In today’s increasingly digital age, business owners are often preoccupied with marketing tactics that they have heard about and know they need — most commonly, social media. As marketers, we frequently encounter business owners who come to us asking for help in creating their social media strategies. Often, these clients are so focused on the idea of social media being the most important tactic that they neglect other, more important pieces of their marketing plans.
While no one disagrees that social media is an important and powerful marketing tool, it cannot be the only tool, as many businesses experienced when the largest social media platform, Facebook, recently experienced an outage.
In March of 2019, Facebook and its other brands, Instagram and WhatsApp, experienced an outage, which made it difficult for users to comment, post and otherwise engage with businesses that rely on social media as a primary marketing tool. Many businesses lost revenue as a result of this outage by not having access to their potential customers via advertising, or through their pages and groups.
There was no reason for these companies to lose as much revenue as they did as a result of this outage. If these small businesses had had a more robust foundational marketing plan with various tactics, this one tool wouldn’t have affected them as much as it did.
Generally speaking, your marketing plan shouldn’t rely on any one tactic more than others. It’s imperative for your marketing strategy to have a mixture of foundational assets that you control, as well as third-party tools like social media platforms.
Marketing Plan Foundations
Foundational assets are those things that you own and have control over, such as your website and email list. By ensuring that your marketing strategy includes regular updates to your website and a strong email list, you are actually growing your leads over a longer period of time, while continually providing them value. This helps your potential customer learn more about you, grow to trust you and eventually purchase from you.
Yes, it may take a little longer than the instant success of a well-timed social media ad campaign, but cultivating a following of loyal customers over time is equally as important as a quick conversion. This is what keeps a company growing for the long term, and even during the slow times.
There have been prior industry concerns that email may not be an effective marketing strategy as social media and app messaging increase in popularity. But this outage is a reminder that email still has a solid place in any marketing plan, provided that the messaging and content of these emails is relative and interesting to your audience.
In this article, the author examines the myth that email is dying and suggests it is actually evolving, stating that 59% of B2B marketers reported that email was the most effective tactic.
Brand Message First
No matter which tactics your plan utilizes, it is most important that your overall brand message is clear, concise and interesting to your audience. You need to develop your brand message and guidelines first. Ideally, this is one of the first things a company will do at inception, and also will re-evaluate periodically as the company evolves.
Having a strong brand message from the onset is a solid foundation for any communication. When it comes to crafting your brand message, this includes all forms of communication as it relates to your company and/or products. Your brand is more than just your name. It’s also your visual graphics (i.e., logo, tagline, color palette and typography) and your internal and external communication styles (i.e., your voice and the way you communicate “who you are” to your organization and to the outside world).
The key to a good brand identity is to define what you want your customers to think about you, and listen to what they actually do think. Then, work toward making those two ideas match. Being consistent is also very important. By creating a detailed brand guidelines booklet that includes all of the visual and verbal/written communication tones and voices, you have a better chance of staying consistent.
Your website should be informative and written in a tone and voice that represents who you are. Your social media profiles, posts and ads should follow your brand guidelines for proper messaging and tone. And your emails should give your customers something of value that they want, in a voice that represents you.
Often, business owners are so caught up in the tactics and finding a quick way to interact with their customers that they forgo the more meaningful aspects of their marketing plan: brand message and foundational assets.