Helping companies and business owners take a dream or idea and turn it into a profitable endeavor is the best part of my job. But one thing that’s not so great is the lack of love businesses give to their marketing plans and digital strategy.
A business doesn’t necessarily have to write a formal 25-page document with graphs and demographic breakdowns. What’s critical is being able to thoughtfully explain the PURPOSE of how and why you will get people to pay you for your skill, service or product. Purpose drives behavioral changes.
Unfortunately, when business owners or “marketing experts” are asked about their marketing strategy, they respond with some version of the following:
- ‘We’re on Facebook, so we’re good.’
Facebook is great. But it’s just a tool that a business should leverage so that they can have an approachable voice for conversations. We need to remember that Facebook was designed for people to connect and have conversations, not to have profitable conversions that yield high revenue results. Social media needs to be a component of an overall plan to be effective toward the ultimate goal: Get people to give you money for your product!
The goal for converting marketing efforts to sales on Facebook is getting people to talk to their friends about your business. It’s even better when a business can initiate a conversation to speak directly to their customers with an authentic, approachable voice. It’s one thing for a company to say they are great in an online ad, but if someone is told by their friends that a company is great, that customer is more likely to engage, trust and buy into that company’s offer. We all know the power of word-of-mouth marketing, so what’s your plan for getting people to talk about your business?
- ‘Our strategy is to make money.’
Making money is great, but most everyone in the world has some form of that strategy in mind. How will you be different? How will you break through? A company’s product or service may very well be that much better than the competition, but people need a purpose-driven reason to break their buying habits. At Gragg Advertising, we focus on understanding people and their buying behaviors in order to produce profitable results for our clients and partners.
If I’ve been going to the same coffee shop for years, why am I going to risk getting a macchiato with a different shop? A shop might say that they’re more affordable, or more flavorful, or that they will also provide hammocks to relax in while getting your coffee. (That’s a real thing, look it up.) Whatever that value proposition is, a business has to tell prospective customers this message in order to generate more revenue. However a business says that message and when they communicate it— that’s a big piece of your marketing plan.
Restaurants are particularly vulnerable when they neglect to communicate and have a marketing plan. You’ve seen it when a place opens, and then it’s closed before you even had a chance to try it. The owners assume that as soon as the doors open for business, they’ll generate the interest simply by being new, revenue will follow, and within a year or two, they’ll be profitable. But then they don’t. The restaurant didn’t have a marketing strategy, so no one knew to come or cared enough to break away from their usual buying behavior.
Give your potential customers a reason to try you – help them see why your brand’s purpose aligns with their natural buying habits and lifestyle behaviors.
- ‘We’ve been successful up until now – why fix something that isn’t broken?’
A business had an awesome idea, and it worked flawlessly. It generated a lot of attention and sold a lot of products. And then the business thought, “Why don’t we do that again?” If only it were that easy. Just ask any sports championship team how hard it is to repeat the same success each season.
Here is the short version of potential outcomes with this kind of marketing plan:
- The marketing campaign works again—high five, you’re lucky! Or …
- The innovation or relevance that made that campaign work the first time has worn off. Think about some of your favorite marketing campaigns from years past. Even the most successful ones in history – ‘Got Milk?’; Burger King’s ‘Subservient Chicken’; Apple’s ‘I’m a Mac’ – are no longer running. They were shelved long ago in favor of marketing that was designed to help accomplish new company goals for their brands.
- Your campaign is no longer effective for the scale of the company. The same strategy that worked when you sold your custom-fit jeans direct to customers at a local shop is not going to work as well when you scale to wholesaling to regional stores.
- The strategy that worked in one industry doesn’t work for another. People think and buy different things in different ways. A campaign has to be in tune with the way people already want to buy that type of product or service. (Currently the mobile market is where people are buying, and ironically, it’s not by them dialing the phone numbers, its buy using apps and searching in Google.)
What Gragg says…
The key is to create a strategic plan, always stay relevant and clearly define the purpose of the strategy that is engaging customers to buy into a business’s product or service. The playing field is constantly changing, so companies need marketing strategies in their playbook that can constantly adapt to those shifts.
A marketing plan and digital strategy can be a business’s best friend. All you have to do is give it some love.