Over the years, I've noticed a commonality with new clients in regards to marketing, and I thought it was important to touch on now because many of us are creating next year’s marketing strategy as this year draws to an end.
A lot of clients come to me when they feel they've exhausted all of their own marketing abilities to no avail. They are convinced they are somehow not reading their insights right, missing in their sales copy, created bad funnel sequences or need a new logo. In truth, many of these areas usually need to be addressed, but it's often not the root of the problem- they are symptoms of a much bigger issue.
When I meet with a client for the first time, I always ask the same question; "What is your biggest pain point right now? What is the one thing that has you entirely stuck and looking for help?"
The response I almost always hear is a variation of, " Marketing! I have a fantastic product/service, but no matter what I do, I can't seem to draw in sales. The vast majority of my marketing campaigns fail and when I do get a response; I have no idea what I did right so I can replicate it. I feel like I'm free-falling and I need someone to throw me a rope."
I don't know if any of you can relate, but I sure can!
No matter the industry, marketing is one of the most challenging areas for entrepreneurs and small businesses. With the endless options for marketing campaigns and tactics, it's difficult to know where to invest your time and money. The pressure to get it right can be downright suffocating. After all, a phenomenal offer means nothing if no one knows it exists or understands why they've must to have it.
As I pour over the past 18 months or so of a client's marketing campaigns, I often see the same red flag... If I were to only look at the marketing campaigns of these companies, I would not be able to tell you with any certainty who they are, what they do, or why I'd want to opt-in, purchase, or otherwise choose this company over all the rest. All I can tell your for certain is they run a BOGO sale on their jalapeno burger for every major holiday. The company's partners, events, sales, copy, and offers are all over the map.
However, my clients have amazing products and services, a passion for what they do, and are well respected thought leaders of their industry. So, why isn’t their marketing reflecting how amazing and unique they are?
In short, these businesses are suffering from a good ol' fashioned identity crisis.
This is problematic because a customer will only buy from you if they like what your offering and can trust that you'll deliver on the promise. You can't want something you don't understand, and you can't trust someone who doesn’t offer consistency.
All businesses evolve with time. I'll bet every person reading this blog has experienced significant changes from where they started. However, sometimes as we pivot our products or change the customer experience, we fail to take the time to understand how these significant shifts morph our brand’s identity. Instead of evolving the brand, it spirals into a mess of contradictions.
We often don't even realize it's happening. We see our ROIs slowly declining and assume it's a faulty tactic. We experience an increase in returns or a reduction in foot traffic, and we find a million external explanations.
The simple truth is charismatic brands stand the test of time, not because they had the right hashtags, but because they are leaders.
To be an effective leader, you must have a strong sense of self, and the same holds true when we talk about brand . When you genuinely understand who you are and what your brand is set out to accomplish, your marketing becomes a clear and focused voice that pierces the noise and reaches your ideal customer's ear.
I used to work in claims for a company that serviced the senior market. During our on-boarding training, we spent an entire afternoon learning how to speak on the phone to a senior who may be hard of hearing. What they taught us was that the most effective and least abrasive way to be heard was not to scream into the receiver at the top of your lungs. Instead, we were instructed to lower our voice an octave or two, and take special care to enunciate our words.
In the same way, most businesses with ineffective or inconsistent marketing results don't need to “scream” at the clients by throwing more money at twice as many bad ads. If your brand is not aligned correctly, more ads aren't going to solve the communication barrier you have with your audience. The key to optimizing your communication is to "speak" clearly and with more focus.
If you're reading this and think your marketing troubles may be a symptom of having lost touch with your brand identity, don't panic.
As the great Marie Forleo says, "Everything is figure-outable.".
Here are some steps you can take to start clarifying an ambiguous brand
1. Engage with your audience regularly. Find out what they love about your brand and even when they've been disappointed. What do they value about you?
2. Create annual or semi-annual goals for your brand outside of sales. Create a short list of things you can do as an organization that will reinforce the ideas you want your brand to be known for.
3. Pre-plan your marketing. Your marketing should be an overall strategy that is executed in smaller, tactical campaigns. Instead of relying on last-minute marketing schemes and campaigns, plan out your efforts ahead of time. It's best to start with a goal and then map the milestones that will get you there.
4. Never make spur of the moment "opportunity" decisions until you are sure the opportunity aligns with your brand objectives. If you have your goals and marketing strategy well defined, you can quickly see if a new opportunity is right for you.
If you want to dive even more in-depth, I invite you to join me in an upcoming live stream workshop. Click the link for more details.