Wash, Rinse, Repeat. It’s easy to get complacent in your business marketing.
Post a new blog post here. Update a couple of social media channels there. Send out an email blast. Get a couple of mentions/Likes/ReTweets/Whatever from your audience, participate in the conversation. Repeat ad infinitum.
Soon the tedium sets in. You’re posting/Tweeting/updating because that’s what you think you should be doing, rather than that’s what you want to do. You’re on auto-pilot, doing the same thing over and over again and wondering why you’re getting diminishing returns on what you’re still calling “marketing your business’.
Whether you call it social media marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing or whatever new buzzword some so-called “expert” has coined this month; I’d agree that it’s crucially important to keep the engagement activities regular and consistent. However, there’s also a case for using the regular opportunities that you have to communicate with your audience to refine that communication over time.
It’s less about repetition. It’s more about iteration.
When I say “iteration” I mean doing the same thing again, but refining the process using information on how successful your marketing efforts were (e.g. the level of audience interaction, sign-ups for your email campaign, whatever) to do a better job the next time around. As a result, each time you do the task, you increase the degree of accuracy to hit whatever your calling the target.
Software developers do this all the time. About ten years ago a bunch of software developers came up with the concept of “Agile Development”. It’s a process of project management where tasks are broken-up into small pieces, and given out to equally-small teams who need to complete their task in a short timeframe. The various pieces are then put back together and tested in collaboration with “stakeholders” (usually, these are customers who’ve agreed to help out). Any bumps in the road are documented and written-up as another “agile task”, to be completed in the future.
You can use an “agile” or “iterative” based process in your business marketing. The concept can be broken down into three components: Awareness, Analysis, and Application.
Stage One: Awareness
You need to be aware of what’s going on around you. What you’re doing, what your competition is doing, and how all of this is being accepted by your target audience. More than anything else you’re looking for problems – things that aren’t working – when you’re implementing your business marketing tactics. This could be something as small as blogging about a subject that your audience has no interest in. Or maybe something larger – a special promotion that doesn’t generate nearly the amount of traction that you expected.
Stage Two: Analysis
I don’t much like the word “Analysis”, as it suggests geeky nerdy types pouring over Excel spreadsheets – and that’s not what I mean at all. Think of “Analysis” as looking at your observations from Stage One and trying to find connections. Perhaps that email blast that you sent out last week coincided with an industry tradeshow or conference – your audience were there, rather than at the office. Maybe your Open Day was organized the week when schools were out, so many people were on vacation.
Stage Three: Application
This is where the heavy-lifting comes in – the actual work. You need to repeat the process, possibly modifying the particular business marketing task based upon the new information that you’ve unearthed, and seeing what happens – in other words Stage One, again. Of course, you also have to be prepared to face the same (or new) problems and thus risk failure again. But hey, no-one said that this marketing stuff was easy, right?
It’s at this last stage that many companies cave in and walk away. Call it persistence, stubbornness or sheer bloody-mindedness, but I believe that you sometimes have to go into something knowing that it will fail, so that you can do it over and make it a success.
As the Chinese proverb says, “Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up.”