My good friend and colleague Frank Martin used to write a wonderful blog on all things marketing (and occasionally on cool stuff about Italy). Every year, he would offer 12 Marketing Resolutions. I highly recommend that, at least once per year, you take a break and make some concrete resolutions that will improve your marketing effectiveness.
Over years of doing this myself, I have realized that many of the things we put on our lists are the kind of inspiring and effective big picture tasks that marketing aware (and capable) organizations need to take on. But many of us (and our clients) find ourselves working in environments where marketing has to compete for very scarce financial and cultural resources — and we’re all wearing a big old stack of different hats.
So, what are the marketing ‘lay-ups’ that you can do quickly and regularly? What are the little things that, if done with some discipline, can make a big difference in how you advance your brand?
Here are five:
Spend (no more than) one hour per week counting sales.
And I mean, counting actual things/services you sold that week. Not how many leads are “in the pipe” or how many students are just about to complete their apps, but how many people took the final action that committed them to a financial relationship with your firm. Why do this? It tells you if the rest of your stuff is working. All the great marketing in the world doesn’t matter if you aren’t making sales regularly. (NOTE: If you get bored looking at sales of the same thing every week, pick a new thing that you sell. For example, if you’re a college or university, you sell: New enrollments, new registrations for new programs, continuing enrollments for the next term, and so forth…)
On Monday, make a list of three pages on your web site where you’d like to see more traffic.
Then take 20 minutes to brainstorm some simple projects that you think could drive that traffic. Write all of that down on a sheet of paper. Next Monday, take 20 minutes and see how you did. This is an awesome project because, if you haven’t made a lot of progress from week to week, you don’t have to dream up new stuff to do and new pages to worry about. On the other hand, if you’re not able to bump that traffic up, you’ve got to face your failure every seven days!
Take one hour to update yourself about a competitor.
With any luck, there aren’t too many of these and you’ll be able to come back to a particular competitor a few times per year. Look at their web site, check out their promotional literature or press coverage. Make two lists. The first one is: Things they do better than we do. The second one is: Things we do better than they do. You’re done.
Remember your competitor from #3? Write down your understanding of their brand promise.
You get two sentences. The first sentence is what they sell. The second sentence is what they promise in the selling. Make it simple and very basic. For example, you’re a community college and you’re looking at the shiny new U of Phoenix facility down the road. Their brand promise might be:
“U of P sells bachelor’s and master’s degrees in such-and-such fields. They promise that their degrees are convenient, respected, and affordable.”
Now look at your equally simply stated brand promise. Compare and contrast as a meditative exercise.
By now you’ve picked a few projects from Frank’s list.
Make a quick list of the progress you’ve made on those projects to date. You get one post-it note (the square kind that are about 2.5″ across).
Note that I’m not recommending that you do a whole lot of weighty thinking or analysis. Instead, I’m suggesting that these simple activities become part of your “marketing practice” (kind of like yoga, but about money). You want to get into these marketing poses on a regular basis because they will influence how you think during the rest of your day — and will become the background for a more organized, yet creative, marketing year.
What simple, yet powerful, marketing resolutions have you made — and kept?