“I’m pretty sure it’s my marketing.”
That’s what the owner of a medical supply company said, in our initial conversation. And it’s often what many business owners think when they have a sales issue, but it’s not the only reality. In fact, there a many things that could be going on. Which was actually the case for her. While her marketing was definitely lacking, there was also a heck of a lot more holding her company back from the growth she wanted.
Straight up, we’re a lot different than most marketing companies or agencies. We can confidently say that we haven’t found a competitor yet that goes as far as we do to ensure you get a cohesive marketing strategy on all fronts.
Your business, your business plan and your marketing all have to come together to create the perfect intersection. That goes far beyond your messaging and marketing tactics.
So for this client, when we got into the nitty gritty, there were some pretty glaring issues that quickly showed up. The biggest – she had the wrong business model.
Few marketing companies look at that, but we know that if you don’t have the right model, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw into your marketing, it’s going to be a wasted effort.
The problem with her model was that she hadn’t set up a recurring replacement schedule for the products. Instead, she placed manual orders every month. That meant she could never predict or count on an income for the company. She also incurred increased man hours for order placement, and her clients ran the risk of running out of supplies because a baseline usage was never established. Not a good foundation for sales or service.
On top of that, she was under charging for a product far superior to her competitors’, she was marketing to the wrong target audience and she wasn’t standing out from her competitors because she hadn’t nailed down her positioning.
So you can see that in just this one case, there is so much more to consider than just your marketing, when you can’t quite put your finger on what’s wrong.
With your business you should definitely take a look at the factors above, and there’s even more to consider. So, what else should you take a look at?
- Your business and marketing plan
- Thought leadership
- Your path to the sale
Your Business and Marketing Plan
This seems like a no-brainer place to start, but the number of businesses that don’t have a formalized marketing plan is shocking, let alone a plan that aligns with the goals of the business plan.
In one business survey, 49% of businesses admitted they don’t have a plan at all; and in another 75% of businesses polled have no inbound strategy.
That’s a lot of businesses winging it!
Considering consumers are more curious than ever, your inbound strategy needs to be airtight, as does your overall plan.
According to Google, people are becoming more obsessed with doing research, even on the little things. They want a personalized experience and they’re making decisions about your brand faster than ever. As a business, if you want to grow your market share, you have to be able to anticipate their needs and supply the information they want. And you definitely need a solid strategy to keep up with it.
On top of that, your marketing plan needs to support your business plan, otherwise what’s the point? Right?!
If your goal is to increase business 20% then you need a clear cut strategy to do it.
- Will you focus on your best selling product or service?
- A new one?
- One that has your best profit margin?
- A combination of the above? And if so what percentages of the goal will be assigned to each?
- How many do you need to sell to reach the goal?
- And what are your conversion rates?
These are all things your marketing plan has to take into account, if you’re going to reach your milestones, for the week, month, quarter and year.
The more clarity you have the easier it will be all around. If you don’t have formalized business goals and a marketing plan to specifically support achieving those goals, then this is a good place to start.
Your culture is really your business’s personality, combined with the way work gets done in your company. There’s a lot of other definitions, but that’s one we really like.
In a survey done by Deloitte, 82% of the people polled said that culture is a potential competitive advantage. That makes sense to us.
Typically, the more supportive a culture is for the employees, the more productive they are. Not only does that mean they’re more efficient at work, they’re also happy to talk about the business favourably outside of work, which should lead to more business, as well as better profit margins, based on productivity alone, not to mention a decreased cost for finding a new customer, and so on.
And, of course, happy employees, working directly with clients, are going to create more engaging interactions; and in a world where experience is becoming a huge part of the landscape, Your Client’s Needs are Changing. Are You Adapting? you need to have that kind of competitive advantage.
If your business isn’t on the growth curve you want, it might be because it doesn’t have a very attractive personality and/or work isn’t getting done in the best possible way.
In other words, you could be in the middle of a culture catastrophe and not even realize it. It’s definitely worth checking into and making sure that your internal, as well as your external, marketing and communications are on track.
Technology is rapidly advancing and quickly changing the way we do business in every area.
From marketing to operations and beyond, you need to adapt with the trends. If sales are down this could be the culprit.
Let’s start with consumer trends. Today’s consumers expect more from your business and they want help with their purchase every step of the way, online and offline
That means anticipation, automation and articulation – think ahead about their needs, deliver it fast and efficiently, and send the right message.
No mean feat…and certainly if you’re one of the 49% of businesses without a marketing plan, it’s going to be nearly impossible.
Added to that there are big changes in the marketing landscape with voice computing, augmented reality, blockchain, and the internet of things. (All covered in that awesome white paper above.)
And you can’t forget about trends for buying local and also going global either. [LINK TO Q1 AVOID THE PITFALLS OF GOING GLOBAL] Savvy businesses need to consider how they fit in, and where they have to focus their energy for these trends and many others.
A personalized evaluation of your industry is a must.
This is one of our most favourite things to do for a business! Why? Because the businesses we work with get to see their business in a whole new light. It’s exciting all around!
Pretty much every single business that comes to us has a problem with their positioning. They are typically so similar to their competitors that they don’t stand out, and because of it they’re losing out on sales and profit margins.
We call it swimming in the Sea of Sameness. Unfortunately that puts them into a category where they are a commodity that people want for the cheapest price. It’s easy to see how that limits your business income. What you want is exclusivity, and so do your ideal clients.
A huge part of your positioning is considering what your competitors do – but from the perspective of your ideal client.
If they have customers, they’re doing something right. So the question is, what is it? And what makes the prospective client choose them over you? And the next logical question, what do you do that’s different that appeals to the customers you want to work with.
Ultimately, you want your ideal customers to self select. You don’t want to work with everyone. Really – you don’t.
You can probably think of someone you really dislike working with pretty easily. That person is not your ideal client. If you only had that kind of customer to work with day in and day out, the joy of doing business would get sucked away quickly, like a drop of dew on a cactus in the desert. (Which also might describe working with those people – prickly, dry and highly uncomfortable.)
Instead, you want to work with people who are most like your favourite client. Imagine what that would be like? Sunshine, unicorns and rainbows! At the very least, it would certainly be something much more magical than the desert scene.
In order to do that, everything you do as a business has to create an experience for that person, and showcase the things you love to do most. That includes the messaging on your website, your content, social media, sales sheets, in store experience, and so on.
When you focus there, you will differentiate yourself from your competitors. You will be able to charge more for the exclusive experience you bring. And the best part – your ideal client will love you for doing it.
It’s a win/win all around, in our experience.
Okay, this can be a bit of a marketing buzzword in some people’s books, but honestly, it goes hand in hand with your positioning, and it helps to set you apart from everyone else in your niche or industry. Which is why we believe it’s a big part of a great strategy and something that absolutely drives sales.
Think of Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk or the Dalai Lama. All have their own very specific brand of thought leadership, and they all have those people who are avid fans and purchasers (physically and spiritually). Your thought leadership will do the same thing for your business, and raving fans drive word of mouth marketing, which is the most powerful form you can attain.
Once you define exactly what it is that you do that no one else can, that gives you a specific angle to work from, when it comes to the way you talk about your business and your industry.
You get to define a very specific space to own, because of your area of expertise and unique ability to do what you do best.
An example is the easiest way to understand it, so let us share with you our angle and the positioning for our thought leadership.
We believe that to do your marketing properly you have to go far beyond the tactics. If you’re thinking battle tactics, of course you have to know how the tank works, but as the general on the field, you also have to be aware of all your troops, your allies, their specialties and how that combination lines up with your opponent’s, if you’re going to win the battle.
Our whole goal as a marketing company is to examine the trends and help our clients evolve with them, in the way that specifically supports them.
In short – we lead your evolution. That means we need to understand all possible angles, probabilities and tactics and then consider the strategies for each one.
So where our competitors focus on the tank and how it works, we’re looking at a far bigger picture that goes beyond a single tactic. They might talk about “how to’s” for social media, blogs or digital strategy, but we don’t even go near that. The focus is too narrow to be effective for the business over all, when you’re looking at evolution.
Evolution means adapting your business and your marketing together.
So that means we need to understand how that works from every angle and we need to be able to use that kind of thought leadership to educate our prospective clients. That’s why you’re reading about diagnosing a business problem (which includes your marketing) instead of diagnosing a problem on your blog.
When you have the right strategy in place, everything else falls perfectly into line.
Your Path to the Sale
A seamless experience is equally as important in person as it is online. That means every stage of the buying cycle has to be met from the time a person finds out about you, to the time they purchase from you…and beyond, if you want them to come back.
We can’t stress enough here that the real key comes in understanding who your ideal client is and what really makes them tick.
You can’t meet their needs if you don’t understand them.
And you’re going to find that your sales will take a hard nosedive if you’re missing the mark.
If your customers have a negative experience with your brand they’re 60% less likely to purchase from you again. Consumers have a lot of choices out there, so if they don’t get what they want with you and from you, they can easily find it somewhere else.
That’s a lot of sales to miss out on, and you’ll be stuck, forever trying to make up ground, if you don’t do something about it.
So what constitutes a negative experience?
- Slow page loading times
- An inability to find information easily
- Slow checkouts (in person or online)
- Not predicting/anticipating their needs
Here are some of the stats to support it:
- 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load.
- 46% of people say they would not purchase from a brand again if they had an interruptive mobile experience.
- 61% of people expect brands to tailor experiences based on their preferences.
You need to remember your path to the sale includes the experience on your website or “in store”; the kind of information you provide to help educate prospective clients on the way to the purchase; your engagement on social media and willingness to build a community of like minded people; and so much more.
Looking at all of these factors, you can probably understand why evolving a business goes far beyond simple marketing tactics, and why it can be so hard to figure out exactly what’s wrong when things aren’t where you want them.
But when you get it right, the results are pretty amazing.
That client we talked about at the start of this post took only a few months to surpass her goals because of our recommendations. We’d love to talk to you about evolving your business and improving your results. Let’s book a coffee chat together today!