Part 1: Removing Roadblocks
There’s no silver bullet to connecting with those perfect, sweet juicy leads that your business craves so much. The good news is that there are always tactics you can use to zero in on those elusive pots of gold. The bad news is there are many, many more ways to ensure that you fail to do just that. So, before this series goes into what you should be doing, we need to talk about what you shouldn’t be doing. Arguably the most significant roadblock to real growth is fake growth: thinking you know what you really don’t, continuing to do what isn’t effective, and chasing bad ideas that sound good.
Know what you don’t know, and accept it.
You know your product. You know your company. You might know better than anyone how the company got to where it is. As for as your marketing, however, sorry, but you probably don’t know anything. In fact, if you think you know something, you’re probably wrong. You can know everything there is to know about your product, team and company, and still not have any clue how to reach your customers.
There’s a dangerous tendency for founders and CMOs to assume that knowledge of their product translates into knowledge of how to market it. The goal of finding your customers and reaching them effectively was once a matter of top-down, Don Draper-style thinking – hopefully informed by some research on a market that one could safely assume would be relatively unchanged from one quarter to the next. That’s because the Internet didn’t exist, and with enough money, you didn’t have to fight very hard to get your point across.
There are too many market variables for anyone’s mere assumptions to be a reliable foundation for real growth. Knowing and accepting this is often a key differentiator between companies who succeed in reaching their customers and those who waste time and money shouting into a hurricane. The point here isn’t that you’re wrong, the point is that it’s ok to not know what you’re doing. It’s only when you accept the fact that your assumptions are probably worth less than your Beanie Babies that the storm clouds part and a door opens into the magical world of data-driven growth marketing.
What do you actually know? Take an inventory.
Once the assumptions are cast off, one of the best ways to approach the early stages of a marketing intervention is to take inventory of the leads and channels. You know it’s not working, which is why you are reading this. We want to help you.
Let’s start out by just asking you to press pause everything that’s going on in your marketing campaigns at this very minute. Did that make you panic? It shouldn’t. It’s ok (and actually incredibly intuitive) to stop pouring money into a strategy that isn’t working for you, and take an inventory check on your assets. We often have to tell clients that it’s actually better to do nothing than to implement a half-assed strategy.
So, how do you take an inventory check? An inventory check is checking the pulse on everything digital and traditional that you have implemented to date. It’s your owned assets such as your branding, website, social media profiles and your customer lists. Once you have all of your ducks in a row with exactly what your assets are, you can start trying to piece together what your next steps will be. But before you do anything else, you have to pause and assess the damage that’s been done. It’s probably going to look pretty darn ugly, but remember you’re starting from ground zero here, and it’s eventually going to get better.
Read more about taking inventory in this article, “You Suck at Marketing”.
Shiny Object Syndrome / Don’t Get Swindled
The tricks and toys that are available to marketers today are as numerous as they are trendy. Some are worth investing the time and money into developing, while others prove to be little more than flashy ways to do the same about of work (but now with the addition of a monthly fee of $11.99). The secret recipe for what will actually help your business is unique to your business. Somehow, this platitude seems to frequently forgotten, usually due to either what we call “shiny object syndrome” or overzealous outside marketing firms.
Like a cat chasing a flashy new toy, marketers can easily get trapped by the idea that because something is new and trendy, it will be useful for their company’s growth. A client might have heard that Snapchat was an incredible tool for engaging a huge fanbase and is now wondering if he should put resources into developing a Snapchat channel of his own. That might be the right move for a youth fashion brand, but if this guy runs a SaaS company, it’s a terrible waste of time. The truth is Snapchat is an incredible tool for engagement, but the choice of channels and tools have to match the business just like every other marketing decision.
Which brings me to the most infuriating situation we come across: companies getting swindled into buying marketing services that they don’t need, and forgoing services that would actually help their growth. I recently spoke to a company making a product in an industry that lives and dies by lifestyle branding. They invested their entire marketing budget with a smooth-talking firm that specializes in web design and SEO. Any outside source could see that this company would succeed with a completely different strategy, but of course, their marketing firm sold them on what the firm wanted to do, not what the company actually needed.
Now that the roadblocks are out of the way and your path is cleared for real growth, the real work can begin! Next week in Part 2, we’ll get into how to find your perfect audience. Until then, reach out to me, and let’s talk about how we can get you the kind of growth that you really need.