The best marketers know that, when it comes to marketing, variety is necessary in order to cut through the fog of competition and the vast noise of the marketplace and be able to reach each customer where he or she lives. Regardless of the industry, there is no single marketing channel that is best. The key to successful, long-term marketing is to reach people in the myriad of ways in which they prefer to receive or are most open to accepting messages about products or services. Just as people come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, religions and cultures, so do their preferences for interaction and their receptivity to messages. Some people prefer email promotions. Others look at direct mail circulars. Still others are influenced by billboards. And others listen to radio ads. Some even look at good, old-fashioned print ads.
A marketing channel that is totally ‘outdated and passé’ to one person, such as a branded desk calendar, might be ‘old-school cool’ or just plain practical for someone else. And a new edgy marketing strategy that may make no sense to one person, such as mobile ads, may hit the bulls-eye with someone else. The key is to not fall into the trap of thinking “This doesn’t speak to me, so therefore it won’t appeal to anyone else.” The smartest marketers keep an open mind.
But keeping an open mind and embracing variety has a price. While a diverse marketing program is important, that approach – if unchecked – can also be prohibitively expensive. Given the ever-broadening number of marketing channels available, it is impossible to advertise or promote a company everywhere all the time. So how does one decide which strategies to try and which to ignore? It is a matter of analysis and assessment. The first step is to ask a lot of questions.
Marketing Requires A Discriminating Palette
Even the biggest global brands cannot market themselves everywhere. In May 2013, CNN Money ranked Apple, Google, IBM, McDonalds and Coca-Cola the top five global brands for the year. At first blush, one might think that these giant brands have unlimited marketing budgets. They don’t. Case in point. Only one of the top five global brands – Coca Cola — ran a television commercial during one of the most-viewed sporting events of the year: the Super Bowl. But McDonald’s did not have a TV spot, even though two of its biggest competitors did. Taco Bell and Subway both had spots. In fact, Subway had two spots! An astute marketer might argue that people are more likely to have a sub or tacos and a Coke while watching a Super Bowl game, offering a quick marketing-to-sale conversion. Yet at least half of all Super Bowl commercial advertisers, such as Etrade, Century 21, Lincoln, Skechers and Go Daddy, do not benefit from a fast marketing-to-sale conversion opportunity. So why didn’t McDonald’s advertise during the Super Bowl? Getting a definitive answer to that question is unlikely since the person who probably made the decision is no longer in charge of marketing. McDonald’s replaced its Global Brand Officer in April, 2013 with Steve Easterbrook. Regardless of who made the decision not to advertise during the Super Bowl, it was in all likelihood made after much analysis and assessment. A savvy marketer is one who is able to accurately determine which marketing channels will generate the biggest bang for the buck and how best to position the brand globally.
To Choose The Right Marketing Channels, Start By Asking Good Questions
It’s been said that in order to understand where you are going, it helps to know from where you came. That is definitely true in marketing. The leadership team and the marketing department should answer these questions before choosing marketing strategies. This will provide a much keener idea of how to best reach existing and new markets and audiences.
- What are our quarterly, one-year and three-year goals?
- What results do we expect?
- What are our sales and revenue goals?
- What metrics will we use to determine success?
- What market share do we want?
- How do we define our brand?
- What differentiates us from our competitors?
- What is our competitive advantage?
- How are we unique?
- Why should customers choose to do business with us over our competitors?
- What are our areas of expertise?
- What is our unique value (or selling) proposition?
- What value do we provide to our clients/customers?
- What specific benefits do our customers receive?
- What problems do we solve for our customers?
- What needs / wants do we meet?
- How can we dominate our market?
- What makes us stand out from the crowd?
- What do we stand for?
- To what question are we the answer?
- What’s our core message?
- What kind of image do we want to portray?
- What could make us hot or viral?
About Our Customers / Markets
- What is/are our target market/s?
- What is our niche?
- Who needs what we offer?
- Who is our primary target market?
- Who is our secondary target market?
- Who are potential referral sources?
- What percent of our target market is aware of us?
- Who are our ideals customers?
- Who are our top 50 or 100 prospective clients/customers?
- What do we know about them?
- What are their primary motivations?
- Who is/are the primary influencers in the decision-making process?
- What demographic and psychographic data do we have on them?
- What are the people in our target market writing about on message boards and forums?
- What magazines, newspapers, books and blogs are they reading?
- What topics are being addressed in what they’re reading?
- What topics are being discussed at their conferences?
- Where do they network?
- What are their top conferences?
- Where are their businesses located (major markets)?
- What are their hot buttons?
- What are their primary needs and wants?
- What are their primary problems and challenges?
- What frustrates them?
- What would fill their needs/wants/problems/challenges?
- Do we provide the best offers, products or services for them to solve their need?
- What’s missing from our competitor’s offers?
- What can’t potential clients find in other places or with other businesses?
- What do we produce?
- Where is our market underserved?
- Do the people in our target market have a strong need/desire for what we offer?
- What are the people in our target market willing to pay for the value we bring?
- What are the reasons people in our market buy?
- Are there any adjacent markets we ought to target?
- What associations fit in our target market?
- What trends on the horizons can we capitalize on?
- What new opportunities might we be able to exploit?
- Should we change what we do or how we market?
- Who else in our market are we competing against?
- Who else in the country is doing what we do?
- How are our competitors different than us?
- Which of our competitors are other clients in our market aware of or using?
- How do our competitors market themselves?
- What products and services do they offer that we don’t?
- How do our products and services rate in relationship to theirs?
- What products/services do we (or will we) provide?
- What products will help us create a herd/following?
- How can we create deluxe options to upsell?
- What is our irresistible offer or market leader?
- Do we have any urgency trigger to make our customers act now?
- What is our call to action?
- What kind of guarantee do we offer?
Sales and Marketing
- Is our lead generating system effective?
- How can we better leverage our networks?
- What tactics can we use simultaneously to attract new customers?
- How can we build our potential customers’ interest in our product/service or business?
- Who are the key people we need to stay in contact with?
- What are the best ways / methods to stay in contact with our network?
- How will we respond to new contacts/potential customers?
- What keeps potential customers from using or contacting us?
- What objections do we need to overcome?.
- How can we let potential clients try our products/services?
- What can we do / give away / provide to build trust?
- How can we become newsworthy?
- What are our hooks?
- What’s our referral strategy?
- What businesses or individuals could open us to potential customers?
- How can we motivate potential clients to contact us?
- What message is our website communicating?
- What message is our marketing materials communicating?
- What PR efforts would attract the attention of our potential customers?
- What is our typical client acquisition cost?
- How can we begin to establish trust to convince prospects to buy?
- What qualifies us to do what we do?
- Who can we align with? Who can we partner with?
- How can we better qualify prospects?
- What could create a short-term sales surge?
- What conversion rate are we shooting for?
Once these questions are answered, it is time to formulate a plan that selects channels that best reach those specific primary and secondary audiences and markets. Decide the following: What tactics are we going to use this month? This quarter? When we will we use them (calendar them)? Who is responsible / accountable? What is the budget to implement the plan? Each channel selected should then be tried in a variety of ways before assessing its ultimate effectiveness.
With so many channels and so many customer preferences, it is only through a process of analysis, trial/error and assessment that a company can determine how each marketing channel measures up in delivering results.
Quote of the Week
“Marketers are, by nature, optimists. In order to rise in the morning and look forward to going to work, we have to believe that something we will do today will shine through the fog of competitive noise, resonate in the minds of our customers and prospects, and ring the cash register.” Patrick LaPointe, Managing Partner, MarketingNPV
© 2013, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.