Now more than ever, marketing platforms are increasing and evolving. 30 years ago, marketing was virtually limited to print and mainstream broadcasting (simple enough, right?) - fast-forward three decades into the Digital Age and the explosion of the World Wide Web has drastically changed the playing field… for the better!
This revolution has however complicated the term “staying ahead of the competition” and intimidated many business owners with a new dictionary of buzzwords and acronyms such as SEO, UGC, PPC, e-Commerce, hashtags, keywords, blogs, vlogs… the list goes on.
While you’re spoilt for choice for reaching your target market, your efforts may be futile and cost your business more than money if used ineffectively. I can’t begin to count the times that I’ve heard business owners ask, “We’re spending so much time and money on advertising, but not seeing results. What are we doing wrong?” This is immensely disheartening, especially for SME’s and owner-run businesses (sometimes even large corporations) that don’t have the luxury of multi-million ZAR marketing budgets.
This is a topic that I’m exceptionally passionate about, so I've created a simple guideline to help you implement effective marketing campaigns and achieve your objectives - regardless of your business size or type (B2B or B2C).
1. Define and understand your target market
Who is your target market (demographically and psychologically)? Define their location, age group, level of education, LSM, behaviours, interests and you will soon discover where and how they obtain information, as well as what appeals to them. If you’re an established business, a good place to start is by analysing your current client base to uncover why they choose your products or services.
2. Determine your objectives
More often than not, campaigns fail because nobody asked or answered the question: “What do we want to achieve and why?” It’s vital to outline your specific goals for each campaign, whether it’s to create awareness, educate your market, drive traffic to your website or increase sales of a specific product - without objectives it’s impossible to strategically plan your campaign or measure its success.
3. Monitor your competition
“Know thy enemy.” What are your competitors doing in the market? How and where do they engage the market? What messages are they communicating? Analysing the competition’s every move will give you a good understanding of how to develop your counter-measures and discover which tactics work (or don’t).
4. Pinpoint your Unique Selling Proposition
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the key advantage that your product or service has over your competitors. This is the most important tool for driving sales when communicated effectively. “The secret of business is to focus relentlessly on your unfair advantage – the thing you do that others don’t.” - John Rollwagen
5. Develop effective messaging
Your message isn’t limited to what you say – it’s how you communicate it by carefully combining consistent copy and imagery that compliments your brand. Start by writing a one-liner (tagline) and a single paragraph or 5 key bullet points of what you would like to communicate. Equally important is designing artwork that echoes your message and stimulates your audience visually.
6. Select targeted platforms
With numerous potential platforms to promote your product or service, it’s vital to be selective to ensure return on investment and prevent unnecessary loss. A Facebook ad campaign may have delivered massive success for a friend’s business, however that doesn’t necessarily guarantee the same results for yours. Evaluate each channel’s strengths, weaknesses and how they target your specific market. Request or research the channel’s statistics, demographics and case studies where possible.
7. Spend your budget wisely
Compile a detailed campaign budget including all costs – from design, creative material, production costs to advertising fees. If in doubt (particularly when using a new platform), run a pilot program or experiment with minimum investment. Be cautious and conservative – remember that in advertising you can always invest more in successful campaigns, but there are no refunds for unsuccessful ones.
8. Measure your success
It’s important to track your campaign’s results in order to measure its success and identify potential improvements for future initiatives. Compile reports of any increases in sales, new leads, web or store traffic, etc. for the duration of your campaign. Schedule a review session with your team to discuss feedback – what worked and what didn’t – this will be extremely useful in fine-tuning your next campaign and plan of action.
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