As everyone involved in business already knows, marketing is an absolutely critical aspect as the revenue generated comes without any downside, unlike borrowing (which incurs interest charges) or taking investment (which requires you to relinquish control of your business). From the freshest startups to the most established corporate juggernauts, everyone knows that reaching your marketing goals is the only reliable means to survive and grow. However, reaching your marketing goals only happens when you build a sound strategy, execute that strategy flawlessly, and use the proper analytical tools to improve market performance over time.
When stripped down to its most basic components, “marketing” really refers to the art of providing value to customers and other stakeholders of the business. In fact, the AMA definition of marketing is:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
As highlighted in this definition, marketers reach their marketing goals by using the 4Ps, product, price, promotion, and distribution to meet and exceed the expectations of their target market, while providing value to other stakeholders of the business, including society. Fundamentally, though, marketing is an art in and of itself — and there’s a world of difference between the most sophisticated and highly effective marketing campaigns out there on the one hand, and the most “phoned in” and “by the numbers” marketing campaigns on the other hand.
If you’re proud of the product or service you offer and believe that it has the potential to genuinely provide value to the lives of your customers or clients in some way, you owe it to them — and to yourself — to do your best to “hit the mark” with your marketing.
Here are a few good principles and suggestions which can help you to achieve this.
Hitting your marketing goals
Hitting your marketing goals involves developing a strategic plan centered around your target market. Remember, consumers don’t buy products they solve problems, so you must ensure your products solve a consumer problem, that you offer a better solution than your competition, that your solution represents value to your target market, and that the solution is readily available where and when your market needs it.
As you might guess, it isn’t easy to hit your marketing goals, especially if you developed SMART marketing goals involving a stretch. Similarly, you need SMART goals that encompass the entire marketing funnel not just terminal goals for sales. Here’s a typical marketing funnel and it’s important to set goals for each level as the more effective you are in pouring prospects into the top of the funnel and the better you are at motivating them to move down the funnel, the higher your conversion rate and the bigger your revenue.
Examples of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) marketing goals are:
- Increase conversion by 10% over the next 12 months
- Improve website traffic by 20% in the next 12 months
- Gain 15% higher engagement rates on social media in the next 6 months
- Increase CTR (click-through rate) across Google Ads by 12% in the next 3 months
Using appropriate marketing tactics to reach your target market goes a long way toward helping you reach your goals, regardless of their level in the conversion funnel. Below are some issues to keep in mind when designing your marketing plan.
Segmentation and positioning
A lot of business owners don’t understand one of the core principles underpinning marketing success — segmenting the universe of consumers into groups that differ from the whole because they share:
- demographics, such as income, education, age, gender
- geographics, such as country, region, city
- psychographics, such as values, lifestyles, attitudes
- behaviors, such as usage occasions (ie. holiday norms), purchase patterns
Once you chose your target market(s) based on segmentation, the next step is positioning, which involves communicating with your target market(s) in a way that shows them why your brand is the best solution to their problem, showing that you designed your brand with their specific needs in mind, and that you share values important to that market
Be engaged with, and aware of, the cultural zeitgeist
The most effective marketing campaigns are generally those that manage to tap into something in the zeitgeist that is already there. They connect with some aspect of the “cultural moment,” and in this way make themselves both relevant, topical, and trendy. Approaching your market authentically, using the vernacular and context they find engaging, leads to success. For instance, Apple doesn’t market its computers as reliable and full-featured (even though they are), they market them as innovative and cool. This positioning takes them out of direct competition with other computers using a Windows operating system, while appealing to the emotions and personality of their unique target market, as you can see in this ad for the Macintosh.
Today, you can find plenty of information resources online describing What To Look For In The Best Crypto Trading Platform, for example, because cryptocurrency is very popular at the moment and gains more and more recognition from the mainstream media, and from assorted celebrities, among other things. Businesses that operate in the crypto space, or in adjacent areas, can therefore harness this relevance in their marketing materials, with benefits for their revenue when they hit on the cultural zeitgeist in a way that both appeals to their target market and appears authentic, rather than looking like a bank trying to appear cool.
Whatever your specific business niche and resulting target market, taking steps to engage with the cultural zeitgeist, and developing an awareness of it in general, has the potential to not only help you to position your business more effectively — but it can also make you a lot more “in sync,” on a personal level, with popular expectations, demands, aspirations, humor, and all the rest.
A piece of developing this cultural zeitgeist, as I alluded to already, is developing a clear personality for your brand — one that’s appealing to your target market When we talk about brand personality, we commonly divide them into one of the classical archetypes that you see below. Clearly positioning your brand into one of these archetypes and communicating your personality to your target market goes a long way toward helping you reach your goals.
Do establish KPIs, gather performance data, and learn from your previous marketing campaigns
Good marketing is, in many cases, an iterative process. It’s about learning and developing along the way. If, hypothetically, you got in the habit of running various marketing campaigns and essentially “firing them off” into the aether without collecting any data on how well they did in reaching your goals, you aren’t optimizing performance to get the most from your marketing budget. And, that’s a waste.
Instead, create each marketing campaign with a clear set of KPIs, or key performance indicators KPIs identify metrics with the most direct impact on your ability to reach your goals. Vanity metrics, like the number of followers you have on a social platform, don’t translate to performance, although there’s a nebulous connection between the size of your community and your success. A better measure of success is engagement on social media as this correlates more strongly with success.
As you run your marketing campaign, carefully track your KPI metrics to learn from your performance. If a tactic, message, channel, or image outperforms other marketing efforts, do more of that and less of the other options. You can even monitor KPIs as your campaign runs to tweak the campaign to deliver greater ROAS (return on advertising spend). Running A/B tests helps you learn quickly and optimize performance.
Market via multiple channels with attention-grabbing content
Perhaps the single most significant overall “rule” for effective marketing in the 21st Century so far, is to generate attention-grabbing content that generates engagement and sharing that amplifies your message so it reaches new users.
In the not-too-distant past, the average consumer had — by many accounts — a lot more patience with respect to how they interacted with ads, printed media, and even TV programs. It was a one-way channel with little interaction from viewers/readers and was easily ignored. Today — as writers such as Johann Hari did a good job of outlining — the average attention span for digital users dropped precipitously. What’s more, marketing research has long shown that the average visitor to a website will spend mere seconds skimming a page before deciding whether or not to click away. These factors point to the challenge facing marketers today, that of getting their message across quickly in a manner that’s entertaining or provides other value. This led to a shift in advertising dollars toward digital platforms and away from traditional ones, as you can see below.
As if all of this wasn’t already enough, you also need to factor in that the advertising landscape is now well and truly saturated, with the average individual likely to come across a huge number of ads over the course of any given day. For all of these reasons, and probably some others, marketing via multiple channels — video, text, social media, etc. — and being as attention-grabbing as possible, is all but essential for any business that hopes to have a real impact with their marketing efforts.
Have a clear message to convey, instead of getting “bogged down”
Mixed messaging can make any marketing materials difficult to understand, uninteresting, and even outright frustrating. Trying to be all things to all people never works as a marketing strategy. That’s why we started this post by discussing how segmentation and positioning are critical for marketing success. Crafting clear messages that resonate with your target market is the key to success. At the very least, you need to assume that the average individual who comes across your marketing materials will likely walk away uninterested quite quickly if they don’t manage to get a very quick and direct overview of what it is you’re doing, who you are, and what you’re offering that meets their needs.
Developing a very clear brand identity, a concise purpose for your product, and a succinct tagline that sets you apart, go a long way to helping you to stand out to prospective customers. For instance, notice that I position my digital marketing services with the tagline — at the intersection of marketing and digital media — to emphasize my depth of knowledge in traditional marketing concepts as they apply to digital marketing.
Simplicity and directness are also likely to win you some friends, as few people love feeling overwhelmed by complexity — especially with minimalism currently representing a popular trend in its own right.
Engage with your field from the consumer end of things
Always think about your brand from the consumer’s perspective. What’s important to them must be important to you. The way their view your brand is all that matters, not the way you view your brand. Simply ask yourself some relevant questions as if you were a consumer.
What do you often find frustrating about products in the space?
What would you like to be different?
Which companies (other than yours) seem a bit ahead in your eyes?
Viewing things from this “insider perspective” is a very powerful tool. With the nearly ubiquitous use of social media that encompasses most consumer groups, you have a powerful tool available to glean a consumer perspective about your brand and your market.
Reaching your marketing goals isn’t an easy task but, when you use the tips shared in this post, your job becomes easier. If you have additional thoughts to add, please share them in the comments.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.