We have regularly talked about content and, after all, Content is King!. However, if the content is king then undoubtedly, Consistency is Queen. Good, sustainable business is driven by consistent marketing. Here are my thoughts on some key elements of a consistent marketing approach.
Know your value proposition
Possibly the single most important element of your marketing is to know your value proposition – and I mean really know it!
This may sound obvious but it is amazing how often when I am talking to business owners, they will say they know their value proposition but when I ask them to tell me, they struggle or alternatively come up with a proposition that could equally apply to their own business or their competitors.
A good value proposition should differentiate your business giving a reason for customers/clients to deal with you rather than someone else. It is remarkable how many people actually see their business as a ‘me too’.
Your value proposition should be logical and consistent; easy for your potential customers to see how they can benefit.
If you thoroughly understand and embrace your proposition, it is easy to test all of your marketing ideas and ask yourself if they effectively communicate and promote your proposition.
A clear and consistent proposition is also the essence of a consistent marketing approach.
Know your market(s)
The best proposition in the world won’t get you anywhere if you don’t tell anyone – or tell the wrong people.
Whatever you do, don’t simply assume you want to target everyone. Some SME businesses are nervous about deliberately not targeting particular people or sectors (their argument: you never know …?). This passive approach tends to a very wide market where messages end up being quite generic and so, weak. An active and selective approach to defining your market gives you the control to focus on areas where your marketing will be strong and your proposition well received and understood.
TIP: Even with a carefully defined target market, don’t feel you need to target everyone and everything all at once. What is important is that the people you choose to target with your marketing are very relevant. It doesn’t matter if there are other relevant people elsewhere, you can always come back to them later. Focus on the people you are targeting rather than worrying about the people you aren’t.
It is no bad thing to target low hanging fruit as the first step in a planned and consistent marketing programme. They can present an opportunity for some quick-wins but it is important your marketing messages and processes are right. You don’t want to waste good targets on a poor approach. Also, you must remember the low hanging fruit won’t last forever and may be easy targets for your competitors too!
So, you know your proposition and your target market. What to say to them?
Define your messages
Typically, your marketing messages should be concise and clear.
One of the real benefits of a consistent and sustained marketing approach is that you don’t need to try to tell a prospect everything all at once. If you try to do this, you risk overwhelming people so they lose sight of what they are hearing because there is so much of it!
A clear message that addresses a specific aspect or benefit of your proposition can be much more engaging. If someone wants to know more now, they can contact you or visit your website – where your full offering is clearly set out and demonstrated – isn’t it!?
A series of simple clear messages are typically more effective than a single hit.
Set a content calendar
Delivering your marketing messages over time is much more effective at building awareness and engagement with your market. However, there is also a risk. Typically SME marketing goes in phases of feast and famine. When things are quiet, the spotlight swings on to marketing and things happen. But effective marketing means that business levels grow so the spotlight leaves marketing and moves on to delivery – until the work dies down and the process marketing starts again – normally from scratch.
- Creating content calendar helps address this problem by setting out a plan – ideally looking 6-12 months ahead – showing:
- What message(s) you are sending
- When and to whom
- What content needs to be written/created and by whom
Planning ahead gives time for people to do what they need to do. Also, the plan gives a context that puts everything in one place where you can easily check that your overall message is both comprehensive and consistent.
Keep on top of things
Don’t just create your plan then file it. Refer to it regularly (ideally weekly) to check nothing is slipping. It’s much simpler to address a small slippage while you still have time! Also, make life easier with technology. Cloud applications and storage allow you to check plans and work on your marketing messages and content pretty much anywhere and anytime. Cloud technology is also a great way to collaborate.
We plan to look at some practical applications for the latest cloud-based apps in the near future.