A marketing epidemic, to put it mildly, has been impacting most businesses — and it’s time to think about keeping your message simple if you haven’t already done so.
The roots of this epidemic can be traced back to two events.
First, during the economic fall of 2008, as businesses looked for ways to preserve revenue streams, companies hunkered down and focused on sales to preserve existing customers. Many cutoff or significantly reduced marketing budgets, and others shifted to digital media as a “low-cost alternative.”
The second event was the rapid spread of social media and the skyrocketing use of smartphones and tablets, which provide instant access to relationships, information and communication.
The social media craze and businesses’ desire to market on the cheap led companies to flood the marketing channels with content. Sales sheets, photos, videos, web pages — companies were suddenly all things to all people because they could push content to digital channels for “free.”
The problem — our marketing channels are now very noisy. As consumers of information, we respond to this noise with limited attention spans. The result — companies have sent confusing messages to the marketplace and people aren’t listening.
This current epidemic of marketing noise distributed across all channels leads to a common marketing need for all businesses — simplification.
Keeping it simple
So how do you achieve message simplification? It all ties back to the business. Here are seven steps to help get you started:
1. Identify three to four key business objectives for the next two years. Do you want regional growth or growth in a new industry? Do you want to sell more to existing customers?
2. Prioritize your objectives by placing dollars or number of opportunities next to them. This will help you focus on the most important areas.
3. Brainstorm a list of marketing tactics that can help you achieve each objective. Can you generate more leads from trade shows, your website, your existing customer list? What tactics do you need to adopt?
4. Write a succinct summary, or “elevator pitch.” This should be one to three sentences on how you benefit the people you are targeting in your objectives.
5. Compare your elevator pitch to your marketing tactics and existing materials. Review your website, brochures, email newsletter, social media accounts, videos, trade show collateral, etc. Notice how many “extra” things you say in an effort to cover all your bases.
6. Rework your message. Focus on the audiences for your key objectives. Identify the benefits for these audiences. Your marketing message should speak directly to these audiences so they can understand your value and usefulness to them.
7. Prioritize your marketing tactics. It’s tempting to be trendy and market on social media or through video, just remember to consider which tactics will best reach your audiences. You don’t need to be in every marketing channel, just the ones where your customers and prospects will hear you.
Finally, once you’ve simplified your message, stick to it! It is important so that people understand the benefits and value that you deliver. While it might seem repetitive to you, your audience will appreciate the clarity and with time, will remember what your business does best. ●
Kristy Amy is director of marketing strategy for SBN Interactive. Reach her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or (440) 250-7011.
While email marketing has received plenty of media coverage over the years, the topic continues to come up with clients as they prioritize marketing activities for 2013 and beyond.
In the past
Email marketing was the first social media tool. It was the first channel that allowed a message from one person or company to reach a mass audience while still being personalized in the delivery.
By 2009, the prediction of the year was that email marketing was dead because of social media.
Well, email marketing continues to be a viable and very productive marketing tactic. It also continues to outperform other channels in generating a return. According to the Direct Marketing Association:
Email generates $39.40 for every dollar spent.
Search generates $22.38 for every dollar spent.
Display generates $19.71 for every dollar spent.
Social generates $12.90 for every dollar spent.
So what makes email marketing still relevant today?
There are only two ways to directly and uniquely contact a person to initiate a one-on-one conversation: by email and by cell phone. While some might argue that social channels enable engagement, social continues to be a “group discussion” and not a direct conversation. This means that an email address and a cell phone number are the doorway to direct communication with an individual — a prized asset!
How are companies using email?
- Email newsletters — Email newsletters are the backbone of any email marketing program. What makes email newsletters work today is a dedication to developing content that is truly different, meaningful and succinct that your readers (customers and prospects alike) can quickly read and apply to their business. This is not the generic newsletter of the past containing 10 articles. This is a thoughtfully written educational piece that provides value to the reader.
- Triggered email campaigns — While the usage of email newsletters has dropped slightly in the last two years, there is a rise in the use of targeted and segmented emails. Sending content (emails) to people that speaks to their stage in the buying process significantly increases open rates while also increasing the positioning of your brand as a value-added partner. These are opt-in emails that are time triggered to an event whether that is a subscription date or a recent purchase.
- Email updates in social media — All social media platforms from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube use email as a fundamental backbone of their infrastructure. By actively participating in social networks, you increase the chance of your content being featured in a social update email generated by the social platforms. This can range from general updates about your company to your individual employees being featured as subject-matter experts within the social email.
- Email and social together — Content creates conversation and conversation creates content. Social media and email marketing, when used together, are a powerful combination that engages your audience. For example, if you post a question to a social channel that generates responses from your community, these responses can then be turned into content for an email newsletter or blog. Similarly, interesting and powerful content sent via email can ask people to comment or share their opinion thus serving as the conversation initiator on a social channel.
The landscape for email marketing continues to evolve. Email stands to experience another transition this year as trends point to email readership on mobile devices to surpass the 50 percent mark by the end of 2013. The questions to ask yourself are: How do your emails look on mobile? How will your company leverage the oldest social tool for conversation and content?
Kristy Amy is the director of digital strategy for Smart Business Network. Reach her at email@example.com or (440) 250-7011.