Have you ever just thought "Boy, wouldn't it be awesome if I could snap my fingers and my marketing would just happen... AND be successful"? Carrying out your marketing plan is stressful, and I certainly get that. It is something that everyone deals with in their business, and only those with strong marketing habits survive.
Taking others' experiences, habits, actions, and best practices are essential in adding tools to your tool belt.
What if I told you that there are core habits that you can develop, which would set you apart from your current industry... would you believe me?
Throughout this article, we are going to take a deeper dive into some of the habits and thought processes that have seen success time and time again. These practices will help you build a framework for the way you visualize any strategy and build your brand with your consumer.
Understand Your Brand
Although this may seem common sense, understanding the brand that is being marketed tends to be ignored time and time again.
Throughout anything you do with your business, it is essential to ask this very simple question: How will this support my brand, and will my brand be perceived correctly?
If you haven't defined your brand, you are truly missing out on a core requirement of basic business practices. It is likely that anything you will enact via your marketing strategy will be lost in translation due to a lack of brand recognition by your customers.
Another reason you should have a clear understanding of your brand is that one simple mistake could tarnish your brand's perception. Marketing is the face of your business. From social media to email responders, all forms of communication and promotion should reflect what your core beliefs and business personality really is.
Take a step back for just a moment and truly think about why your business does what it does. Meditate on the core values, and understand the importance of your brand in the consumers' eyes.
Finally, ask yourself that simple question again before each and every time you begin to market your business.
How will this support my brand, and will my brand be perceived correctly?
Look at Your Product/Service as a Consumer
Visualizing your product or service through the customers' eyes is one of the most important habits you should develop. Your target audience is your lifeline, and the perception they have of your business is everything.
Entrepreneurs tend to coin this phrase a "fresh-eyes approach", which ultimately means you are trying to look at your business (or in this case your marketing strategy) like your customer would.
As business owners, we tend to unintentionally put the blinders up and become oblivious to things that happen daily. This is mainly attributed to seeing the same things over and over again.
But if you take time to take a step back and think about what is currently happening, you can see both strengths and weaknesses that could potentially impact your brand.
Another way of gaining a fresh perspective of your strategies and business is to just simply ask your target audience. Don't be shy... simply asking for honest and candid feedback will actually earn the trust of your customers.
But beware! You cannot dismiss the feedback that highlights opportunities in your business or marketing plan. Remove that habit immediately!
Market in the Current Year
When is the last time you looked at a billboard and gave it your attention?
A commercial without looking at your phone?
Clicked on an ad on a website?
Stopped to ponder the newspaper or magazine ads?
If your answer is like mine... the answer is that it's been a while. So why do we as savvy businesspeople continually try to stray back to the old days of advertising and marketing? Even radio commercials make me cringe to the point that I either don't listen to the radio at all (podcasts for the win), or that I switch the station the minute I hear something other than music.
This topic could be an entire article itself, but you must make it your mission to adopt the habit of marketing in the now.
The social media landscape is changing every single day. Yesterday, it was Facebook and Twitter. Now, it's Instagram. What's the future? Instagram videos and Snapchat. Yes, you heard it right here.
But your conglomerates and even small business owners continually push social media away. Why? Because they cannot see the visible ROI of this marketing strategy.
As it is just as important to use social media to your advantage, it is also worth noting that the landscape of business has changed as well. PEOPLE HATE TO BE SOLD TO!
You read that correctly. The hard sell is something that left with the decline of television and newspaper advertisement. No one has patience anymore. That is clearly thanks to the instant gratification that the internet gives us.
So how do we master this? Content creation that is seen as valuable. Soft sells that provide an added value to the overall service. Use social media correctly as a way to connect with your target market, rather than push products and services.
But these tactics are what is being seen as effective currently. The environment could change at any moment, and that is why you should be prepared.
If you are not marketing in present times, you will fail.
If you fall behind... you must catch up.
Open to Change
Change is inevitable, yet it is human nature to become comfortable in the same environment.
As an entrepreneur, this is your enemy. Getting in a rut and doing the same things over and over again can seriously hinder your profitability, and ultimately discourage buy-in with your brand.
Look at McDonalds for example. This quick-service restaurant is now playing catchup with the other fast food chains. The main reason is because they did not change their ways of doing business or the products they offered. The health craze hit with Millenials and Gen-Z's looking for quick service that provides a fresh, quality product... and they couldn't deliver.
Accept change and learning to adapt is an essential habit that any marketer and entrepreneur must adopt. Technology and trends do not wait for when it's convenient for you to change.
So make it a point to keep your head on a swivel and spot the headwinds that could potentially affect your strategy. How do you do this?
Here are 5 quick tips that will help you spot and positively adapt to your changing business:
• Constant research in your niche
• Keep up with social media trends and changes
• Simply ask your target market; specifically the younger portion
• Always have Plan B
• Never doubt something as a "fad"
Innovation seems to be one of the habits that is most misunderstood by entrepreneurs and marketers. Let's take a closer look at the definition of innovate:
innovate (verb): to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.
This habit goes hand-in-hand with accepting change. Understanding that things must consistently change in your business, as well as your marketing strategies and plans, is required to produce positive results.
As I stated in this article, there are many things that we simply do not pay attention to any longer, and that is because innovations have changed the landscape of the way we market our brands.
But you must also recognize that you must be free-thinking, and try new things that will take your plans into uncharted territories.
Do not discount any ideas. With innovative ideas comes controversial opinions. Acknowledge these, but press on. Remember, the plan will always be unsuccessful until you try.
TIP: Always ask "tell me more", "what else" and "why" when obtaining feedback from your consumer. Here, you will be able to uncover topics and services that have not had solutions for. This is innovation generation at it's finest.
Thinking about new ideas is essential to keep your business in-the-now. But being realistic about expectations, ideas, and the measures is a habit that cannot be ignored.
There is nothing more discouraging to a business entrepreneur when a plan simply doesn't work out. Most of the time, that plan probably didn't have a realistic measurable to provide clarity to the expectation.
When setting time frames, don't make a crazy assumption that something is going to be produced tomorrow. When in reality, it can be done in a minimum of 2-weeks.
Same thing with sales goals... What's more attainable (yet a "go-get") for your business; $100,000 this fiscal year or $1,000,000?
Being unrealistic is a recipe for disaster, and will greatly decrease the moral of yourself and your team.
Use common sense and plan effectively when bringing innovation to your business. The rainbows and butterflies should be left for your nightly dreams.
Measure, Track, & Reflect
There is one thing in business that is clearly a tell-tell sign of success or failure, and that something is the numbers.
Measuring and tracking everything you do should be a habit that can make or break the favorable outcome you should desire from your marketing plans and strategies.
It has always been certain that numbers simply do not lie. With everything that you do in your business, there should be a mechanism that is tracking the overall success.
This plays into the SMART planning process, which everything should be measurable and specific. This is the only way you will know if a campaign or a specific product or service is successful.
Most importantly, you should be reflecting on these numbers that you are tracking. Reusing something that you thought was successful but was actually a flop is irresponsible and will not produce an outcome that you will enjoy.
Another reason to reflect is that you can spot trends that are working much better than anticipated, and you can implement these practices to give your consumers the content, products, and services they desire.
Being on the tail-end of a message that has been miscommunicated can be one of the most frustrating things in life... especially if you're the customer.
Being very clear with expectations, policies, and your message on any piece of collateral is essential to producing and completing a successful marketing strategy.
Communication, however, isn't just for producing a sell. It's also used to influence and gain the trust of your target audience, no matter what the situation.
Building awesome communication skills and using them with your team and your consumers will create the environment that produces honest two-way feedback. No one should be afraid or punished for communicating successes or concerns, and sometimes we as entrepreneurs can come off that way.
If you haven't already, I highly suggest you read How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
In this book, Carnegie will show you many different scenarios and how simply communicating effectively will produce a positive and successful outcome for both parties.
One thing to remember in any scenario: simply listening is usually the best form of communication.
Thinking about where your brand is going will serve you well when seriously planning out your marketing strategy.
Being strategic simply means "looking to the future". Strategic planning is that scary thing that we know is there... we just try to ignore it when things aren't looking as peachy as we originally thought.
With any plans that you make in your business, there must be an overshadowing end result. No... I'm not talking about the one where we think "More Money".
I'm specifically talking about how you want your brand to be perceived by the world in the distant future.
Let's think in 5-year intervals for just a second. How do you want your brand to resonate with your raving fans?
This is where your marketing plan differs from your marketing strategy. These two bold objectives are not synonyms, therefore you should treat them differently.
Which one do you think comes first?
If you guessed marketing strategy, you are right.
Your marketing strategy should define things you will and will not do that will ultimately affect the perception of your brand. It is a way of thinking for your entire team. For example, does your brand have a 5-foot-10-foot rule? Is there a special way that your team members will thank your customers for their patronage? With each form of communication, what will be the consistent message that your fans will remember?
How do you organize your day?
Is there an importance level that you give each task?
Sometimes, you get stressed with the many things you must do each day. It is so easy to get so overwhelmed that you procrastinate and ultimately never take care of the situations at hand.
Obtaining the habit of prioritization is essential to laying out the foundation of what you need to accomplish. There are many ways to do this, and these are only just a few:
Once you have this list compiled, practice time-chunking. Separate your tasks in to 90-minute intervals, and set deadlines that will hold you accountable. For example:
• 90 minutes: Check & respond to emails, Social Media Interaction
• 30 minutes: Coffee/water break; Self-reflection
• 90 minutes: Fresh eyes store/website; product research
• 30 minutes: Walk; Meditate
• 90 minutes: Content creation
Ultimately, prioritizing each and every thing you do will provide a better outlook on your plans and business, and time-chunking only helps you become more productive. It is a valuable tool to keep you motivated, keep you on-track, and increase efficiency in what you do on a daily basis.
Out of all the habits in this article, this one could possibly be the most important.
You and I are both guilty in this area of business.
It is so very easy to listen to podcasts, hire consultants, or even read articles such as this. The overarching problem is that you simply don't take action on the ideas/skills you have uncovered.
As we stated before, being strategic and thinking about your future is essential to the success of your business or plan. But until you put plans into motion, you simply have a piece of paper or a blinking cursor and nothing to show for it.
So here is what I want you to do RIGHT NOW (WRITE THE ANSWERS DOWN):
• Ensure that you completely understand your brand. Think hard on what you're trying to accomplish, and how you are serving your fans.
• If you were a consumer, what does your product or service look like at this very second?
• How are you currently marketing to your consumers? Is it effective? Could you capture more of your audience in a different medium?
• Identify one thing that is changing in your industry.
• How will you adapt? What makes your brand different from your colleagues? Are your innovations realistic?
• Review your marketing plan. Are you tracking everything? Conversions? Offer redemptions? Email list activity?
◦ DO IT NOW!
• Buy & Read How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie this week.
• Write down how you want your brand to be perceived in 5-years. Repeat each year.
• Each day, compile a to-do list. Chunk it. Complete it
• Take action on your ideas! Don't wait for "the right time". Execute.
Let me know in the comments below on some habits you have implemented to bring success to your marketing strategies and plans!