In engineering, you'd probably prototype and test a product before investing in expensive tooling.
Likewise, in marketing you want to avoid wasting large sums of money on activities that don't pay off. When trying any new marketing activity, it's always best to start small and scale up.
Within the Watertight Marketing network, we talk about starting at "functional and not embarrassing". This is your prototype. If you need a piece of marketing to fill a gap, then start with something functional and not embarrassing and build on it later.
Your prototype marketing activity should be used to test three different things.
Marketing often gets a bad name because marketers fail to demonstrate ROI. There are two parts to this issue: one is in the planning and the other is in the post-campaign measurement (which I'll cover in a future blog).
In this blog I'd like to share how I work out whether a campaign is going to deliver ROI. If I can't demonstrate that it has a high chance of success - before we start planning the actual activity - then it's scrapped. Even if it sounded like an amazing idea when it was first floated.
This process applies for almost all marketing activities and campaigns, whether it is advertising, email, direct mail, an exhibition or event, PR, or social media. Here's what you do...
In previous blogs I've talked about the real purpose of marketing and about how to create a specification for your marketing. The next step to engineering your marketing is to brainstorm ideas and prioritise.
In an engineering design process, this is usually the most creative part. It's fun to brainstorm new features that you could add into your product, system or service. And it's always a useful exercise to do because you might come up with ideas that are quick and easy to implement while adding value to your offering. Even so, there will always be features that would cost more to realise than they'd recover in increased revenue.
If it'll be prohibitively expensive to include every desired feature in your product, you need to prioritise.
Which features are essential because the product won't function without them? Which are highly desirable? And which can be added into future versions or premium editions of the product?
In marketing this is often where business owners find themselves overwhelmed.
Every business owner I've ever worked with can write a list as long as my arm of the marketing activities they could do if time and budget were unlimited. But how do you know which activities will pay off? How do you know in what order to do them all to get the best ROI?
An unprioritised wish-list is overwhelming and stressful.
In my last blog ("What's the point of marketing?") I discussed how the first step in engineering a new product is to establish its purpose. In marketing it's the same, you need to establish the purpose of your marketing and how it needs to support your customers at every stage of their buying decision.
Once you've done that, you need to define your specification.
An engineering specification or functional design specification will typically include everything you want the product to do, how it should work, how it should be manufactured, timescales, cost restrictions and any other pertinent requirements.
In my last blog, I used the example of designing a keyboard. In this scenario, I'd need my specification to describe...
It's always tempting to sidestep this phase or start with a rough outline of what you want to achieve, However, the consequences of this approach can be costly.
Every new product, software, system or process must have a purpose. It must solve a problem or else it has no value and no one will buy it. By deeply understanding the problem your product solves for your customers, you can stay focused on what features will deliver the most value.
For example, if I was designing a new computer keyboard, I would need to consider...
Likewise, you must always stay focused on your marketing's purpose.
I always say that creating a marketing wish-list is easy – it's prioritising it that's the hard part. That's why I use the Watertight Marketing methodology with many of my clients. It's a logical and structured approach to prioritising your marketing activities to get the best return on your investment.
Using this approach, you "traffic-light" the "leaks" in your marketing processes and address the red leaks first, in the right order.
But it's not a once-and-you're-done activity.
I recommend clients review their leaks every six months or so, to stay focused on their priorities and on track to achieve their long-term goals.
As you might imagine, after working on addressing a red leak in your business, hopefully it will turn orange and then eventually green. However, that doesn't always happen. Why? Because you are working towards a constantly moving goal-post.
Most people who aren't marketers think of marketing as "getting your name out there". That if you want more customers, then you just need to tell more people about your product or service.
This assumes two things:
1. That as soon as people hear about you, they'll just "get it" and immediately understand the benefits of your product.
2. That the decision to buy is an easy one that doesn't involve too much thought.
If you sell an impulse-buy, like cupcakes, chocolate bars or jewellery, those assumptions are probably correct. So a marketing strategy that focuses on promotion (or "getting your name out there") is probably correct.
However, for most businesses I work with, at least one of these assumptions is wrong.
How long does it take to buy from you?
This sounds like an easy question. But, it actually has 3 different answers depending on what you want to do with the information.
You might be talking about elapsed time, accrued time or your welcome window. Here's the meaning of each time-period and when you should use it in your marketing strategy.
I get asked this question a lot. And whether it’s a new website, advertising campaign, email campaign, leaflet, brochure, or event, I always come back with the same four questions. So here’s they are:
1. Why are you doing it?
What do you want to achieve with this marketing activity? And be specific! “To get more sales” is too vague.
You need to know what is the end result you are hoping for. What do you want people to feel, think and do as a result of coming into contact with your marketing? Do you want them to go to your website; book onto an event; call you? Why would they want to do that? How will your advert get people to do this?
Make sure you have a strong call to action that prompts people to do what you want them to do. Make it as obvious as possible what action you want people to take and you have a much higher chance of your marketing activity being successful.
Things change quickly in marketing, with new technology, practices and techniques emerging on a daily basis. So how is a business owner supposed to keep up with it all? How can you work out which of the latest marketing must-haves you should add to your agenda and which ones to pass on?
Well, although these gimmicks and fads change like the wind, the way people fundamentally buy does not.
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