? More convenient? More efficient? More meaningful?
  • Can you help them save time, money, and resources? What about the environment? Or the world?
  • Are you offering ways to help their achieve their  goals and reach their full potential?
  • Are you listening to their comments, kudos, and complaints?

Zero in on what your customers care about and then put together a marketing plan that blasts those messages out loud and clear. And if your competitors are inspired by what you’re up to, all the better.

Because that means now you’re the one worth noticing.


Photo by alphaspirit 

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Are You Showing Your Customers Who You Really Are?

Your company brand is a funny thing. Some people are convinced it’s all about the logo. Or the website. Or the marketing materials. But in reality, your brand is the reputation you have in the market. And that’s not always up to you.

What do people think and feel when they hear your name? What ideas come to mind when they see that logo?

You may think of your brand in one way – from your internal perspective of what you feel it is and what you want it to be. But people on the outside may see it and experience it differently.

But despite what you may want your audience to see in you, it’s their actual experience that will determine the brand they associate you with.

Fortunately, you have the ability influence and alter what they experience.

Benefits of branding

Your brand, and the communication of that brand, is your opportunity to prepare your customers in advance to start looking for the things that make you different and special— before you ever have a single interaction.

If you get this message across correctly, you will have laid the groundwork for the expectations and experiences that will follow.

When people are able to see, hear, and understand your message clearly before they meet with you, work with you, or purchase from you, you’ve already built a significant level of trust. This trust will allow you to bring them into the relationship expecting to be pleased with the outcome. And this is exactly what you want.

By effectively communicating the things you’d like your audience to know about you, you’ve given them an opportunity to recognize and focus on the things they like about you. Things like what makes you different, where you align with their values, and how you can help make their lives and/or businesses run better.

It may sound a bit intuitive, but the truth of the matter is this:

If you don’t let your customers get to know you ahead of time, they won’t know what to expect when they finally do choose to do business with you. This can easily add a level of unease or anxiety to their decision and increase the chances of them being disappointed or disillusioned by the experience. And this is exactly what you don’t want.

Be true to your brand. And your customers.

There are two things that are absolutely critical to creating and maintaining a successful brand. Get them right and you are well on your way to happy, satisfied clients. Get them wrong and it won’t matter what you do or say. Your brand will be out of your hands.

1. Be consistent

There’s one place your brand messages need to exist. And that’s everywhere.

Your website. Your blog. Your social media. Your advertising. Your Yelp reviews. Your press releases and news articles. Your charitable causes. Your hiring practices. Your storefronts. Your offices. Your customer service philosophy. And anything else you say, do, allow, or decide.

Your brand has to be true and consistent to the very core of your mission and your organization.

You can’t do one thing this week and another thing next month. You can’t claim to love your customers but maintain unfriendly business practices. You can’t say you care about your employees and then treat them like crap. You can’t proclaim your love for your community but never give back. These things will not go unnoticed. And they will work against you.

Define your brand and then let it shine in every single thing you do.

2. Follow through

Even if you manage to get your brand messaging picture perfect, it will all be for nothing if you don’t follow through with customer interactions that deliver on that promise.

Defining your brand internally is one thing, but it all hinges on the actual client experience. Those cumulative customer interactions, both large and small, are the experiences that will ultimately determine your brand in the eyes of your target audience. If you constantly reinforce the messages you communicate, your brand will continue to become more deeply ingrained in the minds (and hearts) of your customers.

If your actions are in conflict with your message, your brand will eventually become whatever your consumers perceive it to be, whether or not it’s actually true.

Make it stick

Great brands are built one customer at a time. Make sure your company culture runs deep and that your brand is a natural outcome of your shared values. If your employees love their organization and their work, your customers will feel it. And when your customers are feeling the love, they’ll give it right back to you. And shout if from the rooftops.

Which means you’ve done it right.


Photo by  Deyan Georgiev

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