At The Marketing Squad, we stress outcomes over activity. It’s a part of our Strategic Doer core value. Sure, what you do is important, but in life, it matters far less what kept you busy and far more what you accomplished.
Case in point, no one seems to care how many laps a long-armed, lanky kid from Baltimore swam in his life, but they sure are impressed by all the Olympic medals and world records he set when we learned his name was Michael Phelps. How about in the world of children’s literature? I don’t recall ever hearing anyone talk about the countless napkin sketches and doodles Theodor Geisel created, but we all talk about the timeless books he authored and illustrated under his pen name Dr. Seuss. It’s about accomplishments.
If the ultimate goal of marketing is to bridge the gap between customers’ problems and companies’ solutions, then we haven’t accomplished anything by simply marketing – that is, declaring the virtues of a product or service to a target audience. We have to have something to show for our efforts.
For this reason, we like to think about our marketing efforts through the lens of accomplishments. We’ve identified five things that marketing should be accomplishing for your business. If you’re hitting all five, then it’s likely that you’re solving your customer’s problems which means your business is growing.
This is where most people start when they think about marketing, and so will we. Amplifying your brand has everything to do with what your brand looks and sounds like. In this post-modern age, your brand isn’t your logo stamped on a box, it’s everything about how your brand feels. It’s what people think of when they hear the name of your company or see your product. It’s the experience people have when interacting with your brand.
Marketing’s job is to elevate your brand above all others…or at least your direct competition…in the eyes of your target audience. In this regard, you have numerous considerations when seeking to Amplify Your Brand.
What does your logo design communicate? Is it time for an update? Does your 30-year-old logo scream outdated and behind the times or well-established and trustworthy? Maybe your company is a start-up, and your logo shouts, “I tinkered in Canva for hours on end, and this is the best I could come up with!” Your logo might be your first impression with your potential customers. Does it feel the way you want it to feel?
If people are moved to act by the words they hear or read, does your brand sound the way it should? Does it speak directly to your customer’s felt needs? Does your brand give your audience a sense of competence and confidence, or do the words you use simply confuse the very people you’re trying to help? Brand messaging starts with your slogan and extends into every piece of marketing your company will ever do.
Second to your logo, the visuals you use might be the quickest way someone recognizes your brand. Have you curated a specific aesthetic with your photography? Do your videos lean on consistent editing techniques, animations, and graphics? Are you mindful of how your brand colors are incorporated into your imagery? Great photography and videography speak volumes about how you want to make a connection with your audience, especially in this digital, always online age.
If the solution to everything is to “google it,” then what you look like online is of paramount importance. Everyone knows our attention spans are continuing to shorten, to the point now where research has shown that you have no more than 15 seconds to capture your website visitors before they make the decision to stay or go. (I think that number is generous and will only continue to go down.) Great website design brings together all the above elements into one cohesive experience and points your visitors to a clear call-to-action.
While we are an inbound marketing agency first, we see great value in strategically using advertising dollars to gain brand awareness, but that is never the end goal. We want to see lead forms completed and deals closed. Regardless, sometimes the quickest way to Amplify Your Brand to a new audience is through the judicious use of an advertising budget. Digital ads, billboards, streaming tv ads, etc – they can all get the job done – when used in support of other strategic marketing efforts.
If you’re gonna sell anything, you must have a captive audience. The guys in the mall or big box stores trying to sell you a new phone service or cable subscription know this better than anyone. Their challenge is getting you to stop and take notice. Digital marketing, specifically inbound marketing, works differently. Our goal isn’t to interrupt you while you’re focused on something else – “Sorry buddy, I came to Costco today to buy a 32-pack of undershirts and a bucket of mayonnaise, not to switch mobile carriers on a whim.” – it’s to be found when you’re seeking a solution to your problem.
Great marketing takes a consistent, steady approach to attracting a larger audience, so you can engage more customers and delight them until they are your raving fans. A few considerations must be made if you’re in a growth mindset.
Again, we have to begin with the end in mind. Do you have a marketing strategy developed based on measurable objectives that directly support the goals and vision of your business? Does the marketing strategy account for everything it should, like identifying a narrow target audience, the timing of approaches and campaigns, or the tactics you will commit to consistently employing? We really shouldn’t set our hands to work on any marketing activity until we have an agreement with the powers that be on a strategy.
The goal is to be found when people are searching for solutions to the problems you solve. This starts with knowing what people are searching for – keyword research – and determining a plan for being found – content planning. Inbound marketing is rooted in the concept that creating content that answers questions and provides value converts visitors into customers. This doesn't happen by accident. It takes a methodical approach with a bias toward hitting publish.
Publishing content takes many forms, but in terms of digital marketing, we’re talking about things like blogs, case studies, content offers (free stuff you give to your website visitors in exchange for an email address), videos, emails…the list goes on. What kind of content can you publish to your website and other channels that will address your audience’s questions?
This is where you extend the reach of your newly published content. Do you know which platforms your audience engages? Does your marketing team know how to engage those platforms? Is using the right hashtags all it takes, or do you need to do something more creative to get in front of more eyeballs? Do you need to create a profile on the new social platform that was just released, or will it fade into the background just as quickly as it appeared?
At the end of the day, who is closing the deal? Who is held accountable for moving the needle and helping to achieve topline results? It’s the sales team. Effective marketing works hand-in-hand with the sales function of a thriving business. Where marketing is responsible for capturing the lead and cultivating it toward a sale, the sales team should still be able to lean on the marketing team to help create, close, and ultimately capitalize on the deal.
Marketing has a few very tangible responsibilities toward empowering sales reps to hit the streets and make the sale. These duties center around the tools a sales team needs to succeed.
If your marketing is succeeding at the first two points – Amplifying Your Brand and Growing Your Audience – then you’ll be producing leads for your sales team. Where do you file all those website lead form fills or phone calls you’ve achieved? A well-organized CRM (customer relationship management tool) is critical. Marketing should take great concern and care for what information is captured in your CRM and how that information is organized. This enables informed decisions to be made about what kind of marketing efforts will help capitalize on new opportunities or achieve critical sales goals.
Does your sales team walk out the door to an initial connection meeting or that final touch point to help close the deal feeling confident and empowered? Are they ready to answer any questions or objections from the prospective client they’ve been working for months to land? A good set of printed materials that speak to your company's capabilities, product offerings, and differentiators makes all the difference. These can take many forms, but the key is that the messaging is consistent with all the other marketing a prospect has interacted with. That is the marketing team’s concern.
Maintaining a connection with a prospect until they become a customer can be done in many ways. While nothing can quite compare to direct human interaction in the form of a phone call or face-to-face meeting, offering valuable information in the form of an email can help keep a lead warm until it’s ready to close. Is your marketing team offering automated follow-ups to lead form fills and drip campaigns to contacts made at in-person events to help keep prospects connected to your brand in a meaningful way?
In the 90s, Ron Popiel made his rotisserie oven famous with the phrase “Set it and forget it!” It was a great mantra if your goal is to cook a delicious 5-pound bird with minimal effort. But the set-it-and-forget-it method doesn’t cut it in the fast-paced world of digital marketing. New tools and techniques are constantly introduced, and an organization that stands idly by resting on the laurels of last decade’s hard work will get passed by.
You need to commit to regularly sharpening your digital tools, ensuring they are up to the task of meeting the demands of supporting a dynamic business. When we talk about sharpening your tools, below are the considerations.
Maybe you had your website built three years ago. Does it still speak to your current growth strategy? Are users able to interact with it in a way that makes sense to them and leads to the outcomes you have in mind? Do you need to add pages and functionality to respond to customer demand, changing industry compliance standards, or other factors outside your control?
Does your website check all of the boxes for SEO? Perhaps you optimized it inside and out – both for technical and on-page SEO best practices – a few years ago. Is it current with the latest SEO trends and algorithm factors? Does your website actually rank for the keywords for which you want to be found? What about page load speed? Google cares about this factor, and research shows that a mobile visitor will bounce if it takes more than 3 seconds for your website to load.
While we primarily think of advertising in the Amplify Your Brand bucket, we think the sharpening your tools (read optimizing) mindset is worth noting here. Many companies have made use of the growing number of digital advertising platforms to reach new eyes. They have set aside a monthly budget for digital ads and put the time into setting up a solid AdWords campaign or something similar, but then they walked away. Leads continue to come in directly from these ads, but chances are they are paying more per click than they should or missing opportunities with other keywords. Taking the time to refine their blade – i.e., optimize their ad budget, keywords, bid strategy, etc. – will result in the same or even better outcome with less energy expended – i.e., money spent. Are you wasting resources on an outdated or completely forgotten ad strategy?
Often referred to as MarTech, the ever-expanding world of digital marketing tools offers new ways to automate your marketing, engage customers in novel ways, and generally simplify your life…if you know how to wield them. Having a team that is competent in the tools in your arsenal is key. We all love technology, but the minute there is an interruption in service or an expected malfunction or error, temperatures begin to rise. Does your marketing team understand how your tools are connected, and do they have the resources to resolve issues should – strike that – when they arise?
This is the most overlooked area of a business, but one that likely has the greatest impact on the overall health of an organization and your happiness as a business leader – workplace culture. Most people think workforce health is an HR problem to solve, but the influence marketing can have on recruitment, retention, and organizational success cannot be overstated.
Marketing can make significant contributions to your company’s bottom line but shoring up some of the following considerations.
Your workforce is your sales team. What they say about their employer and workplace outside of the four walls of your business echoes throughout the community. Team members who are included and informed will be your most positive and vocal advocates in the communities you want to serve. Does your marketing team take an active interest in the communication that your employees receive? Does the messaging of your internal communication align with your overall organizational goals and core values?
Has your company taken the time to decipher what makes it tick? What are the shared values that hold your company together? What are the non-negotiables when hiring new team members or choosing to let go of existing ones? If your industry dried up overnight and you had to completely reinvent your company, what are the standards you would hold onto and ensure they were carried forward into your new business venture? Your marketing team should help craft the language used in your core value development process. That same language, when appropriate, should make its way into your efforts to Grow Your Audience.
One of the primary ways to drive home your core values – other than actually living them out in your day-to-day business operations – is to adorn your walls with them. Your marketing team should take the lead on the overall aesthetic of your workspace, not only for the sake of the clients and customers you’ll welcome through your doors but also for your team members who spend 40+ hours per week there. Everything from the color you paint your walls to the restroom signage should coincide with the feeling your brand is trying to elicit from your customers. Have you asked your marketing team what they think about your workspace?
Any growing business is going to be concerned about bringing on fresh talent. Many of the same tactics implemented to reach new customers can be used to reach new employees. Seeing recruitment as a function of your HR department solely is a disservice to them and your company as a whole. Include your marketing team in this process. Have them treat your HR team like a client and let the creativity run wild. Your HR team will have a lot of fun with it, and the marketing team will be reinvigorated in the process.
So, the question remains, what has your marketing done for you lately? Do you feel as though your company’s marketing has checked any of these boxes?
When was the last time you stepped back from your logo to ask, “Is this serving our brand?
How often are you producing new content to reach a new audience?
Is your marketing team proactively finding ways to support your sales team?
Do they have a Faithful Steward mindset toward your digital footprint, or do they take the set-it-and-forget-it approach to your marketing tools like your website?
Does your marketing team live up to your core values?
Great marketing always begins with the end in mind. That requires a commitment to outcomes. That’s our mindset here at The Marketing Squad. If that’s yours too, then we should talk.