The biggest marketing issue that drives companies to pick up the phone and call me for help is the multiplying number of marketing tools available, and the “apps” within those tools that lots of online marketing writers go nuts about.
The range of marketing options can drive you nuts. (Image from ScienceDaily)
I got to thinking about this when the good folks at McKinsey and Company sent along a link to a new online resource that may be worth registering for if you want to stay on top of the latest thinking within the Marketing profession.
My recommendation? Tread carefully, but move forward. You must market your business. You must not respond to every hyped trend that crops up within the realm of marketing.
At the most basic level, and an example I just dealth with last week, consider the humble supermarket shopping cart. On most you will find a placard with a local businessperson wishing to get to know you. This is usually a real estate agent, or a home service of some kind. The idea is that you are staring at it for twenty minutes while you navigate the store. The problem with most of these cart ads? No reliable tracking of results. I have yet to meet a real estate agent who got a call from the cart ad. There may be people out there who did get results, but if you are considering such a campaign, you must press the salesperson selling the cart ad to provide proof of performance and a roster of happy clients to call for testimonials (for those carts, in the stores targeted.)
The person I was talking to last week was a caterer, who was flummoxed at receiving no calls from his cart ad. My question: “What message did you put on there?” It was a bland awareness ad. The cart ad salesperson let this guy down by not directing his creative more aggressively. My recommendation: When the contract runs out, consider other options for spending that same amount of money (local keyword search campaign topped my list for testing.) If he insists on sticking with the carts when his contract is up, my next recommendation would be to assign a dedicated number to the ad, and inject a stronger message:
“Why are you cooking tonight??? Serve up some fantastic BBQ instead! Call us and mention [the store] and get our [special offer].” That might get some hard data with which to make an informed decision.
On the other hand, social media presents a big challenge for an opposite reason than the cart ad. It is easy on the budget but hard on time because of the commitment required. You have to be INTERESTING every day, or at least a couple of times a week when blogging and “facebooking.” Who has time for that? It takes research, product positioning, customer engagement (and timely responses). Once you start, you cannot go back! Many small businesspeople shy away from that commitment, even though they see the value.
Too many options from which to choose makes a small businessperson freeze like a deer in your headlights.
The simple solution is to remember that you don’t have to do everything. You only have to do enough things to attract enough customers to run a profitable business. None of these fancy new tools is going away, so when you find the time and budget to test them, they will be there for you. Pick a couple, give them a test drive, measure the results, make some decisions on next steps. That should take some of the agonizing out of marketing planning and execution!