By Mark Kakkuri
Marketing requires both long-term vision and strategy as well as short-term tactics. These short-term tactics include activities you should do each business day. In one sense, this Everyday Marketing column is meant to provide practical tips on marketing you can execute on a fairly regular basis. And sometimes, “every day” really does mean every day. With that, here are the five things you should do every day in marketing — and in a new year, now is as good a time as any to start.
1. Actively engage with at least one customer and listen to what they’re saying.
We all know the importance of listening to customers but I fear at times this just becomes something we only barely acknowledge or just give lip service to. Actively engaging with a customer can occur on a few levels — from talking with them face to face to reading what comments they made on your website about your product or service. Or, it could include a compliment (or complaint) that was phoned in or a comment you overheard in the store or in customer service about how helpful the staff was. Regardless, find some new communication from a customer and give it its due regard. Compliments are easy to love, but take the time to find out what worked so well … or who on your staff worked well to serve that customer. Complaints we like to brush off or ignore (some deservedly so), but make sure your habit is to listen thoroughly or carefully to see if something can be done to improve. Customer service is marketing. It’s knowing who your buyers are and making sure they have all the information and resources needed to shorten the time between contemplation of your products and services to actual purchase.
2. Ensure your digital media/channels are up and running.
You run a website and maybe a couple of social media channels. Check them every day, not only to confirm everything is up and running but also to listen to customer feedback (see item 1). Website hosts can have problems and websites can go down from time to time.
Even if you’re not running an e-commerce website, maximum uptime is a necessity because your website is a 24/7/365 marketing machine. Customers may visit your site at any time, doing what we call “validation” — learning about you and your business and ensuring it is legit — and it simply cannot be down or you risk the customer never returning. Likewise with social media, check them each day.
MARKETING IS MORE THAN A DAILY TASK LIST,
BUT IT IS NOT LESS THAN THAT. IF YOU TAKE
CARE OF THE DAYS, THE WEEKS AND MONTHS
WILL TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.
While you may be at the mercy of the channel with regard to uptime, it’s your responsibility to watch for activity and comments meaningful to your business. If someone posts a complaint about your business, immediately acknowledge it publicly and ask the customer to call to discuss a resolution. Letting it sit, unaddressed, may cause other readers to think you don’t care or won’t take the time to respond. Digital communications are marketing. It’s a way of keeping the right information in front of the right people at the right time — all the time!
3. Solicit feedback from at least one staff member.
No matter how many staff members you employ, ask at least one per day if anything could be done to improve how the business markets itself or how it operates otherwise. Make it a genuine inquiry; give the staff member time to respond and listen to what he or she has to say. More often than not, the front line staff have a very good read on what brings customers into the store and what keeps them there. When you ask for feedback, keep a keen eye on how the staff member responds. If asking their opinion is out of the ordinary for both of you, it may take some time to get comfortable with this. After all, staff members most likely aren’t prone to say you’re doing something wrong, and business leaders usually think they’re right! Make this honest inquiry of staff a regular occurrence and watch the trust build and honest criticisms flow freely. Marketing is engaged, empowered staff members who are listened to by management and able to provide guidance on marketing and other operations — right from the front lines of the business!
4. Research a competitor or similar business to see how they are marketing.
Before lamenting about the lack of time to do research — especially when you are already running the business and aiming to add items 1, 2, and 3 — consider how you use your mobile phone. Some phones tell us how much time we spend online and in what categories. If you spend, say, just 30 seconds browsing through your friends’ updates on Facebook, you can find time to look up a competitor or another similar business to see if there’s something you might learn from them. This kind of research can be a casual browse but it’s better if you have a pencil in hand and take some notes on what you find. To make it a part of a daily ritual, add it to another daily task (e.g., first thing in the morning or while you eat lunch). It doesn’t necessarily have to be you doing the research: Delegate this to a staff member and have them compile a short report at the end of the week. Marketing is knowing the competition and being aware of best practices in your industry.
5. Stick to your marketing plan.
If you don’t have a written marketing plan, create one. Include goals and tactics for reaching those goals, a realistic budget and timeframes or milestones. Also include in the marketing plan a quarterly review of the plan — so you can adjust it as needed. Then stick to it.
Think of marketing as occasional “big splash” events but consistent, smaller weekly or daily activities. These need to play out over time, usually communicating a consistent message to customers, informing, educating and sometimes entertaining them. Marketing communications need to occur over months of time — a simple, memorable message to let customers know the value you offer to them. Check your business against the marketing plan every day. Marketing is more than a daily task list, but it is not less than that. If you take care of the days, the weeks and months will take care of themselves.
How is your business approaching everyday marketing efforts? Let the SI team know! firstname.lastname@example.org