Too many businesses, especially in the SME space, are not being helped by marketers telling them what their best tactics for business development are.
Business owners are fed, by marketers, the benefits of networking, content marketing, social media, PR and SEO etc. as a means of increasing business enquiries.
Yet we hear so many stories about business owners spending money on one or a combination of these activities suggested by marketers, only to be disappointed by the results and left out of pocket.
The fact is that too many businesses don’t know their customers or their markets well enough to really engage on a level that will persuade future customers to take an interest in what they have to offer today. For that you need a well-reasoned marketing plan.
Developing a marketing plan
According to Nick Shrimpton at Sixth Sense Marketing a robust marketing plan begins by giving real thought and quality time to the following:
- Ask, why do customers buy from you? What problems are you solving for your customers’ and/or what value are you adding to their business? Does what you do for them save time or help increase profitability? Talk to your customers and build the picture of what the motivations were that got them to engage. Always bear in mind that customers are buying outcomes from you, rather than the process involved in achieving it. Too many businesses like to talk about what they do rather than how they help people.
- Dig down to understand what sort of customer is best suited to your product/service. So many businesses and marketers are not rigorous enough doing this, they define their target market in a far too nebulous a fashion.
Experience with campaigns tells us that marketing activity, including SEO strategies, are so much more effective when target markets are tightly defined. Take this fictitious example of a legal software supplier. There are c11,000 law firms in England and Wales. The supplier can define the market as:
- We target all law firms in England & Wales as each one has the capacity to benefit from our software; or
- Our software is ideal for law firms that have between 1 and 50 staff who are located outside of London, have a large private client workload who operate from a single or multi-office network, looking for one or a combination of case management, practice management and legal accounting.
By identifying the target market more tightly and understanding the motivations for taking action, marketing campaigns start to take on real potential.
Geoff Roy, who runs the Hampshire SEO agency Leapfrog Internet Marketing from Fleet notes that it is no coincidence that there is a connection between how well, and how quickly, SEO campaigns deliver improvements for clients when the marketing planning has already taken place. “All SEO agencies will do their best for clients” he says, “but it can be a real challenge when working from an ambiguous brief.
“An SEO strategy will most likely be the sum of numerous online campaigns, so the more detail about ideal customers and their motivations, the better. We show clients at the start where they are ranking for their preferred search terms. We share with them the ranking and positioning improvements every month as the SEO work starts to bite. We show the enquiries they are receiving as a direct result of the work we are doing. That level of transparency is key to the success of our agency Mr Roy says. If a client can be shown that the value of the enquiries being generated is in excess of what they are paying to get them, that’s a pretty good definition of SEO success”.
Geoff Roy at Leapfrog Internet Marketing can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 01252 217141.