Today, I thought I’d take a brief hiatus from the usual marketing lesson and discuss another topic every bit as important and very closely related to marketing success and your ability to make money: MARKETING PRODUCTIVITY.
Never before in our lives has there been such complexity in managing a marketing department and a need for disciplined discrimination about where you spend your time and money. For nearly 30 years, I’ve sold and consulted companies on marketing, advertising, sales, and lead generation. It’s not that long ago in our history when all an IT services business owner had to do in marketing was to re-up their Yellow Pages ad, print up some business cards and a brochure for the occasional networking event, send out a few postcards, and maybe — maybe — have a website. Outside salespeople were called “outside” salespeople because they had to leave the office — go outside — to hunt. Now, sales floors are eerily silent, with many salespeople timidly hiding behind email, LinkedIn messages, texts, etc. to prospect. (NOT a strategy I recommend, by the way.)
Now look at what’s involved … You can’t just have a website. To be effective, a website must have excellent search engine optimization (SEO), which requires not only a correct architecture from the initial design but also a constant updating of fresh, new material and correctly written, keyword-phrased optimized content, fast-loading and responsive design, strategic backlinking, social media integration, opt-in pages, instant messaging, and live-answered phones during business hours (at a minimum). But it doesn’t end there …
Now you must have your Google Places listing claimed, completely updated, and monitored to respond to online reviews — not only on Google, but also Yelp, Glassdoor, and any number of review sites relevant to your audience. You have to be “findable” online or your integrity is questioned; what kind of business must you be running if I can’t find ANYTHING about you online?
Then there’s social media — and you cannot just say “social media” as an all-encompassing unit. Each platform has different uses, strategies for lead generation, rules for optimization and building an audience, etc. To add to the steaming pile of “STUFF” you need to pay attention to and manage, paying clients and even potential prospects feel completely justified in assaulting you on EVERY social media platform, instant messaging you random questions about your services on your personal Facebook page, posting a (serious) customer support question or request in a tweet, sending you a message on LinkedIn asking for help or to buy, commenting on Instagram, asking a question in the comments of your YouTube video, and even posting a negative or unfavorable review for the public to see. And they expect an instant response.
Assuredly, all of this social connectivity is a dual-edged sword where you CAN reach hundreds, if not millions, of potential clients online and via email, texts, retargeting, SEO, posted content, etc. — but simultaneously open the door for a tsunami of irrelevant information and a need to sift, sort, and respond to it all or generate a significant un-wow, costing you lost opportunity, a bad reputation, etc.
To simply deal with it (and I mean “deal” as in “dealing” with a cockroach problem, not capitalize), companies are being forced to hire full-time customer service departments to monitor ALL social media platforms to watch for and respond to such messages at a significant expense. If you’re a small business, this is a cost you are most likely unable to afford to put in place.
So, what do you do? Here are my top three best strategies you can (and should) implement to ensure maximum productivity in your marketing.
Choose carefully where you advertise and have a presence based on where YOUR clients go, NOT where the “cool kids” are today. A colleague of mine hunted me down at an event we were both attending to pick my brain about how we’re using YouTube to drive leads and sales. He had invested countless hours recording and posting DOZENS of videos with very little success. My first question to him was, “Are your clients paying attention to YouTube?” He didn’t know for sure, so at my encouragement, he sent out an email to his clients asking how much time they spent on YouTube. More than 90% said they NEVER go to YouTube. Mystery solved. He was under the impression YouTube was a fantastic social media platform based on what he saw everyone else doing but hadn’t bothered to ensure that his customers, the people writing him checks, were actually going there. Similarly, many MSPs pick marketing strategies based on what’s cheap, free, and easy to do — NOT on what delivers the highest quality leads. There IS a price for “free” and “easy” you have to pay in time invested and skill. If you won’t put the time in and you’re unwilling to study and do the work, “free” is worth exactly the results you get. Direct mail, telemarketing, and other offline marketing may be more difficult and expensive but can often outperform online marketing done as a solo media. My recommendation is to pay attention to lead quality, not just quantity and perceived ease in the marketing strategy, to get clients.
Create marketing oil wells, NOT one-off campaigns. A marketing oil well is a systematic approach to marketing, a proven process, you can repeat and produce similar results with little variance. It can, and often does, involve multiple media, simultaneously triggered toward an offer or getting a client or prospect to take an action, be it to buy a service or schedule a consultation. For example, to drive attendance to a seminar, we will use an online landing page for registration and information gathering, along with email, direct mail, telemarketing, retargeting, LinkedIn messages, and social media posts and ads. All of these are run simultaneously to a chosen list segment or target market in a well-planned sequence. That sequence, and the results and details, are then documented so we can REPEAT the same campaign multiple times, making improvements with every iteration and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, NOT having to recreate the wheel. Far too many people indulge in random acts and “one-and-done” marketing attempts. This is ENORMOUSLY wasteful. Instead, work at building marketing ASSETS — campaigns, offers, and pieces you can use over and over again to a fresh batch of prospects.
Stick with marketing strategies LONG enough to get them to work. For the past six years, I’ve run a productive telemarketing department in my organization that routinely cranks out quality appointments for my sales team, fills seminars and webinars, follows up on inbound leads, and drives growth forward. It’s a critical component to our success. Clients often ask me how to find and hire productive telemarketing people and build that team. Most START by hiring someone part time or trying to outsource. They inevitably foul it up and get no results because getting it right is truly difficult, particularly when you’re just starting out, but that’s not the mistake. The mistake is when that person or company doesn’t work out, and they wait months, even years, before attempting it again. I’ve told them repeatedly that when they’re hiring telemarketers, hire two, then place your ad for their replacement TODAY. It’s as certain as the sun rising that at least one won’t perform well, will quit, or start great then fizzle out, etc. That’s not meant as discouragement but rather “accurate thinking” about what is necessary to play the game right. If you stick with it long enough, you’ll build systems and processes, and eventually leadership, that will manage that aspect of marketing for you — but you’ll NEVER get there with a start-stop, start-stop approach with LONG pauses in between. Does telemarketing work? HELL YES. Is it difficult to get right? HELL YES. The good news is that it gets easier the more you do it, the bigger you build it, and the more resources you build over time