Summer Slump

How to Avoid the Summer Slump

The summer season is probably the most anticipated time of year:  school is out; baseball season is in full swing; the weather is warm; pools are open; people head to the beach; vacations are taken…and more.  It’s also a time of year when we find ourselves busy with “other things” that can easily distract us from our business.  There are those who’ll say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter – it’s summer and no one does much business this time of year.”  And then others will say, “Let’s just wait until summer is over and hit the ground running after Labor Day.”  There it is:  the summer slump.  Here’s how to avoid it.

Revisit your marketing strategy & plan
This is a great time of the year to do the things you may not otherwise have time to tackle.  Right off the bat, revisit your marketing strategy and plan.  Compare what you have already accomplished this year against what was planned.  Then, you can revise accordingly:  what worked well?...what didn’t?  Look at what you have planned for the second half of the year and determine if that is still realistic or requires some tweaking. 

Tighten up your marketing toolkit
After revising your marketing plan, review your sales and marketing toolkit to see what needs to be refreshed, added or even removed.  Pay careful attention to the tools that are helping you connect well with your market and consider tossing out those they do not.  Can your existing tools be improved or are you missing any that would help you achieve your business objectives?  Taking the time to update these communication tools with fresh content and the right messaging will ensure your team is properly equipped to win new business.   

Refresh your website
Now turn your attention to your website.  It’s easy to neglect your site while busy with other priorities, so use the summer months to spend some quality time with your website.  In all likelihood, you’ll need to refine the content to maintain messaging consistency with your sales and marketing toolkit.  Update images, graphics and videos along with links so that your site performs at its best.  While you’re under the hood, review your title and meta tags along with your meta descriptions in case these need to be revised.  This will help maintain your organic search rankings so that your business can easily be found. 

Obviously there are other areas you may need to spend time on, but the point is to maintain a proactive mindset without falling prey to the luring summer sun.  If you use your summer to address these key marketing areas, the dog days will be your friend!

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Danger Zones

Avoiding the Marketing Danger Zones

Cruising along with your marketing activities can sometimes be a comfortable thing. In fact, it can be too comfortable if you have them on auto pilot. Even if you don’t, you still have to be strategic and purposeful to ensure your plans are hitting the mark and generating your desired results. That’s why you have to watch out for the marketing danger zones.

The challenge here is that those danger zones are not always obvious. How do you know what they are before they hit you and inflict damage on your marketing efforts?

Be strategic

One of the most prevalent dangers is operating in an opportunistic versus a strategic mode. If you’re always reacting to whatever happens to come along, chances are pretty good that your results will be mediocre at best. Strategy-based marketing will always outperform opportunistic approaches.

Always have a follow-up plan

Another common danger is lack of follow-up after a campaign. It’s very easy to create a campaign, exhibit at a trade show or hold a webinar, but then fail to follow up on any leads generated from these initiatives. It seems crazy to think that’s even possible, yet it is a widespread problem that plagues marketing effectiveness in businesses and organizations of various industries and sizes.

Consistency counts

Then, one of the most damage-inflicting danger zones involves inconsistencies with branding, messaging, content, product/solution offerings and communications. When you send your buying market conflicting messages about who you are, why you exist, how you solve problems and why your solution is the best option, then trouble awaits you. Introducing even an ounce of doubt in your buyer’s mind is extremely dangerous and marketing inconsistencies can easily do that.

Watch the market and your competitors

Other danger zones include a failure to respond to changing market conditions and ignoring your competitors. When influencing factors change your market conditions, you have to be ready with a solid response by either tweaking your content, messaging or solution offering…or all of them if necessary. You will otherwise be left in the dust and perceived as being out of touch. Instead, stay abreast of your market and anticipate how it will change. Similarly, you always want to keep a pulse on your competition. Pay attention to what they are doing and be prepared to respond in a way that casts a favorable light on your business. If you don’t, you’ll risk having your competitors bite you on the backside.

Gird up your marketing and build a stronghold that avoids the danger zones.  Be nimble and ready to respond to strategic opportunities and changing market conditions. When you take this approach, your marketing efforts will be rewarding.

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Peak Performance Requires the Right Marketing Fuel

Sales and Marketing Management magazine recently published our article on how to properly fuel your sales and business development engine.  Download it here.

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Roadmap Implementation

Implementing Your Marketing Roadmap - Part 3 of 3

In parts 1 and 2 of our Marketing Roadmap series, we covered the critical aspects related to designing and constructing your Marketing Roadmap as the new year approaches. With design and construction completed, it’s time to put your marketing roadmap in action.

Focused with a purpose

This is where the “rubber meets the road” – the implementation stage. When you put the specific tactics of your marketing roadmap into place, your plan comes to life. Working through your roadmap requires discipline with a constant focus on your primary objectives. When you do that, you’ll reach your stated goals strategically and avoid veering off in the wrong direction.

Staying on track

As you make progress, you’ll want to perform routine checks that will help determine where change may be required on a project or re-prioritizing a particular marketing tactic might be necessary. While the primary framework of your marketing roadmap remains unchanged, you do want to have enough flexibility to make any required adjustments that will improve it. Stick with it and commit to working the plan.

Capture successes

When successes occur, capture them and document how they occurred. You will want to know why certain things worked well and whether or not those accomplishments can be replicated. Compare actual performance results against those that were planned. Take the time to analyze these situations as they may represent excellent opportunities for a more efficient marketing implementation process.

Supporting the team

As you work your marketing roadmap, make sure you are supporting your internal customer – the sales team. Your marketing efforts are providing the fuel for your sales engine – don’t deprive your production engine from operating at its highest level. When working your plan, ensure that your sales and business development team is receiving exactly what they need from marketing. And, be sure that you have reciprocating communication channels established so that your sales team provides marketing with input that will help the team be successful.

Move it forward

Venturing out without a plan to reach a desired destination is risky and not usually considered a wise move. The same can be said for having a strategic marketing plan that sits on a shelf. You have to work your plan to get results because the process is a continuous one. As you do, be flexible and adaptable. Be willing to make changes when and where they may be required. Capture successes as they occur and capitalize on new opportunities. Having this mindset and commitment to your marketing roadmap will deliver the results your business needs.

We have now covered the essentials behind marketing roadmaps: Design, Construction, and Implementation. Taking this approach to your marketing planning and execution will help ensure that your new year starts off on the right track and continues to progress along the pathway to your desired business destination.

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Mktg Roadmap Construction

Construction Progress for Your Marketing Roadmap - Part 2 of 3

In part 1 of our Marketing Roadmap series, we covered the importance of designing a Marketing Roadmap in preparation for the new year.  By now, your design work is finished and you are well into the construction phase of your marketing roadmap.

Build for success

As you build out your roadmap, stay focused on the connecting points to your market.  The best way to know which routes to include is to drill into the market data and intelligence that indicates the market behaviors, trends, and habits of your buyers.  

  • Consider where your market gathers information to make buying decisions (because that’s where you’ll want to have a presence) 
  • Review your existing client base so that you know why they value your product or services
  • Analyze your competition (yes, you need to know what they are doing) to determine what kind of marketing efforts they may be performing that is working for them 
  • And, look at your own business to see how well it aligns with your market to match up with potential buyers and stand out from competitors  

This information should prove to be a goldmine for helping you know the best way to bridge the gap between your offerings and your potential customers. 

Preparing for roadblocks, the unexpected and detours

When finalizing your roadmap, make sure you plan for the unexpected or obstacles that can hinder your plans.  For your business, it could mean aggressive project schedules, a new competitor, a lost customer, budget cuts, a challenging new technology, and the like.  Although it is nearly impossible to avoid all obstacles, being ready for the unexpected will help reduce the impact.

Sometimes the plan takes a detour based on unforeseen occurrences.  This is why preparing for the unexpected with a contingency plan is important.  When this happens, remain flexible and adapt to the situation.  These potential setbacks may actually turn into opportunities.    

As you begin to wrap-up construction of your marketing roadmap, take the time to review all of the components to ensure you have the right strategy and tactics for achieving your business objectives.  Give attention to the tools you’ve included that will help you connect with your buying market and be sure you have the resources in place to implement and manage the plan.  With your marketing roadmap near completion, you are one step away from putting the plan in place to drive revenue-generating opportunities.  

In part 3, we will address Marketing Roadmap ImplementationFeel free to share this on your favorite social media sites and email it to a colleague or friend.   

Mktg Roadmap Design

Designing Your Marketing Roadmap - Part 1 of 3

As we head toward the end of another year, our attention will soon turn to the opportunities that lie ahead with the new year. Business performance will be reviewed and several questions will be asked:

•  “How can we generate more revenue?”
•  “Where can we find more customers?”
•  “How can we gain greater market visibility?”

These are good questions to ask and represent the mindset of a business that wants to do more and improve their market standing. But, how can these questions be translated into actionable items? It boils down to developing attainable goals, realistic objectives and a strategic marketing plan for achieving them. For your business, this means facing your marketing challenges head on in order to know what to do, when, where, how and why. And, you need to know where you are going and how you plan to get there.

How do you get there?

By developing a “marketing roadmap”, your business will have a guide to follow that outlines how your company will connect to the market to create revenue-generating opportunities. Your marketing roadmap will provide details about the proper “marketing routes” that will work best for your business. There may be countless options to consider, but you will want to drill down to only those that make sense for your business and align well with your market.

Include the essentials

While your basic marketing roadmap is purposed to effectively direct you from point “A” to point “B”, you will need to include:

•  Budget allocations for implementing the planned tactics
•  A timeline for execution
•  Resources that will execute the components
•  Milestones for measuring progress
•  Reporting for documenting success

All of these are requirements that will keep you on track as you grow closer to reaching your revenue goals and ultimate business destination.

In part 2, we will address Marketing Roadmap ConstructionFeel free to share this on your favorite social media sites and email it to a colleague or friend.   

Calmettos QB PNG

The Marketing Beacon, a provider of custom-developed marketing solutions designed to grow businesses, announces the launch of a new e-Commerce website for Calmettos, LLC. The site is designed to highlight the unique palmetto tree paintings called “Calmettos” by artist and company founder Calhoun “Cal” Harrelson. These original works of art along with complementing products that feature selections of these paintings are available for purchase on the website. To read the full news release, visit: GSABizWire.com. To visit the new site, go to Calmettos.com.

 

Marketing Issue UBJ 2017

 Another one of our insightful marketing articles was published recently in the Upstate Business Journal.  In this article, we  discuss the importance of being known to your buying market and how to become the preferred choice among the options they may  have before them.  Bridging the gap between your offering and your buying market requires having the right tools to effectively  communicate your solutions.  With the right mix and balance of marketing tools, you will be prepared to address who buys from you,  why, when, where and how often.  There are also 10 points we discuss that are important considerations while developing and  building your marketing toolkit.  

 Occupying your buyer's sweet spot is where you want to be because that's where buying decisions are made.  Commit to the process of getting there...and remaining the preferred choice.  In the end, your marketing efforts will be more effective which will lead to increased revenue-generating potential for your business.  

Click here for the entire article:  Owning the Sweet Spot.  

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Outsourcing 2

The Value of Outsourcing Your Marketing

The concept of outsourcing isn’t new, but the trend continues to gain momentum.  From a marketing perspective, it means gaining the professionalism, expertise and deep experience of a marketing resource versus hiring someone and carrying them on your payroll.  As a result, having this kind of resource can provide you with a quick ramp-up to implementing marketing initiatives centered on business growth.  Being able to tap directly into a professional marketing resource for collateral development, brand initiatives, customer communication projects, digital marketing, public relations, event coordination, website design and more is a huge advantage.   
 
It is also a less expensive option to hiring a full-time equivalent.  You’ll have fee structures that bring a level of predictability through a defined scope of services.  And, the arrangement is often flexible allowing you to modify the scale of services to match your business situation.  Plus, your services model provides inroads to supporting marketing services that can be bundled with your monthly agreement or used to augment project work. 
 
The trend of outsourcing continues not only in popularity but in practical application. 
Companies that choose to outsource their marketing function are able to remain focused on their core competencies while trusting the expertise of a marketing professional to work in parallel with them.  The value is there and companies will continue to pursue these advantageous opportunities.
 

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Marketing Toolkit Linkedin

What Should be in Your Marketing Toolkit?

Tools exist to help us effectively accomplish a project or task.  In business, you need sales and marketing communication tools to inform your buying market about your products and services.  Often this means you need to bridge the gap that exists between your offerings and the market.  Information about your offerings should be conveyed to a prospect so that they have a clear understanding of your solution.  This can be accomplished by developing tools such as a well-structured digital brochure, video, testimonial, printed material or a presentation.  Add "more power" to these tools by including benefits-rich content for success stories, customer profiles, solution overviews, white papers, and more. 
 
In some situations you may want to customize your materials for a particular vertical market or for a specific solution.  All of these are tools that can be developed by your marketing resources to properly equip your sales team.  Collectively, these tools form your marketing toolkit to help you communicate with your buying market.  

Tools with a purpose

Your sales and marketing toolkit should be viewed as an instrument designed to accomplish an objective as effectively and intelligently as possible.  To do that, consider these points:

  • Determine the purpose of each communication tool and what you want them to help you accomplish
  • Focus on the intended audience and how to best connect with them
  • Develop and design formats based on how your audience prefers their information to be presented
  • Create a logical flow to your communication content that unfolds your story
  • Use language that relates well with your audience and demonstrates your knowledge for addressing their needs and solving their challenges
  • Keep your content benefit-rich and results-oriented rather than over-baked with hype
  • Leverage the power of client testimonials, quotes and endorsements that offer “proof” of your marketing claims
  • Provide enough information to convey a strong message, but not so much that the piece does all the selling for you
  • Use visually appealing graphics, illustrations and pictures that relate well to your prospects
  • Be consistent with your company’s brand strengths and reputation in all communication tools

Your marketing toolkit is purposed to enhance the sales process in order to professionally convey your solution offering to buyers.  Each of your communication tools will serve a specific purpose on their own and collectively form an integrated sales and marketing toolkit designed to connect well with your market.  

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Marketing Know-How Strategic Execution
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