6 Expert-Endorsed Ways to Improve Your Marketing TODAY

by Katie Burke

Date

April 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM

marketing-expert-adviceIn the marketing world, there’s lots of discussion about shortening attention spans and how we as an industry need to tailor our approach to be faster, better, and more compelling. Often in just three seconds or 140 characters. But where’s the instant gratification for marketers? What can we do in a day’s work that will generate real impact on our business?

Below we’ve outlined tips from top experts on tactics and strategies you can employ in the next 24 hours to improve your marketing for the long haul. We recruited best in class experts including Ann Handley, Jay Baer, Shawn Graham, David Meerman Scott, Kevin Daum and more for their input, and combined their expertise with HubSpot’s own proven tactics. The result? Lovable tactics and strategies you can employ within a workday to help attract, convert, engage, and delight more prospects, leads, and customers.

1) Revamp Your “About Us”

Small business marketing expert and Fast Company blogger Shawn Graham describes the “About Us” section of a company’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages as “a window into the soul of your business.” He adds, “your About Us section is a unique opportunity to showcase the personality of your brand and to differentiate yourself from competitors.”

Instead, however, “About Us” pages are typically a good way to lull people to sleep with mundane facts, figures, and references alongside a vague description of who you are and how it’s different.

What to Do Today

Complete a three-step checklist to improve your “About Us” description.

Step 1: Ask a handful of your employees (not on your marketing team) and your customers to read through the current version and provide candid feedback on what it does well and where it falls short.

Step 2: Put your “About Us” next to two of your competitors. With no additional context, could you understand how your two companies are different by just scanning your overview?

Step 3: Identify a brand you truly admire and take a look at their “About Us.” If you need inspiration, check out SEOMozSongza, Nike, and Tumblr.

Once you’ve completed these three steps, consider optimizing your page with relevant keywords for your customers, making it easier and more intuitive for someone to try or buy your product, and further differentiating your products from competitors in your space. Your team and your customers will thank you for it.

2) “You Don’t Need Cats and Babies to Make Business Videos That Work”

Kevin Daum is the author of the best seller “Video Marketing For Dummies,” so he’s no stranger to cats, babies, and overused memes. He notes, “Often it’s a lack of intention that leads to mediocrity. By aligning on a goal, a target audience, and a core story, your business can benefit significantly from using video to foster growth.” One of the biggest mistakes marketers make with video is trying too hard to “go viral.” Kevin recommends focusing on a specific target population or core business need and developing a remarkable video rooted in that specific goal.

He adds that videos can be used for everything from lead generation to objection removal to customer assessments and referrals, but that you should identify specifically how video can work the hardest for you. Do you hear the same objection to the purchase of your product constantly? If so, leveraging a video to distance yourself from competitors or tell the story of the value that goes along with your higher price may be your best bet.

What to Do Today

Measure the impact of your current video marketing. Have your existing videos accomplished any of your core business objectives, such as driving awareness of your brand, increasing referral traffic to your site, or improving conversion rates with existing prospects? If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” consider using your afternoon to draft and script ideas for a video to address your top marketing challenge. Instead of focusing on “going viral,” invest in making your video truly remarkable in quality, approach, narrative, and message.

It’s easy to deprioritize video in your marketing mix, but taking an afternoon to script out your next project and measure your current inventory will help you jumpstart your plan for the next six months ahead.

3) Make Your Press Releases Buyer-Centric

Chances are, when you talk to your customers in person or by phone, you speak their language. You focus on terms they understand and steer the conversation toward challenges you can solve for their business. Yet for some reason, when it comes to press releases, marketers are stuck in the dark ages and jam pack as much jargon as possible into a single page because we believe it’s what journalists want to hear.

Best-selling author, speaker, and expert David Meerman Scott reminds us, “instead of creating content to cater to a handful of reporters, create press releases that appeal directly to your buyers to help prospects find you and shorten your sales cycle.” This principle dovetails nicely with a core principle of inbound marketing: Don’t wait for your story to be told; tell it yourself. By combining Scott’s advice with principles of inbound marketing focused on content creation, your business can remove barriers to “getting found” by potential customers and improve conversion rates with visitors to your site.

What to Do Today

Draft a press release focused entirely on what your buyers care about. Planning a new product release? Hiring a new marketer? Improving your customer service approach? Create a media release that avoids jargon and hubris and focuses entirely instead upon the most relevant needs of your customers. Doing so will create more relatable content and help tell your story to potential buyers without waiting for media to amplify your message.

4) Delight a Customer

Regardless of the line of business you’re in or the nature of what you sell, your customers play an integral role in the success of your business. However, the great irony of marketing is that we often forget about customers once they're in the door, and we are missing countless opportunities for referrals, recommendations, and revenue by doing so.

Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs Ann Handley encourages all marketers to ask “would your customers thank YOU for this?” before publishing, and that’s a great gut check for all of us before sending an email offer or posting a blog entry. Similarly, Shawn Graham always reminds his clients who own small businesses that unlike large corporations, they have myriad opportunities to understand their customers’ interests, habits, and patterns on a daily basis. The proliferation of social media has made it easier than ever for prospects to ask their peers and friends for recommendations, so delighting your customers is more important than ever to your brand, your business, and your bottom line.

Don’t wait for focus groups and formal surveys to get feedback from your customers; talking to your customers on a regular basis is a much more authentic, conversational, and less expensive way to solicit their feedback and thank them for their business.

What to Do Today

Take a customer out for coffee or arrange a short phone call to check in on them. The focus of your discussion should be solely on delight; that is, you should be thanking the customer for his or her business, asking how you can help them succeed with your product or service, and understanding the challenges they are currently facing in their business. Every conversation you have with a customer should teach you something, whether it’s a greater appreciation of their time or budget challenges, deeper insight into the nature of their business, or a challenge they experience with your product that is incredibly easy to fix.

At any rate, for the price of coffee and your time, delighting your customers is well worth it. Taking an hour out of your day to spend time listening to a customer versus talking at them is an investment worth making in your marketing mix.

5) Follow Your Target Journalists on Social Media

If getting more coverage or augmenting your thought leadership is a priority for your business in the upcoming year, it’s imperative that you have your finger on the pulse of their social media presence. But, as Twitter for Dummies author and HubSpot evangelist Laura Fitton observes, “the most influential people on Twitter give freely of their time, energy, and influence. Gary Vaynerchuk and Chris Brogan regularly publish lists of exceptional people on Twitter and share content created by other influencers in the industry, shining a huge light on other people in the community as opposed to trying to be the spotlight themselves.”

What to Do Today

Follow in the footsteps of Fitton, Vaynerchuck, and Brogan by not just following the journalists and influencers in your space, but also by highlighting their work, sharing their content, and promoting their thought leadership. When it comes to social media, give is the new get, so put time on your calendar for the remainder of the week -- not to just follow and request things that benefit you from journalists and influencers in your space, but also to showcase their big ideas, generate interest in their content, and demonstrate your appreciation of their insight. Schedule 15 minutes each day for the rest of the week devoted entirely to cultivating the most relevant list of journalists and influencers in your space available, and invest the time and energy to read, promote, and share their insight with your employees, customers, and fans.

6) Market Your Marketing

As marketers, we tend to think about a launch specifically as a one-time milestone and plan for it as an isolated event. Jay Baer, Founder of Convince and Convert and author of Youtility, observes “you know what happens when most content is ‘launched?’ Nothing. Because content marketers too often treat the fact that the content is completed as the end of the journey when in fact, it’s just the beginning.”

Great inbound marketers view the creation of a blog entry, the big reveal of a product, or an executive forum as just the tip of the iceberg. Instead of treating each of your marketing milestones as a one-time venture, create a plan that maximizes the value your customers can extract from each piece of content you create, each event you plan, and each product you launch. Doing so will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your existing assets.

What to Do Today

Identify three pieces of stellar content you’ve already created and develop a plan to promote it. For example, does a recent news event make it possible for you to newsjack your way into a current conversation using quotes or infographics from a previous campaign? Are there great quotes, statistics, stories, or insights included in a previous ebook that you can bolster with new information to create an updated offer for your customers? Can you increase the value of an upcoming event by gathering quotes from attendees that could comprise a future blog entry? Regardless of which approach makes the most sense for your business, take an hour today to re-examine existing assets you have in your marketing toolkit and develop a plan to make them more accessible and relevant through newsjacking, co-marketing, repurposing, or reformatting in a manner that’s remarkable.

Some days, it seems like a marketer's work is never done. Balancing strategy and execution, social and SEO, content and conversion, alongside all of your other tasks can overwhelm even the most agile and adept marketer. Each of the expert strategies above can be completed in less than a day, many of them in just a few hours, so you can get a few quick wins that will garner long-term gains for your business. And when you're done with this list, our experts all agree: it's five o'clock somewhere, so go enjoy the fruits of your labor.

What other tips have others shared with you (or tips you've come up with yourself) that have helped you immediately impact your marketing?

Image credit: North Charleston

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