A good marketing strategy is a must-have, especially for a small business with a limited following. To truly build brand loyalty, you have to appeal to your customers while staying true to your company and keeping your competitors in mind – in other words, follow the "three C's model" of marketing. This model focuses on three key factors every marketing strategy should prioritize. Here's how to use this method to boost your business.
Marketing is all about branding. Start by defining your company's mission and building a brand that accurately represents it. That way, people understand who you are and what to expect from you, and you'll feel more confident in your marketing messages.
"2020 has been a year where employees and consumers want to know what your brand, company or business stands for," said Jessica Garrett Modkins, president of Hip Rock Star. "This is the time to build your strategy around the issues that matter to the very fabric of your service. This is an opportunity to evaluate your corporation's heartbeat."
By doing so, you're reminding your customers who you are beneath the surface, which is crucial in today's socially responsible business climate. However, consistency is a key factor, said Daniel Foley, director of Assertive Media.
"Having strong values and ideals for the company is important, to make sure that all marketing [for] a business is done in the same way each time," he said.
Your customers are the reason for your business and the driving force behind all you do. It's important to communicate with them in a personal way, rather than simply buying ad space or pushing your products and services.
"You have to know your customer base well and make sure you are pitching to them; make your product exactly what they need," Foley said. "Your marketing should speak to them, not just be shown to them."
This is especially true on social media, where many customers vet businesses before investing. You can get to know your customers by engaging with them on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
However, creating a social media account shouldn't be something you just check off your list. To really benefit from it and connect with your customers, you'll want to dig a little deeper.
"Your customer is relying on you to communicate with them – staying top of mind," said Garrett Modkins. "Run a campaign using social media, requesting your customer base to provide their name, email address, telephone number and other industry-specific information you need to stay in touch with them when they are no longer active on social media. Use this database to expand your communication with coupons, testimonials and how-to videos exclusive to this platform."
It's crucial you meet your customers where they are, rather than simply hoping they'll come to you. Find ways to express your appreciation, and support them through their buyer journeys.
Regardless of the industry your business is in, you'll always have competition – and that's a good thing. You're doing something right if you have direct competitors, but you'll want to understand how they market themselves, as well as any gaps they fill that you don't.
But while it's important to keep up with your competitors, they shouldn't be all you think about.
"Competition should be evaluated but not stalked," Foley said. "Remember, your competitors should be worried about you, not the other way around. Continue to innovate, and they will not be competition anymore."
To really stand out from your competition, personalize your messaging whenever possible. Storytelling is an instant way to connect with your customers, Modkins said.
"This is the surefire way to give a point of differentiation between your company and the competition," she said. "Seek out success stories with your customers. Take these stories, and amplify this message through marketing tactics to bring in new customers. Every brand has a good success story which can lead to deeper customer engagement."
Additional C's of marketing
We put together some more C's to help spice up your marketing strategy.
The word "compelling" is defined as evoking interest or attention in an irresistible way. It's also the opposite of boring. From the marketing angle, it means that your brand messaging needs to capture your audience's attention (and, of course, that it doesn't bore them like those hundreds of cookie-cutter pitches they are bombarded with daily).
How do you do that? At a time when people's attention spans are so short, what are you doing to ensure that your marketing message or the content you create truly resonates with your clients in a convincing, powerful and credible way? It is important to genuinely understand what your clients are interested in and to offer them a compelling reason to notice you.
If your content is quickly forgotten – or, worse, not noticed at all – it's a red flag you're doing something wrong. Here's how you can fix that:
- Dig deeper into your marketing metrics from a recent campaign.
- Evaluate how much or how little you've achieved your goals.
- Conduct customer research and/or surveys to determine your customers' biggest pain points and challenges.
- Collect relevant data, and turn them into actionable insights.
- Create marketing campaigns based on those insights.
- Test the effectiveness of your content. Your readers will indicate what they like by responding, sharing and taking action. The content that fetches the best results will tell you what type of content you should write and share in the future.
Marketing requires a consistent drumbeat to steadily build up your firm's awareness and credibility. You can't expect overnight results, and you certainly can't expect to get thousands of followers despite never posting a second article on your LinkedIn page. When it comes to your marketing efforts, frequency matters a lot, but what's even more important is to make sure that everything about your brand looks, feels and sounds consistent.
Often, companies struggle in this area. They throw different (and inconsistent) messages against the wall to see what sticks. Unfortunately, this confuses your customers and leaves your company riddled with brand-awareness and identity issues. In contrast, when your target customers hear the same core message several times, they are more likely to spread the word in the way you want.
Millennials – currently the most lucrative market, with $200 million in annual buying power – demand a consistent experience from brands, a global SDL survey revealed in 2015 . Clearly, if left unchecked, inconsistency can become the weakest link in your marketing strategy.
A content audit is a great place to start. Assess blog posts, whitepapers, bylines, case studies, social media posts and other forms of content to check if every aspect of your brand's presence looks and feels consistent across every channel. Also, check for consistency in every customer touch point: email signatures, business cards, letterhead, invoices, envelopes, fax sheets and all other things related to your brand.
Your clients find you and interact with your company in a variety of ways, including PR, social media, websites, videos, email, sales meetings and events. However, your efforts across all marketing channels should weave together a cohesive story.
This doesn't mean repeating the same message mindlessly over and over again, in a way that borders on spamming. Instead, it's about finding the central theme that will resonate with your clients and then carrying that golden thread throughout your campaign. Simply put, presenting a marketing campaign that isn't thematically united is like arriving at a party wearing mismatched clothes: People may notice you, but they certainly won't take you seriously.
Instead, take your clients on a journey. Tell them the story of how your company can help solve their problem, and make sure every story has a beginning, middle and end. Don't reduce your brand stories to merely marketing materials or sales pitches. Rather, treat them as opportunities to let your brand's personality shine through and connect on a deeper level with customers.
For B2B businesses competing in today's rapidly changing digital economy, the customer may seem like a moving target, constantly flitting among myriad channels and displaying an incredibly diverse range of behaviors and preferences. The three C's of marketing will help you develop solid engagement strategies and highly relatable content to capture mindshare, build market share effectively and dominate your industry.
Additional reporting for this article was done by Stacey Danheiser.