You would think companies shelling out big bucks on their online marketing would be happy with the results.
Often, the answer is no.
Many businesses are watching their time and money fall into a deep, dark hole.
You can be up on the latest trends—dutifully churning out two blog posts a week, updating your Facebook daily, posting hundreds of beautiful product photos on Instagram, even making videos for TikTok—and still not get the results you want.
Maybe you’ve jumped from one marketing company to another, hoping that if you can just hook up with the right person, your business will explode.
That’s painful…and expensive.
An experienced and competent team is a must, but even a marketing expert doesn’t become the “right” person if you’re not asking the right questions and setting the right goals.
You know you need to market online, and you’re trying, so why does it feel like you’re failing?
The answer to this question comes before you even start marketing.
In working with hundreds of clients, I have discovered there are 5 critical steps to improving the success rate of marketing.
The 5 steps are:
- Define clear, concise business goals.
- Agree on marketing goals that support those business goals.
- Decide who you want to target.
- Lay out a strategy that can make marketing goals happen.
- Select specific marketing tactics that bring your strategy alive.
This sounds drastically simple, but I guarantee you that 95% of marketing efforts don’t start with these steps. Let’s dive in.
Define Clear Business Goals
The #1 frustration I hear from CEOs when it comes to marketing is:
“I don’t know if marketing is actually making me money.”
If you don’t first start with WHY you are doing marketing and what success looks like, how will you ever be able to answer this question?
So, for the time being, forget about marketing.
Focus on what you want to achieve. Focus on writing down GOALS.
Obviously, your goals will vary depending on:
- How big your company is
- What you’re selling
- How much money you have to invest
The good news is, most of the questions you need to ask are pretty much the same. I like to start with 2 simple ones:
1. What part(s) of your business do you want to improve with marketing?
- Sell more products or services.
- Generate leads.
- Get more people to know about your products and services.
- Increase the lifetime value of a customer.
- Get referrals.
2. How will you measure success?
Merely saying you want more business is not enough. You need specifics. For instance, if you want to generate more leads, exactly how many? 30%? 50%?
These goals should be measurable and easy to understand—no marketing lingo. At least not yet!
Agree on Marketing Goals That Support Your Business Goals
Now that you’ve laid out EXACTLY what your business wants from marketing, it’s time to come up with marketing goals that support your business goals.
For example, if you want more customers, you need more leads and/or a better conversion rate.
We just defined two marketing goals.
Want more people to know about your business? You need to measure users, sessions, and engagement.
That’s three more marketing goals.
Are you catching my drift?
Look at the Numbers
It’s also important to understand the profitability of what your business is selling. Once you understand that, you can determine how much marketing you can afford to achieve your desired result.
I like to use the net present value (NPV) of a new customer. NPV is basically the present value of a marketing initiative minus the costs. It’s a way to figure out the lifetime value of a customer.
There’s a little math required to figure out the NPV, but online calculators— like this one—make it easy.
Once you understand the NPV of a customer, you can determine how much you can spend to acquire that customer.
Now that you have an idea of what future customers are worth to you, you can evaluate the strategies based upon their ability to deliver business to you at that price.
For example, a company selling $50 sweaters where a customer buys 1.3 sweaters over their lifetime may not find it worth paying $20 per lead. But for someone selling $4,000 luxury vacations, that could be a steal.
At Frontier Marketing, we believe that every single client is buying either leads or activity…or both. So it’s critical we lay out the marketing metrics necessary to make the business goals come to life.
Need a Little Help?
Coming up with your marketing goals won’t necessarily be super simple. There are lots of resources online—like this round-up from Neil Patel that’s chock-full of tips from the experts.
Or maybe a template would be useful? HubSpot has a free one to aid you in coming up with your marketing goals.
Of course, if you want more in-depth, one-on-one help, Frontier Marketing is an expert in nailing down the goals that lead to success.
Develop a Marketing Strategy That Makes Marketing Goals Happen
Now that you have marketing goals, what marketing strategies are you going to use to achieve them?
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Email marketing
- Reputation management
- Website design
Each of these channels provides a different means to achieve marketing goals.
Why do we split out strategy and tactics?
Simple. Your strategy shouldn’t change that much, but tactics may. Keep the confusion to a minimum by making sure your goals and strategies are rock solid.
Who Do You Want to Target?
A crucial part of your strategy is determining who you want to target.
Here’s a simple fact: Businesses rely on customers.
If you want to meet your business and marketing goals, you need to figure out who your ideal client is and how to target them. By narrowing your audience, you’ll spend your dollars in the right places. And by learning which channels and tactics attract which audiences, you’ll get rid of waste.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Where do my perfect clients live?
- Are they married? Are they parents?
- What do my perfect clients like to do with their time?
- Where do my ideal clients hang out?
- What channels do they use/where do they hang out (Facebook, email, etc.)?
- What does a quality lead look like for your business?
- Is it someone directly calling your business?
- Is it someone you can add to your email newsletter?
- Are they a certain age, locality, marital status?
In short, you need to create marketing avatars.
A marketing avatar represents your ideal prospect. Give your avatar detailed, real-life characteristics to flesh them out.
For instance, my ideal prospect is a single, 27-year-old female living in a big city, working two part-time jobs.
Or, my ideal prospect is a married man in his 60s who’s experiencing ‘empty-nest syndrome.’
Avatars can help you figure out what makes your customer tick and what problems they’re trying to solve. You’ll know how to influence their buying decisions.
I could go on and on about how to build marketing avatars, but the geniuses at Digital Marketer have a great blog post and tool to help you come up with your avatars. Just click here!
Select Specific Tactics to Implement a Marketing Plan
With a clear marketing strategy and an understanding of who you are going to target, you can pick the specific tactics that will achieve results.
This is more of the HOW: What will you do if you need a course-correction? First, you have to know when course-correction is necessary; the questions above will help. Then you need to know how to do it. Just because a marketing tactic is touted as the latest and greatest doesn’t mean you should stick with it. If it isn’t achieving your goals, move on to Plan B.
Your tactics can change based on performance, but they should still fit inside your strategy. By looking at metrics, you’ll get an idea of what tactics are working.
The good news is, there are many digital marketing tools out there to gauge marketing analytics:
- To measure website and SEO analytics, try Google Marketing Platform, HubSpot, Moz.
- To measure social media performance, try Neil Patel, Hootsuite, Sprout Social.
These tools will keep you honest and let you know if you’re on the right path to achieving your marketing goals.
Again, at every stage in your marketing journey, look at the numbers to see if you’re achieving your goals. Ask yourself what the numbers need to be to be profitable. That means looking at things like the cost-per-lead and lead-to-sale conversion rates.
Continually see how your specific tactics are faring. Are you pursuing the right content strategy? Maybe instead of paid ads, you should try displaying a video. Break your marketing strategy down, tactic by tactic, to figure out which tactics to pursue and which ones to ditch.
Putting It All Together
When you embark on a marketing campaign, it’s essential you understand what you hope to accomplish.
You need to quantify how your marketing dollars are being spent. It’s pointless to say you’re going to allocate $10,000 to your marketing budget and call it a day. What results do you expect? How much are you spending to acquire each lead? Is that worth it to you?
When you ask and answer the right questions—and have clearly stated objectives—you have the power over your marketing.
Frontier Marketing can help you define your goals by building a business strategy—and then a marketing strategy—with you. Or we can simply implement the plan you’ve already worked to develop, providing expert tips and suggestions along the way. With a clear goal, you can get what you want out of marketing and turn your failing grade into an A+.