17 Useful Marketing Tips for 2012, online, offline and beyond.
BusinessZone, a site I regularly publish my blogs to recently put out a request on Twitter for some ‘Marketing Tips’ for an article they are putting together. I always like to join in and be vocal where possible – and so I thought a good place to start would be to look at some of my past blog posts (a whopping, 157 of them, yes I have written over 150,000 words (so equivalent of 2.5 books) – as a reminder of some key marketing tips.
So for now, enjoy these 17 useful Marketing Tips for 2012 and beyond.
- Ask yourself WHY. Always question why you are doing something. What’s the end game? Figure that out first and then work backwards to make it happen.
- Be yourself. People do business with people. Be who you are. Drop the marketing speak. (Think Siobhan Williams, TwentyTwelve, Perfect Curve – [chuckle]). If the reader believes you have empathy with their situation – they are far more likely to find you engaging – and therefore, engage.
- Listen. Listening is very powerful, we have two ears, two eyes and just one mouth. We should use them accordingly. Online and offline. Listen in to what your potential client is looking to achieve, listen in to what’s being said about your product or services online, listen in – analyse and learn. Seems simple enough – but most organisations talk way too much – and don’t listen enough.
- Don’t talk too much about yourself .People are interested in what you can do for them – not what you do. Focus on the opportunities your products and services present for them. That’s what matters.
- Ask questions. Get people talking. Business and markets are conversations. When people talk, you can listen and find out what their real challenges are – and then deliver services that hit the mark. To get them talking – ask questions. Take a consultative sales approach.
- Plan your writing. 90% of the thinking should happen before your fingers start tapping. Whether a blog post, a direct mail piece, an email, a tweet, status update – plan first – talk second.
- Use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’. When writing, minimise the ‘we’s’. Focusing on the you and your in your content will warm up your communication considerably. Also avoid words such as: difficult, fail, failure, hard, loss, obligation, try, sold, worry, cost, bad, fail, lose, sold, worry (believe it or not, consumer psychology has tested communications littered with such words – and findings have proven that they cause a negative impact on your audience.) Instead, be sure to use positive words such as: results, discover, approve, deserve, easy, money, proven, save, trust, truth, understand, value and vital – when you can.
- Tell people what you want them to do. A number of communications and web pages I view are often confusing and don’t provide clear signposts. Very simply, tell people what you want them to do. Whether it’s a call to action on a direct mail piece, or a website homepage, or a tweet – what do you want people to do? Make it clear.
- Make your content palatable. Don’t lose key messages in a sea of text. Use sub-heads, bullet points and highlighted or links to convey key points. Remember that people read very differently if they are reading online text – they scan. If offline, they too are looking for quick signposts such as bullet points etc. So be sure to make your content palatable. Short paragraphs, 3 or 4 lines. Bullet points where possible – and clear headers.
- Review your website. Your website is a key marketing hub. Do you love it? Are you proud of it? If not – then do something about it. Not only should you be proud to share your site – but it should also work hard for you. What do you offer via your website to entice people to engage with you? Is there a clear call to action on the home page to engage users – ‘Get this free guide’ – ‘sign up for our newletters’ ‘book a free consultation’ ‘join the conversation on Facebook’? Review your site – and ensure it stands the 3 second test. Compelling, easy to understand, quick to load and sticky.
- Get blogging. A blog is a great way to showcase who you are and what you do on a real time, regular basis. Let’s face it, the content on your website isn’t likely to be updated weekly or daily – whereas, a blog can keep your site fresh. Create a blog, develop a content strategy to ensure you keep that blog populated – and share your blog via your site. (Be sure you leverage your blog by using SEO tactics and keywords to make your blog not only keep your site refreshed, but also aid your online visibility).
- Run regular Marketing Consultations. Whether you have internal resources or whether you outsource your marketing – all businesses should regularly run a Mini Marketing Consultation. Ask yourself – the what, why, who, how and when questions :
- What products and services do you offer?
- Is there a market for these products and services?
- Where is that market? (online / offline / international / local / etc)
- What does it look like?
- Do you have competitors?
- What do your competitors do to marketing themselves / sell their products?
- Do you have clear service propositions for everything you provide?
- Have you documented features and benefits?
- Have you got testimonials from happy customers you can use in your materials?
- What’s your USP?(unique selling proposition) what makes you different?
- Who/what is your market for these services.
- What/who is your target audience?
- What are their demographics (what do they look like)
- Where will you find them?
- How do they currently buy?
13. Add Social Media to your Marketing Mix. Social is here. These far reaching communication channels, if used wisely, can add a significant amount of equity to a business. The key here is not to simply ‘dive in’ without any thinking or planning. But rather with clarity of your objectives and how social platforms can assist. When the thinking has been done, then these channels can be very powerful. My simple 101 on how each of the most popular channels work:
- Facebook = community – people to people. Get people talking. Ask questions, share advice – grow a loyal community.
- Twitter = buzz. It’s a buzzing network, fast, fluid and a bit of a floozy. Loyalty is probably lower but amplification potential is enormous. Share news, blogs, thoughts, influence. Listen in to the buzz too. Twitter is a wonderful research resource. Listen in to what’s happening and then tailor your advice and content so that it actually matters – remember the ‘so what’ factor’ and the fact that ‘you are what your tweet’. (No one’s going to share the fact that you just ate a nice salad!).
- LinkedIn = business. LinkedIn is about business. People don’t go onto LinkedIn for entertainment value. They go to LinkedIn to check out the competition, a prospective client, to find people – and increasingly for online networking and referral. Be wise on LinkedIn – don’t spam your contacts. Instead, use the people you know to help you to get to the people you want to know. Far more powerful.
14. Showcase customer reviews/testimonials. We’re now in the Recommendation Generation. Over 75% of us now happily buy products and services online based on peer recommendations (mostly from people we’ve never met). We trust what our ‘friends’ – tell us and reviews from complete strangers. A high percentage of users look online for products and services, either to buy directly or to influence an offline purchase. T
Therefore, if we see positive word of mouth, recommendations, testimonials, video testimonials on a site – then it all adds trust and influence on our purchasing decisions. Therefore, work hard at getting great testimonials and showcasing them, video is powerful – so endeavour to create video reviews or testimonials.
If you were to visit a site with lots of positive testimonials, video reviews and high customer service scores – you’d be far more likely to purchase than from a site with no testimonials and a poor online reputation.
15. Track your brand. Be sure to set up simple Google Alerts on your name, product name, company name. It’s important that you’re on top of anything that’s being said about you, your product or your company. That way, you can respond and indeed gain insights into what’s being said. Google Alerts are free and take just a few seconds to set up.
16. Make your content social able. Whether a web page, a blog post or a product or service – there are now plugins freely available to enable you to encourage others to share your content at the touch of a button. ‘Tweet this’, ‘Like this’ features can be added to pages to aid your online visibility.
17. Get your customers to be your marketers. People trust recommendations from others and word of mouth has always been powerful. Social commerce, a growing movement which is increasing in popularity enables businesses to leverage their customers as marketers. Many of you may have already interacted with an example of ‘social commerce’.
Those simple apps which when you’ve made a purchase or transaction online – it gives you the option to ‘share on Twitter’ – ‘Tell my friends on Facebook’. Effectively, those that buy and share are advocating to their friends. The average number of friends on Facebook is 218 – so getting people to share what they’ve been buying with their friends is potentially powerful.
And of course, even in the offline traditional world these tactics can apply. At a restaurant or shop at point of sale, why not encourage people to share their experience on Facebook or Twitter. I visited a small music shop the other day – having purchased a guitar strap I was given my receipt and a Facebook Card saying Like our Page, Join our Community, Speak to our Expert every Weds 8pm via Facebook.
I could go on and on, (and I will) after all, where does a lifetime of marketing tips stop. But for now, stay tuned for more via my blog – and indeed, enjoy these.
@Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative – the online visibility experts. A digital marketing and design agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. The agency covers all aspects of marketing strategy and online visibility - covering social media marketing and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.