Marketing is simple, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy.
It is essential to identify growth areas and challenges that will inhibit growth. In order to move forward and grow, oftentimes it is essential to take a step back and identify what is preventing your company’s marketing growth.
I started Farotech in 2001, so I have been around the block a few times.
In all of that time, it was my #1 goal to grow as quickly as possible. However, it wasn’t until the last 3 years, when I looked at my company of 52 people and 150+ clients that I realized that the speed of my growth is directly correlated with how effective our company grows.
It’s what experts call “Controlled Growth”. Controlled Growth is the mark of a mature business. I am going to share with you 3 main challenges companies face with their online marketing and how to overcome them.
I wish it was simple enough to say there are only 3 challenges to digital marketing, but if I did, I would be lying. So it is my goal to cover just 3.
Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Hit a Moving Target
Marketing is moving extremely fast. In just the last 3 years we have seen major game-changing technology transform how we communicate to our potential sales targets and existing clientele.
While you’re busy strategizing, the digital landscape is continuing to evolve and change very quickly.
However, even though marketing is moving at a rapid pace, the foundations of marketing have not changed. So let’s look at them together.
Challenge 1: Buyer Persona Development.
Do you know who your buyer is, what makes them tick, and how to communicate in a way that helps them choose your company over your competition?
Understanding who your ideal buyer persona is would probably be the #1 thing that most average companies focus too little time on. However, it is the #1 thing that great companies focus on. They spend billions trying to get the right message to the right potential client at the right time.
The #1 thing that is required to understand who your ideal persona comes down to one thing and one thing alone… Sweat equity.
It has very little to do with art and science. It comes down to setting aside the time early and often to analyze who your potential buyers are.
When Farotech takes on a new client we spend a tremendous amount of time taking a deep dive into who the ideal potential client is for our customer.
We call it the war room. We have specifically designed our office so that you can write on as many walls as possible. And where you can’t write, there is a projector or a TV so that we are surrounded by the data we need to understand who this ideal buyer is.
We spend a minimum of 3 days speaking with our clients’ C-level employees, salespeople, marketing people, operations and existing clients to order to figure out what are the key drivers that make potential clients buy from you and nobody else
After 3 days we have a document that is set up as follows:
- Column 1: All of the critical questions that help us understand who your buyer is.
- Columns 2-10: At the top of these columns are the name of each buyer persona. It is our goal to understand how the critical questions outlined in column 1 change for each buyer persona.
For example, if you run an orthopedic practice and you are marketing to someone who has a torn ACL, do you think that they will want to get newsletters from your practice that talks about the fact that you are the best Spine Center in America?
I wouldn’t. Because I don’t care about your Spine Center. I care about my knee!
The reality is that so many companies market to all of their clients with just one single message and then are shocked when are conversion numbers are shockingly low.
However, if the same marketing practice would segment their list and send a newsletter about “the 5 essential things you need to know about ACL surgery” there is a very good chance that I would open up that email.
Because I care about my knee pain.
Therefore, it is the goal of your buyer persona exercises to figure out exactly who your buyer is so that you can develop a system that gets the right message to the right potential client at the right time.
Establishing a Buyer Persona when you are pressed for time.
Let’s face it, you might be reading this blog and thinking: I know that I have to start a marketing campaign as soon as possible but I don’t have the time to go through the long and exhaustive process you outlined in the buyer persona exercises above.
Well let me say as a disclaimer: you will get out of buyer persona exercises what you put into it. But if you are really pressed for time but want to at least make an effort to outline who you buyers are then fill out this sheet.
Challenge #2: Knowing what to do in house and what to delegate to an agency.
As we discussed, marketing is moving extremely fast. What used to be luxuries in marketing are now client expectations:
- They expect you to communicate clearly and effectively.
- They expect you to be on the first page of Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
- They expect you to have a social presence.
- They expect you to be a thought leader in your industry and be ahead of the curve and communicate that through your blogs and newsletters.
The list goes on and on, and if you think it is going to slow down, you are kidding yourself.
Therefore it is essential that you tackle the art of knowing what to do in house and what to hire an agency for.
If you are a CMO, you are probably looking at a wishlist of a 1000 things that you would do if you only had the time. So in order to succeed you need to prioritize what is going to get the fastest and most consistent results possible.
You are probably aware of the advantages of system-based marketing and the inbound marketing revolution. But all of that stuff is beyond what you have time for.
The good news is that if you have the budget and the willpower to do so you can accomplish a whole lot more than you ever thought possible. If you are using an agency properly, you should be the quarterback of the plan while the agency’s team represents the “time that you don’t have”.
A decent marketing company should come with a system that generates leads, nurtures leads into clients, and turns client into brand ambassadors. However, your agency should be driving the bus. That is where the CMO comes in.
If you are using an agency properly they should be utilizing a team-based approach. This team should include:
- A Project Manager (Your main point of contact)
- 2-3 Writers
- 1 Graphic Designer
- 1 SEO Specialist
- 1 Social Media Specialist
- 1 Web Designer / Developer
Financially, when you use a team-based model you should have the full firepower of a marketing team for the price of a mid-to-entry level employee.
So in the most ideal sense you should be spending your time on the parts of marketing that are your unique gifting. The rest of your time should be used as the quarterback for your agency on your inbound and digital marketing efforts. To do this, you’ll need to learn and understand Google Analytics, Adwords and Usability Analytics (like heat- and scroll-mapping.)
The goal of your days, weeks and months is to make sure that your team is firing on all cylinders and that they are constantly refining your message to get to the right message to the right client at the same time.
Challenge #3: Knowing if your marketing efforts are working.
The #1 problem that we see with companies that we consult with is that they think Rome was built in a day. If you don’t already have a firm marketing foundation, and you are not running your marketing like a system, then you have to realize that it takes time to build the marketing “machine” properly.
If you are looking for a silver bullet marketing approach that is going to get amazing results with 30 to 60 days then you most likely are not thinking realistically.
Mature companies realize that establishing a foundation not only takes time, but it also take persistence.
The concept that we use is that the first year of inbound marketing is like pushing the ball to the top of the hill. It is heavy, it’s brutal, and there will be moments of doubt. But if done correctly, the marketing system that you are building will be unstoppable once you the get the ball up and over the hill.
Don’t Be A Sisy
So how do you know if you are on the right track? Pushing the ball up the hill is one thing. But how do you know that you are not Sisyphus. (Yep, Sisyphus, you know from Greek Mythology?… ok, maybe you need a refresher course. Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra (Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it come back to hit him, repeating this action for eternity.)
So how do you know if your marketing efforts are really working?
The easy answer is Sales. But that is not always correct. Because sales are lagging indicators, especially if you have a long sales cycle.
This means that you have to look beyond sales as the gauge of your marketing. I know that sounds like a true marketer that says that he cares more about marketing stats then actual business acquired. However many times, it is true.
Here are some formulas that help you understand if your marketing is working.
- Be sure you have clearly defined goals WRITTEN down. And put in a place where you are forced to see them often.
- How many visitors are coming to your website?
- How many quality leads have originated from your website visitors?
- Is your email/contact database consistently growing?
- Is your marketing seamlessly integrated with your sales efforts?
- Have you established micro-goals?
- What is your cost per visitor?
- What is your cost per lead?
- What is your cost per customer?
- How long is my sales cycle?
- Have your efforts reduced the length of time of the sales cycle?
- What content is required to keep potential sales targets on the hook for your sales team to close?
- Does my marketing system:
- Generate leads?
- Nurture leads into clients?
- Turn clients into brand ambassadors?
When you start asking yourself the right questions, and you are doing it consistently enough your marketing numbers will jump out at you. It is unavoidable.
The difficult part is that getting the information above takes time to collect. But if you don’t take the time you will never know what is working and what is not. And therefore you have lost by default.
Here are some action items that we recommend that you do to get started:
- Take a hard look at your company and try to figure out if you are scalable for increased sales growth. Just because you can grow doesn’t always mean you should.
- Get a clear understanding what controlled growth looks like for your company. And tie your sales goals to those numbers.
- Download the Buyer Persona Worksheet here:
- Create a marketing goals list and match it with your current time tracking tools. Try to figure out what goals you have time and expertise for and what items you need to outsource.
- If you consider outsourcing, make sure that you are looking for a company / agency that is using a team-based approach. Using multiple vendors one marketing campaign is often a recipe for failure.
- Create a list of marketing goals and work backwards on how to reach them.
- Make sure to establish KPIs.
- Remember that sales numbers and cashflow can oftentimes be lagging indicators. So trust your KPIs more than you trust your bank account.