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It’s November. You know what that means? Christmas. They say Christmas comes earlier every year and considering one of my cousins finished all of his shopping before October ended, I believe it.
It’s during this time that expectation grows for the arrival of the icon of the Christmas season, Santa Claus. Santa has two job functions. The second is to deliver presents. That’s the easy part. His first job, however if far more difficult.
You see, Santa Claus is a data analyst. His year round job is to go over numbers, facts, figures and spreadsheets. He builds funnels and projections. He looks at charts and real world consumer behavior. In the end, right before Christmas, he must produce a detailed report that documents the “naughty” and the “nice.”
It’s hard work. Which brings us to the less discussed sibling of Santa Claus.
Marketing Santa has a year round mission. Much like his brother he pores over reports and analytics, but his job is to measure all marketing activity throughout the year. Then, at the end of the year, he gets into his sleigh which is pulled by 8 flying internet LOL cats that #CanHazFlying and he delivers brand new marketing plans for the new year to all the good boys and girls. And even the bad ones.
“On Fluffy, On Mittens,” he shouts. “On Mr. Twinkles, On Rudolph.” (Disclaimer: Rudolph has fallen on hard times and must supplement his earnings by helping pull Marketing Santa’s sleigh.) Round and round he goes, delivering marketing plans down the chimneys of businesses everywhere.
There’s only one problem. Marketing Santa is awful at analyzing and planning marketing. I mean really really bad.
In fact, it’s common knowledge that the only reason Marketing Santa has the marketing job in the first place is because he’s Santa’s brother. Even the folks over at North Pole Present Corporation’s Human Resources department know this. But all of the folks in the family business feel that this is the best spot for Marketing Santa because, after all, marketing isn’t important.
Marketing Is Important.
But we know better. Marketing is important.
So this year, you and I are going to do something radical. We’re going to have a Christmas without Marketing Santa. Take a deep breathe. We can do this.
The Year Of Marketing Santa Past
The first thing we need to do is assess what our marketing year has looked like. Find some quiet time during the this holiday season and spend a few hours reviewing your marketing. Here are some things you can reflect on so you’re not dependent on Marketing Santa.
The print stuff. Put together a folder of all your print materials. It doesn’t matter if the material was professionally designed or made in-house. Get a sense of everything your customers and prospects saw throughout the year. Business cards, brochures, letters, envelopes.
The web stuff. Go to your website on your desktop computer and print a few representative pages. Then go to your website on any mobile devices you can get your hands on and make notes about the experience. Then open up your email. Print out a good sampling of contacts that you got from your website as well as your responses to them. If multiple people are involved in email communications, have them go through this process as well. Also print out a sampling of email campaigns that your business generated.
The search stuff. Go to Google and perform a search for keywords relevant to your business. Do this for any reasonable keywords or phrases you feel are important. Perform the same searches on Bing and Yahoo. Document where your business came up, if at all.
The social stuff. Go to each of your social media properties and record some basic information; how many followers you have, the frequency of your posts and updates as well as any interactions you’ve made with others. Include LinkedIn in your social research and print out the profile page for each person in your company.
Naughty Or Nice
Now let’s do a gut check. Here is a sampling of things to look for or think about.
- What is the overall impression you have of your business?
- What does your marketing say to potential customers?
- Does each marketing channel support and strengthen your brand?
- Is your marketing consistent?
- Are you talking to customers and prospects?
- Are you making them wait too long for interactions?
- Are you following up?
- Do customers and prospects seem satisfied or dissatisfied?
- Is your contact information up to date?
- Do customers have an easy route to contact you across all channels?
- Is your contact information consistent across different channels?
- Does the material before you clearly illustrate what your business does?
- Are you using language that is confusing or unclear?
- Does the copy across all of your pieces support or contradict each other?
- Can your digital content be accessed on any device and on any platform?
- Does a search in a search engine or a social medium such as LinkedIn result in your business being listed?
After all this ask yourself if your business marketing has been naughty or nice. It’s gut wrenching. I know. But it’s one of the first steps towards business growth and better marketing.
Once you are satisfied that you have an honest answer to the naughty or nice question, perform the exercise above all over again except this time do it for each of your competitors and ask yourself, “How does my business compare?”
You can see why Marketing Santa finds this so difficult.
If you feel exhausted and miserable just reading about the process, doing it is much worse. A marketing evaluation often exposes weaknesses that most people would rather not face, but not facing them only makes you fall prey to The Fear Monster – and we simply can’t allow that.
Knowing all of the strengths and weaknesses of your past marketing is the essential component to developing a successful future marketing plan.
It’s not an easy task. So just get comfortable with that at the outset.
Don’t know where to start?
Here Are A Few Suggestions
Start with your business branding. Make a commitment to have your logo, color palette and typography be uniform across all of your marketing channels. This one step alone can elevate your marketing. If people perceive that your marketing channels are inconsistent, they will project that onto your products and services.
The “look” of your business is important. Make sure that every one of your employees knows your logo, its colors and what fonts are used. Even if they have nothing to do with design and marketing, this will force everyone into the same type of thinking and reverence for the business brand. This is a non negotiable point.
Normalize your profiles. Make sure that every channel says the same thing about your business. If you are celebrating your 10th year in business, make sure that one channel doesn’t say “5th year” and another “10 years”.
Normalize the wording you use to describe your products and services. Use the same words and same descriptions everywhere. Get picky about everything. If you list your phone number as (123) 123-1234 in one place don’t list it as 123-123-1234 somewhere else. Make everything match. This normalizing process has its challenges. Some channels will give you space for lots of text, others will not. Always try to be brief but detailed and when you have space limitations make sure to use words wisely without contradicting longer counterparts.
This normalizing process should extend beyond the business and apply to employees as well. While you don’t need to worry about people’s personal profiles, you should make sure that any business profiles meet the same standards of consistency. Doing this will go a long way towards the perception of your business, but also can help with SEO because consistent keywords and phrases contribute to search optimization.
Interlink. Make sure every channel you maintain links to every other channel. Your Facebook page should provide an easy route to your web page or LinkedIn and vice versa. Because each channel has its own strengths and weaknesses you want to compensate by playing to the strengths of each without closing the doors to the others.
Aside from that, some people just feel more comfortable in one channel or another. For example, if a person who uses LinkedIn for business gets to your website via a Google search, make it easy for them to engage you from LinkedIn instead of keeping them tethered to your site.
Make it easy for people to engage. Have a mechanism for contact in every location. Make sure there is never a spot where a potential customer can end up with no way of communicating with you. There’s no reason to have a contact form in one place given that forms can be modularized and repeated. Creating a small unobtrusive form and placing it in the sidebar of your site means that someone can contact you from any page. Some form systems allow you to have the same form exist in multiple places. For example, the same contact form on your website can exist on your Facebook page. This minimizes the amount of work that needs to go into producing the form, but allows people to contact you from the location of their choosing.
ABC. Always Be Closing. Every page, every post, every update, every tweet can be a selling opportunity. While you don’t want to hard sell constantly, figure out how to balance hard selling, soft selling and value. Remember that you aren’t likely to make a sale on the first prospect touch point, but if you entice the prospect, future touches can yield a sales conversion. This requires a balance of science and art. Make sure that every product or service you sell has a dedicated page with clear information that is routable with as few clicks as possible from anywhere in your marketing ecosystem. No one will pay you money if they don’t know about or can’t get to what you sell.
Now you know that relying on Marketing Santa, while delightful, has its drawbacks. Your marketing must be periodically examined and fine tuned. The end of the year seems as good a time as any to get that ball rolling.
If you don’t know how or where to get started or you just aren’t prepared to cut the cord with Marketing Santa, contact us. We do marketing in our sleep and can help you fulfill your business goals. If you contact us and use the code word “Marketing Santa,” we’ll give you a complementary 30 minute marketing consultation. This offer is valid for the first 10 respondents through December 25th 2013.