If you ask 10 CEOs to tell you what marketing is, you’ll probably get 10 completely different answers. And get this. If you ask their marketing veeps the same question, you’ll get the same result.
Marketing defies definition. It confuses everyone, even those who do it for a living. I know that because that was my job in a former life, and I’m the first one to admit that I never considered myself an expert. Besides, my brethren could never agree on what their job titles meant. They were all over the map.
As I explain in my new book, Real Leaders Don’t Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur, marketing has always had a perception problem. It’s truly ironic that the field responsible for branding has a brand identity that’s about as unambiguous as Facebook’s 58 gender options.
And yet we live in a commercial world where consumers and businesses make buy decisions based to a large extent on a field that nobody seems to understand very well, not even those who make big bucks doing it. Don’t you find that just a little bit unsettling?
Now you know why I quit marketing. I was tired of explaining to every CEO, board, and management team what marketing is and why it’s so important to the success of the company.
I felt like Sisyphus, the sinner condemned to roll a boulder uphill, only to watch it roll back down, again and again, for eternity. I always wondered what I’d done so terribly wrong in a prior life to deserve that.
If you find marketing to be somewhat elusive, don’t feel too badly; you’re in good company. And while I intend for this to be instructive, not critical, there’s a very good chance that your company’s marketing sucks. Here’s why:
You have no idea what it is
In his seminal book, Marketing High Technology, legendary VC and former Intel executive Bill Davidow said:
“Marketing must invent complete products and drive them to commanding positions in defensible market segments.”
I couldn’t agree more. And anyone who finds that confusing should not be running marketing.
It’s so easy to fake
As VC David Hornik of August Capital says, “VCs like to think that they are marketing geniuses. We really do.”
He goes on to say that they meddle in the marketing of their portfolio companies because “we can fake it far more convincingly than in other areas …” As I always say, marketing is like sex; everyone thinks they’re good at it.
You’re a follower of _____ (fill in the blank)
Marketing may be as much art as science, but it’s still a complex and nuanced discipline that takes a great deal of experience to develop some level of understanding or expertise. I don’t care if you’re into Purple Cows or The Brand Called You, popular fad-like notions won’t get you there.
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You’ve lost sight of the big picture
In some ways, growth hacking is no different from traditional marketing, and I mean that in a good way.
That said, I see a lot of businesses chasing lots of small opportunities or incremental growth improvements with no overarching vision, strategy, or customer value proposition. That, in my opinion, is a recipe for disaster.
It’s built on flawed assumptions
Most product strategies and marketing campaigns are built on assumptions that nobody ever attempts to verify because their inventors think they have all the answers.
The problem is they don’t know what they don’t know. Never mind what customers say and do. What do they know?
You have an MBA
Davidow, Theodore Levitt, Regis McKenna – none of these innovators who literally wrote the book on marketing had MBAs. Maybe there’s a good reason for that.
You’re not measuring the results
Show me a marketing program and I’ll show you beaucoup bucks spent on a mostly “shoot from the hip” approach that lacks sufficient metrics to determine if it’s effective or not. If you don’t measure it, how do you know if it’s delivering a return on investment?
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You’re a marketer
One of the reasons for marketing’s perception problem is that senior-level talent is hard to find and few execs have the ability to articulate the importance of the function. And since CEOs tend to be a pretty cynical bunch, marketing has, to a great extent, been marginalized in the business world. Sad but true.
Marketing is an enigma. It’s both art and science, creative and analytical, intuitive and logical, amorphous and tangible. It’s two sides of the same coin.
That’s probably why it mystifies most. And yet, marketing is, without a doubt, among the most critical functions in every company.
That may be a perplexing paradox, but companies that somehow manage to unravel the mysteries of marketing have a far better chance of making it than those that don’t.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.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.