This article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of WQP as "Focus on the Process"
Marketing today has been evolving rapidly, especially so in the last 18 months. This calls for a different mindset. This generation has less brand loyalty, and businesses can no longer solely rely on relationships built by the last generation. When you are ready to grow and invest in marketing, you have to understand that marketing does not work alone, but in conjunction with your entire business. You may increase leads, but if you do not have an efficient way to transform leads to satisfied customers, you will not see an increase in profit. You must look at the sales and marketing process as a whole. By focusing on the entire sales and marketing system from beginning to end you create a meaningful journey for your customer, that will be sure to build a lasting relationship. Process-focused marketing looks at the sales and marketing process as a whole, in three steps.
Build a Framework
The first step is to build a framework. Write down what happens from the first marketing effort to project completion. Write down every action, every form filled out, every email sent, every document signed. You will be surprised at how much waste exists in the process and how much of this can be organized, delegated and automated. Once you see it all in front of you, you will get an idea of what needs improvement and where the waste lies.
Once you have documented your sales and marketing process, you need to assess your current software that deals with these processes. Out-of-date software wastes time, costs money, and most modern integrators are not compatible with obsolete software. Also, some business owners do not realize how affordable automation and integrations have become. The utilization of cookies — a tiny text file created by a website — is imperative to a successful company in this era. Cookies provide a way for the website to recognize you and keep track of your preferences. They let companies know the products that you have been looking at on their websites.
- Social media management software helps streamline posting to your social media to all platforms at once, and gives you the ability to schedule posts ahead of time.
- Marketing automation is software designed to create a personal buying journey for your customer. It reduces the time and effort spent on nurturing your customer base. It utilizes cookies and customer behavior to engage each lead personally.
- The purpose of a CRM is to keep track of interactions with customers, and maintain and nurture strong relationships with customers. It can also be used to improve communication between departments in your company and increase profit by using time wisely and creating reliable systems for your company.
There are many platforms to choose from, and you should decide according to your needs as every company is different. The goal of marketing software is to be personal, educational and focus on developing a strong relationship based on permission.
Next, you will need to create a written plan and set clear goals. My favorite quote is from Zig Ziglar: “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Your company needs clear goals that can be tracked without too much hassle. This does not have to be complicated; you can use software, or simply write down a point form plan on a sheet of paper if that suits you best. Set out your goals and share them with your team. Some examples of appropriate goals are total revenue, sales by representative, website traffic, social media followers, email subscribers, traffic to a specific page and content creation.
Part of creating your written plan includes determining your budget. What are you currently spending? Where are your marketing dollars going? When planning your marketing budget and deciding your spend, use a percentage of revenue as your guide. If you want to maintain your market share, plan on spending 5% of your gross revenue. If you want to grow, plan on spending 12% of your gross revenue. To allocate where this money is spent, use the 70-20-10 rule. Spend 70% of your marketing budget on proven methods that you have used successfully in the past, spend 20% on probable methods that that you believe will work to bring in sales, and use 10% on totally new methods that may or may not prove successful, but will get your company thinking out of the box. Your marketing budget should tie into your goals. Try to think of all expenses that are associated with marketing, for example will these things be carried out in house or will you hire an agency? Always watch out for hidden expenses.
Find Your Voice & Project It
The second step is to find your voice and start projecting it. Define your brand and refine your message. Review what you are currently communicating to your clients and compare that to the way you want to be seen. Ask yourself why does your company exist?
Author Donald Miller outlines in his book “Building a Story Brand” how to frame your message in a way that places your customer at the center of the story. Envisioning your company’s message as a story, with you as the guide, not the hero, will draw your customer into the story and he or she will learn how they can defeat the villain using your product. The Story Brand method is incredibly effective, I highly recommend reading the book while you revamp your company’s message.
In this day of noise and constant distraction, you need to position your company as a trusted advisor, instead of driving a machine that merely sells your products and services. How can you become a trusted advisor in your field? Stop selling and start educating. In the digital age, people no longer rely on a salesperson to tell them what to buy, they do their own research and you need to be present when they want to learn.
After you have clarified your message, define your target audience and plan where to find it. Who is your ideal customer? Once you know who they are, you can research where to find them. Work within your marketing budget to plan your spend, allocate where every penny is going.
Measure the Results
The third step is to measure the results. The framework you created from the first step will support the structure of how you measure the results. It is important to discern what data is important for your company. Data like web traffic, closing ratio, ROI on marketing dollars, length of time from estimate to sale, length of time between sale and project completion are all important types of data to consider measuring. Without a way to measure what is working, you are just spinning your wheels.
You need to be agile and make decisions that will move your company forward. These decisions will come from data. There are many software options that can help, many of which can collect data and send reports automatically. Google analytics gives excellent data on web traffic and behavior, and MailChimp provides great analytics on email marketing. The aim is to reduce workload and increase efficiency, so using automation and reliable tracking software is invaluable.
The overall goal is to systematize the sales and marketing process to make it scalable and repeatable. The more scalable and repeatable your process is the more profitable your company will become. Once completed you will have a reliable framework, a clear relevant message that is broadcast to your target audience, and the data necessary to adjust in real time. Once your sales and marketing process is fully implemented you can expect to gain the productivity of one to three employees, without adding a cent to your payroll.