Sure, I gave away the point of this post in the title. I couldn’t leave “magic bullet of marketing” up there without qualifying it right off the bat, lest you jump into this thinking I’ve got an easy answer to all your marketing concerns.
But that’s exactly what I encounter from prospective clients, again and again.
The conversation usually goes something like this:
Prospect: “Hi. I’ve tried everything, nothing works, and I don’t have much money to spend on marketing. How can you fix my business?”
Me: “You’ve tried everything means…”
Prospect: “I have a website, marketing material, I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. I go to networking events, too.”
Me: “Let’s talk about the content on all of these platforms.”
That’s where the conversation gets interesting.
First, I tell people there is no magic bullet. What is right for one company may be wrong for another. Facebook isn’t successful for everyone; neither is Twitter. Some websites should have plenty of bells and whistles; others need only to be a brochure site. Print advertising is where it’s at for some industries and ineffective in others. Marketing is not one-size-fits-all.
People understand. They might be disappointed, but when I frame it that way, they get it. To elaborate the point, I encourage people to look at their marketing as a whole. The brand and messaging must be clear, consistent, and distinct. This is a trap many small businesses fall into over time: They started the business with one idea and the brand has since grown or evolved (common–almost expected for a start-up), but the marketing materials aren’t uniform. If the brand isn’t cohesive, you’re sending mixed messages to potential consumers…and marketing is that much harder. That, too, seems to click.
So then I offer one more piece of advice to help them look at their marketing efforts differently: You have to know your audience and learn what’s worked and what hasn’t. Every company has a unique target demographic. Sure, stats apply: People in this age group, income bracket, exhibiting this buyer behavior and that degree of tech-savvy. Quantification is important, but it doesn’t start and end with projections. It’s an ongoing process; magic bullets don’t appy. Each customer, each product or service life cycle, each sale or completion of a project creates an aggregate whole known as Your Customer Base. Learn from it. Who’s making inquiries? Which services result in clients, which don’t seem to garner much interest? Which proposals have fallen through and why? Answer these questions, keep asking them (the answers will change over time) and refine, refine, refine.
Takeaway: Although there isn’t a magic bullet, there’s always something you can do to improve your marketing efforts, even if you think you’ve done it all. Pay attention to what others in your industry do, evaluate your existing efforts, and examine your customer base and experiences. What do you come up with? A marketing strategy that makes sense for you.