One of the interesting things about professional football is that the teams that generate the most “hype” in the media aren’t generally the teams that win consistently. Instead, the teams that win consistently focus on the fundamentals. They block, tackle and make smart decisions. They execute. They’re consistent. Meanwhile, the teams that make flashy moves in the offseason and sign expensive free agents often wind up being a disappointment on the field.
The same patterns hold true when it comes to marketing. Many business owners have “bright shiny object” syndrome. They’re constantly following the hype, and bounce from idea to idea without gaining real traction. The businesses that win consistently aren’t flashy. Their marketing is built around smart systems that are consistently executed. They’re not always exciting, but they win.
Here are the key fundamentals that must be in place for your marketing to work well:
A Clearly Identified Target Market
If your business is struggling to get traction, start here. Many early-stage businesses are stuck because they haven’t zeroed in on a tightly defined target market. They’re trying to be everything to everyone, and as a result, they’re not attractive to anyone.
I was able to grow my previous business to seven figures in just a few years by zeroing in on a tightly defined niche: solo and small-firm lawyers. Choosing a specific industry is a great way to accomplish this goal, but it’s not the only way. You can focus on a specific service and become the market leader in that narrow category. You could also focus on a specific geographic region. The bottom line is that until you’ve identified a clear and specific target market, you’re going to struggle.
A Simple Message That Resonates
The next step is crafting an attractive message. Most businesses struggle with this — as entrepreneurs, we’re often so deep in the weeds that it can be hard to create a message that resonates with someone that’s hearing about us for the very first time. The more complex the business, the more challenging this becomes.
I’ve worked with hundreds of highly educated professionals who are brilliant in their field but couldn’t communicate the basic benefits they provide to their clients if their life depended on it.
Here’s the simple messaging formula I recommend to clients: “I help [person] do [thing] so that [good thing happens and/or bad thing doesn’t happen]. For example, as an immigration attorney, your message could be, “I help immigrants earn citizenship so they can chase their dreams with confidence.” For a CPA, it could be, “I help retirees protect their wealth so they can leave a greater legacy for their kids and grandkids.” A basic budgeting app’s message might be something like, “Our app gives young professionals more control over their money and helps them make financial decisions with confidence and clarity.” Make it clear, simple and memorable!
A System To Grow Your Audience And Keep Them Engaged
Until your business has reached a critical mass in terms of brand awareness, you need to be proactive about growing your audience and holding their attention. Depending on the specifics of your business and industry, this could include tactics like weekly networking, speaking, event sponsorships, online advertising, podcasting, and more.
Whatever tactics you’re using, it’s important that you’re capturing contact information whenever possible. Then, a simple email newsletter is a great way to keep your audience engaged with your business. Social media is another very effective channel to accomplish this goal.
A System To Drive Referrals And Repeat Business
Referrals and repeat business are typically the best and most cost-effective channels for growth. Business owners know this intuitively, and yet, most do little or nothing to proactively drive referrals. Consistent communications through email, social media and even direct mail are great ways to maintain top-of-mind awareness with your audience. But don’t stop there. Smart businesses offer incentives to motivate referrals, along with rewards, loyalty programs, and targeted offers to improve customer retention and repeat business.
A Conversion Strategy To Drive Leads, Sales And Revenue
As you’re building your audience, it’s important to implement systems to take them from passive followers to engaged buyers. This can look very different depending on the nature of your business and the niche you operate in, but I’ll share a few tactics that have worked well for me and my clients.
• Create a ‘lead magnet’ on your website. Offer a free resource, available for download. This could be an ebook, white paper, free assessment — anything that’s of interest and value to your audience. Make it free but capture their contact information. Then, build a simple follow-up sequence — a combination of automated emails and personal follow-ups works well.
• Hold an in-person event or webinar. Events are a great way to drive followers to take the next step. Once a client or prospect has spent a significant amount of time engaging with you, he’s much more likely to take action. In-person events are powerful but also more time-intensive and difficult to execute. Webinars are easier, but it’s much harder to hold someone’s attention in a webinar format.
• Offer seasonal promotions and special offers. Create a calendar of special offers, promotions and limited-time deals. If you can create messaging based around the season or holiday, even better. One of my favorite campaigns in my last business was a campaign promoting web design services in the week leading up to Halloween. The messaging was: “Does your website look like a Haunted House of Horrors?” and we offered a limited-time free upgrade to prospects who took action before 11:59 p.m. on Halloween night. It was profitable both years that we ran it.
Bottom line, you need systems and strategies to drive new leads, clients and revenue. Building an audience doesn’t help you if you can’t turn them into buyers. If you want to win at marketing, take a lesson from the NFL. Don’t get distracted by the hype; focus on the fundamentals, and your business will grow.