Research and Measurement

Marketing Resolutions To Keep for 2015!

HNYWith the New Year upon us, most of us are taking the time to reflect on the past year and look towards the next. Everyone will soon be talking about how 2015 will be the best year yet – without it actually having happened yet! But it doesn’t have to be all talk. Here are four resolutions to keep in your marketing plan for the coming year:

  1. Check out the competition: See where your competition is spending their money, you could learn something! Are they focusing on branding themselves? What keywords do they use on their website? Knowing this information will inform your marketing strategy and will help find ways to help you stick out from your competition.
  2. Explore your social platforms: Find what platform works best for you and engages your target audience the most. If your subject matter is image heavy, don’t be disappointed if you’re struggling with success on Twitter – it may not be where your best audience is. Try Instagram instead!
  3. Invest in measurement: Whether you’re looking to launch a national campaign, book an ad in a magazine, or start a blog, make sure that wherever you choose to spend your marketing dollars on has the best ROI.
  4. Increase your curiosity: Never stop trying and testing new campaigns or messaging! You will not only keep your content fresh, but over time you will refine messages to your current target markets, and find new ones. Digital advertising is one of the most flexible mediums for messaging and testing new content. Get out there!

2014 wouldn’t have been the kind of year it was for CreativeWorks without my incredible clients! Thank you. Your businesses inspire me and I look forward to working with you in 2015.

To those of you following this blog or engaging in my discussions on LinkedIn who are not my clients, thank you for your interest and engagement. In 2015, I will continue to bring you hands-on, thought-provoking insights and case studies based on my personal experiences as the owner of a Canadian marketing agency.

On behalf of all of us at CreativeWorks Marketing, I wish you and your family the very best for the holidays and New Year!

Are there any topics you’d like me to write about in 2015? Please share your questions and comments below.

If it’s a Good Product – Why Don’t I Know It?

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We hear it all the time: “Why haven’t I heard of it if it’s as good as they claim?” The answer could be that the product or new brand is not as good as it claims to be OR, more likely, it is a great brand, but the company lacks the funds to create a branding strategy.

I recently came across an article in a local paper about a fantastic cleaning product that has been able to strip wood and treat it without any toxic chemicals or ingredients. Despite the proven success from various carpenters, the product has only received distribution via two small retail stores.

This is an ideal example of a great product idea that may in fact be the uber wood-refinishing product, but without a strong branding or a strategic marketing plan, the public is just unaware of this product.  In a world of supply and demand, if the public is unaware of a product then there is no demand, and with no demand few retailers are going to carry said product.

Unfortunately, without deep pockets it is difficult to get your brand noticed. Most large “name” brands not only had branding strategies, they had substantial marketing budgets that involved cross platform spending.

As a smaller brand, it is hard to get noticed, particularly by large retailers who need product to fly off their shelves. Though our pockets may not be as deep, the good news is we can all take a page out of the “big brand” approach by taking the initial steps of having a strong brand and a strategic marketing plan.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure your small brand gets the recognition it deserves. 

  1. Prove validity: Create a strategic plan (include some competitive research, outline your target audience, what makes your brand or product unique, etc.)
  2. Plan in: Create a detailed tactical marketing plan – this is where you outline marketing tactic details and your annual budget to implement said tactics. This would include pricing and finding relevant community events where you can market your product or brand, as well as pricing ads in publications relevant to your audience, the costs for sponsoring a sports team, etc.  You will need to outline a yearly and a month-by-month budget with the details of what can be achieved each month.
  3. Build it: Create consistent messaging, imagery and branding (use the same colours, same tag, same placement, etc.)
  4. Stick to it: Stick to your plan; do not veer from what you have planned
  5. Evaluate: As the monthly activities are completed, assess and evaluate them for ROI. If certain activities had a good ROI, you might want to reinvest or even expand next year. If the activity did not meet the mark, then you may want to consider eliminating it, altering it or replacing it next year.

Without deep pockets, having a strategy and detailed plan will allow you to build a slow and steady brand… and as you may remember from the childhood story The Tortoise and The Hare – “slow and steady wins the race!” With the right amount of determination, your brand can become so well known that you can take your name right off your logo – and still be instantly recognized!

Do you feel if you had a larger marketing budget your brand would be more successful? Do you feel having a solid strategy has helped you build your brand?  Do you have a tactical plan? Please share your experience in the comments below.

“You Like Me… You Really Like Me!”

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Coined by Sally Field in 1985, the infamous (and actually misquoted) “like me” line was delivered when she won an academy award for her performance in Places in the Heart. This saying is also true for many SMB owners who tell me that their customers choose them “because they like our amazing customer service”, or “our quick response times” or “our knowledge of the business”.

It’s not surprising that no matter how long a SMB has been in business, the business owner feels they know their customers well.  However, what is surprising is that many of these business owners will defend how well they know their customers based on a “gut” feeling or “years dealing with their customers”, but only a few of them can actually validate their claims. When there are literally thousands of choices for customers to choose from, your company really needs to understand not just who they are, but who your customers are and why they would choose to buy from you versus your competitors.

The best method I recommend SMB owners use to help them better understand their customers is to create a customer survey. It shouldn’t be more than 10 questions that your customer can easily answer, and it will help you determine why they have chosen your service/product. Here are a few tips on what should be on your survey to help your business get the best insights and results:

  1. Type of Questions – The questions should be mostly open-ended. You are looking for as much data as you can get, so you don’t want a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
  2. Professionalism – The survey needs to be professionally written and laid-out.
  3. Delivery – Offer this survey online via a private landing page, or as a direct email to clients as an interactive PDF. If your customer base is small, make personal calls or better yet, make the survey part of your client meetings.
  4. Incentive – Depending on how difficult you feel it may be to get customers to fill out your survey, you may want to offer some sort of incentive, such as the first 15 customers to reply will win a $25 gift certificate.
  5. Appreciation – Once you know a customer has filled in the survey, you need to establish a mechanism for saying thank you.
  6. End Date – Make sure you provide an end date for the survey so you can analyze the results.
  7. Provide Timely Feedback and Actionable Items – Once you have analyzed the results of the survey, share the top-level results with your clients in a timely manner. Make a point to note how their input has helped you better serve them by outlining some actionable items.
  8. Communicate – As the actionable items are completed, make a point to communicate it to your customers so they feel “heard”. This communication validates that you care about their opinion, which in turn builds loyalty.

In marketing, if you want them to “like you”, you need to spend the time to find out why they do, so you can build marketing strategies that target their needs.

Do you feel it is critical to your marketing success to understand your customer? Have you ever conducted a formal customer survey?  If so, what advantage did this give you in the marketplace? If not, what other methods do you use to ascertain what your customers want?  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

#4 Piece of Advice for SMBs is Tracking Marketing Tactics

measurementContinuing in our series on the results from our online poll a few weeks ago, we asked what the best piece of advice a SMB owner needs to help them grow their business and the fourth highest response was “”track your marketing results”.

Even though it ranked fourth in our poll, I want to highlight just how important this point really is. As a marketer, tracking marketing results is key, and it helps us determine the success of a campaign and also can indicate what decisions we should make in terms of further investment, making tweaks to a campaign and setting the expected return on investment (ROI).

Many SMB owners have produced brochures, one page ads, sell sheets, flyers, and even websites, but when asked for the ROI on each of these marketing tactics they are hard pressed to produce the results.  With analytics available on everything these days from emails and websites to webkeys and radio ads, SMB owners need to know that they can ask for and expect results. I have outlined below what I feel are the top marketing tactics that SMB’s need to be measuring.

  1. Do you have Google Analytics on your site? If not, why not? Google Analytics is free and lets you measure your advertising ROI as well as track your Flash, video, and social networking sites and applications.  At a minimum, you should receive a regular report about your site from your marketing agency or internal resource. If you have extra time, ask you marketing agency not just for a report, but also to give you access to your Google Analytics account.  You need to be looking at this report and make sure you understand what it means. If it doesn’t make sense to you… then work with them until you can clearly see the value.
  2. If you are using print in your marketing, make sure the print pieces can be tracked.  One way to do this is to add a code to each piece and have the recipient quote that code when they contact you. Another way is to add a QR code to your print materials and then you can measure the success of the “visits” on the site you have entered into the code.
  3. Online marketing should all be measurable via its own application, a landing page or links to your site.
  4. E-blast vendors all offer analytics – open rates, click through rates, etc.  Make sure you get a report once you send out the email so you can assess the results to determine if it met your campaign objectives.

Before you launch any marketing tactic, make sure it’s tied to your marketing strategy, has clear objectives with clearly defined goals and ensure you have a measurement system in place that will help you meet your objectives and achieve your results.

Have you ever launched a tactic without using measurement?  How did you decide if it was successful or not?  How important is the measurement of your tactics? I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions on tracking your marketing results.