Adding structure to your marketing approach
In this three part series, Sam Turner, Head of Digital at ClientsFirst, examines the factors that elevate marketing strategies from functional tick box exercises to plans that make a real difference for advisory firms’ bottom lines.
You’ve defined your marketing strategy, selected your marketing technology and possibly even chosen your niche. You’re full of exciting plans of how to reach your target audience.
Unfortunately though, it’s all too easy to go off all guns blazing, full of enthusiasm, only to discover in a few months’ time that your campaigns are not producing the results you‘d hoped for. In addition, despite your good intentions, ‘real’ work takes priority or clients insist on demanding your time!
We’ve learnt from experience with marketing projects that without a solid structure in place, even the best ideas will fail to get off the ground.
That’s why we use a linear six stage structure which breaks up the process into useful chunks. This means it’s clear to everyone involved where you’re up to and what needs to happen next for a successful outcome.
Establish the infrastructure
Success comes from strong foundations. Take time at the outset to do some detailed planning. What are your business objectives? What assets do you currently have in place? What’s getting results for you and what could you be doing better? Think about your main challenges and how you would describe your USP. Conduct some client research to find out what they really think. At this stage, we draw up marketing personas of our client’s target audience so we can form a clearly defined marketing plan which will address their specific needs.
Develop the assets
With a plan and some personas in place, you can start to think about the appropriate collateral that will appeal to your carefully defined audience. To really engage with them, it needs to be value led, engaging and helpful.
If you’re developing a piece of content with the purpose of generating leads, consider what people will view as valuable enough to exchange their contact details for.
One of our own most successful pieces of content, for example, has been an SEO guide with 47 handy tips.
You have a range of options at your disposal:
- online: guides, whitepapers, blogs, videos, infographics, landing pages, mailshots, case studies
- offline: mailers, brochures, flyers, surveys, pitch documents, client facing documents
Reach your audience
You’ve defined your target audience and you know what you want to send them but how do you make sure your message reaches them and that they will interact with the content.
It’s crucial to think about what channels are most relevant for them. Where do they ‘hang out?’ What do they read?
How do they search for information?
Are you going to reach them online or offline or through both? Online channels could include: SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, outreach and banner ads, whereas offline could be: events, awards, PR. If you decide SEO is a good way of reaching your audience, a useful next step might be to conduct an SEO audit.
Not that we’re structure mad but we also use the inbound marketing model ‘Attract, Convert, Close, Delight’ in tandem with our six step process. This shows what sort of content will be most successful as your prospects move through the process.
Once the data from your contacts is safely stored in your CRM, you can start to develop those all-important ongoing relationships with them. Your aim here is to move your contacts through the sales funnel from merely ‘interested’ to ‘invested’.
Use marketing automation to make life easier for you. Triggered email campaigns, surveys, LinkedIn or Twitter engagement all come into play here. You can also use engagement tools to react appropriately with interested prospects, monitor reactions and gain valuable feedback.
This is what all the hard work has been about. All that engagement should now start to produce new business opportunities.
It’s important that you have a set of tools and processes in place to identify the hottest prospects and pass them to your sales department as quickly and efficiently as possible. Done correctly, your campaigns should be producing a steady stream of relevant sales opportunities which will result in more new business.
Act on Insight
You might think that‘s the end – your marketing activity has been successful and produced some opportunities. Your campaigns, however, will contain lots of useful data which can help you to make improvements for future projects. Measure everything. Collect feedback via tools such as Feefo, TrustPilot or Google reviews. Use A/B testing to test different ideas on different parts of your database.
The joy of modern marketing systems means they give you a clear view of your key metrics so you know exactly what is performing and what isn’t.
This will lead to even more opportunity and greater ROI next time round.
Sam’s original article, on creating a marketing strategy, can be found in the August 2017 issue of IFA Magazine, or online at www.IFAMagazine.com ClientsFirst is a marketing agency that specialises in working with financial services firms.