Marketing today is multifaceted: It’s a dynamic, fast-paced and technology-driven landscape that requires a strategic mindset, nimble response, innovative offerings and a customer-centric focus.
Your teams need to be committed to a common goal. And that shared objective is customer acquisition. Marketing plays a pivotal role in strengthening tech brands and driving new audiences, which I had the privilege to discuss during a recent presentation at Microsoft Inspire 2018. Here are my top seven tips for acquiring new clients — and continuing to address the needs of your existing customer base.
Click through our gallery below for seven ways good marketing can lead to explosive customer growth.
James Sivis embarked on his tech career at Bellcore, then moved on to high-level business development at Alcatel offices in Paris, where he worked on international joint ventures in Russia and China, plus sat on $7 billion, group-level marketing and M&A boards. Over the years, James’ laser-like focus on bottom-line results has allowed him to successfully lead departments and companies, and help grow their businesses domestically, regionally and globally. After founding a boutique digital marketing agency, James now serves as vice president of marketing at Adar, where he built the global Nerdio brand from the ground up and continues to push Nerdio marketing to ever greater heights.
The Right Stuff: Hire the Right Team
The first step to successful brand amplification is hiring the right people for the job, so invest the needed time to make an informed decision — and put the most appropriate individual in charge of the recruiting process.
Let’s face it: Tech and marketing folks just look at things differently. Just as if a marketer were tasked with hiring someone for a tech job, a technologically minded professional asked to bring a marketer on board will run into similar outside-of-domain-expertise challenges. If you’re not a marketer, recognize your own limitations and empower the best person to find the best people.
In terms of what to look for in potential candidates, three things for me are relevant: subject-area experience, flexibility and a positive attitude. Why include attitude? Because a key part of modern marketing is testing — and the right people will be able to “turn scars into stars” through a combination of a half-full mindset and a willingness to regroup and try again.
And remember, a bad hire can be worse than no hire at all. So when it comes to hiring your marketing team, invest the time and energy to find the perfect fit.
Say No to Half-Measures
Half-measures get half-results. If something (or even everything) about your marketing program needs to be overhauled to create more effective, comprehensive messaging across the board, carve out the time needed to build it back up from scratch.
Same with quality. Don’t settle for good enough. Your marketing reflects on your products and services. If you don’t want your offering to be perceived as mediocre, don’t let mediocrity creep into your marketing, or branding for that matter. This will not be easy. All too often, marketing is seen as a cost center. That’s the wrong way to look at it.
There are always more demands than there will be time or resources to do each of them justice. This leads us to my next point ...
It's Imperative to Say No
When building your brand and boosting your client base, spend the time to craft the right messaging — and have the confidence to say no or to go in another direction if something doesn’t feel right. Any marketer who automatically says yes to all ideas and blindly implements isn’t providing true value.
As Steve Jobs once said, “It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.” No one has ever become truly successful by being a yes-man or yes-woman. Many partners have cautionary tales about mismatched efforts.
Your Audience Is Human. Act Like It
Marketing is simply people talking to people. Whenever you create messaging or outreach strategies, make sure that whatever you’re saying is inviting and accessible to your target audience.
That includes the new decision-makers, who are often millennials. This generation has a well-documented aversion to anything that is purposefully designed to sell them something.
The days of a stuffy tone or overly formal branding are over. Think of your customers as what they are — people! Talk to them authentically in your content, as well as in all your on- and offline interactions. Talk to them like you’re talking to an old friend — because it’s that genuine, heartfelt authenticity that will ultimately sell them on your brand (and not your competitors’). By acknowledging your customer’s humanity, you humanize your brand.
Almost nothing nowadays is best done with a single-pronged approach, and your marketing strategy is no exception. The key word is “omnichannel.” Content marketing complements email marketing complements PR, which complements paid campaigns, which complement events, and so forth. You get the idea.
Take a careful look all the places where a potential new customer might find your brand. First, of course, is your own website: Is it clean, engaging and informative? Is the content “consumable,” as I like to call it? That is, are you presenting the visitor with an overwhelming Vegas-style buffet of content? Or are you taking visitors on a content-consumption journey, that only feeds them as much information as they need to move them to the next stage of consumption, leading them to take action and convert?
Then there’s social media and your brand. How are your reviews on third-party and local listing sites like Glassdoor? Is your Wikipedia page up-to-date? Are your social-media profiles and postings representative of your voice and positioning?
In today’s technological age, potential customers are experts at sleuthing out whether your company is the best fit for their needs. And we all know the stats on how much of the sales cycle occurs before the partner is ever contacted. The “shadow channel” is real. Analysts say that today, two-thirds of technology decisions are made outside the IT department, and this number will be 80 percent in the next couple of years.
Take advantage of all the possible routes a customer might take to find you — and optimize to ensure there’s nothing standing in the way of them proceeding down the path with your company.
Don’t feel like you need to be limited to in-house staff. Each person on your team has a dedicated job — one that they’re probably very busy doing. If your current project load is overwhelming, you have a one-off project, or you need someone with a specialized skill set, there are a host of talented freelancers around the world who can complement your current marketing efforts. The gig economy can work for you.
Avoid the pressure to handle everything internally. Your multilayered marketing approach might need additional contracted help to cover some of the facets, such as an evangelist to drive engagement, a graphic artist for specialty or overflow work, or an SEO pro to drive organic traffic.
With multiple great crowdsourcing platforms out there, there’s no excuse for not taking advantage of them to flexibly test out and utilize diverse user-reviewed talent. At low cost and low risk, you can then greatly amplify the impact of your team on the growth of your business.
So in closing, it takes work, thought and effort to maximize your marketing efforts — and ultimately, optimize customer acquisition. But by doing things like bringing the right people on board, giving yourself permission to say no, humanizing your clients, leveraging all the tools in your marketing toolbox and tapping into the talents of outside professionals, you’re setting yourself, your department and your business up for success.
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