A couple of the current client projects that I’m working on include:  supervising a marketing intern for a local charity, and coaching a new start-up in the services sector. As I work with these clients I’m frequently reminded of just how critical effective marketing is to the success of a business, and just what it takes to have clients really ‘get it’!

HB Life - May 2016This article was published in HB Life Magazine in Feb 2016 Download

Are your marketing efforts getting you the results you really want? Do you have an effective marketing strategy in place? Or are you just taking a stab in the dark and hoping the right clients will emerge from the murk???

Whether you have any formal academic marketing education, or not, in most small/medium size businesses there is still vast room for improvement in the marketing arena! AND there is no substitute for hiring in the right expertise, and developing good, solid, hands-on experience, to drastically improve your marketing return on investment (ROI). It’s also important to remember that it takes time to see the results of your efforts.

Business TeamIn the same way that when planting a new crop, it takes time for the new plants to get established, put down roots, so that they can grow to their full potential and produce a bountiful harvest… and throughout they need feeding, watering, nurturing, pruning, etc. When developing and implementing a marketing strategy for a business, whether a start-up or more established concern, the same rules apply. You must plant the right seeds, and give them the right amount of loving care and attention to ensure they produce the results you want in both the long and short term.

So here’s 5 of the biggest mistakes I consistently see businesses make, and some food for thought to help you identify where you can up your marketing game…

Start at the beginning – with WHO. Marketing today is about people, NOT products or services, so it’s important to start here. To ensure you plant the right seeds, you must know who you’re ultimately aiming to reach. Whatever marketing lingo you use, whether it be niche, target market, audience, tribe, you MUST know the WHO you’re talking to. Unless you’re crystal clear who your marketing message is intended to reach, it’s unlikely to hit the mark. Think of it like having a conversation… do your elderly aunt and your 15-year-old nephew have the same challenges and interests – unlikely! So to create resonance and elicit a response from your marketing, you must know your prospective customer, and their needs and wants.

You vs We. As you start crafting your message and marketing content, be it a website, brochure, or other medium, ensure that it is written in the second person – in the language of YOU! If marketing today is about people, then it must be done in the language of you – as if you’re having a conversation directly with that person. As soon as it switches into the language of we, or I, then it becomes about your products, services, or your business. Make it all about them, not all about you, and please don’t wee all over your prospective customers/clients!

Call to Action (CTA). Everything you put out, whether in print, on your website, on social media, or via another medium, MUST clearly tell your reader/listener what to do next. What action do you want them to take? Read an article, complete a form, pick up the phone and call you, enter their contact information to receive something in return, go to a specific page on your website? Whatever it is, you must make it idiot proof! Your call to action should be unmissable and unmistakeable. If your message hits the mark, but your prospective client takes no action as a result of it, then you’re not able to reap the harvest of your marketing efforts and you still lose!

Network MarketingCustomer Journey. Taking the previous example to the next level, in order for your marketing to reap the greatest rewards possible, you must have a clearly thought out customer journey – from start to finish. I call this the ‘Hansel and Gretel’ approach – leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to follow. This involves creating an intentional journey that your prospect goes on – from the first moment they hear about you, right through to making their first purchase, to retaining them as a customer for the long term. Imagine you’re a tour guide – you’ve done your research and know who you’re taking on your tour and what they’re interested in. So then you plan the perfect itinerary so they have an amazing trip.

This is the essence of the customer journey, having a carefully thought out plan of engagements, experiences, touch points – each of which had meaning for and adds value to the prospect, and therefore gives you the best chance of converting them into a client.

Keep in Touch. Last and by no means least, you must have a strategy for capturing your prospect’s contact information so that you can keep in touch and take prospects along on the journey. After all, to use a dating analogy – you can get a second date, if you don’t have the person’s number. So you must have a way of enticing your prospects to give you that vital information so you can stay in touch and build a relationship with them for the long term.

Pick up your calendar right now and schedule in some time to review your marketing and see how you can up your game to reap bigger rewards from your efforts. The cost of not doing so is just too high!

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