The notion that there is a marketing secret or simple marketing trick is bogus. Anyone else tired of getting bombarded with click-bait style ads, articles and videos like “The Marketing Secret to Growing a 7-Figure Business?” I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” but have you ever given it thought in the context of your business? Walk away from the free download. Here’s how to develop a digital marketing strategy that is both custom and proven.
First, we believe in marketing and the process each unique brand has to go through to unlock a budding marketing plan that works for them. However, please remember that cutting corners with your marketing process is dangerous at best. In a recent blog post, 5 Essential, Misguided Steps to Digital Marketing Success, AEDC Founder Nick Alter touched on the real work that goes into successful marketing. Nowhere in that piece did we provide a magic charm or product that guarantees your profits will skyrocket. We do, however, talk about a process that involves research, testing, and intelligent evolution. Do you understand the industry, narrative, target audiences, proper platforms, conversion goals, and data needs (among other things) as they relate to your product(s)/service(s)? And this is just one of many questions that your brand needs to have answered in order to run an efficient, and statistically successful, marketing campaign, digital or otherwise.
Get Real About Your Product or Service
We get it, your business is your baby and you are fiercely protective of it. So, let us preface what we are about to say with this. What you have done is really impressive, and you should definitely take a minute to be proud of what you have accomplished so far! That being said, before shouting it from the rooftops — we suggest bringing in a more objective party to evaluate its potential and its pitfalls.
Nobody wants to hear that their great idea just might not have success, but it’s better to figure this out at this stage rather than spending $60K over a 12 month period to figure out the hard way that only 17 people in the world are really interested in your VHS/Toaster boombox.
When working with a client to develop a digital marketing strategy, we identify exactly what makes your product and service unique and why the world needs to hear about it. The future narrative must put those uniques of your product/service/organization front and center while minimizing or justifying any shortcomings. As an example, let’s look at the athleisure brand Tala.
Tala, a newcomer to an already crowded marketplace, has seen incredible growth and recognition in a short amount of time despite having to compete with the likes of Outdoor Voices and Lululemon. They saw the need for an alternative to “fast-fashion” brands; one that values both inclusivity and sustainability. They presented a product that is made from plastic bottles and factory offcuts, worn by models of all sizes and backgrounds. What’s more, Tala explains to their target audience why they do not offer sales and how the price is as low as possible to remain both a profitable and ethical business.
Point being, they did their research. They know what makes them unique, who their target market is and who they’re up against. They also have a strong reason to believe that what they have to offer, people want.
Know Who You’re Talking To
Once you know what makes your product or service uniquely better, begin to outline who needs it and why. Be as specific as possible. During our process, we develop a detailed consumer profile that includes a fake, yet realistic persona – including name, age, location, hobbies, habits, and brand loyalties. Knowing this person provides direction when developing your voice, deciding what social platforms to take up, and when building an ad audience on those appropriate social platforms. While you’re at it, take a few minutes to identify who your audience is not. In some situations, knowing who does not fit your target audience will protect you from wasting time and money reaching out to folks who have no interest in what you have to offer.
Bonus points: Identify a group of ~20 or so individuals that you would consider to fit your consumer profile and ask for their honest feedback about your product or service. The feedback you get from this focus group will better guide marketing efforts (what will attract people to your service or product) and find ways to improve your offering.
Tell A Great Story
Once you fully grasp what sets your product or service above all of the rest and why this particular group of people would need it, you’re ready to craft your narrative. At Alter Endeavors, we create something we like to call a Brand Strategy Guide to establish guidelines for both the written and visual aspects of a brand narrative. Our content team outlines the written voice while our Creative Services department does a fantastic job of conveying intent and emotion through design. To establish the parameters of a brand’s visual content, our Creative Services team creates a series of style scapes based on what we want our target audience to experience. The end result is a platform with copy and visuals that are cohesive rather than conflicting.
Once you have established the guidelines for your narrative, as the business owner you now have to assign the right folks to tell this story. Maybe you’re a great speaker, but you may not have the right chops for writing blogs, crafting newsletters or creating visually engaging graphics, and frankly, is that the best use of your time? No amount of research and strategy can make up for lackluster content, written or visual.
Evaluate the Messenger
An effective digital marketing strategy must speak to the customer journey from start to finish. No matter where folks first discover your brand, all roads will eventually lead them back to your website. Your website needs to be easy to find and easy to use across all devices and browsers, designed and built to drive site visitors to convert.
Beyond the website, we want to leave a lasting impression that encourages the user to continue the conversation by following the brand on social media or sharing an educational blog post with someone they feel will also benefit.
As digital marketers, it is our responsibility to:
- Evaluate your platform
- Identify the pain points that would cause a user to abandon the relationship
- Make changes to optimize your platform for conversions
This extends beyond your brand’s website and into social media and any other marketing channels used. If your product or service is solid, you have a great story that is front and center, and you’re not receiving the business or engagement that you expected — well, then it’s time to evaluate and pivot to an effective platform that lends itself to a winning strategy.
Clearly Define the Goal
If you’re not receiving the business that you expected, let’s first evaluate your expectations before flipping the narrative on its head or abandoning a platform. Oftentimes business owners change the narrative or marketing strategy because of how they feel rather than allowing real data to drive the decision-making process. And it certainly doesn’t help business owners make rational, informed decisions when every other YouTube or Facebook ad promises their one simple sales funnel trick will provide 50X or more return on your investment. That’s why they are selling their $50 Billion dollar idea to you for only $499/month, right?
We work alongside our clients to define key performance indicators [KPIs] that we both agree on. We set targets that are S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. This is a data-driven process that requires in-depth research and adequate time. There is no guarantee that the first marketing strategy we deploy will work. We can only promise that our initial marketing strategies are based on the hypothesis established from in-depth research we unpacked above. We also promise never to spend funds, man-power, or time on a strategy that continues to not to work. Instead, we analyze the data we collect and we pivot.
Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot
If you truly believe that your product or service is strong, your story is moving, your platform is top-notch, and your goals are S.M.A.R.T. and you’re still falling short — then it may be time to go to the drawing board. Running a small business is no easy feat and unfortunately, there is not always room for everyone in a marketplace.
Before throwing in the towel, if you haven’t spoken directly with your target audience, we strongly suggest doing so. This can be in the form of a focus group as mentioned above or even a short online survey with hard-hitting questions. The goal is to identify whether it’s disdain, confusion, or apathy that stops your audience from converting:
- Disdain calls for improved customer service and reputation management
- Confusion suggests that you should re-evaluate your story and platform
- Apathy points to your perceived uniqueness being less than
This feedback is crucial in order to inform next steps and what piece of your strategy needs work.
You Don’t Have to Go At It Alone
We covered a lot in this article, and we understand that it may seem overwhelming, expensive, and grueling to try and do everything we talked about here today, especially if you have never done something like this before. But the reality is, you don’t have to go at this alone. Our team at Alter Endeavors Digital Creative enjoys each step of the process and all of the creativity, content creation, problem-solving and data-analyzing it requires.
If you want a marketing team that will give you the honest truth and treat your brand like it’s our own — start a conversation.