Marketing is something you can’t fully learn in school. With any job it’s an obvious fact that just because you have a degree and went to class doesn’t mean you’re anywhere near ready for a real world, 40-hour full-time job. However, with marketing, the people who are successful are the ones who are always willing and eager to learn. Marketing is an industry that is constantly evolving, including more social media outlets and content strategies on Friday than it did on Monday.
Below are six tips to be a better marketer.
1. Today not Yesterday
Knowing what works and where to post in January probably won’t work in November. Ok maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but in marketing the landscape is always changing and marketers have to be on top of knowing what works today, where the smallest business can make itself known to millions and where it will be profitable to invest time and money.
School can teach you the basics, and experience can give you a good strategic foundation, but unless you are willing to learn about every new marketing outlet or product that comes out, play with them and then see what will and won’t work, you will eventually fall behind. Marketing success means adaption, imagination and innovation. I came in with a journalism background with content writing experience, but I immediately knew I had to spend the time learning and playing with each new marketing outlet, product and idea I could for my clients. I wanted to be good, knowledgeable and innovative, so I took the time with each new computer program, each new strategy or analytics element, and I have plans now to go and get about four different Google and other marketing certificates next year, just so I can learn more and be better.
2. Content: We Want Quality!
Customers want content that is engaging, high quality and relevant to the questions they pose, and they want a website that is focused, well designed and easy to navigate. The information provided on the site should be of real value to your prospective or current clients, so that the products or services you are offering for purchase are closely linked to one-another. If a customer feels the information you provide is of good quality, there is a good chance they will hire you or buy from you. I usually talk to my clients at the beginning of each month and ask them what services are doing well, what questions clients are asking and where they think improvements could be made. Your clients will always have a better idea than you will of what is going on in their industry and more specifically within their business and customer base, so be sure to use them whenever you can.
3. Understand Sales
Understanding how your sales team or sales process operates is extremely helpful when creating a marketing strategy. The sales team, if you or your client has one, is an underappreciated resource that can let you know where to focus your time, money and creativity. They are also great for bouncing ideas for content off of as they will have the best idea what customers are asking for, how they are asking for it and where they go to get the answers.
4. Email Marketing—Start Using It!
We all hate the way spam emails flood our inboxes at work and at home, but when done correctly, email-marketing campaigns are an extremely cost effective and powerful marketing tool. These are especially great for small businesses looking to reach a lot of people without spending a lot of money. Mail distributors such as MailChimp or MarketVolt allow for easy newsletter or campaign creation, simple-to-use design and editing platforms and low cost or free distribution abilities (depending on your plan and the number of recipients).
5. Build Your Network: Quality not Quantity
When building your network of connections, it’s all about quality not quantity. A network with 50 people that are motivated and have real influence is a lot more valuable commercially than a network with 400 people who lack influence. When you are searching for clients to bring to your marketing firm, get to know the most influential and respected individuals in your industry. These are the men and women who will help introduce you to potential clients, introducers who may know prospective clients and who ultimately will help you gain attention, respect and recognition within your industry.
Remember back in grade school when you had to write weekly 2-page book reports? Well, start doing it again. I spend about five-to-six hours a week doing keyword research and website comparisons for all of my clients, and then I spend another five or six hours reading marketing articles, listening to and watching marketing seminars and another five hours during the week searching for and reading any news related to each of my clients. Google is great at not only letting you know what people are searching for but for keeping you up-to-date with what’s important in the world based on a keyword you search for. And, with content curating becoming a new content strategy for the marketing and publishing industries, finding articles relevant to my clients’ customer bases and using them to build content off of and link into social helps my client look knowledgeable and encourages prospective clients to click.