Author’s note: this article is based on a presentation I did on September 19, 2016 at the National Association of Background Screeners conference in Palm Springs. I would like to thank our sponsor, NetForce Global.
When it comes to growth strategies, and promoting a business or brand, I’ve found that many business owners and marketers make the process too complicated. Marketing, as a business function, only seems complex because it rarely generates the results marketers hope to gain. You’ve likely heard this before, but it bears repeating, “Hope is not a strategy.” So what are the secrets to a successful growth strategy…that accelerate revenue generation?
To be effective at promotion, and generating a positive return on your marketing investments, you only need to do four things right. You need to target the right market, with the right message, through the right media, at the right moment. What could be simpler?
OK, I’m being a bit cheeky. While it’s true that you need to do those four things right to succeed in growing your business, the problem is, even if you get just one of those four things wrong, your entire marketing program can fail. Here is how you go about “getting it all right.” Breakdown the four components and tackle them one at a time…in sequential order
The Right Market: The process of targeting a market is counter intuitive. You’d think that the larger the market you target, the more customers you’d attract. That tactic actually results in the opposite effect. If you spread your marketing resources (human and financial capital) too thin, you won’t create the necessary impact. Several studies cite “the rule of seven” referencing that it takes an average of seven exposures to a marketing message before consumers recall the advertiser or respond to the offer. The same is true for sales, you need frequent contacts to cultivate a relationship. Based on your budget, you may want to target a smaller footprint, a single more responsive segment, or use fewer channels.
The Right Message: This can be the most difficult of the four secrets to “get right.” Your message needs to have four qualities to be effective: 1) It should grab your audience’s attention with a strong hook or headline, 2) the message should be relevant, in terms of solving a problem or satisfying a need, 3) it should differentiate your offer from those of competitors, and 4) your message should include a specific call-to-action…which will make measuring the results much easier. If you are a business selling to a businesses (B2B), the same four qualities apply. The best way to assure you have content and messaging that will stick…ask your customers (only those you want to replicate); they’ll share what is most important to them.
The Right Channel: Once you’re focused on the right market, and have the right message, you’ll need the right delivery system, or mode of communication. This is another challenging aspect of marketing because there are so many media choices. You’ll want to narrow down your options based on the media your audience regularly consumes. In other words, make your online and offline media selections based on the channels that prove to be most cost-efficient at reaching your target market. For business development professionals, your channels will also include person-to-person contact and the use of selling tools such as presentations, collateral and video.
The Right Time: Timing is also important. The closer you time the delivery of your message to the purchasing patterns of your prospects, the more sales you’ll generate. In many product and service categories, there are sales peaks and valleys. If your business falls into one of those seasonal categories, you’ll want to time your message to hit just ahead of the peaks, and lower or eliminate your spending level during the valleys. If there is no seasonality to your business, you’d spread your budget evenly throughout the year. Another important consideration is the timing of your competitors. By promoting your business when competitors are not, you will, in effect, increase your share of voice in the marketplace. If you are in B2B sales, your timing has more to do with individual prospects’ preferences than promotion cycles.
I acknowledge that “doing all four of these things right” is easier said than done; however, if you breakdown the marketing communications and sales processes into these four categories—market, message, media and moment—you’ll find the function of marketing less complex, easier to manage, and likely enjoy a greater return on your marketing investments.