Three Tips To Improve Personalized Marketing

The latest buzz in 2018 is all about personalized marketing. I’m not referring to social media but direct marketing used to drive results. While most customers have now come to expect and demand it, the question for 2018 – is your business using it correctly to obtain sales growth?

According to John Collins in his article “Personalize Your Marketing In 2018” the most common use of personalized marketing is emails - about 87%. So here are the top three tips for getting it right this year.

Tip #1 - Decide Which Behaviors Warrant A Response
You need to use real-time data.  Message personalization comes to life when you have behavioral data to drive the next step. Know what behaviors, including what steps the user will or will not take, are worthy of sending a message. Start by defining your desired outcomes if you're unsure what these necessary actions should be.  Build a profile of what a successful customer looks like then determine what steps they need to complete before they can be considered engaged. From this information, you can decide the strategies to create the right messaging to encourage your customers to buy.

Tip #2 - Prioritize The Reactions And Behaviors
Know your customers. What perceived value your product or service has to you, or even your marketing department for that matter, may not be the same value to your customer. You need reliable research to know what your customers value about your product or service. Just because a message you send is personal doesn't mean it has value. Do your research and know the proper behavior response before you send the message. Know the important ones; you can’t load your customer's inbox with messages for every single action they take.

The advise of John Collins is to make sure your behavior-based messages are relevant and timely, and have a clear priority. As an example, customers will receive a welcome email, but leave them alone for the next few days before you send the follow-up message.

Tip #3 - Use Data and Research to Truly Understand The Customer
Having great data centered around the actions customers take about your product tells only one part of the story. While robust reaction data is among the most potent kind of information you can recognize, you need to know as much as you can to send personalized messages.

Locate as many signals as possible before your next move by determining how many previous messages are opened. Know what further interest is shown by the individual "clicked through" links to gain additional knowledge. Research their business and role; know who wants to learn more. It’s also essential to research individuals who opted out of your messaging to gain an understanding of the best possible customer profiles. Who isn’t interested is just as important as who is.

Tactics such as “spray and pray” marketing are long gone because there are so many great direct marketing tools available at your fingertips.  Seek to personalize your messaging correctly for a stellar customer engagement strategy. Once in place, writing the perfect message is much simpler and more successful.

At k.douglas marketing as strategic marketers, we are continually scanning business and consumer environments for our clients. Feel free to reach out for our expertise if your company needs help getting your marketing strategy and sales aligned with your business goals for 2018. Our job is to search what is happening and seek emerging or robust opportunities and target markets to produce a higher return on investment.

Seven Tips for an Effective 2018 Planning Session

If you haven’t started your business and marketing planning for 2018, December is the month to pull it together and focus on developing your marketing strategies. It’s also a month full of distractions, so follow these tips so your planning session will be efficient and effective.

1. Review 2017 To Define The Agenda
Gathering information for your agenda’s topics is critical to having an organized and successful meeting. Start by reviewing your 2017 strategic marketing and business plans.  Is the business doing what you and your team agreed was important in 2017? Examine the strategies perceived as necessary for your 2017 planning and conclude - were these indeed the most important for 2017? Next, examine how you can capture new opportunities and improve sales. Engage your entire team by asking them for feedback on last year’s strategies.

2. Prepare With Pre-work
If pre-work is needed for the planning session, be clear and specific with the team about what requires their preparation. Determine the particular topics needed on the agenda and information for the details. This prework allows everyone to be fully prepared and focused. The point is also to prevent the session from getting derailed by extraneous topics or employee concerns.

2. Have A Problem-Solving, Time-Bound Agenda
Pull together a strategic agenda focused on solving the highest-impact issues and examining new opportunities. Create the agenda based on the information gathered in the pre-work to generate appropriate time frames for discussing and planning.

4. Have An Experienced Facilitator
Whoever is leading the planning session can make or break it. The facilitator should be armed with more than an agenda for brainstorming. They should also be able to discuss the topics while being open and objective. At the end of the planning session, your strategies should be mapped back to your anticipated results. If the goal of the day is to identify key strategic objectives, an experienced facilitator can help guide the team through the session more effective.

5. Document The Meeting
Begin and end the planning session by reviewing the agenda and objectives. Make sure to assign a team member to document the discussion, conclusion, and post work. Provide an action plan with a summary of discussions and deadlines. Documentation allows better communication for the follow-up sessions.

6. Have An Immediate Follow Up Meeting
Have a scheduled follow-up date listed on the agenda for a meeting within two weeks. Prescheduling gives the team time to reflect on the first session and any unresolved issues to surface. Immediately following up allows time to refine the findings of the meeting, tighten up the strategy, and create metrics for measuring success in 2018.

7. Meet Regularly To Examine Metrics
The final strategies and required follow up should help you determine how often to meet during 2018. Whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly, these meetings should be to examine your metrics for measuring success and review the sales and marketing progress.  Allow for immediate adjustments to be made to identify and solve issues. Plan to be flexible and evolve your strategy as 2018 progresses.

As strategic marketers, we are continually scanning business and consumer environments for our clients. Feel free to reach out for our expertise if your company needs help getting your marketing strategy and sales aligned with your business goals for 2018. Our job is to search what is happening and seek emerging or robust opportunities and target markets to produce a higher return on investment.

Make 2018 More Profitable By Using These Five Tips

The holidays can be distracting. However, if you want to see significant financial growth in 2018, start by using the remaining time in 2017 to prepare for improved sales and financial gain. Having a solid plan gives you a process for ensuring success in the coming year.

Plan Your Budget for 2018
If you haven’t planned the company’s 2018 budget, complete yours immediately. Be sure you have allocated enough people and money to accomplish your new goals. Your marketing budget depends on how much you have to invest and how quickly you want to see results. Be realistic, but plan cohesively with your anticipated sales goals.

Determine Your Anticipated Sales Growth by Month
It’s a common thought “sales is a numbers game so set realistic goals based off selling history.” The real key is finding the balance between setting a goal too large to accomplish and a goal too low to achieve your planned revenue increases. Be realistic, but if you don’t push or stretch your business, or the sales team, how will the company ever deliver the revenue for your financial growth goals?

Examine Your Sales Process
Make sure your sales process is set up to close the quality and quantity of prospects you need to reach the company’s sales goals. Be cohesive; everyone who is selling your business should be following the same process for qualifying and closing prospects. Document your sales process to measure results and be sure to have a marketing follow-up plan to support your selling process efficiently and effectively.

Document Your Marketing Strategy
Prioritize the goals you've identified and then develop a quarterly phased approach to achieve results over 2018. Depending on the what you have pinpointed, make sure your marketing tactics mirror your sales results by creating: a written follow up sales process, daily or weekly media interactions, and expected lead generation from your marketing.

Track Your Progress and Marketing Success
Establish your metrics for measuring success before the start of 2018. Try to meet weekly to review the sales and marketing progress so you can immediately adjust, identify, and solve issues. Plan to be flexible and evolve your marketing as the year progresses. The best tracking processes teach how to learn from your mistakes and celebrate your victories.

We want to help your business make 2018 your best year ever. As strategic marketers, we are continually scanning business and consumer environments for our clients. Feel free to reach out for our expertise if your business needs help getting your marketing strategy and sales aligned with your business goals for 2018. Our job is to search "what is happening" and seek emerging or robust opportunities and target markets to produce a higher return on investment.

Fall Planning for Marketing Success in 2018

Every business needs a strong start to a new year, and it’s never premature to plan for success. The best way to get 2018 moving in the right direction is to hold fall planning sessions with your marketing and sales teams. Here are five discussion topics to help get your 2018 strategic marketing planning process started.

1) Review 2017-to-date Performance of Your Marketing

Begin the planning session by considering the current performance of your 2017 marketing strategies. By understanding 2017, you can make critical decisions for which plans need to stay and which need to go. Focus part of your examination on strategies used to deliver the highest return on investment (ROI). Create new ideas on how to "retool and improve" strategies for an even greater ROI in 2018.

Examine for underperforming marketing strategies. Remove the thinking these underperforming strategies or activities will work eventually and eliminate them permanently.

2) Update Your Prospect/Customer Profile and Personas

Examine your client data from 2017 and identify which characteristics made them profitable for your business. Make sure this data is accurate and was updated throughout the year to reflect the types of customers who will help your business reach its growth goals. Talk to some of your clients; discover reasons why they buy from your business as well as what might entice them to buy from competitors.

Update or create your Buyer Personas through one-on-one interviews with active customers who influence or make decisions about purchasing.  Ascertaining valuable customer feedback is essential when collecting premium data for developing ROI marketing. Select the right customers for the interview, use a structured outline to ensure the collection of desired information occurs and, for the best results, questions are open-ended and discussion-oriented.

3) Confirm Your Differentiating Factors

Use the customer information gathered from your client’s profiles and personas to review and update your Differentiating Factors. Make sure both marketing and sales are clear on what makes your company different from your competitors.

4) Review all Marketing Materials

Content is King - so be sure any printed and digital marketing materials are well written to attract ideal prospects. Confirm through new purchasers who were closed in 2017 your materials are doing an excellent job communicating your differentiating factors as well as why candidates should choose your business. Make any necessary adjustments and be sure both sales and marketing are utilizing the current versions of all marketing materials.

5) Review Your Website and Social Media

Take a hard look at your site and social media channels to make sure they're designed to attract and educate your prospects. Is your branding and messaging consistent? Are you engaging with the right target audience? Is your social media content compelling, educational, or beneficial?

Make sure your website is well written, cohesive, and speaks to your prospects’ needs. It is extremely critical your web content is accurate, especially with the continuing surge in mobile phone usage. Use analytics to examine your site’s performance in 2017 to help determine if your content drove anticipated results.

Spending time to hold a planning session in the fall can help your business prepare with the best strategy for the coming year. It's been our experience it can be tough to be objective about your own company. As strategic marketers, we are constantly scanning business and consumer environments for our clients. Our job is to search "what is happening" and seek emerging or robust opportunities and target markets to produce a higher return on investment. If you need assistance getting your marketing strategy aligned with your business goals for 2018, contact us - we can help.

Positioning the Second Quarter For Success

Are you on the right track with your first quarter sales? Now is the time to examine how well your business performed in the first three months and to plan what you can do in the second quarter to improve your overall success for 2017.

Start by reviewing sales
The first thing to do in the second quarter is to figure out why your sales met their goals or maybe why they didn’t. Be curious and analytical so you can determine what marketing tactics to replicate or remove. If necessary, consider developing some new strategies. Look for both internal and external factors when making your assessment. Be sure to analyze your pipeline. If your marketing generates plenty of opportunities, try to discover why the leads converted to sales or why they did not.  Your pipeline should have at least three times the revenue needed at all times.

Examine marketing messaging
Be honest with yourself; your customers run the show. With so much information at their fingertips, they decide when they will shop and how they are going to do it.  Re-examine your marketing messaging to be sure it is sharp and differentiates the business.  One of the most stressful jobs for business owners is creating truly differentiated customer experiences. Additionally, make sure your marketing has the right messaging. Let your clients know about the things they are interested in, not what you think they want to know. If you need help finding out your customers interest, use surveys or social media. Remember, customers want to engage in your messaging but on their terms, not yours.

Try new engagement strategies
One key to engagement is providing your clients with exclusive content or opportunities.  Consider offering some new ways for customers to engage and learn more about your business. Relevant information, such as a case study or newly released details in a blog, can showcase the success of products, services, or special programs. Or give customers an offer or special service if they subscribe to your email newsletter or social media.

As strategic marketers, we are constantly scanning business and consumer environments for our clients. Our job is to search "what is happening" and seek emerging or robust opportunities and target markets to produce a high return on investment. If you need help getting your marketing strategy aligned with your business goals for 2017, please feel free to reach out to us.

Is It Time To Makeover Your Marketing?

There are several indicators that tell you when it’s time to make over your marketing. The number one indicator is the most obvious; it’s not producing any results. While this one is self-explanatory, here are some other indicators that your marketing needs work.

Your One-Year Plan
If you haven't pulled together a one-year plan, then your marketing efforts are not likely helping your business. It’s critical to take some time to determine your business objectives first, followed by creating a strategy, then revamping your branding and marketing efforts to reach your goals.

Fulfill Your Brand Promise
Your brand promise is a value statement of why your products or services are ideal for your target market. While your business likely offers lots of great features and benefits, your marketing will be at its most effective when you can state in words, and live up to, your most compelling values. Your brand promise needs to be deliverable and factual but must also have an emotional attachment. Be sure you are clearly stating your brand promise in your marketing.

Be Brand Strong
Do you consistently deliver your brand promise to your prospects in every interaction? Are your graphics, colors, and designs consistent with every single marketing component – from website to sales sheets to signage to everything your potential customers see? Inconsistent branding messages and visual graphics can confuse prospects, forcing them to abandon your business in search of one who continually meeting their expectations. Consider a redesign so everything matches to communicate a consistent branding message with consistent graphics at all times.

Check Out Your Competition
Are your competition’s branding and marketing looking better than yours? If your competitors' are delivering their brand promise in every brand interaction and messaging, they are very likely outshining your business. Make a change and do it quickly. Do not engage in “Me too” marketing. Don’t keep pace with them; stay ahead of the curve by not copying any of your competitors' marketing. Your goal is to sound better than your competitors, or why else would prospects want to do business with you? Use your differentiating factors and your brand promise to create your unique marketing content.

Marketing Content & Your Website
Your website can be your 24/7, lead generating, sales machine. While Content Marketing is becoming over saturated, it is still critical and very effective. Especially on your website where your business needs to stand out and content quality needs to be it’s very best. Remember, your website is one of your businesses most important marketing tools. Your potential clients are researching your business through the Internet, so your content is critical. Make sure your website offers them all the information they need and use original topics and unique viewpoints no other company can offer. Also, keep it current with new content, white papers, and media updates so potential customers know your content is fresh.

Narrow Down Social Media
Since social media is becoming more diverse and complicated, you need to be more selective. If you want to be successful using social media, your business needs to laser focus on which media your audience is following. You can experiment with different social medias until you find the right ones prospects use. Or perhaps more efficiently, clearly define your prospects, and then apply data to understand the differences between Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer. Select which social medias and messaging appeal to them to know how to get the best results.

As strategic marketers, we are constantly scanning business and consumer environments for our clients. Our job is to search "what is happening" and seek emerging or robust opportunities and target markets to produce a high return on investment. If you need help getting your marketing strategy aligned with your business goals for 2017, feel free to reach out to us.