Finding new customers is the primary purpose of marketing and sales. And yet it’s one of the activities most business owners struggle with – even though it’s a key part of business growth. Juggling marketing your business with doing the actual work that services your clients is a challenge, and it often leads to marketing falling between the cracks.
For many business owners, this is their biggest challenge. Finding a way of marketing their business that can keep generating the right number of ideal clients for them while they deliver their services. For this, you need a marketing machine. But what does that look like, and how can you build it?
What is the goal, the end output for your marketing machine? After all, marketing is used for lots of things, from customer retention to upselling and the attraction of new prospects. But by far the major goal for most businesses is lead generation, which can take the form of adding an item to a shopping cart, filling out a lead-gen form or signing up for a trial. You can split this down into as much detail as you like, including the different personas of your customers and the buying stage they are in. Using this, you can create a schedule for content and distribution plan that guides your prospects from where they are today to the end goal.
So you’ve got a plan. Now you have to figure out who is going to actually execute it. As a business owner, you’re probably used to doing a lot of things yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to do all of your marketing too. After all, the idea is to free up your time to be more productive, and not to spend more time doing marketing.
So, look at your plan and decide who will create the content and execute it. You could use internal resources, freelancers or external contractors. Naturally, this depends on your budget, and most businesses opt for a mix of internal and external resources to action the marketing plan. Building a core team of people who can help you create the content you need and push it out into the world means that your marketing machine will be able to tick along, generating leads without your constant involvement.
Coming up with ideas is the area people struggle with most when it comes to content. Not just business owners either – it’s almost everyone who struggles with this one. In fact, in the Content Marketing Institute’s 2012 Content Marketing Research Report, over half of those cited said that consistently putting out content was their greatest challenge. Remember – the bulk of what you’re producing should be about your customer’s interests and not your products. So, a good way to generate ideas is to ask some of your customers, prospects or networking connections what they would like to know. Do some research online and see what sort of thing your competitors are doing, and what kinds of questions your customers are asking. Leverage your salespeople and ask for their ‘most commonly asked questions’. Do brainstorming sessions to create lists of topics to cover; by doing this you will find hundreds of new ideas for content that you can give your team and help drive your marketing machine forward.
So, you’re producing content, and pushing it out to the right people and getting your message out there. Fab! But that’s not the end of the road. The final cog in your marketing machine is to measure the results and improve your strategy over time. Use things like Google analytics and other tools to see how your marketing is performing, and what your conversion rate is from the different channels you use. Where you see success, you know you can invest more time, money and energy into that channel. Where you don’t see the results you want, you can come up with a new strategy. Don’t forget that your audience may change over time, so you will need to measure and adjust your strategy over time as well.
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