These days, marketers and small businesses alike are dealing with a challenging marketing landscape. We are faced with an explosion of media outlets, content, devices, and data. On top of all of this, technology has significantly increased the rate at which things change. If we can count on anything, it's that it will change!
Admittedly, this can all be quite overwhelming. Where do you even begin?
First, breathe. When it comes down to it, smart marketing is about knowing your customers and delivering the right message at the right time using the most appropriate channel.
The even better news is that a successful marketing strategy is not built overnight. It's built through a series of small iterative steps that help you create value for your customers, quickly respond to change and remain sane in the process.
If this isn't as easy as it sounds, consider these 10 tips as you create your inbound marketing strategy:
1. Love your customers.
Customers often don’t act in the predictable ways that we assume they’ll act. Understanding your customers requires good communication, respect and constant engagement. Doing so will help you focus, prioritize, and determine when a change may be needed.
2. Use a roadmap.
The marketing plan is dead. That is, the 20-page plan that sits in a binder on a shelf. A roadmap is an outline that documents where you want to go and how you might get there based on your business goals and your customers' needs. It's meant to be a pulse check to keep you focused on higher level objectives not a manuscript.
3. Prioritize work.
When everything is a priority, nothing is! Once you feel good about your general direction, prioritize the work that will deliver the most perceived value for your customers and your business. Commit to a timeline, preferably 2-3 weeks, to complete these tasks. Stay focused and limit distractions that do not align with your commitment.
4. Eliminate the need for perfection.
Humphrey's law states that "Customers don't know what they want until they see what they don't need." If you're spending time perfecting a campaign that generates zero results, you've wasted a lot of time and money. Create a minimally viable option, launch, evaluate and either change direction or continue based on results.
5. Know your limits.
Trying to balance everything will quickly take a toll on you. You can accomplish much more by adding less to your plate and saying no to things that aren't delivering value.
6. Just start.
Action is clarity. It's easy to get stuck on how to do something. Chances are you won’t take action. By just starting, you will continue the forward momentum and clarity will come as a result. Stop questioning all of the what-ifs and learn from what actually happens.
7. Test, Test, Test.
A successful inbound strategy is all about testing. Just as in science class, create a hypothesis and experiment with different channels, messages, photos, blog posts, social content, etc. Constantly testing and adapting builds a successful strategy over time.
8. Make decisions using data.
As you start to test different inbound marketing tactics, be sure you have some form of measurement in place. It doesn't have to be some insanely complicated metric or formula. Data allows you to make smarter, fact-based decisions as opposed to opinion.
9. Learn fast, Adapt faster.
Every few weeks set aside some time to digest your results. Focus on how you can improve, what's working, what's not, and actionable things to focus on in the next month. Responding to change will keep you ahead of the curve.
By celebrating your wins, you keep morale up. In this kind of environment, it’s easy to move on to the next thing and not pause for a moment to celebrate your accomplishments.
A few very small steps can often have big results for your marketing strategy. Do what you can and remember to have fun in the process!