By Upendra Mishra
WALTHAM, MA—It is said that if you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same results. If you want to increase your revenue, customer outreach and position yourself as a leader in your marketplace in 2017, you should do things differently. Here is a quick guide and basic fundamentals to plan your 2017 marketing.
Bring Marketing to the Forefront
Your products and services are important. But so is marketing because it will educate your potential customers about the value you bring to the table. If you do it right, your products and services will sell by itself. That is the goal of marketing.
If marketing has been on the back burner in your company, bring it to the forefront now. Spend time on thinking, planning and strategizing on consolidating exiting clients, bringing old ones back and seeking new customers. Marketing will play a big role in revenue generation.
How Much Should I Spend on Marketing?
The short answer is: spend as much as you can afford, but do spend and never spend less than what you did the previous year. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of gross revenue if your revenue is less than $5 million per year. Other sources suggest spending up to 13 percent.
Where Should I Start?
Well, a lot has changed in the marketing in recent years. It is no longer just doing PR, getting an article published in trade publications or direct marketing. Now there are so many marketing channels and you want to be everywhere, integrated with the same message. You need a 360-degree view of marketing, including digital, social media, PR, direct and content marketing, web analytics, print or online advertising. If you are unfamiliar with any of these areas, the best thing will be to bring an outside consultant who can audit everything you are doing and make some recommendations. Later, you can decide whether you have the required talent pool to execute those recommendations or if you will need to bring in an outside firm.
Here are some channels to think about
CONTENT MARKETING: Content marketing is the king of online marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 88 percent of Business-to-Business and 76 percent of Business-to-Consumer organizations are using content marketing. What is content marketing? “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,” says Content Marketing Institute. “Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.”
EMAIL MARKETING: Do not underestimate the power of email marketing. Despite powerful spam filters, unsubscribe options and people getting annoyed by too many emails, email marketing is effective. In fact, email marketing holds the second place after search marketing & SEO. According to an article in Forbes magazine, email marketing is responsible for 16 percent of customers acquired, compared with the less than 1 percent acquisition rate from Facebook.
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING & SEO: Search engine optimization, popularly known as SEO, is one of the most effective marketing tools for increasing online visibility. Yet, 50 percent of businesses doing digital marketing had no form of digital marketing plan or strategy, according to a 2015 study by Smart Insights. In a recent survey by Fleishman-Hillard and Harris Interactive, 89 percent of consumers reported using search engines to inform their purchase decisions, according to Search Engine Land.
VIDEO MARKETING: As the watching habits of people (especially the younger generation) shift to computer screens and mobile devices from traditional television, you should not ignore video marketing. By video marketing, I mean both video advertisements and producing your own video content, which you can host on your website and social media channels, as well as email to your target audience.
Marketing pundits are predicting that video will account for 69 percent of consumer internet traffic soon; 7 in 10 people view brands more positively after watching their video content; and 64 percent of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies, according to Audience Bloom.
In conclusion, identify your marketing deficiencies and market your competitive advantage. “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” –David Packard
(Mr. Mishra is founder and president of the Waltham, MA-based The Mishra Group, an integrated full-service marketing and public relations firm. Since 1997, the Mishra Group has provided comprehensive, results-oriented solutions for the fast-paced new age of online and traditional marketing through the area’s best writers and editors and most talented graphic and Web designers and digital media strategists. For more information, visit: www.MishraGroup.com.)