Marketing. All it’s been is a disappointment.
Whether you tried it yourself or went through a bad-fit agency, if you’ve had terrible results from your marketing efforts, it can put you off the whole thing. “I know what I’m doing,” you might say. “As long as my product or service is excellent, business will come. My marketing wasn’t working anyway.”
But “my marketing wasn’t working” isn’t the same thing as “marketing doesn’t work.”
It’s just a matter of finding marketing that works for you.
So let’s sort out what that means and then look at some steps you can take to get there.
How Does Marketing “Work for You”?
Ok. So I have two basic ways I like to talk about what “working for you” looks like when we’re talking about getting a marketing plan together: how it fits your business, and the value that it generates over time. These are pretty strongly interrelated, but they’re really different ideas and we’ll go over them both.
How Marketing Fits Your Business
One of the most common reasons for a marketing strategy not working is that it doesn’t really take the business into account. Honestly, most people, when they’re just getting started, will just google “how to do marketing online” or somesuch and follow the first half-professional outline they stumble across. And even some professional marketing agencies simply offer a few marketing plans you can subscribe to: a weekly email, three blogs a month, SEO research and recommendations, daily social posts.
Except that a cookie cutter like that just doesn’t work. For anybody.
Marketing plans have to be fit to the business. They have to take into account your actual business goals, and then translate those into specific attainables that marketing can deliver. Your goals can be vague, your goals can be specific, but you have to be able to concretize them into something measurable before you can expect marketing to tackle them.
Let’s use a practical example. If your business is on the verge of going under, a content marketing plan structured around long-term lead generation, market growth, and filling your sales funnel isn’t going to do you one lick of good; you need business right now, and that strategy is going to be hard pressed to bring it to you.
If, however, your business is healthy, but you can’t expand into a new market area because you’re so dependent on month-to-month cash flow caused by an uncertain and vulnerable sales funnel, a marketing plan focused on bringing in new business right away might be nice, but doesn’t answer the real need: laying a foundation that enables sustainable growth over time.
These are polar opposite cases. And frankly, that “marketing plan” cookie cutter I mentioned above doesn’t help either of them. A really valuable marketing strategy would take each business’s needs into account and include specific measures to help address them, as part of a larger long-term strategy to meet macro-level business goals.
The Value Marketing Generates Over Time
The other part of how marketing “works for you” is how it actually works for you: the honest-to-goodness on-the-ground work it does for your business on an ongoing basis. Like I said, this is strongly related to the above, but we’re going to focus in a different place.
Your marketing needs to be effective. That means it has to communicate with your intended audience in a way that they respond to. Marketing done well provides extensive long-term results: it builds your reputation, educates potential customers, increases your reach. In order to create marketing that actually does this, you need to hammer down your goals – and then start focusing on the effective implementation of a strategy to meet those goals.
There are lots of ways to do this, and at times, at Hudson Fusion, we focus a lot on content and inbound marketing, which is all about creating marketing assets that generate value for the long term. The focus isn’t short-term lead generation (although we do that when that’s what the business needs), but on putting into place the tools that will attract and convert leads on an ongoing basis.
Now, in an ongoing, comprehensive inbound marketing plan like that or in an immediate-lead-generating strategy, the goal is to actually generate value long term, and not to simply satisfy short-term needs or goals; your on-the-ground tactics have to be component of larger plans to achieve larger business objectives.
The advantage of an inbound or content marketing strategy is that these are by definition long-term investments; these assets, once in place, continue to generate value and have no upkeep cost; the only investment is the frontloaded time to actually develop and create the assets.
In any case, making marketing work for your business is a matter of ensuring your focus (or that of your agency) is on the right place: goal-oriented planning that has a long-term focus, rather than simply killing time or keeping you afloat.