As a former CMO, Jeffrey Hayzlett often consults with small business owners and startup founders regarding their marketing strategies. Usually these conversations start with the question, “Do I really need to invest in marketing?” It’s a valid query; startups are often short-staffed and have a laundry list of important tasks. The short answer, however, is Yes!
It may seem like an extra step that takes time, funds, and focus away from your sales funnel, but a marketing strategy will help amplify your message and increase sales. However, that doesn’t mean your startup should market itself the same way a large corporation would. You don’t need millions of dollars or a large team to build an effective strategy.
Below Hayzlett outlines marketing tips he has developed in his own career.
1. Determine your objective
“Before I start any project, I confirm my objectives. I call them my conditions of satisfaction, i.e. a documented list of every expectation that must be met in order for me to deem the project a success. Mine have been the same for decades: make money, learn something new and have fun doing it.
For instance, I manage a business that has multiple brands under one brand. Every month I hold an operations meeting with each brand so the team and I can review whether we’re meeting the above conditions. If we’re spending $1,000 on social media advertising this month for my podcast, I want to know the reasons behind the decision.”
If the answer is because “that’s what we did last month,” that’s not good enough. Cut it. If the answer is “because spending $1,000 on an ad that targets entrepreneurs in the New York area will help put our message in front of potential and hopefully result in increasing our listeners,” then I’m on board.
Here are a few general questions you should ask before building a new strategy:
· Who is my target audience?
· What are the specific outcomes I’d like to achieve? For instance, increasing the company’s Twitter followers by 1,000 or increasing revenue by 20%.
· What is my strategy for achieving these outcomes?
2. Create and document your strategy
Having a clearly outlined plan in place will help erase miscommunication and keep the entire team on the same page. By sharing one document, employees know their role and what they’re expected to bring to the table. It may seem simple, but in the end, it will help save you time and money. I use a Worldwide Marketing Calendar divided by months and categories that are relevant for my business. A tech startup’s list of categories might include product launches, audience acquisition, marketing, public relations, social media, advertising, and brand assets.
3. Get personal
Now that you have a goal and a plan, it’s time to think about tactics. If you want to acquire and retain loyal customers, and keep your followers engaged, personalized one-to-one marketing is no longer optional, but a requirement.
There are easy ways to make your business a little more personal. Hayzlett says he is a loyal customer at a steak house. Every time he goes, the seating host knows his name and the waiter has his favorite scotch waiting for him.
If you’re not a restaurant owner, there are still ways you can personally address your consumers. A retail owner can send exclusive discounts to their most loyal shoppers or an airline can respond via social media to stranded travelers with tips for entertaining themselves in the airport. Getting personal with consumers equates to more emotionally connected customers who will help drive word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews.
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