Marketing campaigns can be a scary prospect for entrepreneurs, especially if you don’t have a marketing background, but there are a few things that you can do to get your campaign off on the right foot. It’s also important that you realize that even experts aren’t successful all of the time, and even some of the best campaigns can fail. You don’t need to be a marketing expert to get a successful campaign started, you just need a little guidance in doing it. Following these steps will ensure that your efforts—whether it’s in social media, print, video, or any other medium—will maximize the return on investment for your new strategy.
Working SMART: The Best Way to Start Your Strategy
Making sure that your campaign meets its goals starts with the SMART strategy. This simple acronym can be used for many types of goals, and isn’t limited only to marketing.
- Specific: Goals should not be general. They should be clearly defined, and there must be no ambiguity in order to avoid misinterpretation. Saying, “I want to add subscribers to my blog,” gives no definition for success. Instead, say, “I want to add 100 subscribers to my blog in the next month.” This gives a specific number of subscribers along with an exact time frame to achieve the goal.
- Measurable: Not knowing if you reached your goals means not knowing if your plans have been a success. Continually collect and evaluate the data that matters to your campaign: page clicks, phone calls, dollars sold, or other information that can show which strategies are working. Don’t just measure your goals at the end of a campaign, but do it throughout. This lets you react to changes, and allows you to see what methods are either successful or not.
- Attainable: Unattainable goals can be deflating and lead to risky behavior. The goals that you set out for your marketing strategy should be something that can be attained by you and your team. Setting unachievable targets can demoralize everyone involved in the campaign
- Relevant: The goals that you set for your campaign need to be relevant to the business you’re in. If your customer base is made up of older professionals, then it’s likely irrelevant for you to want to increase your Instagram followers, which is primarily a much younger demographic. Making relevant goals will keep your business from chasing the wrong targets, ensuring you work toward something that will benefit your business.
- Timely: Goals need to have a timeframe attached to them. If they don’t, and you leave your goals open, you may not feel the pressure of a deadline, and your goals can fall by the wayside.
Making sure that your marketing goals are aligned with the SMART method will ensure that you end up with goals that will actually benefit your business, and that you can analyse to ensure that it meets all your needs. Using SMART is not the only way to set up a successful marketing campaign, though.
Doing Your Homework Pays Off
In order for any marketing campaign to be effective, research is the key to your business success. Knowing your audience will tell you the best media to advertise your products or services, and will also inform you about the type of voice your campaign needs to have.
Doing a little research into your target market will help your small business compete with larger ones, and will make your marketing efforts more efficient. Many aspects of a target audience can be evaluated, making decisions easier for your campaign. Take, for example, Instagram, where 90% of its 150 million users are under the age of 35, and where video is found to attract much more engagement over images. If your ad campaign was focused on women over 35, and used images, it would be more beneficial for you to know that 42% of females on the Internet use Pinterest. You are then able to focus your efforts on posting images to Pinterest, where your target market is much more likely to see it.
It would also be beneficial to you to look into what your competitors are doing. Looking at successful (or even unsuccessful) campaigns from other businesses with the same target market can help you define what does or doesn’t work. Is it better to use videos for similar products? What hashtags are popular on Twitter? Are case studies more effective than white papers? What kind of headlines get attention? All of these things should be researched and their effectiveness measured by your business.
Don’t Overdo the Analysis
At some point, you just have to stop researching and analyzing and just go for it. This is where the “relevant” part of the SMART program comes in. Looking at all types of data for a marketing campaign can overburden you or your marketing team, causing more time to be spent on data analytics than on actual marketing. Determining key performance indicators (KPI) at the beginning of a campaign, can prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed with data.
Large companies can fall victim to data paralysis just as easily as entrepreneurs can. Teams can lose sight of what’s important, and get stuck on even the smallest details that are actually irrelevant to the overall marketing strategy. Knowing when to stop analyzing and just start campaigning will keep your campaign on track.
If you feel like you’re becoming paralyzed with all the data, take a step back and breathe. Figure out what is important to your campaign, and what data has actual relevance to your business.
While running email campaigns, for example, you need to look at things like open rates, and click rates to make things a success. Looking at your increase or decrease in Twitter followers likely has nothing to do with email, and should be put aside until it becomes important. Simply knowing what is important to your marketing success will keep you on track and moving forward.
A Final Word
Setting up a marketing campaign for success is a tricky prospect, and even marketing professionals sometimes get it wrong. Sticking to SMART principles, researching your target markets and the best media to reach them, and then simply moving forward with the campaign is the first step.
For help in writing your marketing materials, contact me today. Case studies, blog posts, customer-facing emails and white papers are all an important part of marketing your business to your customers.