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A marketing strategy that's not hot air

4th July 2011

How do you create a marketing strategy that's not hot air?  

You may be surprised to hear that I wouldn't (necessarily) exclude social media from such a plan, but it does certainly have to be managed and measured like any element of a marketing campaign.

First of all - what have you got?

Whether you measure your leads in terms of x per month or x per year, you must record them and must have a sound basis for the current figures you have.  If you're not recording these at the moment, get a CRM system.

Second, where does it come from?

Is there a way of differentiating between your current new leads based on source?  If not, there needs to be.  Don't be afraid to ask potential customers where they heard of you.  If they don't know, they'll say.  But in a moment we'll talk about easier ways of differentiating.

Now you have your list of existing leads, make a new list of all possible sources of new sales, including twitter, web pages, email newsletters google ads, word of mouth, direct referral from an existing customer (this should be separate from word of mouth, as word of mouth encompasses anyone who knows you), fliers, letters, exhibition stands, networking, and so on.

Create a source identification mechanism for each channel.  Do you have a web page?  Explain your offer and ask customers to quote discount code SUMMER.  Do you have a flier?  Ask customers to phone a separate phone number.  With the possible exception of word of mouth, each source of new sales should have an easy way to identify that source.

Make and record the investment in all the viable marketing channels.  Include your time as a cost.  As a rule of thumb, I cost our time doing internal projects like marketing at half of the billable rate.

Finally, put more investment into marketing channels that pay off.  But give them the appropriate time for the channel.  Networking and twitter, for example, won't normally give you sales leads straight away, while google ads can be judged immediately.

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