While you might be tempted to see marketing in terms of projects, to develop a competitive strategy you need to think of marketing as an ongoing process.
Here are some common questions prospective marketing clients ask us:
- Do you guarantee your work?
- How long before I start making money?
- Why do you have a 6-month contract?
- When will the SEO work be finished?
- When can I turn-off paid ads and just use SEO?
- What’s the point of social media marketing?
- At what point can I stop your services and take over for myself?
- Shouldn’t my marketing get cheaper after a while?
- Why should I put all my eggs in one basket? Why not use different vendors for different tactics?
- When will this marketing project be finished?
You’ll rarely find a more complete list of red herrings. These questions all show a mindset problem. People think digital marketing is some kind of project that has a beginning and end. Once it’s done right, it will work indefinitely.
Some of this comes from the idea of “website marketing”. The website, developed as a central tool, is completed in a design project.
Yet it isn’t complete. Still and static, it’s not likely to generate many conversions. So you start a process of testing and refinement, comparing content, ads, and target audiences to find your best opportunities.
Years ago, search engine optimization seemed like more of a project. You’d do your keyword research, optimize your website’s metadata and content, then give it time. Some blogging and link building. You’d hope to get to page one and stay there.
Today this is totally unrealistic. SEO is no more an encapsulated project than life itself. Rather, it’s like blood flow to the heart of your marketing. The ways you express yourself, the people you choose to connect with, the way you tell your story, and the methods you use to teach others all interplay to affect your SEO.
Perhaps the easiest place to understand the process of marketing is social media. These platforms are not places for speeches, but rather ongoing dialogue. You must learn to speak the language of the medium, engage with its users, and build their habits into your marketing idea. What you’re doing will scarcely seem like a traditional marketing project at all. Instead, it’s more like a conversation where you respond to what’s being talked about today – right now.
At Marketing 360®, we ask new clients to work with us for a minimum of six months. But six months is not a project time-frame. It’s an initial benchmark to determine the course of your marketing process. You wonder when you could take over the marketing and put it in cruise control. The answer is never. With the changing directions internet marketing takes, you never get the chance to just sit back.
This is not to say you don’t run campaigns or develop work that doesn’t have project scopes. Of course you do. It doesn’t mean that when you find a strong lead-flow funnel that it won’t – to a certain extent – flow on its own. It will.
Consider some of the ways in which marketing is a process:
- Websites: We A/B split test content, layouts, images, calls to action and navigation to find design elements that work the best. Content management systems and mobile interfaces are always in flux. Design elements go out of style fast. Even the best designs are a work in progress.
- SEO/SEM: One of the best keyword strategies today is to dynamically analyze and dial in keywords based on actual query data. As you see more searches, you can modify or create content to rank higher.
- Informational marketing: Google gets millions of new queries a day. More than anything, people use search to get answers – often in ways that help them make buying decisions. Developing information on blogs, videos, and other media is an ongoing process that expands the way you connect with potential customers.
- Social media: Marketing on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest is work that bears little resemblance to a finite project. Rather, this is the ongoing process of creating and nurturing connections that draw interest to your business. Social media marketing is one of the most dynamic marketing tactics ever used.
Marketing Takes Time
Strongly connected to understanding the marketing process is understanding the time frames involved as you excute tactics.
Often, business owners come to us looking for a quick fix. They invest in a marketing channel and they expect to see ROI connected to that investment almost immediately. This is usually unrealistic.
For a lot of marketing – and in particular content marketing – it can take years before you see significant ROI. JB offers a good explanation of how this worked for Marketing 360® with our YouTube videos:
If we’d thought of YouTube as a project with a limited time frame, we would never have seen the returns we are now from this channel. And as JB points out, the growth is exponential. As you create more content, casting a wider net, you capture more leads. This process continues and our lead count continues to grow.
The days of just buying a yellow pages ad and waiting for the phone to ring are long, long gone.
The digital world of today is very much like a living entity. Its ongoing evolution is, in fact, pretty obvious (how many people in coffee shops were staring into hand-held screens 10 years ago?).
Your marketing works within that entity. The technology changes, and so do the behaviors of the people using it. People you want to turn into customers.
With marketing today, don’t just plan for a single success goal. Plan for a process that lasts as long as you’re in business.
And remember that complacency with success is almost as much of a problem as limited thinking when you’re starting. Because with digital marketing, even when you do everything right you’re not finished.
If you have that mindset in your approach, it will have a huge impact on your strategy. Instead of rigid thinking framed by beginning and end, you’ll see the way you market as a flow of ongoing communication. Instead of a single meeting with a finite objective, you think in terms of connections and relationships that last a lifetime.
You want your business to have a long, successful life. Marketing is the nutrient that keeps it alive. Staying healthy is a process that requires a proactive strategy, smart tactics, and intelligent execution.
That’s what you get with Marketing 360®