The world of business is fierce. The marketing tactics businesses used 10 years ago—and arguably even 10 days ago—have changed to some degree.
As a small or startup business, you might be “bootstrapping,” or capital is tight. Throwing a ton of money at building your marketing is out of the question. So you take what I like to call “piecemeal” approach to marketing—sending an email here, a social post there… only to leave you frustrated that your marketing isn’t filling your lead pipeline.
This “piecemeal” approach isn’t marketing. Marketing requires building a fundamental infrastructure that forms a repeatable, scalable, and continuous cycle that you build on over time as your business grows. If you think, “Julie, that sounds expensive…” It’s not. Does it require time and energy to build initially? Of course. But so did your business. Building a fundamental marketing infrastructure is the next step to running “big girl” and “big boy” businesses.
In this article, I will share some tactics I teach in my coaching program that you can implement to make your business money.
The Real Truth About Social Media
Social media has completely altered our society—how we communicate with one another, how we find and receive information, and how we connect with the world. Social media also influences us on a deeper level. Through the power of social media, we are exposed to new ideas through diverse content. In fact, according to The Chaos Machine by Max Fisher, the dopamine charge we get from getting our daily “fill” of social media content has a powerful pull on our psychology and identity, as well as the pervasiveness of our lives, changes how we think, behave, and relate to one another.
On the other hand, social media can also be hazardous. As of late, when our world has faced serious turmoil, social media content has become hateful, conspiratorial, and extreme. Social media began to earn a bad reputation. The point I will make here is how we as a society consume content and interact on social media has changed. That means how we, as businesses interact with our fans, followers, and target audiences on social media also needs to change.
Stop Posting Without a Purpose
When I ask clients who I coach about their marketing tactics, they often tell me, “Oh, I post on Instagram occasionally.”
Many young businesses and entrepreneurs post on social media because they feel like that’s what they should do. And to a certain degree, it is. However, this goes back to what I mentioned above about posting “piecemeal”. There’s a big difference between posting here and there and when the time feels right and posting with a purpose.
I can’t make this clearer: This is NOT a marketing strategy. In fact, posting on social media alone isn’t a strategy. So if this is your tactic, stop it right now.
Invest in Your Website
Many businesses claim that having a well-designed website is “too expensive”. Yet they will throw away hundreds of dollars each month on posting on social media, which only links back to a poor website. Don’t get me wrong—if you want to spend $15,000 to $20,000 on a website, you certainly can. But do you need to? Probably not.
Think of it like buying a car. Would it be nice to buy a Porsche 900 GT for $100,000? Sure, but do you need to? No. An SUV for $35,000 will get you where you want to go.
Here’s the thing: Having a well-designed and modern website isn’t as complicated as it was even a decade ago. There are more DIY website tools, applications, templates, and systems than ever before. These tools can help small businesses and entrepreneurs easily design and update a professional-looking website without breaking the bank. Investing in a well-designed and professional website is a must if you want to be in business. Invest in your website first. Build a “home” for your content. Social media is not designed to be where your brand’s content lives. Social media should merely serve as an outlet for sharing your content.
Stop Missing the Mark on Your Email Marketing
They say email marketing is dead. I’m living proof that it’s not. Once or twice per year, I send a personalized email to a list of leads, customers, and former customers in our database.
At the time of this writing, between November 2021 and May 2023, this email trick earned me $25,500 in new and repeat business.
How did I do this? Did I hire an email marketing wizard?
Am I using some high-powered, super-expensive email automation system?
Am I just lucky?
Far from it.
It comes down to two core elements: systems and follow-up. Here’s what you can do:
1. Review and update your email list regularly.
Think of your email database as a garden. The more you tend to and maintain it, the more it will “bloom” and work for you. Like the weeds, get rid of the contacts and emails that bounce or repeatedly have low engagement. The goal is to have clean contact lists and a database that serves as your “source of truth”.
2. Determine the right frequency to send emails.
Is this once a quarter? Every six months? Once a year? Figure out the best frequency for your industry and target audience, and then “systematize” it so that it happens consistently.
3. Avoid using email templates.
When you email your contacts a “templated” message that you simply copied and pasted, they know. It’s more obvious than you think; your contacts will see it right through it. This brings me to my next point…
4. Write and personalize each email.
Sure, you can copy and paste 85% of your message, but take the time to write and personalize the introduction in each email. Here are some examples: “Hey, I know you were working on that large project the last time we spoke. How did that go?” or… “Hey, I recall your daughter was recently accepted at Yale the last time we spoke. How does she like it?”
I used to tell the clients I coach that although effective, this approach isn’t scalable, but I was wrong. It is possible to scale this. How? With the right systems.
5. Systematize your follow-ups.
Now, by “systems” I don’t necessarily mean investing in the best of the best email marketing software on the market. Rather, I’m referring to processes to ensure that all the items in the list above happen and happen consistently. And with building and implementing the right systems, the potential for higher ROI is greater.
Here are some ways you can do this:
- Set reminders for each contact in your CRM database to follow up (again, you choose the frequency at which to do this)
- Email each contact, beginning with a personalized introduction. (If you keep good notes in your CRM for each contact, you shouldn’t rely on memory to call out something personal to them.)
- Track all email activity using a tracker. (I personally use HubSpot’s Gmail add-on, but you can also use Yesware or Boomerang Gmail.) This will notify you when your contacts open your emails, if they click any links, and how often they do so. And the best part? All of this activity is stored in your CRM.
Many entrepreneurs I coach frequently ask me what they need to do to increase the number of leads in their pipeline. While this is an important marketing tactic, it’s substantially cheaper for businesses to upsell or keep in touch with existing or previous customers.
In fact, in The 1-Page Marketing Plan, by Allan Dib, one widely understated statistic is that someone is 21 times more likely to purchase from someone they already know or who has done business with.
For example, the average customer acquisition cost (CAC) is approximately $200 – $600 per customer for B2B (depending on the industry). This means upselling to existing customers or remarketing to the contacts in your database substantially cheaper than marketing to new contacts.
In the world of marketing, the follow-up is money. This is where having a CRM is invaluable. The ability to open your CRM application, sift through names and businesses that you have done business with before, and launch a “reactivation” or “remarketing” campaign can be a gold mine waiting to be discovered.
However, this doesn’t mean you should stop marketing to new prospects and leads cold turkey. Your existing database of contacts and existing or previous customers is likely untapped but can become a gold mine if you leverage it correctly and consistently.
Although it is highly recommended that you follow these basics to build up your fundamental marketing infrastructure, does that mean you take a cookie-cutter approach? Absolutely not. Remember, what works for your friend’s business doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
But is there an opportunity to take your friend’s business tactics and put a spin on it to make it your own and appeal to your customers and industry? You bet.
Become a “Learning Organization”
Gone are the days when businesses set up shop, offer a product or service, market it as they know how, and rinse and repeat for years, all while keeping a firm grasp on the competition.
Jeffrey Liker, author of The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles, states it quite nicely:
“Adaptation, innovation, and flexibility have knocked this old business approach off its pedestal and have become necessary ingredients for survival as well as the hallmarks of a successful business… To sustain such organizational behavior requires an essential attribute: the ability to learn.” – The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles, Second Edition, by Jeffrey K. Liker
Today’s businesses must be agile, ready to pivot at any sign of a change in market trends and conditions. This might mean adopting new tactics, investing in different tools, or changing mindsets and behaviors to adapt and stay afloat. If you’ve been taking a piecemeal approach to marketing, it’s time to stop that and build a solid marketing infrastructure that allows your business to grow and scale.