Sorry, there is no silver bullet

Sorry, there is no silver bullet

I was on the phone with a friend of mine this week who was frustrated because one of her clients was pulling all their money out of one medium, to sink it into another.  I wonder when businesses will finally get it that there isn’t a silver bullet, single item that will market them to success. What works is the mix…and although it’s frustrating to realize that you have to juggle several balls at once these days for marketing to stick, it’s what you have to do.

It’s really not that hard, and it doesn’t take as much time as you think. People often ask me how I can come up with a good blend of marketing channels so quickly. Well, part of it is just experience . But another part is a quick rundown I do when I’m working with, or pitching a client. You can do the same thing if you’re educated about your business.

1. First, I find out about the target audience. After they tell me “It’s everyone aged 8-80! Everyone loves our product/service/etc”   I remind them that reaching this target market would probably require a billion gajillion dollars. So…who buys their product most often? Where do they live? Boil it down into a quick description of a couple of target segments, something like this:

“Moms, aged 28-45, who live in the Minnetonka area, work part-time or stay at home and like crafts. They like Facebook, Pinterest and 50 Shades of Grey (or is it Gray?)”

2. Then, I ask about the competition. After they respond “We are so unique and wonderful we have no competition” I remind them that everyone has competition even if they’re trying to decide whether to buy 5 pairs of Uggs or a make an extra mortgage  payment that year. Eventually we get to at least a couple of competitors.  I  find out where they’re advertising, which social media networks they use, how much time they spend on public relations (and whether they have a publicist or dedicated resource) and what they’re doing on their website and elsewhere in terms of content marketing. If your competition has been using a particular marketing channel for a while, then it’s probably working for them and you should be there too.

3. Then we talk budget. That’s probably the hardest part. You have to figure out how to apportion the pie. The great thing is you can change that mix every three months. Pick all the channels your audience uses, add the ones you’ve found from your competition, evaluate your website and then decide which ones you can afford and  how much to invest in each area. Don’t spend all your money in one area and then move onto the next. It’s okay to have something use the lion’s share, but make sure the other pieces feed off of it.  And you don’t have to have a ton of money. You can decide to spend $100 on Facebook advertising and another $50 on a guy with a sandwich board sign who stands on the corner once a week. Just make sure your Facebook stuff is on the board.

4. Now, you’ve got to understand what’s working and what’s not. Just because something isn’t bringing in customers doesn’t mean it’s not working. For example, say you decided to advertise in the community newspaper. You may not have had many calls but maybe your website traffic increased XX percent. Well, that tells me the problem is not the paper, it’s the website. Understand what “conversions” are on the way to a sale and measure THOSE.

5. Finally, have patience. Set up your marketing system and forget about it. Then review it every three months and adjust as necessary. Reduce expenditure in one area and add it to another, but never stop something outright unless a) it’s really expensive (and there you went, listening to the salesperson again) or b) something about it turned you off. Perhaps a new DJ made nasty comments on the radio station you’re advertising, or an online website didn’t give you the number of impressions they promised. Try a similar channel so you don’t lose all your momentum.

I just realized I could provide more detail in 2-3 posts about each of these bullets. Since I am lazy and have trouble coming up with new ideas, that’s what I will do.  Let me know if there are specific questions you want addressed!