The first fortnight of the New Year is over and thoughts are turning to the year ahead. For many business owners, setting goals, writing strategies and planning for the future is daunting, particularly when it comes to marketing!
We know how hard it can be and so this blog amalgamates the thoughts of seven of the South Wests’ best marketing and sales minds to give you a great start in what you absolutely must not miss in your 2018 marketing strategy.
1.Start with your customer.
Make sure you really know who your customer is and who you are targeting. Then you will know where they are and how you can reach them.” Andrea Sexton, Andrea Sexton PR.
We love this tip from Andrea and agree 100% that the customer should be your main focus for your marketing. Where will they hang out? Can you market to them there? Often, several types of marketing combined work the most effectively, but no matter how many types of marketing you are doing if your customer isn’t there, then you are wasting your time and potentially money too!
Once you’ve figured out who your customer is and where they might be you can plan that into your strategy. A blank sheet might suddenly become filled with a monthly email newsletter, an advert in the local magazine once a fortnight and a weekly blog post combined with daily social media activity. It’s suddenly starting to look quite busy!
2. Make sure you have a strong brand to represent your business.
For developing your brand in 2018, follow these 3 simple steps: Define-Create-Grow.
Define the creative vision you have for your brand so that you stand out as unique in the crowded marketplace.
Create your visual tools – a collection of authentic brand photos, an iconic design style and an engaging website that leads your visitors down a purposeful journey.
Grow your brand – once your iconic brand identity is ready, the final step is to master the tools, techniques and strategies to communicate your brand in a way that tips the odds in your favour, not the competitors.” Lidia Drzewiecka, Visuable.
As part of your marketing strategy in 2018, it is vital that your business looks as top-notch online as it does offline. Increasingly people check out a business online before making that important purchasing decision. If your business assets online (website, photography, brand, copy, social media profiles etc) match, are designed to be attractive to your target market and look professional, then this will be half of the battle won!
The next tip may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s something that is easily forgotten…
3. Don’t forget your existing customers.
Market to your existing customers before you go out and look for new ones. Most small businesses that I speak to are always focused on getting new customers, which is important if you want to grow, but don’t neglect your existing customers. It’s an easy way to generate extra income without the cost of lead generation.
So how do you do it? Well you can use digital marketing including email broadcasts and remarketing advertising via Google & Facebook. But if you don’t have the budget or expertise for that, then you can go old school, pick up the phone or pop a note in the post. ” Christina Jones, Equine Business Association.
We couldn’t agree more! Your existing customers already know how great your business is, but they may not be aware of other products or services that you provide. It is considerably easier to sell to someone that is already convinced of the quality of your product than it is to find new people who don’t know the brand yet. Christina is spot on with this tip. Your 2018 marketing strategy should definitely include a campaign or two to your existing customers, even if that campaign is as straightforward as mentioning something additional that you provide in a passing conversation.
This next tip is ‘So-2018-darling!’ and we hope you’re paying attention….
4. Long-form content.
When it comes to catching people’s attention, common wisdom suggests that shorter generally equals better. But the data around SEO and social sharing tells a different story. According to search experts Yoast, blog posts of 1,000 words or more have a higher chance of ranking well on Google. And a study by content performance analysts BuzzSumo revealed that longer posts get more shares too, with this trend continuing even up to 10,000 words. There is a caveat though – these feature-style articles should be well researched, well written, add plenty of value and ideally be evergreen to generate the best results. This quality necessarily has a cost attached to it, so don’t feel that you have to publish them every day – but do try and add them into the mix as often as you can afford to.” Rin Hamburgh, Creative Director, Rin Hamburgh & Co.
Rin is really on the money here. It may come as a surprise if you’ve paid attention to marketers over the last few years repeatedly telling us that between 500 and 700 words is the way to go for SEO. That is partially still the case as search engines seem to prefer articles and web pages with content longer than 400 words. The search engine algorithms are designed to respond to what people want to read, and apparently, our attention span isn’t that short after all… which leads neatly into our next tip (almost like we planned it, or something!)
5. Be more HUMAN.
In this ever evolving world – the pace of change is only set to increase in 2018. Whilst data and technology can do incredible things, I still think we can do more to be more engaging with customers in a way that is authentic and personal. So my top tip is to be more HUMAN. This could be by involving real customers in the marketing development process, having a consistent testing programme for marketing campaigns or just making space to spend time with some of your customers.”
Laura Janes, Uniquity
This is the second tip which is customer-focused, and we love it! It’s something that we’ve been hearing increasingly in the marketing-scene; write for, market to and engage with humans (not search engines). After all; who is going to buy from you? The people who you are marketing to, not the search engines or social media. Makes sense when you think about it like that!
As is true to life, there is no point having a marketing strategy without a sales strategy. The two go hand in hand and so our next tip discusses what you should do with sales in 2018…
6. Listen and don’t sell too soon.
Sales is about listening not talking, make sure you are asking great questions to build a strong customer relationship. Do not sell too soon, when delivered correctly sales and customer service is EXCATLY the same thing.” Alison Edgar, The Entrepreneur’s Godmother.
As Alison says, don’t sell too soon. Making sure that your marketing strategy is set up so that customers have multiple opportunities to get to know your brand, products, and services before you are at the point of selling is absolutely critical to clinching the deal. We also love the reference to listening to the customer which echoes Andrea and Laura’s tips. (They say if you repeat something three times, people are more likely to remember it, we hope that if you take nothing else from this blog post, that you ensure to put the customer at the forefront of your marketing strategy for 2018.)
7. Don’t overcomplicate.
It can be tempting to fill your 2018 marketing strategy with lots of different types of activity (social media, blog writing, google advertising, email marketing, leaflets, telesales, posters, TV advertising, networking etc), but to go from not doing much marketing to a lot all at once, can be overwhelming. It is better to pick one thing to start with and get into the rhythm of doing it regularly. Once you are comfortable with doing that, add in a second marketing activity and so on. This way you can ensure to make the most of what you are doing, know that you are doing it well and are more likely to stick to it long- term.“ Kimba Cooper, Kimba Digital Marketing.
We hope that you’ve found this blog useful in helping you put together your marketing strategy for 2018. Thank you to everyone who has contributed their top tips. We’d love it if you would visit their websites and check out the fabulous services provided by all of the businesses included above.
At Kimba Digital Marketing, we do our marketing strategy every three months. We’ve recently delivered a ‘content marketing planning session’ for businesses at the Entrepreneurial Spark hub in Bristol and were astounded at how quickly places filled up.
We are considering running a regular ‘three-month marketing strategy planning’ workshop in Bristol if there is enough interest. If you would like to be informed about these sessions then please complete the form below.