Marketing can be a love-hate affair. You put your heart and soul into a campaign only to see it completely flop, or throw caution to the wind with a whimsical plan and end up hitting the jackpot. Consistent results can sometimes be elusive and getting all the elements of your marketing activity to work together in unison can occasionally feel like plaiting fog. In the dark.
This is why we decided to summarise some common personas, to see where your current skills sit and what you might need to focus on in order to reach that next step on your way to brand-building, conversion-catching, audience-building nirvana. Take a look below and, please, be honest…
Brand: "I’m totally happy with my branding. I’ve had it this way for years and am used to it. Besides, I don’t like change all that much, so my customers probably won’t either."
Imagery: "I think I’ve got a low-res photo on my old phone I can upload, that should do the trick. If I can’t find that, I’ll just search for something on Google and copy the file. Watermarks don’t bother me too much, to be honest."
Website: "Our website has everything we need: a home page, contact details, some photos of our offices. We’ve never had any problems reported in the 10 years we’ve had it, but to be honest I’m not sure who actually visits it. Most of what we do revolves around word of mouth and repeat business anyway."
Social Media: "I just use my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts and occasionally post something business related, when sales need a boost or I have a happy customer to talk about. I don’t really have the time to put any more into it, and my food related posts tend to get more comments and likes in general."
Blog Content: "What do you mean, like Tumblr?"
Actions to take:
Let’s bring it right back to the basics. You have a brand, a reputation and an audience. It’s up to you to make sure any outward channels represent your organisation as the competent, professional outfit you’d want to be seen as. After all, a first impression may well sway a prospective customer’s opinion of your service before they’ve even considered any other factors.
Think first about putting the basics in place and executing them properly:
Brand: "I’ve recently refreshed my logo and have tweaked my basic colour palette. It could have done with updating as nobody had touched it for a while. We try to stay current and fresh so when the time comes around, we don’t hesitate to renew our visual appearance – my mum says she really likes the new look too!"
Imagery: "My subscription to a stock photo and video site means I can keep my clean and professional look consistent. I can find pretty much anything I need, regardless of the niche, and don’t lack for polished, corporate style photography."
Website: "Someone recommended I use an off-the-shelf solution, like Wix or Wordpress. I found a template I really liked so went with it, customising a few things like logo, copy and products or services. It’s easy to use, gives me just about the flexibility I need and comes ready-made for things like SEO and mobile, which I know are important factors. Job’s a good ‘un!"
Social Media: "One of our junior members of staff looks after our social media accounts as they’re the most comfortable using the different sites. I occasionally ask them to post links to new products and to make sure they upload photos from events our sales team attend, so that our followers can see what’s new. We use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as I know they’re popular, posting the same content across all three as and when we have something relevant to add."
Blog Content: "We upload articles to the news section of our site when there are updates to products and services, and other events such as staff charity fundraisers. Once in a while someone might get round to writing a ‘Top 10’ list or similar, when there's time."
Actions to take
It’s clear you have a grasp of what’s expected of you from a marketing perspective, but some areas are looking a little thin on the ground or in need of an extra degree of sophistication. Strive for best practice in each area of marketing you choose to undertake, be consistent and keep quality control high.
There are no quick fixes but take reassurance from the fact that customers will reward you with loyalty in the long run.
Brand: "My organisation recently went through a comprehensive rebranding project which stripped everything back and started from scratch. We asked ourselves where we sat in the marketplace, how our audience perceived us and what changes we wished to see across the board. Cosmetic enhancements ended up being significant, but nothing was implemented without careful research, consideration and a range of permutations. We also overhauled the copy displayed on each and every customer touchpoint to ensure that tone of voice and messaging underpinned our intended brand positioning."
Imagery: "Where budget and timeframes allow, I arrange or commission bespoke photography and video; nothing is as important as the quality and authenticity of how my brand comes across, and in an increasingly visually-dominant digital space, this starts with the images we use. Where project constraints are more restrictive, I take the time to re-work licensed stock material as much as is necessary to give it more of an in-house feel, ensuring everything I publish is faithful to my brand look."
Website: "Thanks to detailed audience segmentation, customer journey mapping and plenty of time and effort put into user experience, I’m proud of our site: how it looks, what it’s like to navigate around and, most importantly, what is says about our organisation. We want our site experience to be as enjoyable to first time visitors as it is to loyal customers, so we’ve made sure that each and every page has a purpose in fulfilling a query or helping people get what they need. That said, it’s also designed to perform for us, so everything from loading speeds to calls to action have been fine tuned for maximum effect."
Social Media: "We have a dedicated social media manager who oversees all aspects of our activity. We only operate on the platforms that are most relevant to our customer base, with each one having its own unique strategy, content and schedule to give our audience a reason to follow each channel. Our posts convey personality, authenticity and, importantly, don’t seek to sell at every available opportunity. We use paid boosting in a strategic way to achieve a range of goals: promoting on-site content to drive traffic, growing followers with page like campaigns and retargeting visitors with relevant services or white papers."
Blog Content: "Our blog strategy looks at rewarding our audience for spending time with our brand with a comprehensive suite of insightful, engaging articles. We understand that time = trust, and trust = authority, so our focus is on consistently producing high quality output on a regular basis that aligns with our audience’s interests, needs and concerns, rather than pushing for sales or indulging in self-congratulatory press releases. Each article addresses one aspect of the customer journey, from brand awareness to consideration to conversion, and we regularly monitor performance to constantly refine our offering."
Actions to take
Things are looking good. You’re ticking most of the boxes when it comes to marketing as a discipline and there’s a strong sense that you’re looking to take ownership of your overall identity as a brand, service provider and expert authority.
Keep measuring, tracking and refining each customer channel to ensure they are performing optimally for both your audience and your business.
There is always more to monitor, improve and refine when it comes to marketing, from email open rates to customer lifetime value, or social media engagement to website dwell time. It's not a disaster by any means if some areas of your activity are looking a little rough round the egdes or are in need of some TLC, but what is certainly regrettable is not taking action when you do indeed know there are changes to be made for the better.
There are many benefits to managing your marketing internally, but working with an agency can help capitalise on what you have or even spot fatal flaws.
The Assembly is an independent, community-focussed venue that aims to bring the people of Crossgates the bar, cafe and social hub they deserve.
We gathered a selection of journalists and bloggers in London for an invite-only evening of all things cheese, ahead of the 2019 awards.