It’s a new year and as you brush the festive leftovers off your novelty jumpers, it’s a perfect opportunity to cast a critical eye over your marketing plans to make sure you get what you need from them in 2016.
Getting to grips with the big ticket marketing items such as social media strategy, events planning, website refresh, materials creation, lead generation campaigns and the like can be a bit daunting, especially when you’re emerging from a tinselly-mulled-wine haze. So, to keep it achievable, here are 3 simple, easy-to-commit-to actions that’ll see your marketing shine this year.
- All Aboard! I’m talking to you, Sales.
Briefing everyone in the business about what’s happening on the marketing front just makes good sense. But it’s especially important to have regular, efficient catch-ups with your sales people.
Getting Sales on-board with your marketing plans, activities and agreeing on what you need from each other from the start will make your job a lot easier. Good communication sets expectations; it’ll prime Sales to ask customers for quotes or case study information, to get valuable feedback, it’ll prepare them for campaigns and materials in the pipeline and allows you to create better tools for them. On that point, make sure you highlight how your marketing plans help them. Whether it’s better, shinier sales presentations, brochures or demos, improved training, stronger research, better lead capture and qualification etc. – highlight the marketing activities that will directly benefit the sales force.
Some suggestions on how to get sales aboard the marketing train:
- Create a short, sweet monthly or quarterly internal marketing newsletter aimed at Sales. This works well if your Sales guys work virtually.
- If a newsletter feels a bit overkill, a simple email with high level bullet updates of your activities, results and what’s coming up is quick and easy to author and digest.
- Have regular meetings with Sales either over the phone, Skype or physically in a room. It makes it easier to get information from them about the state of the market, the status of customers, whether there’s any news to promote or case studies to be written etc. It’s also a good opportunity to find out how you can help them e.g. moving a challenging sale forward, setting up demos, providing bespoke materials or market information etc.
- For larger businesses, it’s hugely beneficial to have a formal sales and marketing meeting at the start of the year. Get everyone in a room for the day and provide a full brief on what’s planned for the year in terms of product development, marketing and sales strategy. This gets everyone on the same page from the start.
- Say what? Listen to your customers. Then listen some more.
It’s easy to do, the new year starts, you’re inundated with projects and everyone is demanding something from you. And somewhere in the chaos, you lose sight of one of voices drowning in the melee: your customer.
Your customers’ challenges, requirements, needs, wants and progress are priceless nuggets of information that you can use to make your marketing pack a punch, persuading customers to buy or buy more. Here are some good practices to get into the habit of if you’re not already:
- Meetings. Whether they’re over the phone or in-person, listen to customers’ issues (be it budget, pricing, process issues etc.) and organise in your head how your products and solutions directly address those challenges for them. It’ll put you in a good place to use their words to either frame a response or influence your marketing materials or both.
- Customers’ customers. If you’re a B2B company selling B2C products or services, you have 2 sets of customers you need to listen to. Listen to what end-users as well as your customers are saying about your product or service. If you know the end-user, you’ll know what makes your customer tick when it comes to persuading them that you’re the right company for them.
- The Big Cheese(s): Listen to what’s happening with your customers at board level. At the end of the day, it’ll be the board that signs off any major purchase. If you’re only providing a small part of a bigger project, make sure you have a handle on the other pieces of the puzzle. Sometimes, manoeuvring other suppliers or providing expertise on the complete implementation will make the difference between getting the go ahead, delaying or even canning the project.
- Internal customers. Listen to your internal customers – usually Sales. They’re closest to the customer and provide the second best insight into the market. (The first being speaking to customers directly.)
- Take note. Don’t just listen, document. This way you’ll see any patterns that emerge and you can feed it into your marketing materials, product development teams, Sales, and even the board for use at a strategic level.
- Variety is the spice of life. Give your content a good shake up.
No one wants to read or see the same images or stagnant content month after month, year after year. So shake it up and try and have fun with what you publish!
- Website. Take another read of your webpages. Can you tweak them to sound punchier? Could your website’s images do with a refresh? As well as improving the reader’s experience, it’ll also help your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) i.e. it’ll improve your chances of Google listing your website on the first few pages of a search result rather than, say, page 50.
- Blog. Finding it hard to come up with interesting topics to blog about? Try mixing up the content. Here are a few you could try: opinion pieces, infographics, first person experiences, interview an expert, top 5 lessons (like this!), industry trends, a fan piece on an industry success story…give it a go!
- Social media. Pump life into your social media efforts by including more photos and interesting graphics. Photos generate a staggering 87% interaction rate from audiences so get snapping! Make things more personal and interesting by encouraging staff to get involved but make sure you brief them on some simple social media dos and don’ts before giving them the keys to the accounts!
- Videos. If your product or service is difficult to understand or too dry for brochure format, try a series of short, fun video interviews or explainer videos. Here are some great examples of some from Hubspot that are well worth a browse.
Best of luck with your marketing endeavours this year and remember, it’s often when you get the simplest things right that you start seeing a positive difference to your marketing success!