This is possibly one of the more dangerous marketing myths among businesses. Relying on word-of-mouth is not a marketing plan and neither is conducting all business through a Facebook business page.
A marketing plan maps out which marketing channels you will use to spread the word about your product and business (see: examples of integrated marketing). A business without a marketing plan can quickly become one without business, so if you are spending a lot of time wondering where the customers are or checking hourly to see if people are visiting your e-commerce site, you might want to use that time instead to devise a marketing strategy.
Even businesses that rake in millions continue to market. Take Nike, for example. It brings in billions annually, but it never slows down when it comes to making its brand known. Like other successful businesses, Nike knows the marketplace is constantly changing and that a brand’s popularity can fade as quickly as it exploded.
When your business creates a marketing plan at the beginning of a year, you can look at past years’ sales trends and plan marketing pushes to drive sales during slow periods. This plan can be modular so that you can modify, expand or even cut back on marketing depending on your situation.
You can, as many businesses do, but the most effective plans are aimed at a business’s target audience. A first step is to create a customer profile, a description of the type of customers that are catered to by your product or service. Then, develop messages and offers aimed at each market’s preferences.
If you run a grocery store within an established neighborhood, you might market prepared, healthy meals to-go and online ordering to both the working families and retirees. But if your store is close to a college campus, your marketing promotions might instead focus on prepared soups, frozen pizza, ice cream and sports drinks.
The Small Business Administration points out that the old-school philosophy of selling to everyone doesn’t really work.
Similar to the idea that your target audience won’t include everyone…one message likely will not resonate with your entire audience. Take time to think through the sub-segments of your audience.
Who are they? What qualities set them apart from the rest of the population and then, in what ways are they different from one another? What are their unique pain points? How can I address and alleviate these?
Understanding your audience and targeting their needs and preferences builds sales and loyalty.
From email subject lines and calls-to-action to fundraising letters, testing marketing methods might seem like too much effort but it can be eye-opening. Like the firm that tested different colors for its “donate now” button and found that a red version outperformed a green version by 20 percent. That’s pretty significant.
The best A/B tests split an audience and test one element of a marketing piece like a headline or a photo on a postcard. A/B testing is better than trusting a gut reaction when it comes to determining the effectiveness of marketing.
Here are a few tips for A/B testing:
Your house list will potentially get the best response–on average, about twice the number of responses than a rented list will receive. A house mailing list is made up of people who know your business, who’ve bought from you before and are likely to do business with you again. Comparatively, a rented list helps you entice others to try your product or service, then hopefully you can make them regular customers and add them to your house list.
When you rent, the list company that you rent from should ensure that the addresses are updated and accurate. If you maintain your own house list, it will be up to you to handle list hygiene. Businesses contract with Bluegrass for mailing list maintenance, among other data-driven tasks.
The USPS offers some helpful tips for working with list brokers. The Postal Service points out that companies that decide to use a list broker should provide the broker with a description of the target audience; the size of mailing and the timing of your campaign. You’ll also need to ask about limitations on use of the list (it can vary from state to state) and how much the list will cost you.
Facebook has my information and a messaging system. That’s good enough, right? Wrong.
The benefits of a website are many for businesses large or small. If your business doesn’t have one, customers will question your business’s legitimacy and professionalism. Some might wonder about its stability. If you don’t have the money to invest in a website, will your company be around tomorrow?
A website also serves as a communication tool; it allows you to share news with your audience and your audience to learn more about your product or service. Regardless of what you offer, a website can make it available to the world, instead of only those within an easy drive of your physical business.
Relying only on social media to do these things is limiting: your information has to fit within the channel’s format and template and if the platform suddenly changes its rules or loses its popularity, your business suffers. Having a business website puts you in control of the marketing message you deliver.
However, a website by itself is not enough. It is a major element of a marketing plan, but it needs to be supplemented by social media, direct mail, and other forms of advertising and marketing.
A mail piece is a start, but a true marketing campaign involves multiple marketing vehicles to reiterate your message. Known as integrated marketing, it means that messages are targeted to specific audiences and reinforced through existing avenues, like:
(For our ecommerce readers, here are a few social media tips to help drive sales.)
According to research reported in Retaildive, the engagement rate for marketing campaigns that use three or more channels are more than three times higher than for those that use only one marketing channel.
Repeating messages is also powerful. For example, it’s more effective to send three or four postcards over several months’ time to a smaller, targeted audience than to send one postcard mailing to everyone in town.
Awareness of these marketing myths is just the start. Review your current, and even past, marketing efforts for instances of these.
If you’re interested in developing or updating your website, expanding your marketing with social media, or creating a marketing strategy, give us a call. We’ll be happy to work with you.
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