I’m sitting down with a solopreneur to help get marketing under control. “It’s been about five years since I really worked on marketing,” she says. “It’s a real beast.”
Beastly — ha! — I like that. Yes, I can see how business owners would view their marketing program as a beast.
So how do we TAME this so-called beast?
I like to start with a super simple marketing audit.
A few things in her asset list stand out — and not in a good way.
Current business described as 14 years old (actually 19 years old). Yup, it’s been five years since this update.
The business listed in her profile is a former business entity.
A string of tweet fragments link to her private Instagram account (Hey, come over to my club — Oh, you? Sorry, you’re not invited).
Not secure. Copyright 2013. Yikes!
A (large) stack of pieces returned as “No Such Address” (please, please correct those addresses before mailing!).
A database yet to be updated with the above postal returns. No recent activity. No reports have ever been generated from existing data to use for marketing insights.
No sales plan. No sales prospecting process. No sales letters. No documentation as to which factors and activities increase the likelihood of a successful sale.
She manages a private Facebook group that is active and time consuming. No master strategy. No interaction with participants in other channels. Lots of personal sharing by client, which is good for developing friendships and earning trust, but not much value professionally to herself or her audience. While Facebook is her strongest asset, I would like to see buying conversations and conversion happen on a platform she controls.
Email marketing, Podcast and Blog
She sent out an email two years ago promising all kinds of things, including regular communication. Today she has a handful of vague emails — mostly apologizing for not publishing more often. Database never backed up. No customized sign up page. No downloads or other alluring items offered for subscribers.
Similar situation with podcast — a launch and a few attempts.
Her blog still shows the default “Hello world!” and template prompts.
She is using a third-party platform that owns and controls the replays as well as all data on who attended, their in-webinar comments, and whether they shared links to the event.
No editorial calendar. No plan. No project management system or software.
Looks shaky, like something from 1999 about to go all Y2K on you.
Almost all need updating, fresh images, and verbiage geared to the target audience.
Her marketing program seems beastly, doesn’t it?
Actually, these are pretty typical audit results for a small business.
Most small businesses do some things really well, which is what we hope for. But there’s not enough time to learn and do everything, which is why you get the basics done and THEN make choices on what to learn/do really well. More about that later.
Seriously, I don’t expect people to do everything really well when it comes to marketing.
You DO have to deal with any assets that are out of date, off putting or just plain wrong.
TO TAME THE MARKETING BEAST:
- Tidy up public-facing assets and point them to your website or conversion platform.
- Shine up your conversion pages and platforms so they are pristine.
- Freshen up your website quickly, during the taming phase. Owners can get lost in this, so we are looking for something that works well enough for now. It is important to make sure your site is secure, especially if you are gathering data.
- Don’t get bogged down in minutiae on content or design at this phase. Focus on evergreen verbiage and images (because time passes — five years! — so much faster than you expect).
- Develop a realistic and predictable sales process so you are not over paying to develop and maintain assets that are not prime moneymakers.
- Make a schedule for regular asset maintenance.
- Find trustworthy people to back you up so deadlines don’t slip by.
My clients like to follow a realistic schedule based on my experience working with other small business owners. Although you can do most of the above items yourself, especially if budget is an issue, having someone crack the whip and manage the project list may be worth the money.
Once your marketing assets are under control, only then is it time to develop a master strategy and look at what you want to do really well. I see too many owners spend money on lofty plans or guru programs, putting the cart before the horse, while their building block assets are not stable enough to support the initiative (sorry about the mixed metaphor of horses and building blocks — ouch!).
As you look at the marketing audit above, ask yourself:
- Are my marketing assets useful and presentable?
- How long would it take me to get them shined up and working properly?
- What seems overwhelming?
- What is so beastly that I might need outside help?
(Let me know in the comments below!)
UPDATE: This client’s print collateral is among the best I’ve seen for a small company. Her items are suited to face-to-face meetings and events. We set a goal for her to attend an event every week where she can share her print marketing pieces. I’m proud to say she is really doing it, AND her printer is doing a fantastic job!
Sandy Hubbard has been author and contributor at Print Media Centr since 2011. As a Marketing Strategist and Business Consultant who serves the print, publishing and media industries, Sandy helps clients build their businesses using proven techniques and a systematic approach.
Sandy hails from a long line of printers, publishers, authors, and newspaper owners. For over two decades, she published a magazine for the printing trade. To this day, her readers — printers and manufacturers of all sizes and types — value Sandy as a trusted resource, friend and confidant.
Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn and find her at @sandyhubbard every Wednesday on Twitter at 4 pm ET, leading or co-hosting #PrintChat with Deborah Corn of @PrintMediaCentr — Join in the fun at social media’s most popular chat for the global printing industry!