Becoming a marketing master

June 2, 2015

Becoming a marketing masterYou don’t have to be a good writer or have a mind for marketing to set a goal of becoming a marketing master. You just have to be willing to do the hard work of learning how to do it and practicing it regularly.

There’s a huge body of research that has studied how people who are at the top of their game got there. Many people assume these superstars had a wealth of natural talent that gave them a huge advantage over the others in their field.

But even when you look at remarkable performers like Tiger Woods or Warren Buffet, it’s not true. We’ve all heard the story of how Tiger started playing golf at 18 months and had over 15 years of regular practice before he began competing at a national level. Warren Buffet admits that he knew very little but invested significant time studying business and financial statements to learn how to spot patterns and trends.

In fact, the research is so consistent it has evolved into what is commonly called the ten-year rule. It states that the most accomplished professionals, no matter what field they’re in; need about ten years of intense study to get to the top of their game. The ten years isn’t an average, it’s a minimum.

And there’s one more element that matters. It can’t be casual or haphazard practice. It needs to be what is called deliberate practice. It’s you doing things with the explicit goal of improving your performance that will push you past competent to a level of excellence.

Why does all of this matter to you, in terms of marketing?

  • It means for you to develop and execute effective marketing, you need to be deliberately practicing on a regular basis.
  • It erases the excuse “I’m just not wired to be good at this” when it comes to marketing your business.

Like most other aspects of running or owning a business, it boils down to doing the hard work and committing to it for the long haul.

And there’s one other benefit to taking this sort of approach. In the case of marketing – unlike a golf game or investing, you have a potential audience and that audience requires many marketing touches before they start paying attention. The fact that marketing is a marathon not a sprint works well with this “practice every day” philosophy.

Very few marketing tactics deliver instant results and when that happens, it’s more dumb luck than anything else. Marketing is a cumulative effort. Your efforts stack up and create that consistent drip drip drip marketing that we’ve talked about before.

In many ways, marketing is the perfect skill to develop, given the ten-year rule. You have to do it consistently and intentionally to get better at it and your audience needs you to do it consistently to notice you. So the more you practice, the better you get and the better results you’ll experience.

Now the question is – what do you need to do to put this idea into play?

Daily Practice: What marketing tactics can you commit to doing on a daily basis? Is it a Facebook page update? A customer thank you call?

Weekly Practice: What can you do every single week? An insightful blog post? Sending out targeted direct mail pieces and then following up with a call?

Monthly Practice: What, come rain or shine, will you do every month? Writing a helpful newsletter that establishes your expertise? Running an ad in a niche publication aimed at your primary audience?

Be sure you build your skills by practicing every single day and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to becoming a marketing master. Not only will you get better every day but you’ll get also more customers as you practice!


Should you be a content marketer?

February 12, 2014

Content marketing.  It seems like everyone’s talking about it. But what exactly is it and what can it do for your business? Odds are, if you’re doing any marketing at all — you’re at least accidentally dabbling in content marketing.

But, should you be a content marketer?  Let’s look.

First — it goes by many names.  Some people call it custom publishing or branded content.  Other people slap the label of social or digital marketing on.  And all of those names are accurate.

Content marketing is a broad term for any marketing technique that creates and distributes valuable, helpful and relevant information that demonstrates that you know your stuff.  These tactics draw the attention of people who are already your customers or could be your customers and they consume, share, and value the content.

The ultimate goal of content marketing is to create a sense of trust and comfort that will lead to someone making an initial purchase, making an additional purchase or referring you to someone who’s ready to make a purchase.

The way you build that trust can differ, however. Let’s look at four of the main goals of content marketing and the types of content marketing tactics you can employ to accomplish each.

If you want to entertain your audience, you might:

Make a branded video

  • Create a game
  • Give them a quiz
  • Start a competitions/contests
  • Invent a playful widget or app

If you’d like to inspire your audience, you might:

If you would like to educate your audience, you could:

  • Write an ebook
  • Publish some articles
  • Create an infographic
  • Generate media releases
  • Create guides or how to documents
  • Produce trend reports
  • Record a podcast
  • Send out an enewsletter

In you need to convince your audience, you could:

  • Host an event
  • Create some interactive demos
  • Put on a webinar
  • Create useful calculators or checklists
  • Share some case studies

This list is neither exhaustive nor is it exclusive. A speech can do more than inspire, it can also educate or entertain. A webinar can do more than convince – it can educate or inspire. The subject matter, the delivery style and the intent will dictate the outcome of your efforts. And hopefully, if you produce quality content – it will accomplish more than one of the goals.

But this isn’t something you should just jump into. Like any marketing strategy – content marketing requires forethought and planning, especially because producing a blog or podcast or even putting on a contest requires a significant amount of time and effort. You don’t want to exert that level of effort and not maximize your gain.

The effort and planning are well worth it. Content marketing allows a business to connect with a prospect long before they’re ready to buy. It gives them a sense of your product, service and expertise. It also lets them “sample” you and see if you’re a good fit. Good content marketing tools communicate not only your expertise but it also gives them a very good sense of your brand’s personality. It will attract the best customers for you and, as odd as it sounds, repel those customers who wouldn’t be a good fit long term.

There are a lot of benefits packed into this marketing strategy. Every business can find a content marketing tactic that is the perfect fit for your industry. It takes some time and effort – but the up sides are hard to ignore.



Enhanced by Zemanta

What does this pricing strategy say to you?

September 9, 2013

PriceHow thoughtful are you about your company’s pricing strategy? Let me give you an example.

We use an on-line vendor to provide extranet services for our clients.  We’ve been with them for over five years.  We recently discovered a better, cheaper solution.  It wasn’t the cheaper that sold us.  It was the ease of use for our clients.

But cheaper doesn’t hurt.  And this was cheaper by a couple hundred dollars a month.

When I contacted the old vendor to cancel our service, guess what their immediate response was.

“We can match their price.”

What?  So you’ve been overcharging me for years?  Or you magically just had a price reduction to the very dollar amount of my new vendor and you were about to call and tell me about it?

Talk about leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Dropping your price to keep a customer is never a good strategy.  It can only make you and the client both feel taken advantage of and in the end, no one wins.

Your pricing strategy is one of the key components of your marketing message.  It speaks about things far beyond your cost.  It communicates value, customer attentiveness and how you view the relationship, both short and long term.  It’s not something you should just stumble into.  And it’s not something you should damage by mishandling a situation, like our old vendor did.

There’s an interesting couple articles over at Marketing Tips from the Trenches about how to think through a pricing strategy and how to test it.  Worth a read.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Why would I pick you?

September 1, 2013

brand_redmarble_optWe have to remember that every day, both our existing customers and potential customers are looking at us and wondering “why would I pick you?”

Marketing 101 is that you need to understand how you’re different from your competitors.  It is perfectly logical — if you cannot differentiate yourself in terms of what you sell, how you sell it or why you sell it — the only differentiator left is price.

Maybe it boils down to this.

Would you rather invest the time and brain equity into figuring out (from the consumer’s point of view) how you are different or would you rather just have to be the cheapest?

Either choice is a good one.  It’s really all about your business’ strategy.  After all, Walmart seems to be doing okay with the cheapest route.  But let’s say that you don’t want to commit yourself to a perpetual price war.  Then what?

Then you need to go back to really understanding how you’re different (for the love of all that is holy, please do not say — it’s our people or we care more) and what sub-set of potential customers is in perfect alignment with that distinction.

Did you twitch a little at the phrase “sub-set of potential customers?”  This is one of the main reasons why I think companies don’t discover and honor their brand better.  They want everyone’s money — not just the right people’s money.  I’ll dig into that later this week.  For now, let’s stay focused on the discovering how you’re different.

We have a branding process that we walk clients through and I’m proud to say that many of our clients will tell you that it completely changed the way they did business.  It’s one of our favorite things to do at McLellan Marketing Group.

But…for you do it yourselfers — start by really taking some time and answering these questions, but remember, the answer can never be the product or service you sell:

  • Beyond profitability, what is the mission of your company?
  • If your company were to leave a legacy, what would it be?
  • How does your organization make the world a better place?
  • If firm disappeared tomorrow, what would be missed most of all?
  • What is the single most-important aspect of your company?
  • With regard to your organization, what do you feel passionate about?
  • What business is your company in?
  • What business is your company not in?
  • Which three adjectives best describe your organization?
  • Who (customer) would love your company the most?
  • How do you prioritize your customers? If you had to allocate 100 points between the different customers segments or types (in terms of importance), how would you do so?
  • What customer need does your product/service fulfill? Why does your target customer need or want you sell?
  • What emotion(s) do you most closely associate with your product or service?
  • How will your organization change your industry?
  • How will your company change the world?

And some fun ones to twist your brain around:

  • If your company was a shape, what would it be?
  • If your organization was a texture, what would it be?
  • If your firm was a mood or feeling, what would it be?
  • If company was something from nature, what would it be?

If you’re really brave — pull together some of your best customers and see how they answer these questions.  Or, schedule a team retreat and walk through them with your employees.

If you actually take the time to really dig into each of these questions until you’ve come up with answers that resonate and aren’t the first or a trite response — I think you’ll be surprised at how it changes the way you look at your business, what potential customers you approach and how you describe yourself.

Are you brave enough to tackle these questions?


Enhanced by Zemanta

In marketing the constant is change

May 29, 2013

ChangeSwitchYou know, the annoying thing about clichés is that they’re based in truth, even though that truth may be a bit worn in places. And lately I’ve been very aware of the idiom “the only constant is change” as it relates to business and especially to marketing.

Maybe it’s always been this way and our parents and grandparents had to wrestle with constant change too, but it seems to me that the acceleration curve has gotten incredibly steep over the last 15 or 20 years.

For example, when I started my career, computers were certainly a part of the mix but we never showed a client a computer-generated layout. We’d take mock ups that were drawn in pencil and very rough. Today, we upload PDFs to our extranet and they look practically finished before we’ve even begun.

I get it…I’m the first one to espouse the convenience of our new way of doing business. I love that we can work with clients (and partners) from all over the world – digitally sharing files, ideas and collaborating.

So while I long for the showmanship of the old days, I do appreciate what we have today. But sometimes it also makes me a little tired to think about.

Here’s our reality as business people. It’s never done. No matter how successful your business is – it’s in transition. Every day.

There’s a new technology or a new consumer trend right around every corner. And to stay relevant and profitable, there’s no hiding from them.

Today and tomorrow, I am leading a marketing workshop and one of the things we’ll talk about is mobile and how quickly it became a key element in any marketing strategy. I know what I’ll see. While some of them were anticipating this tsunami of a trend, others were either not ready for it or aren’t looking forward to facing it.

So how do we keep up? How do we stay current and able to anticipate what the next change is going to be so we can get a running start?

Read. Do you know that most business leaders don’t read anything more than their local newspaper? Are you kidding me? Turn off the TV and read a book a month. Find the top ten blogs in your field and subscribe to them. Find the most controversial, far out there publication or blog in your industry an subscribe to that too. It’s better to anticipate too much than get blinded by something.

Attend. Trade show and professional development attendance has been dropping since the recession took a big bite out of everyone’s travel budgets. It’s time to put some money back on that line item. You need to go and listen to experts. You need to hang out with peers and share stories and resources.

Teach. One of the best ways to learn is to commit to teach others. Make sure your entire staff is ready for what’s coming. More important, teach them how to recognize the trends and track them, so you don’t have to be the only one doing it. If you know you have to conduct a class, even if it’s an informal one, you’re much more likely to keep sharp.

There are lots of ways to stay current but it all starts with the attitude of recognizing that it’s a part of your job and it’s one of the ways you keep your company relevant and profitable.

In our world…you either keep up or you quickly become irrelevant.  Don’t be the marketing pro who is still spouting off about the latest and greatest — from 5 years ago.  Find a way to stay current and keep your clients/business there too.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What it takes to create a successful email campaign

March 7, 2013

Email.  We hate it when our inbox is overflowing but we love the possibilities as marketers.  Email flows freely (sometimes too freely!) and because of that, I think we sometimes take it for granted.  We assume it has magical powers of some kind….and so when we want to reach an audience — we just fire off an email or three.

Probably not the best approach. Like any marketing tactic, it requires some planning, effort and follow through.  Our friends at agencyside (creators of the BOLO conference) developed this inforgraphic to outline what it actually takes to drive revenue from the inbox.


Click here to download a full-sized version.

Next time you want to use email to drive home a message, create sales or generate traffic for a specific outcome — don’t waste your time or the recipient’s.  Use this handy reminder to make sure you cover all the bases!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Write so they will hear you

October 30, 2012

Tin can communication deviceMost people, when faced with the blank screen on their computer and a deadline for a new marketing piece looming, get a little uptight.

It’s intimidating to capture everything you want a prospect to know and share it in a compelling way. Your product or service is superb and you have so much to say — how will you do it justice?

Which is why most marketing copy is dreadful. Here are the most common mistakes:

  • We do a brain dump, sharing everything we know.
  • We want to demonstrate that we’re experts so we use impressive words and jargon that shows that we’re in the know.
  • We cram way too many words into the piece because it’s all important.
  • We talk about our company, our product, and our people…but not about the customer.

If you make even one of those mistakes, odds are your prospect is taking a glance at your first two or three sentences and then moving on. You haven’t invited them into the conversation – you’re just talking about you.

Remember, you are trying to start a conversation. Who would you rather talk to – someone who walks up to you and asks a question about you or a person who walks up and starts telling you all about them?

So how do we avoid those mistakes?  We can ask ourselves these questions.

How do they talk?
I can have the best deal in the world, but if I tell you about it in Japanese and you don’t speak Japanese – you can’t possibly want what I am selling.

You need to know your prospect well enough that you know how they talk.

  • Are they engineers who use very precise, detailed language and acronyms?
  • Are they teachers who speak about their students with affection and pride?
  • Are they purchasing agents who need to squeeze every penny from the deal and deliver the highest ROI possible?

Understanding the language they use and how they’re going to have to sell your offering up/down the food chain, will allow you to craft your message in their native tongue.

Your prospects are busy and won’t take the time to translate your marketing messages. If they don’t instantly understand it and see that you’re talking to them, they’ll pass it by every time.

Do they know they need you?
No one wants to buy something they don’t need or want. That sounds like a duh, but many times businesses try to sell solutions to a client who doesn’t realize they have a problem.

Often, we just go right to the solution without even mentioning the problem. Let’s say that I want to sell my home in the next 12 months. You own a landscape business and send me information about how good your work is, showing me pictures of gorgeous yards, etc.

But I dismiss it, because I’m not going to live in my house much longer so why spend money on something I won’t get to enjoy?

You’ve lost the sale, because I don’t know I need you. But if one of your marketing pieces was titled “5 landscaping tricks to sell your house faster” now you have my attention.

If the first line of body copy told me that 34% of buyers passed on at least one home because the landscaping was disappointing – you have just converted a “no” into an interested prospect.
Now you have my attention.

By paying attention to these two elements – you can effectively avoid all four of the mistakes I mentioned.

You’ll speak in their language and only talk about what matters to them – their problems and how you can solve them.


Enhanced by Zemanta

They’ll buy when they trust

September 27, 2012

Here’s an equation that every business owner needs to understand.

Know + Like + Trust = Buy.

Whether you sell toothbrushes or multi-million dollar medical equipment and everything in between — until a customer:

  • Knows who you are
  • Likes who you are
  • Trusts you

there is no purchase.  The depth of the trust required varies but there must be at least a base level of trust in place before anyone will spend a dime.

One of the things I love about social media/content marketing is that it is hard-wired to help savvy business people maximize this equation.

Know = search.  If I can’t find you, then I can’t know you exist.  Understanding how potential customers are using search when they want what you sell is vital to your business success today. Do you know what key words and phrases you should be mindful of? Are you creating content that will leverage that?

Like = social networks/blogs. When I hang out with you, in person or online, I get a sense of who you are and whether or not I like who you are.  When I read your blog, I begin to learn who you are and what you believe.  Are you out there, creating conversations and relationships?  If not — when are you going to start?

Trust = consistency online and off.  It’s easy to fake being nice, smart or helpful once or twice. But that’s tough to pull off on a consistent basis. We know that when it comes to our offline world.  And we’re learning it’s just as true online as well.  One of the greatest elements of having a digital presence is that it can quickly provide someone with a long term view of who/how you are.  That builds trust.

That equation lines up perfectly with how content marketing/social media is supposed to work.  When you create great, helpful content that aligns with how people search — you create that long tail effect that drives people to you. When you share it through your social networks and it’s done without being pushy or sleazy, people will come to like and respect you. Like and respect evolves into trust when you behave consistently in the same way.

Whether you actually sell online or you have a brick and mortar presence – using content marketing and your social media presence to move prospects along the spectrum of know, like, trust is just good business.

I’m curious — how are you building trust with what you do online?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Get your brand on

September 20, 2012

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times — your brand is not your logo.  It’s so much more.

Want to explore what branding is really about and how it can completely change the trajectory of your company?  Then you need to get to Chicago on October 11th for my friends at The Brand Establishment’s one day seminar on brand. (read more here)

What We’ll Cover:

  • Brand – The Most Oversold, Yet Least Understood Word In Marketing Today
  • The Definition of a Brand – Finally
Branding vs. Brand Development
Where The Brand Lives
  • Your Brand On Steroids
  • Build From The Inside Out
  • Your Brand Essence
  • Internal Brand Strategies – Moving Every Employee From Hearing About A Brand To Believing There Is A Brand To Becoming The Brand
  • Brand Management For The Long Haul
  • Business And Brand Strategy Alignment
  • Brand Touch Points – “Promises To Delivery” Mechanisms
  • The Brand Establishment’s BrandLab™ Approach – Looking Through The Brand Lens
Brand Momentum – Monitor, Measure And Adjust
  • The Strategies Behind Successful Brands
  • Secrets Of Successful Brands
  • Who’s Doing It Right Today
  • How To Implement In Your Own Company

Presented by two of the nation’s leading brand experts, Jim Hughes and Tom Traynor; this seminar will provide today’s working marketing executives with the knowledge, tools and techniques needed to lead their organizations to greater profits and category domination, even in a slow economy.

At the end of this rigorous one-day session, you will be awarded a Level-One Certificate of Achievement from the country’s foremost authority in brand development, branding and brand management – The Brand Establishment.  (Read the brochure)

I know these guys and they’re the real deal.  So if you can get to Chicago (or are already there) this would be an eye-opening, business changing day.  Hope you make it there.

(Click here for more info, registration links etc.)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Social Media Primer – yours for the asking

September 13, 2012

There’s so much going on in the social media world — it’s hard to keep up.  But don’t worry — we’ve got the answer for you.

We’ve created a new educational series called 60 Ticks to Social. (Drew’s Marketing Minute…get it) When you sign up, we’ll send you one email a week for about 18-20 weeks.  Each email will give you a quick overview of some aspect of social media and sometimes it will also include a link where you can download even more info, if that would be helpful!

It’s 100% free — free of hype, free of jargon and free of any strings.  We hope you’ll sign up, tell your friends to sign up and that, most of all, it will be helpful to you.

I promise — it will be worth the minute it takes to read it. If you’d like to sign up, all you need to do it click right here.


Enhanced by Zemanta
1 2 3 5