Field of dreams

Simon Spykerman

If you want to grow, you have to get the word out. You have to spend on marketing your business. The problem is, where do you spend? Digital marketing is confusing, changes fast and what works for one business does not work for another.

Should you be doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that more people will find your website? Should you be paying for Google Adwords to get your website in front of people who are looking for your service? Should you be using social media – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, LinkedIn – or all of them? Should you focus on marketing automation with lead capture and lead nurture campaigns? What about an e-mail newsletter? Or maybe you should use paid ads on social media platforms, online magazines, print media, radio or TV? How about content marketing with a blog, infographics, white papers or video marketing? Hmmmm. There are also seminars and webinars, direct mail and public relations to think about.

Where do you even start?

The answer lies in understanding that all these things – content marketing, social media marketing, public relations and all the rest of it are merely tactics. What you need first is a STRATEGY. Strategy is the approach, and tactics are the execution of that approach.

Now let’s talk about developing your strategy, which begins with understanding your audience. As Steven Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” So how do you understand your audience – essentially, your prospects? The answer is simply this: research. Before you employ a single tactic, learn everything you can about your prospects.

If you’ve been in business a while, a great place to start is with your customers. Call them and ask questions. If you have too many customers to call, run a survey and call a sampling. Ask why they chose you, what they’re looking for in a product or service, and where they heard about you. Use a spread sheet to collate the data and search for patterns. Combine this in-person information gathering with online research, using tools like the Google Keyword Tool, Google Trends, Buzz Sumo.com and Social Mention.com. These will help you understand the digital conversation around your product or service and what tactics are performing well for competitors and where gaps the lie.

Use all this data to develop a customer persona or “ideal customer profile.” From there, you can develop a beautifully targeted strategy that includes both messaging (what to say that will resonate with this audience) and medium (where to deploy the messaging). Only then – after your strategy is in place – should you employ tactics, because then you’ll know which tactics will be most effective for your particular audience. Set goals and use tools to measure and track what works and what doesn’t so that you can fine-tune your marketing campaign as you grow.

If you’ve done your research to create a sound strategy and then employ tactics based on that strategy, you’ve got a solid plan for success. Your marketing tactics may change over time, but your strategy won’t. In any case, here’s the golden nugget to grasp with both hands: It’s far better to spend on marketing – smart marketing with a strategy – than to sit and wait and wish for people to find you in your field of dreams.

Simon Spykerman is owner of video marketing agency SpykerMedia and an outsourced marketer for several successful Vancouver-based businesses through his recently founded www.marketing-directors.com. He can be contacted at 360.991.4746.

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