This post is brought to you by Dream Big Digital. Check out their Digital Trends for 2021 article here.
The Duct Tape Marketing philosophy is that marketing is a system. It’s not a series of tactics you approach willy-nilly. It’s not a blog post here, a podcast episode there, a social media ad once in a while. The kind of marketing that gets real results is driven by strategy and is constantly refined.
Today, I’m going to walk you through the seven steps any business must take to build a robust marketing system. Going through these steps now and revisiting them annually is the key to ensuring your business’s long-term success.
1. It Starts with Strategy
When you think marketing, your mind might leap to tactical elements: setting up a social media profile, creating share-worthy how-to videos on your YouTube channel, soliciting positive reviews on Yelp. Those are all well and good, and they are certainly elements you’ll want to tackle eventually. But first, you’ve got to start with strategy, and strategy starts with knowing your ideal customer.
If you don’t understand who your ideal customer is—their core problems and the value you bring to every engagement—how can you possibly find a message that resonates and identify the tactics that will work?
The short answer is that you can’t. Every great marketing strategy is rooted in pinpointing your ideal customer and honing in on the ways they want to interact with a business. Only once you’ve established your ideal client can you begin to connect what you offer with how you solve your customer’s problems.
2. Take Control of the Customer Journey
Today’s customer journey is driven by the customers themselves. People can go online to read your website, snoop on your social profiles, and get the inside scoop from existing customers’ reviews. If you let it, the buying journey can happen with hardly any input from you.
But smart businesses don’t sit back and let the customer do what they want; they take the reins on the customer journey. We like to frame the customer journey as one that flows through a marketing hourglass. The journey has seven steps: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer.
We call it the marketing hourglass because your marketing tactics need to be involved at every step along the way. It’s not enough for you to leap in just before the sale. You must use tactics early on to help ideal prospects discover your brand. Your content should help convince them that you’re likable and trustworthy.
And your marketing efforts must continue long after that first sale is done. You’ll continue to be involved in the process of encouraging repeat business and a steady stream of positive reviews and referrals. As marketers, it’s our job to help customers take each step along the journey logically.
3. Content Has Risen to the Strategic Level
Don’t conflate the word “content” with “blog post.” Content is way bigger than that.
Content allows us to take the promise that we made to solve a problem and expand that so we can dominate search, social media, and all other places online where prospects are looking for answers about our brand.
We like to use content hubs to create one-stop-shops for the kind of informative, meaningful content that addresses a customers’ needs anywhere along the journey. Hub pages are designed to bring together all relevant information on a certain topic on one page. Think of them as the table of contents for a great online book in your area of expertise.
Whether someone’s just discovering your business, are coming back for one last look before they make a first purchase, or are sharing information about you with a friend looking for a referral, content hubs have something for everyone.
Content hubs are not only great resources on your website, they help improve your ranking in SEO and ensure that it’s easier for new audiences to discover your business.
4. Be Everywhere Online
People today live their lives online. The average internet user is online for six and a half hours each day! So that’s where every business needs to be, too.
Creating a total online presence allows you to greet people no matter where they are on the internet. Did someone drive by your brick-and-mortar store and look you up on Facebook? You should have a complete profile, with photos, reviews, and contact information, to greet them!
Did one of your happy customers refer you to their friend? Make sure your website is optimized for search, so that you will appear in queries even if that friend forgot to write your business name down and instead searches for a term associated with what you do.
The final piece of having a total online presence is ensuring that all of the pieces are integrated to work as a whole. Make sure that you use consistent branding across all of your profiles so people easily recognize you as the same business. Have your social handles on your website, so people can click from your homepage to your Instagram or Facebook profile. And vice versa! Use social media organic posts and advertising to drive traffic back to your website.
5. Keep the Leads Coming
A steady flow of leads is what will keep you in business for years to come. Not every lead will become a customer, but if you constantly have new opportunities coming your way, you’ll be able to continue to grow your business.
There is no one way to generate leads. In fact, it’s best to spread the wealth so that you’re there in the channels where your ideal customers live. That being said, it also pays not to stretch yourself too thin. You don’t have to be on every social media channel, guest blogging for every industry publication, appearing on every podcast, and showing up in every search related to your industry.
Instead, focus your efforts on the channels that are most likely to generate results. If your ideal clients are Baby Boomers, there’s no need to spend time marketing on a Gen Z-dominated social media site like Snapchat. It’s best to focus on building up those channels that are most likely to consistently generate leads.
6. Focus on Converting Those Leads
Are you doing what it takes to convert each and every lead? What about a plan to reactive old and lost clients? You can dramatically impact a business by setting up better experiences along the customer journey.
This starts with customer journey mapping. Mapping allows you to understand exactly what’s happening at each stage of the journey. If there are elements that are contributing to a less-than-stellar experience, you have the power to change those and make them better. Once you know you’ve built a great experience all the way through, you’ll have a better shot at winning back those clients you lost and capturing new ones, too.
Customer journey mapping also helps you consider all conversion behavior. It’s not just the sale that matters, it’s every conversion step leading up to that. Are people signing up for your newsletter? Are they downloading your free ebook? Are they booking an online appointment to video chat with your sales reps?
By tracking and measuring each conversion behavior, you can begin to identify those weak spots. If you can boost conversion at each weak spot by one or two percent, it adds up to a huge bump cumulatively over the journey.
7. Make a Plan
You don’t need to be like those giant corporations that have five- and ten-year strategic plans. But you do need a plan that says—for this year, quarter-by-quarter—these are our biggest priorities.
Most businesses try to bite off more priorities than they can chew. Limit it to three or four priorities each quarter. From there, you can break these big-picture goals into actionable steps.
Marketing isn’t something you can set-and-forget. It needs to happen daily, so you should schedule it in to ensure it becomes a habit. If you have a team, stay on top of them to ensure that your priorities are moving along and you’re hitting each of those actionable steps on time.
Once you’ve discovered the tactics and strategies that work for you, write them down. By documenting your processes, it’s easy to pass those tasks off to staff members or outside marketing support. That frees you up to focus on the next big strategy to grow your business.
Great marketing is a cyclical thing; it never truly ends. Once you’ve gone through these seven steps, go right back to the beginning and refine your approach. Do you need to revisit the profile of your ideal customer? Is there a new online channel you should be considering in your marketing efforts? Have your mapping exercises highlighted a new opportunity to boost conversions at a given stage in the journey?
By revisiting each of the seven steps of your marketing strategy each quarter, it keeps your approach fresh and helps you identify new ways to reach customers.