By Upendra Mishra
WALTHAM, MA—Before you head out for Labor Day Weekend, you may want to check your marketing and business development to-do list. Here is a quick list of the things to do in order to accomplish your marketing goals.
Make sure your website is ready, up-to-date and fully compatible with all mobile devices. This is very important when you consider the fact that 34 percent of people only use mobile devices to read their emails, and 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone.
Another item to consider is your company news feed. Companies often ignore the news section on their website, and often you find the last time their news section was updated was a few years ago. If I am a potential customer visiting your site, I would wonder, “What did this company do in the last two years?” Either keep your news feed updated (highly recommended) or use un-dated materials.
Make sure all the links you have provided work, and remove any dead links.
You can learn a lot from data tracking on your website. Make sure you are using Google Analytics to find out what is happening with your website: who is visiting? Which sections are they spending the most time on? Which pages are not visited at all, and what you can do with them?
PR & Media
Do you have a PR and branding strategy? How are you dealing with social media? Do you know which medium and media channel has been the most effective for your business’s development and bringing in new customers? Both traditional and digital media strategies should be fully integrated into your strategy.
We marketers say the database is the mother of all marketing. Your database should be a living document, constantly updated and properly organized so that you can target the exact audience with a customized message. It is now more important in this digital age than it has been the past.
Don’t forget your past clients while you’re out chasing leads. Have a solid plan to connect with them and tell them all the new services and products your firm is offering. Remember this is a low-hanging fruit and often ignored by many.
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, while 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.
Some channels to think about
CONTENT MARKETING: Content marketing is the king of online marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 88 percent of B2B and 76 percent of Business-to-Consumer (B2C) organizations are using content marketing as an integral part of their overall strategy. But 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 in value. 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 & OPTIMIZATION: 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 from television to computer screens and mobile devices, 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.)