One of the most common conversations I have with business owners and leaders is around what kind of marketing they need. Some know exactly what they want. Some think they know exactly what they need. Some mention random tactics that are the buzzwords du jour. And some ask me what they should do within five minutes of us starting our conversation.
Before I answer their question or agree with what they are asking for support on, I ask them what is their goal. Where are they in their business? This is the crucial starting point for any conversation. There are many frameworks for this approach – most notably a sales or marketing funnel. A similar parallel in social media is the know-like-trust strategy. The main point of this thinking is to have an understanding on the audience you’re trying to reach, what information they are seeking, and the tactics that resonate with that target. Too often people jump to the “most effective tactics” and don’t understand why they are not achieving their goal of acquiring new leads, converting the leads, or retaining current customers.
Create awareness by starting with the middle of the funnel
Let’s say you’re about to launch a new product, service, or company. Where should you start with your marketing? Conventional wisdom says at the very top of the funnel – creating awareness around the thing you’re launching. Strategically that’s correct, but how do you generate awareness for something new?
One tactic is to start in the middle of the funnel – think about the type of content and marketing tactics that generate interest or likes. If your brand identity is fun, then use fun imagery and copy. If you’re trying to position yourself as a thought leader, than use informative infographics and copy.
The main difference is that you need to bring awareness to the brand / company name or the product or product category. So unlike in the middle of the funnel, you need to make sure whatever you’re launching is at the forefront of your communications. Plus, you’ll want to keep the information simpler and shorter.
For example, let’s say you have a new fruit jam company called Organic Jams. When creating top of the funnel tactics, the three things you should to include are: Organic Jams (company name), logo (visual identity), and one differentiating factor from competitors (direct or indirect). To find that differentiating factor, you can work on the middle of the funnel tactics – the blog post, sales brochure, etc. – which describes in greater detail how your jams are made, the unique flavors, the farmers you work with, or whatever else is part of your brand story. Sometimes it is easier to start with the long-form tactic to find a succinct description.
Continue past the bottom of the funnel
The traditional bottom of the funnel is reengagement, retention, or upselling. It’s also the trust point where you hope your loyal followers promote you to their own networks. You can continue to refine your communications even further whether it is heavily targeting high-value customers or by consciously choosing to ignore low-value customers.
Wait, ignore an existing customer? Not every customer is worth retaining. That’s a hard concept, especially for a small or micro business, to accept. However, if you are putting more resources into retaining or upselling that customer than sales you’re getting in return then their value is negative. I mention resources because it is not always a dollar amount you’re investing, but if you find yourself spending more time on account management / customer service than other customers or clients, that translates into time that could be used more efficiently.
One example that exemplifies the “ignore a customer group” is the world of GroupOn and Living Social deals. They were thought to be an easy way to reach new potential customers. While the deals may have brought new customers into your business, many of these people were deal hoppers or people who valued your service at the deal price and not your standard price. Business owners often tried to retain these customers, but ultimately realized that the effort didn’t match the reward.
Define your goal before starting the process
Before you develop a marketing strategy which of course comes before tactical execution, you should establish your goal. Your goal should be specific to what business stage you are at. There is a reason processes and frameworks become commonplace; they work. So remember awareness – interest – action – reengagement and know – like – trust when thinking about your marketing goals.