As CEO or President of your business, you are constantly concerned with ensuring that you have a flow of new business coming in the door. There is a balancing act between fulfilling customers’ orders and looking for the next order. Additionally, you want to make sure that you have a mix of business coming in from various sources. Having one large customer is risky to the success of your company. Business used to be simpler. Sometimes, deals were sealed with a simple handshake. Today you may be asked to sign a ten-page non-disclosure agreement. Things have changed. But, fortunately, some things have stayed the same. People do business with people. But the way that your customers’ research and select who to do business with have changed dramatically in the last twenty years.
Advertising Has Gone Digital
In the past, you advertised your products then people bought them. Advertising was print, radio, TV and billboard advertising. Done. Those days are gone. It’s all the internet’s fault. Well, it’s really Tim Berners-Lee’s fault. He is the one who invented the World Wide Web (www) on August 6, 1991. (Sorry, Al, it was someone else!) At first, the internet wasn’t used for advertising. But last year companies spent over $500 Billion on paid media advertising¹. Worldwide digital ad spending will reach $223.74 billion in 2017 and represent 38.3% of total paid media outlays.² That’s a huge amount of money being spent on paid media advertising. Google alone pocketed almost $80 Billion in 2016. Why all the spending? It works. Digital ad spending can be very effective if done right. Or it can be very costly and ineffective. Laser targeted, well-researched ads, combined with continuous measurement and analysis brings in new suspects, prospects, and revenues.
Keeping your website fresh, relevant and interesting should be a top priority.
Your Website is Your First Impression
But, marketing is so much more than advertising. Marketing begins with your website. Your website is a critical element of your marketing strategy. The company website is your digital first impression to anyone researching your businesses products and services. If your website looks tired and old, people will assume your products are tired and old. If the content is stagnant. Your company will appear stagnant. And even worse, Google will know that your website is stagnant. Websites with fresh relevant and popular content get rewarded by Google. Your number one digital marketing goal should be to keep your website on the first page for the most important search terms people may search for in order to find products that your company sells. For instance, if you sell custom steel beams. A search for “custom steel beams” on google should list your company on the first page of results. If your company doesn’t appear on the first page, it’s unlikely people will find your company on Google. There are many other ways to ensure that your website lands on the first page of results. The name for this type of marketing is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). We won’t go into that here, but know this: lack of attention to your website will allow your competition to get a foothold into your market with both your current and prospective customers.
Marketing Defined, sort of
So other than having a website, What is marketing? My handy Google dictionary defines marketing as:
Marketing: the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.³
Do an internet search on “types of marketing.” Your results will list many dozens of different marketing practices in use today.
Here are a few :
Branding – how to differentiate your company from other. (This was originally from branding your animals with a branding iron.)
Internet Marketing/Digital Marketing – marketing over the internet, including email marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Pay Per Click (PPC), Webinars, and more
Content Marketing – developing content to inform or educate your prospective customers.
Product Marketing – working with Sales, Marketing, and Product Development to ensure that customer needs and requirements are included in your product to retain current customers and gain new customers.
Public Relations – management of the public image of your company, including the issuance of Press Releases and speaking with the Press.
Analytics – analyzing the digital elements of your of a marketing initiative to understand and adjust your marketing programs in order to maximize their effectiveness.
Social Media Marketing, Market Research, Customer Evangelism, Trade Show Marketing, Account Based Marketing.
This list can go on. Some can state over 100 types of marketing. This can feel a bit overwhelming to both small and large business owners. (And to marketers themselves) The key to success is to pick and choose the right marketing types for your business.
Choosing the right technology
Technology is critical to any serious marketing effort. Technology will allow you to efficiency publish content, measure and analyze activity to plan future actions for success. Most have heard of salesforce.com. This is a customer relationship management (CRM) software. It allows you to track your prospects and customers as they go through your sales pipeline. There are many types of CRM software. There is also Marketing Automation software, one such software is called Hubspot. This allows you to develop marketing campaigns, including email and social media in order to attract your target customers to your website or other digital marketing sites. By the last count, there are over 5,000 different marketing technologies available for purchase. Planning and choosing the proper technology will allow you to compete effectively in your marketplace.
Social Media is Here to Stay
Lastly, there are social media. But it should not be an afterthought. Don’t assume that your customers are just like you. You may like or dislike social media. But make no mistake, people are using social media and if you are not present, you are missing out. In addition, people are speaking about you and your company on social media. Ignoring it doesn’t make it cease to exist. The Big Four are Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for B2B companies. But there is also Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+, Instagram, and Tumblr. The rule of thumb is, to chose a channel that you can be effective in. Your customers may be on one or more of these sites. Once you chose a social media channel to focus on, make sure that you share relevant, insightful, informative and entertaining content. Sharing boring, repetitious and spammy information is the fastest way to failure in social media. The other key is to be generous. Share other people’s content and they will share yours. Share and share alike.
What about Sales?
Our discussion about Marketing can not be held in a vacuum. In fact Marketing today touches every element of your company. But Marketing’s closest cousin is Sales. So what’s new with Sales in 2017? A lot! I won’t scratch the surface here, but we can’t ignore the fact that sales has also changed dramatically!
In the past, people read your ads, called your company and/or your reps called people on the phone or visited people in person announced or unannounced selling your product. You were in control. It was difficult to for the consumer to get information about all of the choices available to them. And honestly, that was helpful for most companies. People were loyal to companies that they did business with and unless you really messed up, they kept doing business with you.
What’s different today? People don’t answer your salesperson’s call or reply to their email. In fact, in many cases speaking with a sales representative is now the last step in making the sale if they speak with one at all.
There is competition for nearly every sale.
You don’t sell your products anymore. People buy them.
People know the price of everything. People know how good you are. They read reviews. It’s all out there for everyone to see. There is nothing you can hide. People can research everything that they need to know online. And again, if you don’t show up on the first page of the Google Search listings, no one will know you exist. If your company doesn’t have great reviews, if you don’t manage your online and offline reputation – your brand and company suffer. It’s a constant battle 24/7.
Content Marketing is A Must for B2B’s
Ann Hadley’s book, Content Rules discusses the necessity for B2B companies to develop a Content Marketing Program. She says “Your Prospects Are Avoiding You.” Prospects don’t want to speak with a sales rep until they are ready to buy. An effective content marketing program will make sure that you are one of the sources that your prospect trusts for information on your industry, product or expertise. Publishing a consistent stream of information that your prospect is looking for helps you to be considered when the prospect decides it’s time to speak with a sales rep.
Great Planning is Needed
So, where do you get started? You need a plan, not just a marketing plan. A great business plan and a great marketing plan. But you must have both. A marketing plan is only as good as the business plan and vice-versa.
Strong business plan + weak marketing plan = reduced sales opportunities
Weak business plan + strong marketing plan = lost opportunity
Strong business plan + strong marketing plan = maximized sales potential
And you must execute your plans well. So, let’s now discuss the planning cycle.
The Timeframe for Business and Marketing Planning has Shrunk.
Most companies complete annual business planning. But this is no longer sufficient. Companies need an agile business and marketing planning process. Competition, technology, and the business environment are in constant change. Only the agile can take advantage of opportunities that arise. The annual plan is a thing of the past. Companies can’t possibly predict with any accuracy the challenges that they will face twelve months from now. Planning must be constant and malleable. Results must be constantly measured and fed back into the planning cycle.
You have to bring your A game every day. You need to continually work to build your company, your brand, your reputation and your people.
Doing business in today’s digital world is not for the meek, but the rewards can be phenomenal. Develop, market and sell the right product or service at the right time and right price better than your competitors and you win!
Finding Smart Digital Marketers
This is a formidable challenge for large and small businesses alike. How can you do this all on your own? You can’t. Fortunately, there’s help! Smart 2017 marketers understand today’s digital marketing, content marketing, technology, agile planning processes, and business requirements. They work together work with all areas of business: sales, production, customer service, advanced development and with outside contractors to make marketing magic. 2017 marketers know how to digitally find and attract the right prospects for your company and how to keep them educated, entertained (yes) and engaged until the time is right for them to do business with you.
How do you find these smart 2017 marketers who understand all of this? It’s not easy. Marketers that haven’t evolved from the “making things pretty” stage or “crafting the right tagline” days are not 2017 marketers. 2017 marketers, understand that they don’t have all of the knowledge themselves, but can tap into the expertise of others to fill in the gaps. They build plans and alliances to achieve unusual success for their business. Today’s successful marketer is a combination of writer, technologist, analyst, strategist and resource builder. Challenging? Yes! Rewarding? You bet!
How Does Your Company Measure Up?
In 2017, it’s not enough to have the best product and price at the proper time and place. You must have the modern marketing to match. Without it, your company, brand, and products will lose to those companies that have figured it out. How do you measure up? Assess your marketing now. Choose to improve your company’s marketing today.
Got questions? Please comment below or contact me to chat.
As always, thank you for reading!