Automated marketing systems can seem like they're out of reach when you're just getting started with them. Many businesses are reluctant to even ask...
Modern marketing uses technology innovations to reduce friction throughout the process of finding and retaining customers.
Perspective and Mindset
Through our experience we have found the most challenging aspects for a business transitioning into modern marketing growth strategy are the perspectives of the people involved in implementing it. How willing a team is to recognize and remove their own internal obstacles is the key to success.
The dilemma you face in using modern marketing solutions is similar to what businesses faced as modern transportation methods became available for mainstream use. It was chaotic as people had options but no clear system in place to use them. It’s a helpful illustration for the dilemma facing your business today. Looking back on it from our modern point of view, it doesn't seem complicated. People just stopped using horses. Right?
The reality is there were decades of difficulties, especially for businesses. No roads were organized for car travel. Cities and towns were outlawing the use of automobiles because they created problems for existing infrastructure. This is similar to the ways companies sometimes restrict the use of internet channels for their employees or within their marketing efforts.
There were no parts stores on every corner which made it difficult to make repairs. These days, there isn't a clear set of standards for what platforms to use and how employees should interact with them. Back then, opinions varied about whether it was a waste of money to change delivery methods for goods and services. Should the stables full of horses and wagons be phased out? Should you be making changes to how your sales team engages with prospects and customers, using technology?
Just like now, the businesses of the past were being inundated with many new ways to do things and no clarity on how to use them. To navigate the rough waters of rapid innovation, you'll need to adopt ways to be nimble as you incorporate modern methods and manage constant change.
A lot of confusion surrounds the use of internet platforms. There are now thousands to choose from but you'll be relieved to know only a few are robust and efficient enough to be serious considerations.
There are common questions that surface for businesses who need to make changes to how they generate new leads. What platform should your website be built on? How do you incorporate content marketing with a blog and online lead generation? Where does social media fit into the picture? And what about SEO, the complicated methods to help people find your website? Why aren't you having the impact you expect from email marketing? Should your customer service team provide a live chat option? How can you identify the right solutions for your business?
This guide gives a rundown of everything you need to consider and is constantly evolving to help you make the right choices. It serves as a roadmap that will have your business meeting the expectations of your best prospects and customers. The first step is setting the right expectations.
Your perspective and mindset play a large role in how successful you are in implementing modern marketing and sales best practices. Many give up too soon because their expectations don't align with the strategy they put into place.
Pre-Internet Marketing Mindset
We often see businesses who are struggling with lingering remnants from pre-internet days. Times when options for promoting businesses were less diverse than they are today. Business marketing and sales strategy without the immediate influence offered by the internet operated primarily on a 30-day cycle and relied on print publications, television ads, radio spots and direct mail campaigns to promote offers. As time went on, email was incorporated into it but treated the same as the direct mail campaigns. The turn-around time between coming up with an idea for a new promotion, implementing it, and deciding whether it worked or not were short and not usually interdependent.
Businesses were in control of the sales process since prospects had to rely on them to get information. Training was focused on how to process transactions inside the businesses rather than on how salespeople would overcome the obstacles to meeting their sales goals. Sending salespeople out to contact large lists of prospects was viewed as enough to generate a steady stream of sales. The personal engagement, even when it was more rooted in tenacity than likeability, was a successful tactic. When goals weren’t met, volume of sales calls were labeled as the culprit.
Early Internet Marketing Mindset
Many businesses are likely to continue to follow the mindset of early-phase web-based marketing. Web pages and use of email and social media to reach people contain content that reads more like a steady stream of advertisements. The numerous channels available for digital marketing campaigns are used as avenues to get “free advertising." Online content can be plentiful or scarce for these businesses and it is situational and not working in tandem with other tactics. It has the short shelf life that resembles the offline advertising channels of the past.
For some, outdated methods are set in stone. By continuing to cling to techniques from the recent past, businesses can get their websites banned by search engines or be fined by regulatory authorities. Most of the time though, this mindset results in a lot of wasted time, money and effort.
Changing attitudes hasn’t only impacted how businesses reach out to their target audience, the sales process is also changing. Information is available to buyers from thousands of websites. The scale has tipped to favor them. Competition is fierce as the online “Rolodex” is crowded with new entries. It is increasingly difficult for businesses to grow, even with modern marketing tactics.
If your business is lagging behind in the ways described here, this guide is perfect for you.
The Foundation for Modern Marketing Strategy
Before you can successfully take advantage of modern marketing strategy, you’ll need foundational information about your business. Rushing straight to using the latest tactics and technology for marketing and sales requires the right foundation.
Answer the following questions in writing. This information will be used to successfully implement a modern marketing and sales system.
- What works well in your daily operations and the grand scheme of things? Identifying the things that are serving you well provides the priority for layering in modern marketing tactics. The best place to get fast results is maximizing the efficiency of what already works well for you. These are areas where you can begin applying new technology that is specifically designed to modernize these areas of your business.
- What is your unique selling proposition? Is it a unique way your business provides a common product or service where YOU and YOUR team are the unique factors? Do you have a proprietary product or solution to offer? How are you able to successfully compete against other businesses? Being honest about this and getting it down in writing is a core component of this effort. The days of winging it as you go doesn’t work and doesn’t lead to growth. The best way to shape a positive impression in the minds of customers about your business is to be consistent. Set expectations beforehand (with your web content) and follow through on what you promise. If you’ve fallen into a pattern of making it up as you go, employees are doing it too, which is creating unpredictable outcomes. The end result is a model that isn’t scalable and undermines your ability to grow.
- Why are you in business? To some degree, this is part of your unique selling proposition. Consider exploring Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle to get to the core essence of your business identity. Telling the personal story of why you’re in business allows you to tap into the emotional side of people and is necessary in your efforts to build an outstanding customer experience for your brand.
- What are the areas of your business that need improvement? If something doesn’t work now, you’ll need the awareness of how it fits into your plans of updating your marketing and sales process. What will it take to fix it? Will you be able to work around it until you fix it or does it have to be fixed before you can start making changes to how you market your business? Not facing up to shortcomings will stop this entire process from working. Issues may arise after you begin layering in the new ways of doing things and you’ll need to be prepared to face them. The most likely place for them to surface is within your team as some might not be willing or able to adapt to significant changes to how things are being done.
Objectives of Modern Marketing Strategy
Using what you gather about your business from the previous step, you can set the objectives for your new business strategy.
Attract traffic to your website. The traffic to your website will be divided into the categories of site visitor, marketing qualified or sales qualified leads, and referral sources among others.
Connect with qualified leads. Put sales and marketing platforms in place that are designed to help you connect with site visitors who are qualified to buy from your company.
Manage Leads and Close Sales
Once a site visitor goes from being a stranger to a sales qualified lead, you’ll need to have a system in place to keep track of where they are in the sales cycle and allow you to plan appropriate follow up. Your staff will need a collection of skills to use them. The process a buyer goes through from their first introduction to your company all the way through to becoming a customer usually doesn’t take place in a single encounter.
If your business can survive on the 30-day cycle of people showing up ready to be a customer with no cultivation from you, this guide isn’t for you. If you’re missing out by not giving attention to the middle stages that result in someone becoming your customer, putting in the time to learn and implement modern marketing and sales techniques will pay off!
Retain and Delight Customers
How can you use technology to keep customers happy and get them to make referrals? Everyone wants the Holy Grail of word-of-mouth business growth. Today, it takes use of modern marketing and sales technology to cultivate it. In the same way you’ll be using internet-based tactics to get leads and close them into sales, you’ll use it to communicate with existing customers. In fact, your list of current customers will be the starting point for using web-based tactics to grow your business.
How to Achieve Objectives of Modern Marketing Strategy
You will need to choose the right software platforms, provide staff with necessary training and use an assortment of tactics from a large pool of options. This is how you align your growth strategy to budget and other considerations unique to your business.
Just like in the example we used of early 19th century transportation changes, the choices you make here are greatly dependent on context. Where you fit on the spectrum within all of these rapidly evolving innovations will drive the collection of tactics that fit your needs. Is your business big or small? Do you have problems to resolve before you can fully implement any of the tactics? How will you manage these changes?
The next section covers the most common tactics used to implement modern marketing and sales strategy. Some may look familiar but take note of how they are being used today and consider how they fit your needs.
Tactics of Modern Marketing
- Inbound Marketing. Inbound marketing is the modern way to attract customers. By producing valuable content and personalized experiences tailored to those who best benefit from your products and services, you can form connections with people who are looking for the solutions you have to offer. It generates warm leads so you’re engaging with people who need you. Attracting the right kind of traffic to your business raises your odds of positive experiences on both sides. The effort is to steer away from outbound marketing of the past. Outbound interrupts people with marketing messages and repels more than it attracts. In that setting, the relationship is starting off on the wrong foot.
The term “inbound marketing” largely applies to web-technology and works on the simple formula of attracting, engaging and delighting an audience that is likely to do business with you. A strategy in and of itself, it requires a long term commitment. Blogging, social media, and email marketing are all used as part of coordinated efforts to promote conversion paths. The blogging and social media contribute to overall search engine optimization efforts (read on, SEO is featured separately in this list of tactics).
A conversion path is comprised of a call to action graphic that links to a landing page. The landing page contains a form and when the form is filled out, automated emails and other actions can be set in motion to deliver the campaign offer. Offers can be anything from signing up for a consultation, webinar or other event, to downloading a guide or checklist.
- Inbound Sales and Sales Enablement Taking things from inbound marketing over into sales, we layer in the steps of identify, connect, explore and advise. Salespeople take the leads generated by inbound marketing and examine whether they could be an ideal fit for your company’s offerings. If the answer is yes, inbound salespeople connect with them and explore in greater detail. The objective is to get enough information to make specific recommendations as part of a proposal. Lastly, salespeople advise with a proposal how your company is uniquely positioned to address their needs.
Sales enablement brings the marketing and sales teams together toward common goals and improves how they work together to meet company goals. It is designed to reduce the internal friction companies often encounter between these two areas of their businesses.
- Modern Websites Websites are now an interactive part of the marketing and sales process. Attention is given to small, incremental, continuous improvements versus the old, static websites that quickly become outdated by the time they are ready for use. It starts with a set of pages that must be in place (for instance, the home page, services page and contact page) and continuously adds in-depth content based on your monthly and quarterly marketing objectives. Alongside this is deepening the experience website visitors will have by including interactive components like live chat, questionnaires etc. You can get immediate value, aligned to your budget and growth goals rather than sinking a large investment into a website that may take months before any value can be gained from it.
- SEO - Search Engine Marketing. SEO is a big part of how you attract people to your website. It too, has become a personal experience. You’ll need to mostly forget outdated obsessions with keywords and the notion of using trickery to beat out competitors. Instead, use what you know about how your best customers can be served to create the content on your website. Use internet-based technology to deepen the experience and SEO will begin to evolve nearly on its own. You’ll want to get the help of professionals, but until the day comes that you understand more about your objectives, you can get a very long way by logically providing an above-average experience for your site visitors with detailed information that helps them identify and fix problems related to your area of expertise.
- Modern Email Marketing. Email marketing is an important part of the formula to attract, close and delight new customers. How it is used has changed. Simply collecting email addresses and pumping out your weekly or monthly special to one or more lists is not only an outdated tactic but there are laws in place now that can get you into trouble for doing it. The entire process is too much to cover here but basically, segmented lists are used along with carefully crafted content that is personal and aimed specifically for each of your marketing personas. Most importantly, the recipient has agreed to be on your email list and wants to hear from you. Careful consideration should be given to planning, allowing plenty of time to create high quality email campaigns. As time goes on, with the proper tools in place, it gets easier as you’re able to reuse assets.
- Modern Sales Training. In addition to moving to the inbound sales approach, sales teams use psychology and solutions-based approaches to make the sales process comfortable for them and their prospects. Paired with technology and new strategy, they’re better equipped to close leads into customers regardless of whether they originate online or offline. Companies must invest in a solid training process to help their teams succeed.
- Powerful Customer Service Equip your business to fulfill the expectations of people for being able to communicate online. Using chat capability from your website, taking advantage of Messenger on your Facebook page, managing support tickets directly through your website, etc. are some of the things customers have come to expect. Go as far as you’re able to go to deliver a perfect customer experience. Make a plan to gradually add other pieces and allow enough time in between them to fully implement each one and don’t leave out employee training programs.
- Innovative Business Networking. Plan for the upcoming year as much as possible for your investment into business networking events. Content should be in place well ahead of each one that lives on your website. This will enable your sales team to quickly access and provide links to people they engage at networking functions and trade shows. Promote your participation in events at least a month or two ahead of and during the event. When you can’t meet in person, use the power of webinars to create opportunities for meaningful engagement with the people you want as customers. You can apply many of the same techniques to webinar promotion as you would an in-person event.
How to Implement Modern Marketing
We've only scratched the surface of building the framework for modern marketing and sales that is nimble enough to evolve as technology changes. Sign up for our next webinar as we dive more deeply into the individual aspects of modern marketing. We cover a new topic each month and end each webinar by showing you how it fits the grand scheme of modern marketing and sales strategy and how to identify action items that are right for you.
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