Boy with slingshot, 1950s

Marketing – the Ultimate Moving Target

Marketing your business for success is a tricky beast – it’s not a case of ‘set and forget’, it’s a constantly moving target and if you’re not careful, it can run away from you and take on a life of its own or worse still, die without you even noticing. So, as we embark on the new financial year, here is some guidance to help you avoid a marketing funeral, and ensure you keep your eye firmly on the marketing target.

Plan

Without question, failing to plan is the number one cause of all marketing disasters – not taking action because you are scared of getting it wrong is in itself, a failed strategy. If you’re going to do something, regardless of what industry you operate in or what side of business you apply it to, this is of course, common sense. Marketing however, is more often than not, an afterthought or something that isn’t taken as seriously as say accounting. All elements of business are only as strong as their weakest link and if you want to maximise your bottom line, you need to keep your customer facing brand first rate, which means you can’t make it up as you go along.

Once you have a plan in place, revisit the plan regularly to ensure you’re working through all the tasks you committed to. Each item you tick off your list, is keeping you one step ahead of the game.

Revisit your marketing plan every quarter. Look at what you core messaging is and be honest with yourself about how effective you are at communicating it. Take stock of the results you’ve achieved to date; what is generating sales and leads and what aspects are failing to capture the return you had hoped for?

Get over yourself!

Knowing the difference between vanity and effectivity is something that can be a challenge. It’s important to be able to distinguish between likes and leads. More often than not, we judge how successful a social media campaign has been just by vanity KPIs such as likes, comments and shares, but they form only a fraction of the evaluation, so don’t be afraid to link back campaigns to the bottom line return.

Listen to feedback and if you do nothing else on your social media platforms, please keep in mind that your business and personal pages are totally different. For example, if you have an awesome meal and want to take a picture of it, don’t share it to your business page unless it is relevant to your products and services. You might think it is great idea, but it will confuse your customers and it isn’t professional.

Everyone’s a marketer

Make sure that everyone in your company, regardless of their role, is on board with marketing and understands the importance of being exceptional in this regard. Each person on your payroll is an ambassador for your brand whether they are in the back office or are public facing. Make sure you hold regular team meetings to inform them of upcoming campaigns – ask them for their suggestions, encourage them to talk to customers and really engage with them. Not only does this make the team feel valued, you will also utilise an often-ignored marketing channel… your colleagues.

Once they are engaged, you will find that you will also start to gather much more intel from the industry.

Know your customers and competitors

Don’t assume anything – always validate your theories so you can keep your finger well and truly on the pulse of your target audience. To do this, take time to listen to what customers are saying about you, your competitors, your products, their needs, wants and satisfaction levels. Give your customers what they need, not what you think they need.

It is important to remain agile and follow that marketing moving target – audience demographics change, so make sure you maintain control over the direction, rather than suddenly realising you are way off-course. There is an element of risk-taking involved for most businesses, even the giants. It is also important to make sure you keep an eye on your competitors as you can pretty much bet your livelihood on the fact that they will be doing the same thing. Failure to do this, can bring your business to its knees, no matter who you are. Think this is an exaggeration? Have a think back – Kodak, Mattel, Nokia, Blockbusters, Compaq oh and who remembers Palm Pilots?

Enjoy what you do

This is a simple statement which doesn’t come with a ‘how to’ guide. There are a million motivational quotes and self-help books, but no fail-safe step by step instruction manual – the person who writes one, will be immortalised in business history. Until then, all you need to know is this – understand how important marketing is to business success, plan in advance, work hard to get into the minds of your customer, ask for feedback (and take it graciously), leave your ego at the door and above all, take time to reflect on what you have achieved, rather than dwell on what you haven’t.