I’ll just say it right off the bat… I’m pretty darn good at marketing. And I became good at it by shamelessly stealing lessons along the way from marketers who are smarter than me.
Today, I want to share a few of these lessons with you. If you like them, please feel free to steal them for your own marketing too.
1. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes
Hear me out… If you saw that social media post your company posted, as a potential customer, would YOU click it? Is the value you’re giving based around what you think your audience is asking or what they’re actually asking? Would that ad make you stop scrolling and snag your attention? This helps change the perspective entirely. You might notice that your graphic design or copywriting needs some work to be more eye-catching.
I’ve learned that our first inclination is to start with what WE offer, how WE are amazing, and how you need to buy whatever WE are selling. If you think back to pre-COVID days when you went to dinners and parties, when was the last time you met someone and just talked about yourself, or even worse, immediately tried to sell to them? Hopefully, you wouldn’t do that in real life and on the internet, it should be no different.
The lesson that I learned here is to take the time to identify with whomever you’re talking to right off the bat. Address the problems they might be facing or relate to them in some way and then (and only THEN) talk about what you do and how you can fix it.
2. Focus on the problems you solve
People care about how you solve their problems and make their life easier. A valuable lesson I learned early on is making sure to emphasize benefits rather than features. Think of features as the specs of your product or service (what tools are used, functionality, and actual dimensions if you offer a physical product).
The benefits are what features actually do to make the customer’s life easier. To me, it seemed obvious, but you can’t assume people will automatically know why your company is the best. So be sure to tell them! You own a spa that offers cool sculpting, for example. People don’t pay for cool sculpting because they like sitting with 39-degree Fahrenheit bands on them (feature)- they do it because they want to lose fat and tone up their body (benefit).
3. Optimize your content for two things – search engines and social media/influence
First, optimize your content to show up higher on Google by using industry-specific keywords. Content should also be optimized for influence and engagement purposes which means you need to make it shareable, easy to read, and relevant. Your content should follow the CARDS acronym. If you don’t know what that means, I cover it in this post.
Most people optimize for one but not the other because SEO and anything to do with search engine rankings overwhelms them. One of the first things that need to be done (even before your website was built) is making a list of 50+ industry keywords that have high search and low competition. My go-to for this is Jaaxy. After that, everything you distribute online for the public to see should be made with these keywords in mind.
4. You HAVE to be creative to succeed in marketing
If your strategy relies heavily on what your competitors are doing, it might be time to change it up. You have to set yourself apart from other companies and be willing to try new things. Chances are, your competitors probably aren’t getting results they’re entirely happy with either. There’s no way to sugar coat this, but it could be a case of the helpless leading the clueless. How can we do something different and pave the way?
5. Be LASER focused on results
A beautiful website is amazing but if it isn’t optimized to be found through Google, what good is it if nobody sees it? All marketing should be done with the end result in mind – usually, that’s booking more clients or landing more sales for business owners. The number of things that need to get done can be overwhelming. When you separate tasks that would be nice to get done versus revenue-generating activities, it helps highlight efforts that truly matter when it comes to translating marketing efforts to dollars.
6. Anticipate and address myths/objections
I’ve seen too many brands only address how AWESOME their industry and service offerings are, but the reality of it is that people are skeptical before they buy something. If there’s a common myth, question, or objection that you hear a lot from potential or existing customers, don’t be afraid to address it. This can help build trust, get the customer over that hump, and ultimately, show that you’re willing to be transparent and real with your customer. This goes a long way.
Side note: By addressing common questions and concerns, you’ll be the industry expert who shows up to answer what people are already searching for.
7. Stop writing in the third person
More often than not, writing in the third person made my writing sound very corporate and stiff. It took me some practice to break old habits and write in a way that was engaging and conversational. Why write like this? So that your writing is pleasant to read. Tip: Instead of using your company name, try using “we” or “I”. There are too many companies who don’t stand out (especially on social media) or gain trust because, to the audience, it’s just another anonymous brand behind a faceless account with bland messaging. I’ve learned the value of making every interaction with the customer (or future customer) personal and friendly.
8. Base decisions on DATA, never assumptions
As a business owner, my business is my pride and joy. If you own your own business, you know exactly what I mean. Your brand is your baby and you’re close with everything that happens within the business. For that reason, it can be easy to use emotions and assumptions to make decisions. Here’s the reality: what you think your target audience wants is most likely extremely different from what they actually want.
Use hard facts to shape your strategy and decisions. I can’t tell you how many times a business owner has told me that their target audience is, for example, women ages 25-40, but their social media stats show that more than half of their following is built up of men. This tells you there’s something off on your messaging or strategy. I’ve also had clients who believe that their ads are performing well but the click-through and conversion rates say something very different.
9. Listen to your customer. No, seriously.
Stop selling, stop talking about why your offer is so amazing, and just listen. Some of the best advice I’ve received is this: your potential customer will tell you what their pain points are and exactly how to sell them. Hearing from customers directly is the most valuable form of marketing research – better than any Google search you could make.
If you’re new or your customers aren’t talking to you yet, be a fly on the wall. You can social listen by making use of the search feature on social media platforms, read through Youtube comments, check out forums. My favorite is Twitter since this is where people really keep it real with their thoughts. See what they’re saying about your industry, you, and maybe even your competitors.
10. Make it consistent
I mean this in two ways – make your marketing and digital presence cohesive and regularly updated. From your website to ad campaigns to social media channels, the overall look, experience, and branding should look similar.
First, customers identify with consistent branding and it helps build trust. Second, marketing is an investment (you might get tired of me hearing this) which means you can’t just do one blog or post for a few weeks on social media and expect the sales to pour in. Some people even say it hurts you more to have profiles that were last updated in 2017 than it is to not even have a presence on the platform at all. It’s just not a great look. Plus, these platforms have MILLIONS of active users and it’s free to use for your business aside from the time and energy it takes you to post (and if you don’t have that, let’s talk).
11. Don’t be afraid to take risks
Marketing focuses on testing to see what works best whether we’re talking about ads, graphics, or emails. I learned that I can’t be afraid of making mistakes or launching a campaign that doesn’t perform as well as expected. I don’t consider this a failure – it still produced valuable data that allowed me to improve the next time around. Marketing revolves around experimenting and testing until you find something that works.
If what you’re doing isn’t currently working, just remember that nothing changes if nothing changes.
12. The first step in marketing before ANYTHING else is understanding who you’re marketing to
Narrowing down my audience made me feel paranoid that I was excluding people. I’m sorry to break it to you but… Everyone can’t be your target customer. You have to narrow it down in order to get your marketing to resonate. Otherwise, it’s just another post or ad that gets swiped past. Once you understand whom you’re speaking to, you’ll know what really bothers them, motivates them, where/how they consume their content, what kind of content they like the most, etc. That’s always my first focus and then I use that to craft a solid plan.
13. Make use of evergreen and repurposed content
Most people worry about creating more and more content but fail to make sure their existing content has gotten in front of as many people as possible. Let’s talk about evergreen content first… This kind of content is sustainable – meaning it continues to be relevant even well after it’s been published. Some examples are frequently asked questions from customers, how-to guides, and common industry questions that your audience may not know about.
14. Make your website and social posts easy to read
Don’t hide what customers need in giant walls of text. I always had a habit of being too wordy. Now, I simplify the message and have made line breaks my best friend. I’ve also learned the importance of putting the most valuable or interesting part of your content at the very beginning. Don’t be shy about your results and what you’re proud of. If you’ve achieved something or have an awesome stat to share, put it front and center.