Building a marketing system is the best way to attract and keep customers.
A marketing system is your customized plan that works when you aren’t around. The system helps you avoid the gruelling pace of always having “to be on.” It is critical to small business success because it removes you from these activities, allowing others much more suited to step in.
Your marketing system should contain eight foundational blocks. Think of the eight foundational blocks as literal blocks you are laying to get you from one end of the path to the end of the path. Let’s take a snapshot of what these foundational blocks are and why they will help you attract and keep customers without burning out:
Block 1: Leadership
Start with leadership. Before jumping into any marketing, get crystal clear on a) who you are, b) what you want to do and c) where you are going. To evaluate if you are crystal clear on these three questions, ask your employees or team members to articulate to you the answer to those questions. If the answers are all over the map, you must do two things:
- Articulate how you would answer these questions in a document.
- Schedule the first 2 minutes of every internal meeting to review those answers.
Block 2: Market
After you know your mission, move into the field you plan on playing. Research the market potential of your product/service. How much of that market is up for grabs, and how much do you own? What are the values of the market that are driving price, product development and service offering?
Know these three things.
- How big is the market in dollars?
- What is driving purchasing decisions in your market?
- Market share of your business within the market
Block 3: Target
After a good understanding of the market, can you identify the lowest-hanging fruit? Ask the question, which group of people can you talk to for a fairly reasonable price that will generate a significant reward?
Block 4: Strategy
Next, what are three words you want this audience to think of when they think of you? What are the three words you are known for among your customers? Do these six words match? Why?
After figuring out how people think of you, you must now decide your goal for this audience. Do you want to increase awareness of your product/service among this audience? Would you instead increase “preference” or desire for your product/service? What is the traffic count you want through your door from this audience? If you are known for something that isn’t aligned with your goals, make the objective about changing that perception. Set a timeframe and make a budget. 2-3% of your revenue is good for maintaining your business. If you want to grow, shoot 6-10% of revenue.
Block 5: Process
We struggle to scale our business because we don’t articulate our sales process thoroughly. We can’t scale our business until we do so. How should we start? Start with touchpoints. Touchpoints are anything your customer/prospect does or sees related to your brand. Right beside each touchpoint, evaluate if that interaction abides by your values from the first step. After that, list all your current touchpoints with a prospect and a customer.
Block 6: Website
From there, you will now need to evaluate your website. Your website is a huge credibility tool. The great websites, however, do more than provide Google with a way to index your business as the Yellow Pages did. A great website captures leads, is found immediately, and can provide the insight your customers can’t find on Google. Use your website as a way to help your customers research you on their terms. Next, give a reason to make contact in a non-sales way.
Block 7 & 8: Advertising & Network
Notice the amount of work and decisions before getting out there and pitching. However, this is the most impactful piece to your overall marketing system that will attract and keep customers. Here are a few basic principles to follow when building your advertising campaign(s)
You want people to search for you. You want your goal to be to ‘become famous.’ Becoming famous means reaching as many people as possible with your ad budget. Try to separate your ad budget into two buckets. One bucket is dedicated to “reach” type campaigns with highly emotional messages. The kinds of messages that associate your brand with positive vibes. The second bucket should be devoted to tightly targeted campaigns focusing on your earlier chosen audience.
Why should your goal be fame? The 95:5 rule. “As articulated by Professor John Dawes of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. The concept is simple: At any given time, 95% of customers are out-of-market, and only 5% of customers are in-market. Most buyers are future buyers, and marketing’s main job is to increase future sales.” (By Peter Weinberg & Jon Lombardo)
During a recession, when there are two consecutive quarters of lower economic activity, 5% is more like 1%. The importance of crafting messages and targeting out-of-market consumers becomes more apparent. It should be considered a proactive investment.
Become ridiculously famous. Focus on positive associations with your brand. Don’t be forgotten.
Those who are famous are remembered.
Lead with the heart, and the mind will follow.
Paul Dyson, a famous statistician, discovered the ten drivers of profitability regarding marketing levers. The first driver is market size, with almost a 16 profit multiplier. Meaning the bigger you are, the more money you make.
The law of double jeopardy, first outlined by Byron Sharp, also illustrates what is going on. The law says, “brands with less market share have so because they have far fewer buyers (first jeopardy), and these buyers are slightly less brand loyal (second jeopardy). So basically, if you are a small brand, your profit potential will also be small. Kind of common sense, right?
What about the second driver? Creative execution. Creativity in your marketing is critical to the profitability of your firm. So the next question is how to create good creative messages. Lead with the heart, and the mind will follow.
Wizard of Ads Roy H Williams says, “the mind will make a logical decision what the heart has already decided.”
Furthermore, emotional ads and marketing lead to better salience, meaning you are remembered far more than non-emotional ads.
So become ridiculously famous by being emotional.
The Long and Short of It
Think of the long game for the sake of your business legacy and your company’s sustainability. Too often, business decisions are based on short data that doesn’t tell the entire story.
After researching the best marketing campaigns from the last 60 years, Peter Field and Les Binet discovered that when a brand uses a mix of long and short activities, they tend to do better than those that don’t.
What is long? The long of it is brand building. Brand building is an activity that doesn’t have a call to action. They are highly emotional and tend to attract the 95% that aren’t in the market but will be. They tend to return on investment about 12 months out.
What is short? The short of it is sales activation activities. These activities attract those that are in the market to buy right now. They tend to present quick sales upticks when launched however fall just as fast.
As you can see, the sales activation activities do very well compared to the brand-building activities in the first six months. If you were to continue to evaluate your marketing in six months increments, you would only do the sales activation activities. This results in quick upticks of sales but steep sales declines.
However, if you evaluate based on brand building and sales activation, your company will see a reward.
Bringing it all together.
Once your year is complete, and you look back on the activities done, you can look at leadership again. Are you abiding by the values and vision you set out for your company? What changed? Is where you want to go still the place? Did you reach it?
Each of these eight foundational blocks will help build the marketing system needed to attract and keep customers.
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