We have entered a new period of business dominated by ‘attention scarcity’. Buyers have limited attention spans as a result of an abundance of information at their fingertips. Whereas companies used to be able to use a single medium–say, magazines or radio or TV–to disseminate their message to a wide swath of consumers, now they are competing with numerous outlets, all thanks to the Internet.
The ever-morphing nature and combination of the Internet + business + technology + innovation means that the business landscape is also ever-morphing at a nonstop rate. Until recently, your business level strategy could hold for a few years before it needed reflection, examination, updates, and/ or revision. But recent times have shown just how fluid business is in this age of ever-evolving Google Analytics and SEO requirements.
Why Marketing Comes First
Does this mean you don’t really have a chance in bending anyone’s ear? Not at all. It just means you have to become hyper-focused and diligent when planning. As the architect of your business strategy, there are essential components that must be included when building the foundation of your business. And, you guessed it, marketing is the cornerstone. The marketing plan is the first step in developing any new strategy. . .written first because marketing decisions typically determine resource needs in other areas.
Marketing budgets have increased overall as of late, and specifically, inbound marketing has grown as companies need to find more creative ways to get in front of the customer and break through the noise.
Here is where due attention paid to the planning process of your business strategy—and carefully structuring your marketing plan as a main component—will help you continually increase a never ending stream of customers and clients as well as the overall success of your company.
Think of it this way: A business level strategy is the cover of the puzzle box; the completed picture that reminds you of the big picture that you are assembling. Here is where you identify and predict how your company succeeds, or will succeed, and how your product or service provides value. You also pinpoint other companies in the same industry who are your competition.
So let’s zoom in and examine that a bit closer: to ascertain how your company’s product or service provides value, you need to know the people who will benefit—your target customers. As we’ve said before, in order to engage your target audience, build trust with potential buyers, and delight existing customers, you must first understand them.
Take the time to define their demographic profile (e.g., age, gender), psychographic profile (e.g., their interests) and their precise wants and needs as they relate to the products and/or services you offer.
Now that you know who you are targeting, and you know how your service or product will serve them well, it’s time to implement marketing tactics to actually reach everyone, such as content/inbound marketing and social media.
While the peanut gallery might be afraid that email is dying, email marketing remains as one of the most consistently reliable forms of reaching your customers and prospects. Sometimes known as marketing automation, email drip campaigns send information at certain rate, in a certain order, to nudge people into purchasing your goods or services.
Which channels do you plan on using? The most commonly used channels are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, but if you don’t consider adding more channels you could be really missing out on catching your target audience where they live.
Search Engine Optimization
Your website is your inbound marketing store window—how you entice people to come in and spend some time and eventually purchase what you’re offering. Are you carefully crafting your message? Have you assessed your website to see that you are producing content that educates and updates frequently? For the purposes of content, SEO plays a twofold role in that it helps people find your content, and by association, helps people find your business.
Remember how we were talking about attention scarcity earlier? The abundance of resources at consumers’ fingertips means that they are constantly researching. They are arming themselves with knowledge so that they get the best service or product. Making the marketing team an essential part of your business-level strategy ensures that your company is researching everything about consumers so that you can stay current with what your competitors are doing, and, you can assess how your potential clients want to be wooed.