Eight Ways to Improve Your Marketing in 2019
The beginning of each new year is always full of good intentions. Even as I write this, my wife is walking around the house, telling me that this is “the year of gutting the basement” – getting rid of the mountain of kids toys we’ve accumulated over the years.
Of course, especially at the office, I tend to focus more on marketing and growing businesses than cleaning out plastic toys. Plus, writing this keeps me out of having to clean the basement.
So let’s do this. Let’s make 2019 the year to get marketing back on track.
1. Remember that your business is always about serving your customer. Always.
The easiest, most direct way to improve any marketing plan is to remember your customer. This sounds obvious, but in the day-to-day of running a business, it can be easy to put yourself first.
Remember that business strategy is developing a plan for what the business needs. Brand strategy is developing a plan for what the customer needs.
Ask yourself if your marketing (or customer experience) is delighting customers. If it isn’t, what would have to change to make it better?
Quick story: I recently had to replace the roof of our house. The contract bid was emailed over to me, and I replied “Let’s do this.” But that wasn’t enough to get the project scheduled.
Instead, I had to print out the contract, sign it, write a deposit check, address an envelope, find a stamp and mail it to the business. I couldn’t even schedule a time to pick our shingles or schedule the start date until they received (and cleared) my check.
The process makes sense for the roofing company, but it was a pain for me.
There are so many opportunities here to streamline the process, but they’re still working with customers like it’s 1999. What if this company focused on how to create a better customer experience? That’s how differentiators – the very building blocks of effective marketing – are born.
2. Create marketing systems.
You should know, I really hate the term “content calendar.” It just irks me.
As someone who writes content and blogs for business, I often write about things that I’ve come across lately, or when inspiration strikes.
The idea of a content calendar full of topics and promotions for our business seems too structured and unnatural compared to what I’m comfortable with.
But you know what? Too bad for me. Too much business marketing is random. There’s no system in place. A few boosted posts here, an email newsletter there – but how does it work together? A content calendar holds the answer. It gives teams insights into what’s down the road, and it gives leadership a view of the months ahead and what promotions will lead to revenue.
While I’m working on my relationship with the content calendar, I am very into a few other marketing and sales systems lately. I’ve been nerding out hardcore with Hubspot. It’s been great for business analytics and getting a team of people on the same page, on the same plan — all in one place.
Creating marketing systems, even when you don’t want to, leads to predictability and, ultimately, revenue.
3. Make content. You can do it.
It’s 2019. The internet has caught on. No one uses the Yellow Pages anymore. You didn’t pick up the phone and call me to get the content in this article. You probably searched for something, or saw something I shared, and now you’re here.
If you want your marketing to thrive, you need to create content that is helpful to your customers on a regular basis, and then share it on as many channels as you can.
Write. Make videos. Take photos. It doesn’t matter. It’s all great for your business. Just start.
4. Find your strengths and play them up.
“I have plumbing company – no one wants to read a plumbing blog.”
This is a total misconception. People may not care about your product or service today, but when they do care – they really care. And you’ll be ready for them. Everyone needs a plumber eventually. And your content will help them build a relationship with you and make a decision.
People are spending more time researching your business now than ever. That means before someone ever calls you, or fills out a contact form, they just about already made up their mind to buy from you.
Another quick story: There’s a gentlemen I know only through LinkedIn named Mike McCormick. Mike’s a roofer. (A different roofer than my earlier story—I guess I’m on a roof kick?) Anyway, Mike takes a photo of the view from the top of his latest roofing projects and posts them with a sentence describing the scene. Super simple, creative and memorable.
There are no rules to creating the “right” kind of content for marketing your business. Play to your strengths and keep going.
5. Search is everything. Make sure your content gets found.
If your website is underperforming on Google search results, you need to focus on your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Even if you have an agency that is “doing SEO” for you, as a marketer and/or business owner you need to invest in learning the basics.
A well-built, mobile-optimized website and a steady stream of fresh content is the best SEO strategy a business can have. It’s not rocket science, and it’s not voodoo – it’s just a matter of doing it.
6. Use a CRM. (But really use it).
This is so simple, but now more than ever marketing tactics need to integrate into a CRM tool (CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management – learn more about them here).
The goal of CRM is to get the most out of every customer touchpoint, so you always know where your individual customers stand in the decision-making process. Why is this important? So you know when (and how) to follow up. You can send them content, emails, direct mail – anything to move the needle.
The bottom line: if you’re not using a CRM, or haven’t used yours in a while, make 2019 the year you finally use it to integrate customer data into your marketing planning process.
This dramatically helps to build better customer experiences, develop account-based marketing, and track conversions and ROI.
That last sentence is probably the most business jargony thing I’ve ever written. But if you want to get serious in measuring sales and marketing results, a CRM will bring you focus.
7. Build landing pages around key services.
A landing page is a single page on your website focused around one topic — like a specific product or service. There should be little to no navigation, and it should be focused on getting the visitor to fill out a contact form.
Landing pages are great for lead generation, and make the perfect place to point ads or sponsored posts on social media.
They are also great for SEO.
Proof positive: We created a landing page for Atomicdust based on a single industry vertical, and optimized it for SEO. Within a week, the page started showing up in the top spots in Google search results for the relevant keywords. Not bad for (relatively) little work.
8. Email marketing is still effective. Maximize its potential.
You’re probably already sending out emails to your contact lists on a regular basis. If you’ve been doing it for a while, and the routine is feeling a little stale, maybe this is the time to reimagine your strategy.
Email marketing is good for customers at every stage of the buying cycle, from nurturing leads, to building relationships, to retention. At this point it’s an old tactic, but it can still play a key role in your 2019 strategy to delight your customers at every step.
So really, the way to improve your marketing this year is the same as it has been for a while, and I might even argue has always been. Focus everything on your customers. Use the right channels to stay in front of them at the right time, and use every opportunity to improve their experiences with you.
Thanks for reading and have a great day – and a great start to the new year. Even if you, like me, have to clean out the basement.