Jerry owns a bakery and wants new customers. After the first quarter, he takes down his sign, stops all ads and doesn’t send any follow-ups to customers who have tried his pastries. He’s shocked when business stops trickling in.
This might sound like a poor strategy, but it reflects what many entrepreneurs and marketers do when they make marketing pushes in short campaigns rather than stick to a consistent strategy year-round to continually engage customers.
While a "campaign" mentality can help your marketing team organize its efforts, adopting a long-term strategy is far superior for a number of reasons.
1. It can take seven to 13 touch points to convince customers to buy.
These figures might sound high but obtaining a high-quality lead takes time. Developing an integrated marketing strategy and keeping it running is crucial if you want to build and maintain interest in your product or service. From the initial ad or email impression to the final follow-up and close, you can’t stop marketing.
2. Short tests provide bad data.
Most campaigns can’t provide the level of insight you want in a short amount of time. If you want to learn what works and what doesn’t, don’t stop your marketing efforts because the leads aren’t immediately pouring in. Instead, tweak your efforts over time to enhance performance. Better yet, run various A/B tests to home in on the perfect marketing messages.
3. You need consistency to build a community and establish brand loyalty.
Think about fireworks stores and haunted houses. Both of these tend to have seasonal marketing efforts: one in the summer and one in the fall. Many of these businesses aren’t relying on loyal customers coming in monthly -- they’re looking for huge gains over the course of only a few months. While this technique might work for seasonal businesses, it won’t work for a company aiming to develop brand advocates. Without a constant presence through email updates and other techniques, prospects can’t develop an affinity for your company.
Finding your marketing sweet spot
Although your marketing tactics need time to make an impact, that doesn’t mean it’s a one-and-done deal. You need to constantly optimize your messages to maximize their effect. Something as simple as delivering two slightly different ads to the same target group can help you determine which will resonate best. You can perform small tests anywhere, from the color of your display ad’s call to action to your email subject lines. Most importantly, properly analyze the results to see what’s working.
Commit to one or two marketing tactics year-round -- such as email marketing and blogging -- and systematically test variables that could amplify them. For example, Influence & Co. publishes between eight and 12 articles per month centered on thought leadership, content marketing and entrepreneurship. We keep this marketing campaign consistent so we can gauge our baseline for engagement, our number of leads and the leads’ quality. The more articles we produce, the greater the impact they produce. Articles we wrote three years ago are still drawing people to our site.
We make sure to test different strategies for maximizing content distribution. For example, we have experimented with posting our articles to places such as Quora, LinkedIn Groups and Inbound.org to educate their communities. After a few attempts, we’ll know whether we should continue using these platforms or spend our time elsewhere.
If your budget permits it, give more scalable testing a longer period of time to generate results. A great example is paid advertisements. We are currently running LinkedIn ads and sponsored updates for a few of our articles. If they result in more qualified leads than posting to Quora, we can do the cost analysis of trying to scale something with our human resources vs. our financial resources.
Instead of focusing on quick wins, combine your long-term strategy with short-term testing to amplify the tried-and-true tactics and find your sweet spot.
Don’t make the same mistake Jerry did. You need customers year-round, so why shouldn’t your marketing efforts reflect that need? Keep your efforts going strong, and constantly test and refine them. The campaign to win customers over is a marathon, not a sprint.