It’s a mistake that too many companies make.
You have big ideas for how your marketing department can achieve great results, but a lack of time, money, or specific skills puts those goals out of reach. So you either do the best you can with the status quo or spend all your resources on a compromise—which more often than not leaves you cleaning up after shoddy or half-thought-out work or reveals other problems that you now need to fix.
If you’re anxious to modernize your marketing but worried about the sheer size of such an effort, try looking at the job as an evolution rather than a revolution. The key is to deconstruct your big end goal into a set of incremental tasks, then move forward with purpose. In this way, you evolve your marketing efforts over time. And you’re more likely to get the results you want.
So what are some of these incremental steps? Where you start will depend on your company’s specific needs, but they boil down into several basic buckets.
The key to a marketing evolution is understanding who your ideal audience is and why they need your product or service. If you don’t have that information, a thorough audience analysis simply must be your first step. That information alone can enable you to make low-cost changes—to existing website content or outreach messaging, for example—that can help drive traffic or engage customers.
Another initial step that won’t cost much is aligning your marketing team with your sales team. Improving communications between the two immediately enables you to deliver content that is more likely to result in qualified conversions and finalized sales.
How well are your marketing and sales teams aligned right now?
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If you have the resources, your branding is the next task at hand. Does it clearly communicate your company’s unique value for your target audience? If not, you’re in trouble. Branding is more than just a sharp-looking logo. It needs to encapsulate your purpose in a way that can be communicated to the ideal customer.
Speaking of your company’s unique value: What differentiates you from the competition? Like an audience analysis, a competitive analysis provides vital data. It can be a bit more time intensive but will be well worth the effort.
Now you know who you want to engage, why they might want to listen to you instead of your competition, and the core of your message to them. It’s time to evaluate your website. This task is a topic unto itself, but a well-functioning website that is easy to maintain and update is your company’s public face—and it needs to be outstanding.
Part of this effort might involve SEO optimization. Completing an SEO analysis during the initial stages of a website design or redesign can help you prep your site to drive organic traffic. After the site is complete, you can also use this information to run a targeted digital campaign, such as paid search.
Of course, you’ll want to keep prospects coming back as they move through the buying journey. And if your company uses an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, you’ll likely need to develop customer-specific content, portals, emails, and so on.
Add in social marketing, advertising campaigns, award submissions … there will always be plenty to keep you busy and keep your marketing evolving. The eBook Building Content for the Buyer’s Journey provides a helpful guide for mapping your current content and determining where you’ll have to fill in gaps.
Partnering with an Agency
Can you benefit from working with a digital marketing agency? An agency partner can be a great way to fill in skill gaps or get things done when you simply don’t have enough time or people.
Obviously, you’ll need to balance these advantages with the cost of paying an agency. Many companies establish a relationship with a reliable agency, then bring them in on specific campaigns or to complete focused tasks. This can be a good way to expand your team’s reach without breaking the bank.
When choosing an agency, consider more than cost. These factors can have a big effect on ROI:
Does the agency have all the skill coverage you need (e.g., website design, content creation, SEO, sales enablement)? If not, does it have existing partnerships in place to manage and provide those services, or will you need to manage multiple vendors to get to your end goal?
Does the agency have a history of successful partnerships with internal marketing teams?
Who will you be working with? Will the people you meet with be the people working on your project, or does the agency have a reputation for farming out work to its “B-Team” or external vendors as soon as the contract is signed?
When you talk with the agency, does it propose a strategy that achieves your specific short-term milestones while considering what you’ll need to move toward your long-term goals?
Start Where You Are
Whichever step you begin with, whether you can complete tasks internally or need help from an agency partner, you must keep moving forward if you hope to keep your marketing strategy fresh and effective.
Making progress doesn’t require an all-or-nothing approach. Start where you are and proceed one step at a time. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll see results.