Is it time to get back to the “old ways?” (And I hate using the term old days or old ways, but!)
The challenges with marketing in general right now are probably not that much different to how they were 50 years ago. Marketing and advertising has always been expensive and the return has always been low. But we have a few additional aspects that now possibly make it even harder.
- Number of posts. Depending on what you’ve read, we’ve gone from around 500 messages a day, to over 30,000.
- Attention span. Most people won’t even bother reading past the first paragraph of this article, let alone in full (only looking at the picture alone, some things never change) but to get to the real story or information, often requires more than one sentence.
- Engagement. Unless we’re posting pictures about ourselves, most people don’t engage, support, or respond (even if you ask them too). Would you like to know the simplest and most inexpensive way to support local small business. Support their social media. Engage, share and positive comments.
- Budget. Up until very recently, most businesses would allocate around 5% of their turnover to marketing, it was a commonly known and understood figure. If you want the business to grow, advertise and allocate a budget. That’s now and according to recent benchmarking, under 1%.
So much of what we think right now has value to our business in our marketing efforts, simply isn’t getting through and for a variety of reasons.
- Lack of engagement has been a serious problem for a while now. You post or email something to your client base or your community and there’s no response, no engagement, nothing.
- Add to that, the escalation of posts everywhere, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram, it’s almost impossible for any post to be seen, unless the community really gets behind it and in most cases they won’t.
- A huge percentage of emails don’t get opened, let alone even get through. If you have a hotmail account, there’s a chance that around 50% of legitimate emails are going through to junk. You can fix it, but it’s not easy.
- And even if the email does get through, open rates average under 20%, but that doesn’t mean it’s been read!
- Add to everything, including as I’ve mentioned social media, there is a staggering amount of “stuff” coming in, including businesses that openly admit, “we never email any past or current clients,” so let’s start now? And just about everyone has the solution to our current crisis. (Of course they do!)
There’s just too much noise and with that, a massive amount of overwhelm and 100% focus on the one question, “how do I just get through this?” Forget the solutions that everyone seems to have on running our businesses better, super marketing ideas, or just get this “one” thing right and your business will be ok.
Marketing has long been the most confusing part of any business. If you’re actually spending money on it, it’s generally expensive, because the return on investment, if any, is low. Hence the reason that most businesses either choose not to, or simply stick with posting more and more free posts on social media (that up until recently, under 1% were being seen!)
There’s no doubt, that working out the plan and finding the secret that will not only attract more clients, but also keep them longer, is the secret we’ve all been looking for. There’s also no doubt that some businesses are much simpler than others to create an ongoing retainable and sustainable client base, it’s very simple (but most will never do what’s needed) but in other businesses, it’s not that straight forward. Or is it?
Let’s take the simple aspect first. If you’ve got an established business, retail, or hospitality, you’ve got it relatively easy. You probably don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. Here’s how to do it but also what 99% of those businesses will never, ever do.
- Capture the data of every single person that engages with you, asks a question or buys.
- Then maintain contact, build the relationship, ask them back. And that’s pretty much all you’ll ever need to do, to grow massively.
For other predominately online or service based or maybe starting from scratch it requires a little more effort, but can still work and simply requires a few things to be done.
- Image, brand, message. Standout. Do everything possible to be findable and make the message easy to understand what it is you do and what problem you solve.
- Sales skills and processes. Develop a skill set, to enable everyone in the team to sell. A script for both inbound and outbound calls is a must. Talk to people, don’t rely on digital anything. Pickup the phone. Talk to past enquiries, cold call. It works and will always work. It’s been shamed for years in particular by digital marketers trying to prove there’s a way to get customers, without talking to them. In most cases there isn’t!
- Service them like they’ve never been serviced before. Don’t just send another email (yes I know this is one too) but start to give your customers and clients an experience. Give them a reason other than what you do, to come back to you and refer others too. 68% of people leave a supplier and go elsewhere for one reason only, service, or more to the point, lack of it. The challenge is that you can’t service everyone like a key account, so don’t. Break your clients into A, B, C and D clients. A are your key accounts, they get the full experience and a call monthly. B’s are the next group down, they spend, but not as much or as frequently, but have potential. These guys need the service too, because they’ll come up. The C’s are the customers that have bought once, they need contact, and maybe a call every three months and lastly the D’s probably enquiries or prospects only. Email contact, invite them to online events, and depending on potential some phone contact.
- Staff skills. If there’s one thing I see so often, and certainly showing its head now, is underskilled and undertrained staff. Poor communication, selling and service skills and serious lacking in product knowledge. Just train them, or get someone else too. Over 50% of purchases don’t go ahead because a sales or service person didn’t respond, followup or have an answer to the question!
- Product, why would someone buy from you, what makes you different and it can’t be service or price. Identify what your unique selling proposition is (the USP) and tell everyone about. What is the solution to the problem you’re solving.
- Marketing. It can’t be done for free! You need a budget, but you also need to test and measure everything. Just posting on social media, Linkedin and sending out a myriad of emails won’t cut it. You need to test every aspect available to your budget. Is it time to start looking at alternatives that might just stand out from the crowd. There’s a local digital marketer advertising on the radio here (why do you think he does that?) print, post, handwritten cards or telemarketing. Start looking at alternatives. If a product sells, so can anyone’s, yours, you just need to standout in every aspect, including marketing.
- A plan is essential and I’m not just talking business plan, a marketing plan will outline the strategies and then force you to go through a management process of making sure your getting the results, through testing and measuring and if not why not?
- Data is essential and in marketing even more so. In order to understand what works and what doesn’t, you need the numbers from everything, how many leads from every source, conversion rates, costs, ROIs and non conversion. What happens to those that say no?
- Communication skills at every contact point. Because of our digital mindset, people tend to communicate via email, text and messenger and are losing the skills that they really need in a business environment. Verbal, written and (soon again) face to face.
Marketing is confusing at the best of times and often because we simply aren’t doing what needs to be done, looking at the options that are available because we either don’t want to do that, or aren’t prepared to spend the money on it.
Businesses don’t measure anything, if they did, they’d spend less time (or no time) on what doesn’t work, and more on what does, do it better and scale! Look for solutions in what marketing works, try different things, stop spending time on what has virtually no return and test and measure everything.
Our current environment has some massive challenges, not being helped by simply overloading our inboxes and social media with just more! Back during the GFC we had around ten years ago, businesses stopped advertising (like they are doing now) but the Clarence with that at some point, we’ll push the go button and businesses will start from scratch, rather than maybe reduce the spending, look at other options that might just get a better result and keep your name in front of the people that are most important. Your current and past customers, enquiries and clients.
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