Do you remember the Stupid Ideas Series? It went on for 15 long posts about how easy it is to waste money on a website, and that’s only a fraction of your marketing efforts! Imagine all the money you could waste if you applied the same stupid ideas across the board…
But I’m not here to tell you about all the stupid ways you can mess up your marketing. Instead I’d like to offer some things that smart marketers do, a few ways to make your marketing better across the board. Some are simple and some are philosophical. Some you can implement right now and improve your chances of success immediately. Some may take a little thought and creativity. But they’re all tried, true and ultimately… smart.
Smart Idea 1: Define Your Call To Action
Put this in the “do it right now” column. Go to your website and if you can’t find, in three seconds or less, a big glaring call to action, then figure out what you want your visitors to do and then tell them to do it.
Remember back in the day when everyone had buttons and links on their sites that said “Click here!” Then buzzwords like “anchor text” and “keyword density” came along and next thing we knew, everyone embedded links everywhere in their page content, and we no longer knew where they went or why we were clicking on them. And sometimes multiple links went to the same exact page, sucking us into an endless loop of frustration.
But we made a bit of a trade with the devil when we left click-here behind in favor of keywords. We lost our actionable items and many businesses have missed the boat on this ever since. So while I’m not necessarily advocating the comeback of “click here”, I am telling you to tell your visitors what they should be doing, in action-oriented language.
Pick a verb: buy now, subscribe to our newsletter, join our team, download our ebook, request a quote, create an account, register for our webinar, donate now.
Make it big. Make it obvious. Make it omnipresent. The psychological truth is that when we’re explicitly told what to do, we’re more likely to do it. Remember that the next time you need the garbage taken out.
Smart Idea 2: Make It Easy For People To Contact You
There are two parts to this and the first relates to Smart Idea 1: “Contact Us” or something similarly action-verbed should be prominently displayed on your website, in your emails, on your brochures and on every other piece of marketing material you use. You probably have some prized call-to-action (buy, register, donate) but it’s just as important to let people know they can contact you, so publish your contact information clearly and visibly.
The second part is about making it easy. Not everyone likes contact forms. Not everyone wants to make a phone call. The more options you give people and the easier you make it to get in touch with you, the more likely someone will be to do just that.
I don’t know about you, but I hate using the phone (at least to make phone calls, that is). I feel that if someone requires me to call them, they’re probably going to do the hard-sell and I’d rather email/text/carrier pigeon my question than get caught with a sales person. If the only option you give me to reach you is a phone number, you will never get me as a customer. Some people feel the same way about web forms. There are people who would rather be pooped on by the carrier pigeon than send any identifying information about themselves via the internet.
So unless there’s some wildly compelling reason to the contrary, give people as many ways to reach you as possible, so they can choose the one they’re most comfortable with.
Smart Idea 3: Make It Easy For People To Contact You, Reprised
About that web contact form… make sure it’s easy to use. Nobody wants to get stuck trying to interpret your rules and requirements. Nobody wants to fill out a form twice after a glitch deletes all their info. And everyone wants to be thanked for their submission with some expectation that you will respond in a timely manner.
Good marketing makes it easy for people to contact you, which means your web form needs to be easy to use. Simple, short, straightforward, relevant… and functional. Test your form regularly just to make sure it’s still working. Trust me, just because it was working yesterday doesn’t mean it’s still working today. Stay on top of the little things so you won’t miss a single opportunity.
Smart Idea 4: Take A Multichannel Approach
A website is not marketing. Neither is a Facebook page or a catalog or an email newsletter. If you want to achieve marketing success you’ll need to hit as many marketing channels as you can.
Remember how I don’t like to make phone calls, and if you force me to, I simply won’t? Well if your primary marketing vehicle is a direct mail catalog then you won’t get me as a customer either. I unsubscribe from those suckers faster than you can say “unsubscribe”. You probably won’t even get out an “un” before I’m online removing my name from your mailing list. But I’ve got about 145 email newsletters in my inbox as we speak.
Part of taking a multichannel approach is reaching customers who may not be available on one channel or another. Another part of a multichannel approach is repetition and branding. If you can reach people on Facebook AND via email AND in search engine results then you’ve got a better chance of being “front of mind” when that person is in the market for your product or service.
Smart Idea 5: Be Obsessive About Analytics
I could have said “check your analytics” but really, try to obsess about them whenever you can. How many people responded to your email offer? What does your website traffic look like? How much play are you getting on that Facebook promotion?
It’s important to decide how you’re going to measure the success of your marketing efforts and then track the results so you know what you’ve achieved. If the results look good, keep going. If not, make revisions before you waste time and money.
This goes from the simple – make sure you know how and where to find your analytics (it does no good if you don’t even know how to log into your account!); to the serious – make sure you know how to read the results and apply them to your marketing strategies. When in doubt, hire a professional who can help you set up and interpret analytics. It’s one of the most important things you can do. Which leads to…
Smart Idea 6: Know When To Hire A Professional
You’d like to do everything. But you can’t. You’ve got to run your business and if you’re spending time learning, interpreting, figuring out and otherwise trying to patch together a marketing strategy in the limited time you have, you may be selling your business short.
Everything seems quite DIY these days, from building a website to setting up a Facebook page and even uploading a bit of artwork to an online printer for a few brochures or flyers. But it would behoove you to recognize times when you need help, whether because you’re not a marketing expert or because you’re simply short of hours in a day.
A professional will help you gain perspective on your business, customers and target audience. An objective viewpoint – especially one geared toward marketing – can help you weed through the options, figure out how to reach customers and put it all in place.
Smart Idea 7: Appreciate Your Customers
True story: I’ve actually quit doing business with one company strictly because they didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I like a good product and good service but if you don’t show me a little love I start to feel dejected. And if you don’t throw me a bone once in a while (in the form of a coupon, perk or simple “thank you”) then I start to get plain old crabby. If that goes on long enough, you’re on a short leash, so if one word or comma is out of place in one of your emails then I’m inclined to go ahead and try another business.
One company that I do stick with sends me a little package of two wrapped cookies each year just to say thank you for my business.
Kindness goes a long way and if you’re smart, you’ll reward your customers for their business and loyalty. It can be an entire marketing effort unto itself – think yearly holiday gifts or exclusive promotions. Or it can be as simple as the language you use when you deal with customers. “Thank you” is a highly underrated marketing tool. Indulge the warm and fuzzy side of your customers and you’ll be more likely to cement loyalty.
Smart Idea 8: Leverage Your Brand
This begs an entire post about what a brand is or isn’t (a little bit of brand talk here…) but assuming you have a brand identity, use it! Build a community around your business and make people feel like part of the exclusive club that is your brand. At our core, human beings are herd animals. We like to be part of the crowd and we seek experiences that reinforce our sense of ourselves.
Start by figuring out what your customers want then figure out how you’re going to be the uniquely positioned company to provide it. Even if you’re one of many companies who offer the same products or services, you can still create a unique brand experience that customers will respond to. It takes time to build a brand and an image that customers can identify with and assume as their own but it’s worth the effort.
I’ve mentioned how good Apple is at doing this. They’ve created an entire culture around their products and fans are ridiculously loyal. Another brand that does this well is BMW. The first time I leased one, I was immediately assumed into the BMW “family” and there’s an entire fandom built around that simple Rondelle. It goes beyond heated seats and GPS into personal identity and it’s a bond that smart marketers build with their customers.
Bonus Idea: Don’t Use Words Like “Leverage”
Here’s a final “do it now” item. Go read your web copy, brochure copy or any other copy and red-ink all the big words. Get rid of “leverage” along with “synergy” and “touch point”. Remove the jargon, lingo and self-important words and go for simple, straightforward talk. Instead of facilitating dynamic paradigms, promise your customers that you’ll answer their emails within 24 hours. Rather than implementing holistic partnerships, assure customers that you’ve got their backs and you’re just an email (or phone call) away when they need you.
Be cruel to your copy. Take out the “me” talk and make it about the customer and what benefit they’ll derive from doing business with you. Get rid of anything that smacks of a thesaurus and instead, have a conversation with your customer. Remember, you’re talking to people who txt, IM, conform to 140 character limitations and can barely compose a full sentence without spellcheck.
I once had an English teacher who admonished us to “get rid of excess verbiage”. As we sat in that tenth-grade classroom, the budding geniuses and copywriters of the future, one befuddled classmate asked, “Is that a salad?” Keep the salad out of your marketing copy and stick to what matters to your customers: what’s in it for me, and how do I get it?
Marketing is a process, and it can be a challenging one. But if you’re going to spend the time and effort to do it, you might as well be smart about it.
Got any other smart ideas? Share them with us or if you’re so inclined, turn them into a post of your own and let us know! We’d love to feature your point of view on our blog.
Want more? Read the Stupid Ideas series