The First Thing You Should Do In Marketing

Don’t just pick a few tactics and hope for the best. Smart leaders take a more strategic approach

 
Written by Lisa Shepherd

When I’m talking to clients—typically, the leaders of B2B businesses—they often have the same question: Where should we start?

Their confusion is justified. There are dozens of different things you can do to launch a marketing campaign: everything from traditional tactics like trade shows and direct mail, to newer efforts like webinars and marketing automation.

Instead of blindly picking one or two tactics and hoping for the best, it’s essential to start by making a plan. Confirm your marketing strategy, decide on the target market you’re going after, come up with a value proposition (a succinct “this is what we do” statement will suffice) and choose what position you want to take in the market. Only when you have those things locked down should you start looking at different ways to execute them.

From there, think about the customers you’re pursuing, and what you’re promoting. Most people will jump into pursuing new customers and promoting new services to them. The far better ROI, though, is to sell to your existing customer base: upselling and cross-selling is where you should start.

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Next up is your tactical roadmap. This is where you decide on things like developing a new website, putting together sales collateral, creating content and the like. Consider what will get you the best ROI; don’t go with flashy marketing tactics first if you haven’t built a solid foundation. (Building good marketing is like building a house; without an established base, it’ll just fall apart.)

Overall, while the efficacy of different marketing tactics will vary from business to business, there are some that are almost always a good starting point. Here they are:

  • If you don’t have a website that represents you well, this should be your first priority. It doesn’t make sense to do a bunch of advertising that sends people to a sub-par site. It will just scare potential customers away.
  • Sales collateral is important, too. You need decent sales support material to help your sales team go out into the market with confidence.
  • Email marketing delivers excellent ROI. While the new CASL legislation has affected who you can email, if you have a large customer base or have educational content to deliver to your target market, consider email.
  • There’s a lot of buzz around social media, but don’t jump into social if you haven’t built a solid foundation. While many people call social media “free,” it really isn’t. It takes time and intelligence to do it well.

These four principles will serve you well when deciding where to start. Just remember not to be overwhelmed by your options: it’s better to do a little bit really well than to try everything and have it all fall apart.

Lisa Shepherd is author of Market Smart: How to Gain Customers and Increase Profits with B2B Marketing and president of The Mezzanine Group, a business-to-business strategy and marketing company based in Toronto. She was the youngest female CEO of a company on PROFIT’s ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies in 2007 and 2008 and is a frequent public speaker on B2B marketing strategy and execution.

More columns by Lisa Shepherd

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com

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