Marketing makes business happen and is essential for growth. That’s why I make the time to thoroughly assess whether the marketing strategies I’m using are driving the results I want. I also love to test out new methods and uncover new opportunities. I’m convinced this one step provides you with the insight you need to ramp up your marketing efforts.
Recently I took a close look at where my customers have come from this year. For me there are five main marketing strategies that bring in business: internet marketing, social media, my books, speaking and referrals. With these strategies in mind, following is a brief summary of how my marketing plan will look over the next six months.
- Internet Marketing – This is working well for my business. I will continue to focus on search engine optimization for my websites, blogging and content marketing (with articles, podcast interviews, etc.). Because I know the internet is so important to my business, I am in the process of having each of my three websites redesigned and will be adding more blogging features to each of them.
- Social Media – Without a doubt, my activities on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have helped build brand recognition and a loyal following. Social media has also brought me some business and PR opportunities. Now I want to increase the number of leads generated through these channels. Moving forward, I will be adding focused marketing messages by sharing more promotional content and sales-related messages.
- Books – I write business and marketing books. This is not only a passion, but a powerful marketing tool for my business. With this in mind, I am embarking on some new publishing projects. As I write this, I’m in the process of going to press with a new book that I will use purely as a promotional tool to give away at events. I have also made it available in ebook format, and distribution has been excellent. I anticipate that this project will have a big impact on my business in the coming year.
- Speaking – I am among a small percentage of people who actually enjoy public speaking! Fortunately, this works to my advantage since speaking can be a great way to reach a large audience and make an impact. I have to balance this carefully because I also have a family and a life at home, so I am selective about the speaking engagements I accept. I carefully analyze each opportunity to make sure that the audience is appropriate for my business. Otherwise, I politely decline and refer someone else in my place.
- Referrals – I will admit that I often forget about the value of referrals. When a client comes to me via a recommendation from a mutual acquaintance, it is far easier to close that sale. A significant amount of my business this year has come from referrals, and I am making a concerted effort in the coming months to build relationships with people who can refer business my way. I also launched a referral program, where I reward referrals, and I’m in the process of getting the word out about that. This kind of marketing is slow because it requires building one relationship at a time. I am always careful about how I spend my time so my goal is to connect with at least one important contact each week.
Marketing That Hasn’t Worked for Me
I have also identified marketing efforts that haven’t been very effective for my business. For example, I no longer run phone book ads because I have an international clientele and a local phone book ad just can’t produce enough results to be worthwhile. My research also shows that most of my clients are turning to the internet to find services.
In the early years of my business, I spent a lot of time at networking events. This was an effective way to get known in my community, and I developed some great relationships as a result (which have led to many referral partners). But one currency that is too easy to spend is time, and because I have so many commitments and a goal to lead a balanced life, in-person networking events are something I don’t engage in much these days. As my internet marketing efforts accelerated, in-person networking became less important because I can do so much of that online. When I evaluate my ideal target audience, most aren’t found at local networking lunches. (However, for new businesses and many service-based businesses, networking can be a powerful marketing tool.)
The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years is that marketing plans will shift and change, just as your business shifts and changes. What worked five years ago doesn’t necessarily work today. That’s why it’s essential that we pay close attention and take the time to evaluate marketing strategies several times per year. If something isn’t working, move onto something more effective. It may make all the difference.