If you want to put together a kickass marketing campaign, there are a few things you need to keep top of mind: who are you, who is your customer, and how are you reaching your customer? It’s no longer enough to just advertise. You need to engage with your clients and deliver on your promises. And most of all, you need to give them products and services that they want and need.
Entrepreneur spoke to marketing experts from across the local marketing industry on what they believe the hottest trends for 2012 will be, and how you can leverage them for your brand – and grow your business.
The art of focus
Before you embark on your marketing journey, keep in mind the golden rule of marketing: maintain focus. Choose one area to focus your energy on, and allow the campaign time to develop. If something really isn’t working, rather abandon it than throw good money after bad, but before you make any snap judgements, give your campaign time to gather momentum. Well strategised campaigns all have the following ingredients in common:
- They are based on realistic goals
- They are well researched and planned
- They are based on what the customer wants
- They are backed up by great products and services and a strong focus on the customer
- They are measured and adjusted accordingly.
But over and above these points, they are achieved through a dedicated commitment to the campaign and remaining true to the core message.
“Instead of doing dozens of campaigns half-heartedly or with a very limited budget, rather focus on your most promising marketing activities and give 100% to that campaign,” says Axel Rittershaus, founder of Targetter. Lorna Powe, founder of Sales Partners agrees. “Many people start a marketing campaign, only to change it a week later in favour of something else. The problem is that people don’t listen every time they see an advert or read something. Politicians have a saying ‘Tell them, tell them and then say it again.’ Marketing is exactly the same. People need to hear your message three times before they begin to remember it. But once the momentum begins all you need to do is keep it going.”
1. Set goals
Know what you want to achieve
Successfully implementing a great marketing strategy all begins with keeping the end in mind. What do you want to achieve? Once you know that, you can start planning how you are going to get there.
So what does this mean?
According to Powe, determining your marketing goal is all about deciding why you are marketing in the first place: Are you looking to create brand awareness?
An increase in sales? Are you launching a new product? What is your ultimate goal? If it’s an increase in sales, how much of an increase? These are all questions you need to consider before you waste time and resources on a campaign that doesn’t achieve its objectives.
What’s your strategy?
John French, communications specialist and founder of Corporate Intelligence, advises that you start by setting simple and SMART marketing goals:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time-based
“Once you know what your goals are, you can start putting an action plan together,” he says. “But don’t only look at what you want to achieve – evaluate any threats and obstacles that may prevent you from achieving your targets and goals.” This will allow you to prepare for any eventuality, but it will also force you to examine your target market: are you giving them something they want or need?
2. The planning stage
Moving from the general to the specific
Traditional marketing was general. Its aim was wide rather than targeted, and so strategies were designed to appeal to as many people as possible. Today there is so much choice available, that strategies have needed to change. “In the past few years, marketing has become more focused on the individual,” says Tim Shier, MD of BrandsEye. “This allows businesses to better align their marketing strategies and make better business decisions.” It also means that you need to really think about who your consumer is.
So what does this mean?
According to Scott Gray, head of Quirk’s strategy department, planning before embarking on any campaign should be a priority. “It’s something that people don’t do enough of,” he adds. “SME owners and marketing departments often jump headfirst into wherever the shiny object might lead them, and that ends up being a waste of effort. Have relevant goals in mind before embarking on any campaign – and then use those goals to come up with a plan that you can implement.”
This requires keeping the consumer top of mind as well. Greg Kockott, MD of PenQuin International, believes that marketing strategies are determined by how the potential target market is consuming and engaging with various media. “The most important aspect is to understand who your target market is, where they are, how they consume media and how best to talk to them. Too often the term ‘everyone’ is used when trying to define a target market. South Africa is a country of many demographics and psychographics. To create a strategy targeting ‘everyone’ would cost more than the GDP of a small country.” It would also be ineffective. This is true of large corporations and SMEs alike. Who is your target market?
What’s your strategy?
“Strategies need to be tailored to suit your consumers,” says Kockott. “For example, selling bricks through a massive TV campaign will be costly and largely ineffective because you’re missing your target audience. You need to rather target the building industry through the use of trade magazines. First off, understand who purchases bricks and understand what media they consume.” In other words, marketing isn’t industry specific, but consumer-specific. Who is your consumer?
“When you start the planning process, you need to think laterally,” says French. “The old marketing paradigms and formulas for making money no longer work in our fast-changing economic climate and landscape. You need to reinvent yourself and your business, spot new opportunities, be ahead of the pack and have a ‘marketing differentiator’ that makes your business stand out above your competition. Making money is a creative, intelligent process.” French adds that you need to understand your market. “What is the prevailing mood? What are the current trends? Where is the market heading? Are you one step ahead? You need to anticipate the market and not be behind your competitors in responding to trends.”
Finally, how are you going to reach your market? “Communication will make or break your business,” says French. “Your market needs to know about you and your business. A website, blog and social media platform does not guarantee anything. Find the easiest and most effective way to reach your target market, and communicate with them.”
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3. Measure, measure, measure
Do you get a return on your marketing investment?
Marketing is an investment, and like all investments, you need to be able to measure your returns. “Check the success of your recent activities and pick the best ones,” advises Axel Rittershaus. “If you can’t check them, you have to implement a system to measure their success – otherwise you’re just playing around doing what you like.”
So what does this mean?
The basic rule of thumb? Measure everything. “What you can measure, you can manage,” says Gray. “Know what you spend in terms of time and resources, and be clear about what you get in return. Web analytics can help you get results, even with the most basic of these tools.
“You also need to keep in mind that your consumer stays your consumer. They sit at their computers and do the same thing. It’s not a question of you changing their behaviour, but understanding their behaviour. What is their mind-set the moment before they engage with your brand? It’s about trying to predict what that is and adjusting your strategy to suit it. There should be no defined law or rule on what you can use, as long as you can measure how it’s working.”
What’s your strategy?
“You need to understand the full measurement landscape,” advises Shier. “Research done by the Digital Media and Marketing Association in 2011 found that far too few South African corporates were measuring all elements of their marketing campaigns.
Setting up key performance measures across all social media, marketing, digital and advertising channels, and subsequently benchmarking success around these points should be the starting point. Businesses that perform particularly well will take this one step further and use the collective insights and reports to drive better strategic marketing decisions.”
But the whole point of measuring the impact of your marketing campaign is so that you can constantly adjust your strategy. Don’t change what your are doing entirely, but react to changes in the consumer. “The secret to marketing is five-fold,” says Susan Hansford, business development manager, Primedia Online. “You first need to understand your audience. This will help you explore new opportunities and distribution channels in marketing to your audience. You then need to revisit your marketing mix to ensure it’s still delivering the results you want. If there are areas you haven’t explored, test them within the overall campaign. This will ensure an integrated approach in which your brand is delivered across all the media your audience consumes. But most importantly, you need to constantly be recalculating and then adjusting your strategy to changes in your
BrandsEye: For online reputation management and insights. www.brandseye.com
Radian6: Social media monitoring tools, social media engagement software and social CRM. www.radian6.com
Adding value is the secret to selling
Here’s the deal: even the best (and most expensive) marketing campaign will not work if your products and services do not support your campaign. “All industries are driven by consumers and although consumers vary, one thing they have in common is that most decisions made are based on an emotional rationale,” explains Ryan McFadyen, co-founder of word-of-mouth agency, HaveYouHeard. “No matter what the industry, if you can emotionally engage with your consumer, you will drive purchase, loyalty and advocacy.”
Put another way, this means you will make sales. The opposite is also true though. If you don’t engage with your customer and don’t deliver on your promises, you face not only losing one sale, but also the risk of your unhappy customers talking.
So what does this mean?
If you want to make sales, you need to add value. “We see 2012 as the year when outstanding performance becomes the central theme for all brands,” says McFadyen. “Gone are the days when consumers lacked choice and big brands dominated. Marketers will need to ensure that every aspect of their mix performs better than that of their competitors, whether it be product attributes and performance or customer service. Consumers are becoming ever more vocal. If your product does something exceptional they will tell people, whether through face to face communication or social media. To this same point, if you do something wrong, they will be even more vocal about it.”
It’s also important not to forget your bread and butter. “It’s far easier and more cost effective to retain existing customers than get new ones,” says Kockott. “Far too often companies and individuals spend too much time and money trying to acquire new clients and forget that current clients are core to a successful ongoing concern. It’s critical to spend enough of your time and marketing budget servicing existing clients.”
What’s your strategy?
“The most important rule for 2012 is this: Do not market your product,” says Rittershaus. “Forget it. Understand that nobody wants your product. As consumers we only buy products and services to get a result – and that’s what you’ve got to promote! Nobody wants to buy a protein drink or a new gadget – we want to have the hottest body on the beach and be the trendsetter amongst our friends. If you market the value your customers are getting, you will be way ahead of your product-centric competitors.”
Over and above demonstrating value, it’s important to keep in mind that a business does not sell itself. “You and your sales staff need to have phenomenal sales skills to break into the market and increase market share,” says French. “Hard selling died in the 90s and consumers today are far more informed and have far more choices than in the past. Sales people need excellent communication and emotional intelligence skills to build rapport and sell to customers. Those who go for training excel and succeed.”
French also believes that it’s easier to sell and succeed with people you already have a relationship with than to cold call and sell to strangers. “So, get out there and create new business friendships. Sadly, most traditional networking groups tend to be desperate support groups for people who have no network. Great networkers go out there and make the connections they need to succeed.”
Another important part of selling is improving client experiences. “Customers today simply do not tolerate bad service. You need to offer better customer service than your competitors in order to grow your business. By up-skilling your staff you will ensure that your customers enjoy a better customer experience with your company, and you in turn buy customer loyalty.”
Finally, keep lifting your game. “I know it’s a cliché, but the word ‘success’ really does only come before ‘work’ in the dictionary,” says French. “If you don’t continue to grow your business, it simply stagnates and decays. The best sports stars go for more and more coaching the better they become. So continue to ‘sharpen your saw’, strategise continually to up your game, and find ways to improve your performance and market offering.”
Online sales funnel management.
5. Create brand fans
Garnering passion for your brand
Part of adding value is building rapport. Your consumers need to trust you, and this requires starting and maintaining conversations with them. “You need to make your customers proud to be your client,” says Rittershaus. “This begins with really caring about them, which equates to outstanding customer service and making them happy whenever they interact with your company – even when they complain.”
McFadyen agrees. “Be honest in everything you do. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and rectify it. You will be surprised how passionate people can be when they
receive unexpected service.”
So what does this mean?
“2012 will see marketing become less about broadcasting your message and more about creating a relationship with your consumer,” says McFadyen. “The vast majority of our consumers shop with their emotions. They will look for a rational reason to purchase a product, like what the product does or why it is superior to the next and then take an emotional decision to purchase it. The key in 2012 will be to build that relationship and emotionally engage with your customer to build success. This will also drive loyalty.”
What’s your strategy?
First, understand that while marketing used to have a very general aim, in the past few years it has become more focused on the individual. While this allows businesses to better align their marketing strategies and make better business decisions, it also means you need to focus on that individual and speak directly to your clients.
“Story telling is the new brand opportunity,” says Shier. “As more customers move online, the role of storytelling around brands will increase. Research conducted by Edelman, a full service global public relations firm shows that traditional advertising trust is in decline. This means that brands have to engage their customers in a more meaningful way, while illustrating their positioning and values.” You also need to treat customers as if they were shareholders. “In the last few years there has been a massive change in the role customers play in the business landscape. They are better informed and actively engaging with customers provides an opportunity to integrate their insights, needs and recommendations into the business strategy,” says Shier. “This is a great, real-time means of informing business and marketing strategy to better align with the identified needs.”
Once you have built a solid client base use it. “Tap into your existing database and turn them into brand advocates,” says McFadyen. “Use them to spread your message through their social networks. You can even go as far as using a selected number of your consumers to help you design new products or drive innovation within your existing portfolio. After all, who knows better what your consumers want than your consumers. As you relinquish control and involve your consumer within your marketing mix, your brand will succeed.”
The key to consumer involvement is creating great content. “Before you know it you’ve got yourself very far on very little or even no budget,” says Gray.
“The real trick is filling these spaces with content that engages and ultimately serves to change the behaviour of your consumers so that they buy your product and believe in
The SA Consumer Initiative: Communicate with your specific target audience via email or sms. The SACI database comprises 22,5 million South Africans. www.thesaci.co.za
MailChimp:Free email marketing for up to 2 000 contacts. www.mailchimp.com
Google Feedburner: Free email marketing. Feedburner.google.com
Useful Marketing Tactics For Growing Businesses
Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.
Digital marketing offers the business world so many advantages, including the ability to communicate with their target markets quickly and easily. Unfortunately, digital marketing has also opened doors for companies to flood mail boxes, news feeds and ad spaces with junk mail and spam resulting in customers tuning out to anything irrelevant and suspicious.
Customers have become less likely to trust companies and less receptive to messages. The only way for valuable messaging to stand out from the noise is if a business knows how to market itself properly.
Over and above advertising, there are a lot of other aspects that contribute towards an effective marketing strategy, these include research, email, content creation, list curation, social media and even customer service. To be a successful marketer it isn’t necessary to become an expert in every single marketing tactic, but it is important to master the most important areas. Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.
1. Customer acquisition
Of course, not all customers are the same. Some customers are only interested in buying products on sale from a particular brand and then never interact with that brand again. Acquiring, and of course retaining customers with a high lifetime value should be the overall objective for businesses, but this requires more time and money being invested in better, more qualified leads. While the upfront costs might be higher, in the long-term this investment will pay off with continued business from these lifetime customers.
2. Customer experience
Competitive pricing can’t be the only aspect that businesses focus on in order to stand out against competitors. In the current digital era customers expect a good customer experience when they deal with brands so this should be an important focus area for all businesses. Customers expect fast and seamless experiences such as intuitive user interfaces and processes, fast websites and service response times, as well as accurate information about the problems they face.
Customers don’t want to waste their time on websites that require them to jump through hoops, and they definitely don’t want to feel misled by anything a business is communicating. Customers will quickly move on to other sites that offer better experiences as well as other businesses that are more trustworthy. Good customer experiences can go a long way.
Offering more personalised, interactive engagement tactics and improving the customer technology interface should be high priorities for businesses.
3. Content marketing
Marketing is no longer about telling customers that your brand is the best. With the movement towards content marketing, marketing has become about showing customers why you are the best. Content marketing is a legitimate, effective strategy that every business and brand should make use of. While content marketing is a lot more cost effective than outbound marketing, it also generates three times as many leads and offers many other benefits.
Content is a key feature for growing businesses who want to survive in an information rich environment. Customers are looking for brands that provide value beyond their products so creating high-quality content can help you grab your audience’s attention.
Although there are many other factors that are involved in an effective marketing strategy, seeking out customers with a high lifetime value, providing them with a great customer experience while also providing them with valuable content is a recipe for success.
An ‘Outside-the-Box’ Approach to the e-Commerce Unboxing Experience
Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.
With a predicted 24,79 million e-commerce users in South Africa by 2021, online shopping is here to stay, making it impossible to escape the predicament of perfecting the art of product packaging. It’s time to think outside the box when it comes to creating a meaningful unboxing experience. Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.
Certain types of product packaging are having a tremendous negative impact on our environment, with 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris littering the world’s oceans, and with 269,000 tonnes of this amount floating on the surface – and plastic isn’t the only culprit. Did you know that it’s impossible for Styrofoam to ever be broken down completely? And that 1 million single-use coffee cups wind up in landfill every single minute of every day? These statistics make it obvious as to why it’s becoming so important for business owners to be more conscious about the type of packaging that they use.
Many business owners wonder if their customers really care whether their business is doing its part to protect the environment. According to Forbes and a 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study, the answer is a resounding ‘YES, they most certainly do!’.
87% of the consumers surveyed stated that they always have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues, and 88% claimed that they usually feel more loyal toward a company that they know supports social or environmental issues.
Thoughtful Thank-You Notes
The unboxing experience should be a unique and personal one, and it should be just as memorable as the experience of utilising the product itself! So, make it all the more special and build customer loyalty by including a personalised thank you note. Address the customer by their first name, thank them sincerely for their patronage and end off by giving them some helpful advice regarding the product, or share an interesting benefit of using it. Go the extra, extra mile by hand-writing the letter too.
Everyone loves getting free stuff. Why not bolster the unboxing experience by sending over a little bit more than expected? Not only will a free sample put a big smile on the face of the receiver, if they actually enjoy using it, there’s also a good chance that they’ll be coming back to order more. According to Shopify, free samples have the potential to boost sales by as much as 2,000%.
When it comes to packaging, make the right choice. Sustainable, thoughtful, memorable. Your customers, and the environment, will thank you for it.
The Facebook Ads Strategy That Can’t Lose
It’s a numbers game.
Running a profitable Facebook Ads campaign is simple. Not always easy, but simple.
There is a formula that can guarantee a profitable Facebook Ad campaign. Once you know the formula and the values to plug in, you’ll never sink money into a losing digital ad campaign again. I know it sounds too good to be true, but stick with me…
The Guaranteed Growth Formula
Here’s the entire formula: CPA < AP
Were you expecting coefficients, remainders and dividing by polynomials? Nope, there are only two values that matter when assessing your digital marketing funnel.
1. CPA – Cost Per Acquisition
2. AP – Average Profit Per Client
If your Cost Per Acquisition, the amount you pay to generate a paying customer using Facebook Ads, is less than the Average Profit you make from each new customer you’re guaranteed a profitable campaign.
Calculating Average Profit
To get average profit per client, sum your total revenue from new clients and subtract what you spent to serve them. Divide the result by the total new clients. For example, if you made $75,000 from 10 new clients over the past year and it cost you $40,000 to serve them, your average profit is:
($75,000 – $40,000) / 10 = $3500 Average Profit Per Client
If your average acquisition cost for similar future clients is less than $3500, your campaign will technically be profitable.
Of course most businesses won’t want to spend all of their profit on acquisition. An average business can expect to invest at least 7 percent but no more than 15 percent of revenue in sales and marketing. If Cost of Goods accounts for 60 percent or more of total revenue, your low profit margin may make it difficult to afford successful advertising. Decrease operating costs by increasing efficiency or adjust your margin by raising prices.
Don’t make the mistake of calculating Average Profit based on revenue only from the first sale. Use at least six months of revenue or your lifetime client value as the basis for your calculation, or you risk underfunding your marketing and sales budget.
Calculating Cost Per Acquisition
Let’s assume you’ve considered all of your marketing and sales costs and determined you can spend $350 per new client on Facebook Ads. Let’s reverse engineer your ad campaign to see if a $350 cost of acquisition is reasonable.
The simplest Facebook ads funnel includes four metrics that build upon each other to determine your acquisition cost. I’ve included standard benchmarks for use as a starting point, but your results may differ:
1. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Percentage of people clicking on your ad. Your CTR should be near or above 1 percent.
2. Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost of one website visit. CPC should generally be below $3.
3. Lead Conversion Rate – The percentage of site traffic that becomes qualified leads. This value should be 20 percent or above.
4. Sales Conversion Rate – The percentage of leads that convert to a sale. Aim for sales conversion at or above 5 percent. (E-commerce companies often skip the Lead Conversion stage and have a Sales Conversion Rate of 1 percent or greater.)
If 10,000 people view your ad at a 1 percent CTR, you’ll get about 100 website visits. At a $3 CPC, you’ve spent $300. Since 20 percent of your traffic will become leads and 5 percent of those leads become closed sales, we can calculate that you’ll generate approximately 60 leads and three new customers.
Your estimated acquisition cost using Facebook Ads is $100 per client, which is well within your budget of $350. This cost may rise as you scale and target less optimal prospects, but as long as your acquisition cost is less than $350 you’ll make an acceptable profit.
Complex funnels can include several ads and conversion points, but the Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP still applies. There’s no immediate reason for concern if your metrics differ from the benchmarks. You can and should split test ideas for improvement if your numbers are far from what you expect, but don’t mess up a good thing until you’ve got a better one.
Optimising Your Guaranteed Growth Funnel
If unhealthy metrics cause your acquisition to cost more than what you’ve budgeted, start with these adjustments:
Click-Through Rate Too Low or Cost Per Click Too High
If your CTR falls far under 1 percent Facebook may stop showing your ads or show them to second-rate audiences causing your traffic to tank and CPC to increase. To improve your click metrics, adjust your ad copy (headline and body text), ad creative (image or video) and highlight the benefits in your offer.
Refine your audience. Tailor your copy, images and call-to-action to the audience you’ve selected and ensure that your audience has the desire and means to act.
Lead Conversion Too Low
If leads aren’t converting at 20 percent or more, either the promise made by your ad isn’t congruent with your landing page, or the process of moving forward is too difficult. Try using the same image and headline in your ad and reduce the form fields in sign-up forms to the bare minimum. Also try retargeting visitors who don’t sign up with ads stating the benefits of acting now, or with a different offer.
Sales Conversion Too Low
If you’re an Ecommerce brand with sales conversion below 1 percent your shopping cart or sales process may have too much friction. Simplify the sales process to decrease clutter, or increase trust by adding testimonials and trust signals near important calls to action.
Your sales process may need improvement, but that is beyond this article. In the meantime, you can still increase revenue by cross-selling and upselling those who convert. You may also improve client retention with recurring contracts. Yes, that’s why many software companies are switching to cloud-based subscription models.
When used properly, The Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP makes Facebook Ad marketing an investment, not an expense. Using the formula, the most you should ever risk is a small initial budget to test whether your estimated calculations hold true in practice.
If your net profit is 3X your acquisition cost, your funnel returns $3 for every $1 you invest. Instead of asking “How much should I spend on marketing?” The question becomes, “How much do I want to make?” I’ve built a Facebook Ad Growth Calculator that incorporates the Guaranteed Growth Formula to help execute your growth strategy. Input your revenue goal and it will estimate the Facebook Ad impressions and traffic required to reach it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.