Ken: Welcome everybody to this week’s episode of the marketing guides for small businesses podcast. This is episode 87. Today we’re gonna be talking about the key elements of marketing and effect and effective marketing strategy. I’m joined by Paul I and Jen today. So welcome everybody. Thank you.
We’re gonna cover a topic today that I think many businesses either. They wing it or they really at a minimum, they really struggle with it. I’m really excited to get into this with you guys today. Creating an effective marketing strategy is hard work. It doesn’t just happen and knowing where to start and what to work on is really key.
So with that we’re gonna really get into it. We’ve got a lot to cover, so I’m just gonna go right into the questions. Paul, I’m gonna start with you. What analysis should be done when looking at a company’s current online presence.
Paul: Yeah. That, going back to what you said it is hard work because a marketing strategy is not let’s, throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.
And so you really, when you talk about their online presence, that’s not just your website, that’s a big part of it, but you have to look. Not just the content on the website, but you have to look at the technical issues such as structured data. I’m not gonna go into that right now, but then there’s on and off page SEO factors that you have to look at your social profile whether, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube anything you’re doing there.
Google my business. That’s part of your, that’s a huge part of your online profile, especially if you’re a local business, because that’s Google. My business is tied directly into Google maps. So that has to be set up properly and maintained. It’s not a one time set up and forget it kind of thing.
Directories and citations. Especially if you’re in a niche market, there’s probably niche directories that, that you should be listed on your online reputation, where we use reputation, the term reputation, but it’s really your reviews. If you have bad reviews that’s a problem and it needs to be addressed.
And then you we’ll probably talk about this a little bit more, but you have to look. What we call a competitive landscape and your competitors and what they’re doing or not doing as the case may be. So it, it is a comprehensive set of things that you have to
Ian: look at.
Ken: Yeah. You mentioned on page and off page SEO.
Can you just talk, explain those just very briefly.
Paul: Yeah on page SEO is the things you do directly on the website such as the content itself and how the content is written and how it’s structured and the
Ken: Yeah. Like the
Paul: H tags and yeah, the technical, I don’t want to get all technical on people here, your structure data and your H one tags and then
Ken: yeah, so really just it’s the things that you really have the most control over, right?
Because it has go with the way you structure each and every page of your website, as well as the overall website.
Paul: Correct. And then off page is I guess the best way to describe off page is it tells Google what other people think of your website. So that would be like back links from other domains would be a good example there.
I guess that would be the easiest one to under to understand, but
Ken: yeah. Yeah, we don’t, I didn’t intend for you to get into the weeds on it. I just wanted to give an idea of, there, there are a lot of things that you really need to be looking at when you’re gauging your online presence.
And those are two that people hear a lot of those terms, they hear SEO or search engine optimization a lot. They may even hear on page and off page, but, Really may not really understand what all goes into that. Ian, I think that’s a good segue. Especially regard in regard to the on page SEO, let’s talk about content.
Why is it important to create a content calendar? How do you do it? And should it be locked in stone once you create
Ian: it? And I will answer those questions in just a second for now. I know public service announce. No, I, one thing I would add to, to analysis that I love to do, I was gonna add it, but you transitioned so quick.
I didn’t get a chance to jump in. There is competitive analysis. Competitive analysis. And the reason why that’s so important is we don’t live in a bubble every, or a vacuum, everything we do affects other businesses in our area and vice versa. So it’s really powerful to understand and benchmark where you are today compared to your competitors so that you actually know if you’re gaining ground over time or displacing them, which is ultimately what you want to do.
Yeah. Yeah. And now back to our regular program, so content and I’m gonna wrap this kind of in the the shell. Even beyond a content calendar and talk a little bit about it as a marketing calendar, because I think content is integrated with everything we do. It’s the fuel that makes our marketing engine run.
Our team actually has a motto and even when I was in the corporate world, we used this motto and it was lit by the calendar. And the reason this is so important is that if you Don. Live by the marketing calendar and the content calendar, your marketing activities will go off the rails.
They’ll fall behind schedule, you’ll end up chasing shiny objects. I’ve seen it all the time. It happens. So a calendar is a very structured way to keep you on task and strategically on task because you know what needs to be done when it needs to be done. And then you deliver. The beauty of a marketing calendar is that you can clearly see what’s required at each month at a glance and where there’s gaps.
So even from a planning tool standpoint, super, super powerful it’s, it seems almost too simple a concept, because I know when I was first learning the power of content calendars and marketing calendars, myself and some of the other. Senior people in marketing were like, it seems overly simplified.
No, we need, some complex test management software. That’s gonna show us everything and you do, but this is like the high level way to see everything. It’s like the 30,000 foot view from an airplane. But you asked a few questions in there. So how do you create a content Cal. So to start, I think format is really important.
When all of us think of calendars, we think of a calendar, and that’s not really what we mean, usually in marketing. When we talk about marketing calendars, we’re talking about not a normal calendar about, usually about a spreadsheet. It can take other forms but spreadsheets are super simple.
They’re super flexible. You can. Rows, you can add columns. And usually the structure is quite simple. You have, along the top, you have your months and you might even break up your months into smaller portions, depending how detailed you want to be. And then down the left hand side, you usually have your deliverables and those can be, as large buckets or as small buckets as you want.
But it’s really, you need to determine. For your own team, how much detail is enough detail because you don’t want too much, but you want enough that your team can easily see what’s required when and what the monthly deliverables are. Yeah and for us calendars are usually broken down by, you have your events.
So whether it’s internal, external events could even be monthly themes, like super bowls coming up, you might wanna introduce that concept into your content somehow. Christmas new year’s, whatever it is, you just can’t use the word super bowl. Filterable. But then, some other categories you usually have are like blog articles, videos, webinars, social media, email, web development, SEO, monthly themes, right?
So you, if you want all of your blog posts in one month to be under one theme, you would include that theme as a row. So it’s really just an easy way to, to see. Needs to be done when it needs to be done. And then your last question that was an action packed group of questions. Ken was, could it, should it be locked in stone?
And I think we’ve actually said this term previously, but there’s a great military saying that no plan survives contact with the enemy. And I think this is true with any marketing plan. Your calendar is a part of your marketing plan and it’s a living document. It should be locked down enough that you aren’t willynilly.
Is that still a term taking things in and out of it, but that it’s flexible enough to adapt to future developments that you could add and take things out and that you can also, and this is really important exploit opportunities as they arise. Yeah.
Ken: Yeah, absolutely. When you do search engine optimization, I think if you do it.
You’ve you, you plan with themes and you definitely define the activities and you commit to doing the activities that need to be done, but the topics might change somewhat based on. What you’re seeing in terms of search rankings. If Google changes some algorithm, if a competitor starts to make some real headway, you’ve gotta have a little bit of adaptability there, but the key thing is get it down on paper, because if you don’t, it will, time will go by and you’ll lose it.
And then you’re running behind. And I don’t know about you guys, we, when we write content for our clients, we actually have a three day. They’ve got three days to approve it because we need to stay true to that calendar. Part of SEO is production and, and so the calendar helps you with the production, but it also helps you topically as well.
Ian: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. We’re 72 hours and if it’s not fact we’re running with it. Yeah. And by then we built up enough trust with clients too
Ken: Yeah. So Jen here’s something that I think a lot. Businesses probably don’t do. And that is doing client interviews. So talk about what the value of doing client interviews is, how do you do ’em?
Who do you select? Yeah,
Jen: when doing a strategy first a program, but Ian, I’m gonna back up a little bit because I think that one of the reasons why marketing sometimes, in the tech world, for sure, we get called arts and crafts department some other companies, feel that they can run without marketing, without a marketing strategy, or just do a few things.
And I think sometimes us as marketers, we forget to. Let the company know the marketing strategy is built off the business strategy. What does the company wanna do this year? And then once understanding that, then we can make sure that the marketing strategy aligns where the business is trying to go.
We’re not off here in a silo. So I think that’s very important to understand too. We’re not just gonna, okay. Create a marketing strategy for you. We first had to have to understand what’s going on with the business the good, the bad, what you can share with us. And then we can build a strategy that supports that.
So that’s how you can really get the marketing integrated into the company’s thinking. So
Ken: before you answer the question that I ask you about interviews, What happens if a business has not done business strategy?
Jen: Yeah. That’s a bigger issue, right? so
Ken: maybe that’s the topic for
Jen: another podcast.
Yeah. Sometimes you find that out, you find that out okay, there’s really no business strategy. Okay. Then where do you wanna go? What are you trying to do? Where’s your competition, you can back into it, but then that get, that gets us on thin. As well, being in marketing, you’re not responsible for, where’s your company going? That’s not our responsibility. That’s not, that’s not what we’re here to help you do, but yeah. Oftentimes we can run into that that kind of problem, for sure. For sure. Yeah. My, my experience that could be another podcast.
Ken: Yeah. My experience is that sometimes the marketing strategy helps to clarify the business strategy and what it could even be. So again I think this is a topic we’re gonna have to explore, in another podcast but but yeah. Anyway I was just curious when you mentioned that, cause it’s made me think it’s okay, Usually
Yeah. Alright cool. Yeah, we’ve had that happen a few times, but let’s see though those stories for the other podcast, for sure. So the importance, if we follow the strategy first process one of the things. Is the client interviews. The purpose of the client interviews is if I can just back out, into, to messaging a little bit, how do you come up with, or I’m sure any of you listening could point to either your own industry or other company industries you work with and maybe the messaging or the tagline.
You could, strip away a company’s logo and intersperse anybody’s tagline or anybody’s messaging with anyone else in that industry. That’s the problem that we’re trying to avoid. What we’re trying to do is get to messaging that is very clear about your company, the value you deliver. How you’re different and not only just, coming up with something great to say, but also to make sure that is backed up by really how your company operates.
So that’s the way that, you can get rid of any kind of marketing fluffy message and go, yeah, this is really who we are. All your employees, all your, your team members within the company is like this, yeah, this is us. This is how we operate. And you can really get behind it. One of the ways to do that, it’s great to talk about, okay, what are we good at?
What are we bad at? What do we wanna be? We’re number one, we taste the best, whatever, right? You can come up with all kinds of messaging. If you lock everybody in the organization and in a room to come up with, what’s great about us, but. You talk about not doing things in a vacuum that, that would be that would be a mistake where the customer interviews come into play is that you have a customer who has been with you, let’s say any length of time.
Who is able to let you know why they’ve been, why they’ve been with you, what they see is your difference, why they stay with you. And we come up against this sometimes where the, our client will say, oh, we’ve done customer interviews. We’ve got some testimonials, this, that, whatever, the difference with customer the client interviews.
That we do. And within the process that we follow is that it’s a third party. It’s us, it’s our team going to your clients to ask a set. In our case, we have the 10 questions which are very open ended. You can’t answer them with yes or no. And it really tries to get to the heart of the matter of like, why are you staying with this client?
What are they doing? That’s so good. Where can they improve? What efforts attracted you to them? What are they doing? Different from other, other competitors that you have tried. And part of the difference is there’s those kind of questions being asked. The other thing is and it must be a human thing that we’re willing to spill our guts to a third party or a stranger, cuz we’ve heard things good and bad that the clients have never said to their own, their own.
I guess their customers have never said to their own client either they haven’t been asked, they haven’t thought about it that way or they. Like they just thought they knew and we’ll come back from client interviews with differentiated messaging. We’ll also come back with some things that are very surprising and surprising in a good way.
Some of the negative things that have come back the clients already that, oh, we should improve on that or, oh, that’s an easy fix. Some things have been a little, Ooh, I didn’t know we were doing that. But some of the most interesting things that we find from client interviews is that the way the company is operating the business, the way that they’re following up with them, the way that they’re invoicing, the way that they’re doing the deliveries, some of them mundane things that the company may think isn’t that just business as normal, that’s your differentiation and you, would’ve never known that.
Had you not got us to do the client interviews for you and asked the customers what they’re really valuing. yeah, sure. You taste great, but it’s the, it’s your delivery that really makes me stay with you. Yeah, sure. You’re the best here, but it’s really the way, I have to call in to you.
To Susie once a week to fix this or that. And she’s always so pleasant, so it’s getting under the hood and really understanding from your customer’s point of view, what is making you different? And then what we do with that information, first of all, obviously we talk to the client and share that with them.
And then that’s where we start to message. Or take that information and make that into the messaging. So that becomes your tagline. That becomes the first couple of sentences on the homepage of the website that becomes further blown out in, a lot of the messaging that goes to describe the products or the services.
And that’s how your company ends up sounding different. And everybody in the company can get behind how we are positioning ourselves, because that’s what we do every day. That’s how we do it. That’s those are client interviews and that’s why it’s so important. Last thing you said here, who do you select?
So we often in introducing this concept to our clients sometimes they’ll have, oh, go talk to these top three people. So we have always. Picked or have always asked for, the, like the client to, to provide us with this information and then to introduce us to the client to make sure everything’s on the up and okay.
Some clients have chosen to, give us some customers to interview who. We’re not happy with the service and I have to, kudos to them. It takes guts to do that for sure. But we we wanna work in tandem with our clients to say, who would be, the top five. We would like love to go for 10 cuz then you get, a good sample size, but we have the clients choose first.
Ken: Okay. All right. Paul Ian mentioned a little bit about competitive analysis. But I’d like for you to dig into it a little bit more, how important is it to identify the top competitors and really discover, what are they doing well, but also to identify those opportunities for a business and what kinds of things do you look at for that?
Paul: It’s extremely important. Ian said it, nothing exists in a bubble and you do have competition. And a lot of people don’t realize you, you have online competition and you have offline competition and it may be the same companies or it may not be. And you need to know that. And from an online perspective, you have to know.
How you compare to your competition because if you have a competitor that has been around for a long time has built up domain authority and the expertise, authority trust as Google calls it, you might have a lot of work to do. You’re gonna have a lot of work to do if you want to outran them on some important concepts.
Google has gone away from the idea of keywords. Not that they’re not used. Google looks more concepts, but you have to know what you’re up against basically. And if you have a competitor and going back to the content part of it, a lot of times this doesn’t get done because it takes time and it takes money, but your content really.
To follow the customer journey. You need to have content for every part of the customer journey. And that takes time. And if you have a competitor that is doing that really well, then if you want to outran them, you’re gonna have to do that. Or you’re just never gonna outran them. And. You can look at your competitors and say, look at what they are doing well, and then you don’t want to copy your competitors, but you can say, okay, this is what they’re doing.
And this is how they’re ranking. So this is what we need to do.
Ken: You brought up a great point, which is, looking at both online and offline, I’m sure you guys all have experienced this, whenever we ask a client of ours, who’s the top competitor in your market.
Nine times outta 10, they don’t tell us the top ranking company. They tell us the company that’s the pain in their butt. That’s a thorn in their side. They see their trucks everywhere. They do this. They do that, but you do need to look at both dimensions, because if you are trying to win.
The online battle in the rankings. You’ve gotta look at the competitive analysis to see who’s out ranking you. And that may or may not be the company that first comes to mind. Maybe it’s because the delivery model is similar or something like that. And so there are certainly nuances that you have to take into account, but but yeah it, I’m constantly amazed, when I hear my, the competitor list and then I go research and look online, they rarely line.
so Ian Jen talked about this a little bit having a clear message and focusing on the problems you solve for a client customer, patient, whatever you might call them, in your industry is super important. So much so that you and I wrote a book about this, right? Why don’t more businesses do this.
And what is, what do you think is one of the best ways, if not the best way to CLE create a clear message for a business.
Ian: Yeah. So let’s unpack this a bit. There was this combo question in there about having a clear message and also solving problems. Having clear message is so vital.
Jen talked about this it’s the only way to truly differentiate yourself in the marketplace is to have a clear core difference. And Jen, you did a great job explaining how interviews can be a really important part of that. But you have to have that. If you don’t, then everybody will look the same and your customers will only be able to compare you on price, which you never want them to do, or on something even flimsier than price, maybe the color of your.
Like or something. So it’s you never know. You need to have a clear core difference. I would probably say, and this is not statistically accurate, so please take it as such, but I would say 90% of businesses out there, especially small I’m talking small business small to medium sized businesses do not have a clear core difference.
When we do competitive analysis, when we do, comparing one client’s website to another client’s website and looking at their core competitive set everybody looks the same, everybody’s saying the same things. So it’s really important. The other thing you asked was, you mentioned communicating how you solve a customer’s problem and that’s huge, and that aligns with so many parts of your marketing strategy.
It aligns with, who you’re trying to attract because they ask specific types of questions related to their specific types of problems. It aligns with SEO because when they ask those things, they’re Googling them. That’s just the first place you ask. Yeah. So it’s really important to, first of all, understand.
What your customer’s pain points and problems are so that you can express those back to them with solutions. Here’s the, here’s your challenge customer. And here’s how we solve this particular challenge with our expertise and our follow through and empathy. Like the cool thing about, showing how you solve problems is that you’re empathetic to their problems.
And right there, you’re bridging a gap with another person. Yeah. The second reason I think you need to do that again is just it’s that vital connection between you trying to get it in front of Google when somebody’s asking that question. So you, you need to have that outlined very clearly on your website about, BA basically you’re trying to say when somebody asks this question, Google, here’s my answer.
You can pop up in the rankings and that sometimes that’s very easy to do, depending on your competitive set your landscape. Sometimes that’s a challenge and you’re gonna have to work towards that. Your last question was why don’t more businesses do this? I think the number one reason is they don’t do strategy first.
They just, I’ve talked to so many business owners who just want to they just want the result. And that reminds me, I just have to share this story cuz first of all, it’s cute, but it’s actually very, to me it’s very profound. One Christmas, my youngest daughter asked for a. She wanted a guitar.
We got her one of those kid size guitars with flowers all over it. It came, what we loved about it is it came with a DVD. This is back when DVDs were a thing, came with a DVD set so that she could learn how to play the guitar. And so after, Weeks months of this guitar not being played. I asked her, I said what’s the problem?
Do we need to enroll you in a course or something? And she just looked at me with a straight face and said, dad, I don’t wanna learn guitar. I just want to be able to play guitar. So I think a lot of people like that’s a nice innocent kid’s view of the world where they just want the result.
They just want the skill without the work. And that’s true in marketing too, you have to create the strategy to get the results. A lot of people think they can just luck into it or copy exactly what their competitors are doing. and that doesn’t work. That’s been proven time and time again unless you know that your competitor’s doing everything right, you might be on the fast track to, to outpace them to the bottom.
For all, because you’re following them. Yeah. And the last kind of reason so those two things the, they don’t put strategy first. The second is they don’t have the internal expertise to do that task. It takes an experienced marketer to really look at a business, look at the comp competitive landscape and say and listen to interviewers and be able to ask them in a particular way, in order to draw.
What really makes you different and how do you solve problems differently than your competitors? Yeah. And that’s where market consultants can come. . Yeah.
Ken: Yeah. I love the story brand framework. I think it’s just incredibly powerful. And one of the things that you mentioned, the empathy, obviously having authority as well is important, one of the key things and this is a really subtle thing, but it’s incredibly important and that is the internal.
Problem that people have, problems are multidimensional, there’s internal, external, and philosophical. So the easiest example I can always think of is, I’ve got a toothache. Okay. My tooth pain is my external problem. My internal problem might be, I’m scared to go to the dentist.
It hurts when I go to the dentist always has poor bedside manner or chair manner or whatever you call it. And then the philosophical thing is it’s 2022. It shouldn’t be that hard to experience a Stressless painless dental experience. Where
Ian: are those nanobots when we need them hang?
Ken: The reason that I buy and the reason that I select the dentist that I do is if I find a dentist who answers my internal problem, that’s where I’m gonna go. So the internal problem is absolutely critical and I think StoryBrand does the best. Way to encapsulate that and formulate, help you formulate that and realize the power of internal, because that internal is external is what they search internal is why they buy at least that’s my, oversimplification, but it’s a really important distinction, so well, and
Ian: I love that too, Ken, because it’s the whole story brand model is about how.
Do you as a business, become the guide to the person. Yeah. And bring them into the story. Like how do you make the story about them? Yeah. And through pain points, that’s that’s a pro solving people’s problems. That’s how you bring them into your, their story. It’s
Ken: not your story as the market, as they, as the company selling your products and service, your hero is the, he is, your customer is the hero I should say.
Paul: So it should have a banner on their website that says we have the good drugs. You won’t feel a thing.
Ken: Jen let’s let’s talk about Marketing concept called personas. Can you explain what they are, why they’re used and how to create ’em and I guess, I don’t know, maybe I just have this intrinsic problem of asking Five questions bundled together in one .
Jen: That’s all
Ian: good. I hadn’t noticed Ken
Jen: no, it’s good.
Absolutely. Oh, okay. Marketing personas. So personas. How do I, so I’m just thinking of different ways to explain this here. Your persona it’s first of all, it’s internal to your organization. It is. What would be a good way to at caricature? Maybe that’s the wrong way to say it. It’s I’m just trying to not use marketing speak as I explain this.
So it’s your ideal customer and really understanding what is he or she. Responsible for what their pain is, what’s important to them what is going to solve their problem with your product or service. And may, maybe I could just talk this through in a scenario that we often deal with.
So we do a lot of work with B2B software, B2B tech so business to business. So this is the kind of Software that might be powering the, the cash registers at your grocery store that kind of is software that helps businesses do their own business. So sometimes B2B is invisible but within business to business and this could apply to consumer as well, any kind of larger sale.
There is multiple decision makers and multiple influencers. And what we mean by that is it’s not just, you just don’t have to convince one person to buy to buy your software. There’s a few different people involved and they have a few different things that are important to them. So for example you’ve got the end user who’s actually gonna be using the software.
Are they able to use it? It doesn’t work with their workflow. You’ve always got a finance. Person who’s interested in like, how much does this cost, what’s this gonna cost over the lifetime value? What do we have to, what do we have to pay to improve? Are our subscriptions locked in for the next, X amount of years, that kind of thing.
You have the operations. Person typically understanding is this the right software to bring into the workflow in the whole entire organization. Nevermind, Bob or Sue that has to actually be on the end computer using it. But organizationally does this fit into the whole operations of the way we’re doing it.
And then you’ve got the tech people going, do the, ones and zeros line up. Is this a security. Gives this the best option. And so in that example, you have a few different people who have the chance to say yes or no to bringing in this software, to the company. And they all have different things that are important to them, and it’s not only important to them.
It’s what they’re responsible for in the organization. So the finance I always call ’em a guy. It could be a gal finance person, is interested in how much is this gonna cost? What’s the value in here? Like numbers dollars and cents. If you’re talking about the use of it or how great the interface is, I’m sure that person is not gonna care about that.
They’re gonna care about what is the financial implication of us buying this software. And so in this scenario, you have a bunch of different buyers. You have a bunch of different people that can green light and say yes to this purchase and you need them all to align. And so how do you make sure you’re thinking about all these different people as you’re creating your.
Your marketing content for them. So what you would do is you would have all these different people as different personas. So for the finance persona, this person is very interested and very responsible for the company’s money. How do we show the financial implications of buying this software that it’s the best use for the operational person?
How do we produce content that shows we implemented this software in, several different workflows and here’s how either easy it is or here’s someone. Problems you’re gonna have to face. And in, in, in the marketing content, talking about problems before they arise is, a great way to build trust as well.
Cuz everything’s not a silver bullet, unfortunately, right? To your end user, are you speaking in a way that makes sense to the end user? And they can even understand their concerns about putting this software into their, their daily activity. So without understanding those different personas and what those different buyers have as a priority in order to.
Them be able to say yes to your product. You’re just gonna be talking about how great it is and that’s not gonna land with any of them. Yeah. So the personas help us as marketers focus in on okay. To, to this person what’s important to them. What can we pull out of our product or service that answers their concern in order to get a green light from.
Ken: Yeah. Even where the content is or the level of depth of the content. So a high level executive they need to have a, an executive summary, the technical people who are gonna, the one, the zeros and ones kind of people, they may need to have a detailed. Case study with, all kinds of things laid out and the way you reach those people.
Some people might be on on forums. Some people might be on LinkedIn. You might get to some people through the magazines that they’re reading. So if they’re in world of finance, maybe there’s a subscription that they’re a member of or an association that they’re a part of. So it’s really, yeah.
It really is just a way to help you organize. How do you get your content to the right people in the places that they’re already naturally at? It’s the way
Jen: I’ve always looked at it. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. At the level that they need with the, with the detail or non detail that they need enough to yeah.
To make the decision to say yes.
Ken: Yeah. Paul, I know we’re all big believers in creating systems. Last week, we talked about marketing budgets and the fact that businesses don’t even really know that they should have a marketing system. So how would you describe a marketing system? What is it. Okay.
Paul: Yeah they may not even know that there is such a thing as a marketing system cuz in a lot of small businesses it’s well I mailed out some postcards. That’s my marketing and I’m not making fun of anybody. It’s just, that’s just the reality in a lot of small businesses. And so I guess the best way to describe it is it’s a repeatable process for.
Getting in front of pros, prospects and developing those relationships and maximizing lifetime value of your product or service. So if you break it down, there’s different stages. So first of all, you have to. Make people aware that you exist. They have to know you exist or you’re, they’re not gonna become a customer.
So you have that initial stage. That’s what we call the very top of the funnel. And then you have to engage them somehow. Maybe that’s an offer. We call it a lead magnet a way to, to get them to engage with you and then maybe have a try offer. Maybe that’s it’s very low cost. Maybe it’s free.
and then you have to, once you get them to try and purchase a product or service, a lot of times that’s where it ends, but it has to go beyond that. Now you have to engage with them after the sale and develop that long term client relationships, or that’s very high level, very basic overview of what a marketing system is.
And there, there’s some companies that. Do this really good. My sister bought a KitchenAid stand mixer and they were very good after the sale about saying, Hey, they would send recipes and tips and how to do it. And they’d say, Hey, by the way, did you know that it’s not just a stand mixer?
We have all these accessories. We have a pasta cutter that it’ll yeah. Cut in all these different kinds of past. We have
Ian: a, which is awesome. Yeah. We have a sausage
Paul: attachment. You can make your own sausages. That’s never gonna happen. I’m sure.
Ian: But they were very
Paul: good about that. And some companies do that very well and some companies do it poorly and some companies don’t do it at. And it’s, but that is the most overlooked part. And when we talk, automation can help you with these things. I guarantee you, there wasn’t someone at kitchen aid sitting down on a weekly basis, or however often it happened sending her these emails.
They had an automated system in place that did this for them. And automation is a part of that marketing system and it has to be. You’re probably not gonna be able to set something like that up yourself, which is why you’re probably gonna need a marketing agency to, to help you get these things in place.
But it, I don’t know if that was oversimplified or if I went down to the weeds, but that’s
Ken: well it’s a it’s a tough question because really it’s a series of software processes. Message discipline, budgeting, all of those things wrapped up into one. I think the key thing is, you, the best way to get the most out of and really build a marketing system is to start with strategy first, because otherwise you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna get these force amplifiers.
You mentioned postcards. If you don’t, if you’re doing postcards, To an area that you’re also running Google ads in guess what? You’re getting an amplification effect and you’re do. And hopefully you’re doing that by design, not just Willy nilly or accidentally to borrow Ian’s word earlier.
Ian: And you should be able to
Paul: track those postcards with tracking number,
Ian: Yeah, specific
Ken: URLs and all of that is all of that requires a marketing system.
And, it requires it’s it. You have to design it, you have to optimize it. You have to set it up specific for who your ideal customers are, where they’re spending time online. What’s important to them. What problems do they have? What What’s their life, like after you transform them from the state they’re in where they have the problem to the after state, that trans marketing is all about transformation.
Paul: Yeah. And pretty much everything I talked about was external if you will, because there’s the internal process, what happens. And there’s a lot of companies that have problems with this as well, and software can’t solve an internal problem. What happens once. A potential customer contacts you or engages with you.
How is that handled internally? A lot of times things fall through the cracks, or it gets passed from one person to another and this person doesn’t know what the other person did. And that re relates to a bad customer experience.
Ian: Oh, go ahead. Yeah, I was just gonna add I to me, the system, you could almost take all of the technology, like just to highly simplify the conversation. You could take all the technology discussion out of this and still have a marketing system in that to me your strategic marketing plan is about it’s.
It’s like a roadmap. You have these goals, you want to achieve these goals. It tells you how to get. By using a lot of intelligence, the, that we’ve all talked about today about com competition and interviews and all of that kind of stuff. But then I would say the system is the engine. It’s the vehicle, it’s the car.
And it’s how all of those things that you need to do in order to get you to your destination are going to work together in order to get you there. And those can be as simple as. Bob in the office is going to send a thank you note to the customer after they land. That can be part of your system.
It doesn’t have to be automation, although that could be automated. But it’s just, how are you going to get yourself to that goal? And what’s the vehicle to meet? That’s the highly simplified explanation. Keeps it simple in my simple mind. So yeah.
Ken: So speaking of simplicity, Ian, I’m gonna go easy on you and I’m gonna ask you what we, just
Ian: one question one,
Ken: just one question.
How do you map out the customer journey? What’s the best way to do that?
Ian: Yeah. Yeah. I love it too. That at least you asked me one question, but it is not a simple question, everybody so I’ll try to keep it simple the best. So there’s many models to map out a buyer’s journey. And just so everybody understands what this is, once we’ve defined who our ideal customers are we then.
Understand, you know that these, everybody goes through a journey in buying a product or a service. We all do. We have to know a company like it, trust it, try it, buy it, and then repeat and refer. And so the traditional. Sales funnel is those first things up to the buy decision. But the best model I’ve come across and we’re all familiar with it because it came out of it was developed by John Jans from duct tape marketing is called the marketing hourglass.
So it, it includes all of those. Imagine sand at the top of the hourglass funneling through this, but at each stage you need to make it easy for the person to pass through those stages. In fact, you need to make it so that you are providing them with the information or the intelligence, whatever they need in order to move themselves through that process, because it is a move, the.
Through that process. They, you can’t force somebody to buy from you. And if you coerce someone, they’re not gonna be the repeat and refer process will go horribly bad for you. So I really liked Jen’s Jen talking about creating those green lights for the different personas. Within a business.
I think that’s equally true with the buyer’s journey. Is that what you’re trying to do is alleviate any gates or barriers to them, purchasing from you and giving them the incentives. The I information, the help. Being that guide to that hero to guide them through that post process. And it’s about helping them make micro decisions.
So when you as an example, I’ll use a real life example. Somebody’s searching for something. How about a dentist? I’m searching for a dentist in my area. I Google it. An ad pops up, probably three ads pop up as well as maps and organic listings. I click on those. I get to a landing page. It provides me with perhaps a an information sheet or a guide in how to choose a dentist.
I download the guide. So I’m going through the process. No and trust right there, because of those micro decisions I’m making. And then ultimately there’s a try decision. It might just be getting on the phone with a real person to learn or watching a video of the dentist so that you really understand who they are before you buy.
And then yeah, it’s the buy decision. So it’s really about those micro decisions and how a business can effectively. Just make that an easy process for the buyer and
Paul: Google calls, those micro moments. It’s a real thing. Yeah.
Ian: It’s yeah. And the last thing I would say is that you at each stage, the buyer has different needs, right? And you, as the business needs to understand what is it they need, where are they looking for that information? What can I do? What can I create? What can I provide in order to help them at each of those phases? Because different, they’re looking in different places at different times.
So there’s lots involved there, but that’s as simple, a way as I can describe it. But maybe you guys have a simpler way that I don’t know.
Ken: I think again I just mentioned it, but I can’t stress this enough marketing is ultimately about transformation. People have a problem and they want to move away from that problem state to another desired state or avoid a bad, or avoid a bad, a worse state.
Yeah. And so the buyer’s journey is, all about how you can help guide them. Through that process and make it as frictionless as possible. And where you, and that may include, like Ian said, showing them that you are the guide, you have the plan, you know how to get them, to, to the promised land basically.
And yeah, I think it’s I think you did a good job there,
Jen: Ian. I think you did a good job too. And I think it’s important that when we talk about the hero’s journey as into, it’s not always smooth and the responsibility of you being a guide or your company being a guide is, watch out for this pothole or if that decision is made this’ll happen.
And I think sometimes. Some of the marketing messaging can get to, perfect and, just buy this and it is a silver bullet. I think oftentimes if we really think about educating the customer we’re trying to tell ’em, what not to expect or, the potholes to is, or the wrong decisions.
If you go down that, or don’t expect too much from this decision, because you need it paired with that. I think some of the, the what do you call it? The real. Can can be so helpful in order to guide that hero, if you really want them to make that successful journey and to build trust with you along the way.
Just think in real life, the advice that you treasure a lot, isn’t everything’s gonna be fine. It’s oh here’s some of the bad stuff that happened. Don’t go hear it. So it’s the same.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. And now more than ever. The customer has control over the buyer’s journey.
All we can do change your own adventure, right? Yeah. All we can do is try to make it as frictionless and as easy as possible. As marketers, Jen we’ve, we’ve talked a lot about all of the things that we do to craft this strategy. The last thing is, once you have your strategy, You need to act on it.
So how do you go about prioritizing what should be done first after you’ve laid out your strategy to try to capitalize on it?
Jen: Yeah. And that’s not one of the tough things about, I think the word strategy comes with a lot of budget lives. I was gonna say a lot of budget. I wish, a lot of baggage and meaning that anytime somebody hears the word strategy.
Think just oh my God, it’s gonna take nine months, then nothing’s gonna happen. So if you have your strategy out there, what can you do? You have to lay it out. Speaking from a marketing consultant point of view, you gotta lay it out in the most effective way possible. You can’t run out the door too quick and trip over yourself, but also too, you have to understand the client is expecting either for right or for wrong something to happen.
Like almost tomorrow. So it’s gotta be the way that you map it out to see, okay, what do we need to do? What’s gonna take a long time, gonna be a bit of a slow burn, kinda like SEO. What can we get going quickly to start showing the clients some quick wins? And so it’s important to map that out.
And then it’s also important to communicate that to the client. So they do. Understand that. Okay. This will take a long time. This part here can be done next week and away we go. And that’s so important to communicate. And as well as the strategy gets moved into action, there has to be something. There has to be some something to be given to.
There’s a fact of there’s some activities that count. Towards getting to your end goal. And those activities do count as putting things into action. So getting the right team on board, getting everybody up to speed, getting the right introductions, getting the passwords done, like some of that, minutia and mundane things.
That’s gotta set things off on the right way.
Ken: Yeah I think you’ve gotta have both activity and results. Things that you’re putting in place, part of good marketing is you’re just doing a certain set of activities on a regular cadence. To achieve like search engine optimization improvements and things like that.
In other cases, you very much need to be measuring. If I’m making this investment. Now it’s generating X return for me right away, where as fast as possible. So I always try to look at a couple of those different. The things from those two dimensions. One of the things we’ve actually started to do is do a marketing asset inventory because, and I we’re as guilty of this as anybody, maybe even more because we do this all the time, we build a lot of half built stuff.
That we never launched that we never fully take advantage of. We write eBooks, we do this podcast. We we do a variety of things, I think it’s really important when you’re going through this strategy. To look and see what I, what assets do you have? Were they good? Did they work really well?
Two years ago? And you just didn’t redo it. Maybe it’s time to bring that back and relaunch it. Maybe you did a video. You got a video testimonial from a client. Maybe you never put that on your YouTube channel, maybe you never shared it on your social media. So looking at those low hanging fruit and and a lot of times those can turn into pretty fast cash opportunities, and so I think a marketing asset inventory. An assessment, to look at the good things that you did the assets that you already have, what can you reuse? What can you easily finish off to launch and get going quickly? Can be a really powerful thing. I don’t know what your guys’ experience is with that, but
Ian: I couldn’t agree more.
Okay, cool. Yeah it uncovers low hanging fruit. Refreshing old content is way faster and less expensive than producing brand new content. But in order to do that, you have to know what you have first, so yeah. Can agree more and that’s a great point.
Ken: Cool. We’ve been at this for almost an hour and I knew this was gonna be a really rich topic.
This is something, obviously we all care a lot about. Do you guys have any last thoughts or words that you guys wanna share on the topic?
Ian: Okay. Not really. I, all I would say is that if you have a strategy a well thought out marketing strategy it will get you to your goals much faster, cheaper. And it will also give you a much higher return on investment than you’re ever gonna expect. It’s it seems like a cost and a delay at the beginning of the process, but it will make everything better.
Immediately after that. So take the time, invest well and the results will pay for themselves.
Ken: That’s not
Jen: true, actually. So yeah. Can I just jump in there? Sure. Yeah, I was gonna say to avoid feeling like why isn’t my marketing working you need the strategy thought out. you really do.
Ken: Yeah. Jen, you mentioned earlier, when you were talking about the personas in the, in the B2B software company you can if you didn’t know all of the different players that had to be involved in the decisions, you might think, okay everybody’s on Facebook, so I’m gonna run Facebook ads.
You didn’t really think through who all of the players are and where they’re spending time online. Yeah. You probably wasted a lot of money on a marketing strategy or advertising strategy in this case that maybe didn’t have the greatest chance for success. So strategy is really important. Yep.
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