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There’s no such thing as a perfect marketing plan, because there’s always something you can do better. This makes it vital for every business to invest in steady improvement, and it’s a slow process, so you can’t jump directly to spectacular work — but you can nail certain elements quickly, and you might as well achieve as much polish as you can within your first year.
Mastering the basics will give you a great foundation upon which to grow your strategy. So where should you start? In this post, we’re going to run through 10 marketing techniques that you can — and should — perfect before your first year is up. Let’s get to them:
Using consistent branding
Every part of your operation (online and offline) and every piece of material or documentation you send out should represent your brand with consistency. You need aesthetic consistency (the same colors, shapes, etc.) and formatting consistency: every page should have a similar layout, and every invoice should have the same structure (invoice generators are built for this).
The sooner you get this figured out, the sooner your marketing and documentation efforts will start to work together to leave memorable brand impressions. And since it takes time for branding to sink in (it could be years before notable people in your field start to view your business as worthy of attention), this is a crucial element for long-term success.
Writing outreach pitches
When you’ve written some high-quality content to promote your brand and you’d like people to link to it, or you’d simply like to tell people why they should use your services, you’ll need to send outreach pitches — and they need to be great. Most pitches are ignored or immediately discarded. Only by making them attention-grabbing can you actually get results.
What does a great outreach pitch look like? Well, it’s straight to the point, doesn’t make any personalization mistakes (no “Dear [firstname]” disasters), offers value before asking for it to be returned, and gets the tone exactly right: not so serious that it becomes bland, but no so light that it seems frivolous and unprofessional. You won’t get it right the first time, but keep sending pitches and use the reactions to recalibrate until you get somewhere.
Running A/B tests
A/B testing is about running two versions of something (a web page, an email, a social post) alternatively to see which one performs better, then sticking with the winner. This is key to improving your marketing (as well as your outreach work), so you need to know how to do it well. This includes using the right tools: here are some suggestions.
It bears noting that A/B testing isn’t something you run for a while then give up. The best brands continue to A/B test just as frequently on an indefinite basis, knowing that there’s no such thing as marketing perfection (and wouldn’t be even if the marketing world were static, which it most certainly isn’t — methods, technologies and standards are ever-changing). Due to this, you should also figure out a sustainable budget for it that you can leave in place in perpetuity.
Scheduling social posts
Using social media is a key part of a modern digital marketing strategy, but it takes a lot of effort to post on a regular basis. By writing numerous posts ahead of time and queueing them up, you can save a lot of time and make life much easier. It’s a simple technique due to the existence of tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, so pick it up and make it a commitment.
You can also use tools like MeetEdgar to make better use of your content by recycling it at appropriate times. When you’ve put a lot of effort into creating a fantastic piece of content with evergreen value, there’s no reason why it can’t continue to drive traffic for years to come, and the key is to find the right times to post about it.
Writing PPC ads
What makes a good PPC ad? It has to be succinct, punchy, and compelling, cutting to the heart of what the viewer is looking for. And due to character and space limitations, there’s only so much you can do with the typical PPC ad, so it shouldn’t take long to figure out the formula. It’s mostly about the ingredients you need and how you should phrase things.
Getting inspiration is great for this. Go on the platforms you’d like to use for PPC and look at the existing ads from comparable brands. What do you like about them? What do you dislike about them? The creative ceiling on a Google Ad isn’t incredibly high, so there’s little point in trying to be particularly original. Just use whatever seems to work.
We may live in a world that runs on digital connectivity, but there’s still a lot of value in normal in-person networking, so you need to know how to sell your brand in a short period of time. What’s your elevator pitch? How can you answer the most common questions? Work on it until you’ve achieved a strong level of polish and have something that can rapidly be rattled off.
In addition to having that explanation at hand, you also need to ensure that the person (or people) tasked with networking can do it with minimal discomfort. Plenty of people dislike crowds or simply can’t keep their composure when speaking to other professionals in person: some of that unease can be alleviated through practice, but some can’t (so if there’s no one at your brand who can handle this type of networking, consider hiring someone who can).
Writing guest posts
Guest posting is a fantastic way to build up your name and establish working relationships with impressive brands. And since you surely have some expertise to offer, you should be able to write guest posts for relevant sites, but you need to know how to pitch (as we noted earlier) and how to write the resulting pieces.
You simultaneously need to deliver great quality (as mediocre posts will make your brand look bad) and strong efficiency (because you don’t have the time to put many hours into a basic post). If you pay close attention, you’ll soon learn how to gauge what a particular site needs, and how to tweak your content when needed to meet requirements.
What better way to market your business than to keep customers so happy that they choose to stick around and keep buying from you? By learning how to properly support your customers, you can drive their loyalty and encourage them to generate referrals. You need to be easy to contact and ready to put in real effort to help people resolve their issues.
Much of this will involve using social media to great effect, since more and more customers prefer to contact brands through platforms like Twitter and Facebook. By getting accustomed to fielding issues through different channels (and keeping all the data together), you can get much faster and more effective at addressing grievances and turning them around.
Covering SEO factors
Every piece of content you create should be shaped with technical SEO in mind, because organic rankings are extremely important. The inclusion of some high-value keywords can be the difference between a blog post getting tens of hits and getting thousands, so it’s obviously not something you can afford to overlook.
Since the online world is full of clear SEO resources and tools like the Yoast SEO plugin, you shouldn’t have any issues finding the guidance you need. Within a matter of months, you can be fully confident in dealing with everything from meta descriptions to primary keywords, though keep in mind that the SEO world changes on a semi-regular basis so you can’t just learn the basics then stop paying attention to the industry. It needs to be an ongoing effort.
Social proof means more today than ever before, as modern consumers want to buy from brands with strong track records. Accordingly, you must make a concerted effort to get reviews and testimonials from your customers (whether you just ask nicely or provide incentives such as discounts or free gifts) so you can display them prominently on the appropriate pages.
Part of this will involve reaching out through social media whenever someone mentions your brand in a positive way. Another part will involve setting up some automated emails to go out after purchases have been completed and the buyers have had enough time to form meaningful opinions: just a few simple questions about your company can prove immensely helpful.
These 10 marketing techniques are reasonably straightforward, so you should have every chance to master them within just one year of your business being in operation. Once you’re certain that you’ve worked them all into your strategy, you can move ahead with a lot more confidence and start truly competing.