Six Pieces of Advice We Tell Our Clients Most Often – that you might need to hear
As a full-service marketing agency, we have the opportunity to work with businesses on all ends of the size spectrum. From multinational PLCs with turnovers in the hundreds of millions right through to fledgeling startups taking their first steps on an entrepreneurial journey, we’ve had the chance to work with a broad range of businesses.
But despite the big differences between each of our clients, many of them once shared the same misconceptions on how best to approach marketing activity.
In this post, we explore some of the most common pieces of advice we’ve given our clients over the years, and how you can apply them to your business today.
Just because the competition is doing something, it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do
Many businesses fall into the trap of thinking that, because their competitors are doing something, it must be the right thing to do. This can apply to any area of business, from marketing through to product selection. But there are a number of flaws in this thought process.
The first is that, because many business owners pay very close attention to what their competitors are doing, they forget that they’re run by people no different to them. Every single decision made by a competitor is in fact made by somebody no smarter than you, despite the pedestal many put their competition on. Ideas generated by those external to your business have no more merit than those thought-up internally.
Moreover, the decisions made by a company in competition with you may by their very nature be the complete wrong ones for your business. Remember that your competitors are acting with insight and data gathered from their business and their customers, and as part of a wider plan the contents of which are impossible to predict.
Following in the shadow of a competitor is exactly that; trailing behind. Your business will never overtake those you compete against if your marketing plan is to be reactive to every whim of another marketing team sat in a room you’ll never enter.
The best way to plan and deliver marketing which is well received by your customers is to focus on them; their wants, desires and the insight you already hold.
Nobody knows your business as well as you do. That means that you’re uniquely positioned to make judgements on how best to grow it, despite what competitors do around you.
In this context, think of the competition as background noise rather than a sole point of focus.
Increasing ad spend isn’t the solution to all problems
Spending money on advertising is something that all businesses do at some stage. But if you’re serious about business growth, the chances are you have a number of Facebook and Google Ad campaigns on-the-go at any one time.
But how are you managing and moderating the budget for your campaigns?
It’s often the case that business owners assume that the simple act of ‘increasing the budget’ of an ad campaign will dramatically improve its performance, or allow for the current performance to scale in a consistent and predictable way.
And it’s a fair presumption. Sometimes, in certain scenarios, increasing the budget assigned to an ad or campaign is an effective way to improve results in a short space of time.
But so much more goes into a paid advertising campaign than budget assignment; a number of considerations should be made when reviewing the results of a campaign, including the ad creatives, targeting groups, landing pages and retargeting ads.
Changing any combination of these things may be far more effective in bolstering results than throwing more money at what could otherwise be a poorly optimised campaign.
Before budgets are increased on the ad campaigns we manage, we first encourage our clients to allow us to run tests on creatives, audiences, landing pages and a number of other variables, to find the most effective ads for each goal.
It’s only when clear winners have been identified from these tests that we recommend a significant increase in campaign budget, to ensure that the highest possible ROI is being achieved from spend.
Before then, increasing the budget will do little more than spend money at a faster rate.
Getting some results now and getting consistent results in the future require different actions
Immediacy and longevity are often mutually exclusive when it comes to marketing activities.
In practical terms, this means that the actions required to create a short spike in leads or sales and those involved in creating sustainable growth are often different.
Sometimes, an immediate boost of sales with little consideration for the future is exactly what a business wants or needs, and can help change its fate in the short-term. But we stress to our clients that garnering results in the here and now holds the potential to do more damage than good to a business in the long-run.
An overzealous marketing campaign for a high-discount sale might seem like the best route for your business, given the promise of near-immediate revenue increases and the number of cold customers who will return to your website. But when you begin to think about the longer-term effects of such activity, it becomes clear why these campaigns must be approached with great care and consideration.
Too many sales messages delivered to a mailing list can dramatically decrease open-rates and cause a wave of unsubscriptions, whilst poorly performing social media posts (caused by the repetition of a sales message) can harm the reach of future content.
Alongside this, we see anecdotal examples of customers buying less than they otherwise would in the days and weeks following a large sale, as they have been exposed to products at a considerably lower price, and therefore their perception of non-sale prices have changed.
We encourage sales. We encourage proactive marketing. But we do so in such a way that takes into consideration the long-term best interests of a business, balanced against the immediate effects of short-lived marketing efforts.
Next Best Thing Syndrome is the quickest way to forfeit results
As discussed in point 1, the process of thinking up and pursuing ideas is often a sporadic one, with many businesses spending their time and resources on ideas that come from the wrong places.
But as well as pursuing ideas with the wrong intent, many businesses suffer from Next Best Thing Syndrome; stuck in a cycle pursuing the next best thing, and in doing so never allowing any single idea the time and attention it needs to deliver upside.
The reality is, there are very few shortcuts to business growth.
New ideas are the fuel that helps propel any business, and we actively support our clients in their efforts to identify the next stepping stones on their journey to success. But with that comes the responsibility to encourage a focus on a number of core ideas, tactics and activities at any given time.
Through the 90-day marketing plans we produce, we help to establish a structured approach to idea generation and testing, allowing any credible concept the time, resource and attention it needs to be fairly tested. In doing so, we help to avoid wasted opportunity that other businesses often encounter when flipping from one idea to another before any can take hold.
We also offer our clients the use of our idea evaluation process, through which any given concept can be evaluated against a number of growth-focused measurements. Those that come out of the top and are shown to hold the most potential are the ones focused on in the immediate term. This assurance that the most worthwhile ideas are being pursued removes any room for Next Best Thing Syndrome.
Look for the low hanging fruit
Although seemingly counterintuitive to the previous point, encouraging our clients to forever look for low hanging fruit is core to the support we offer.
At any given time, all businesses have in front of them a number of ‘easy wins’ which, if acted upon in a timely manner, will compound to deliver worthwhile results. The problem is, many businesses are too focused on the bigger picture to see what’s right in front of them.
From logical upsells to taking advantage of social proof with easy-to-collect reviews, there will always be low hanging fruit, ready to be grabbed if only it was recognised.
Taking advantage of our position as outsiders to any of our client businesses, we are often best placed to identify easy wins that would otherwise be unrecognisable to those involved in day-to-day operations, helping our clients see the wood for the trees, and then grab at the branches.
Marketing starts before we step through the door
As part of the intimate and often business-critical relationships we hold with our clients, it is absolutely in our best interests to help their businesses grow as much as possible. But for all the effort, insight and practical knowledge in the world, there is only so much we can do.
That’s because marketing both starts and finishes behind closed doors.
The quality of your product or service, the culture of your business, your approach to customer service and how little or much you are driven to grow your business are just some of the factors that play a role in the effectiveness of the work we do.
Brand perception, product market fit and price structures all affect the potential success of a marketing campaign and yet are often all well-established long before we start work. And whilst it’s not uncommon for us to work on any of these areas with our clients, time spent correcting misalignments can set back any eventual upside.
It’s possible to grow any business using effective marketing, but to what extent is more often than not decided by factors controllable only by business owners.
Those who take seriously the commitment to put customers first and be second-to-none in their marketplace are inevitably the ones who win.
Our clients win because they focus on what they do best, and push to do it better than anybody else. We then make it our mission to help them reach new customers, communicate their value proposition and secure more business.
When both parties focus on their expertise, great things happen.
About The Author
Sean is creative director of Dreem – a full-service marketing agency based in South Wales Sean understands that everything we conceptualise, design and deliver needs to make a difference for our clients.
Obsessed with conversion-focused design and copy, it’s Sean’s job to oversee the work that we produce for our clients, promoting our culture of continuous improvement in that we do.