Your ad hoc marketing plan may have worked to get your company where it is now, but chances are it won't drive your future success.
One of the hardest transitions a company can make is moving from a single-channel marketing plan to a multi-pronged strategy. To make matters more complicated, this transition usually coincides with you, the founder, realizing that you can’t do it all anymore--it’s time for your marketing-department-of-one to become a full-fledged team.
Every marketing channel has its scale limitations. For example, if you’ve grown your business using paid search, at some point you’ll you simply won’t be able to find more customers via Google or Bing on a given day.
When it happens, will you be ready for this transition?
Look in the Mirror
Expanding your marketing across multiple channels requires a mixture of analytical, creative, and managerial skill. It is the rare individual who excels at all three of these. And, frankly, you may not be that person. So here is where you need to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
If you're more creative than analytical, you need to find someone to help you track and understand the data each marketing channel produces. As you increase your marketing mix it's very easy to find false positives in your data if you're not analyzing it correctly. You may have gotten 500 webinar registrations (congratulations!) but how did you actually acquire them? Was it through a purchased list, your blog, or paid search activity? The wrong conclusion here can lead you down the wrong path, and cause you to spend a huge amount of time and money.
Conversely, if you tend to be more analytical, don't underestimate how important consistent and well thought-out messaging becomes in cross-channel campaigns. While paid search has short and simple text creative, there is still a huge messaging difference between “low cost” and “premium solution” in only a few lines of text. When it comes to your blogs, social media, landing page creative, and display advertising, creative is king and must be consistent. A disciplined creative approach can also help you test messages, which is critical to increasing your marketing effectiveness by attracting the right customers.
At my company, Trada, I’ve been committed to collecting and analyzing data from the very beginning. But I learned that when the data says “you need to try something else,” sometimes it means I need to look outside the organization for someone who can bring a fresh approach. Early on, I decided I needed someone who would think about how our customers work and turn the lens outward, rather than get caught in an analysis loop. So I made a new hire. This person redefined our ideal customer, and it has changed the way we run our company, from marketing to sales to product.
A multi-channel marketing plan requires deft project management skills, coordination, and a willingness to iterate constantly. If this doesn’t sounds like you, quickly find someone for your team who fits the description. If you’re not coordinating well across your channels you won’t ever see the non-linear benefits.
When start-up teams commit to going multi-channel, one of the biggest mistakes they make is trying too many things at once. With limited budget and resources it’s important that you get enough data in any given channel to learn what’s really working (or not). Every marketing activity will take refinement and optimization to see its full potential. But don’t attempt too many programs or messaging tests at once--you simply won’t learn fast enough. Consider how many clicks, conversions, or impressions you need to determine effectiveness and work backwards to the required budget you’ll need to get that information. That should be your minimal 30-day test budget for a new channel.
What has your experience been like with expanding your marketing strategy?