Marketing tools are now available to everyone, regardless of experience level. You don’t need to be an industry insider or have deep pockets to gain access to powerful applications. Some of the less expensive applications perform only basic functions while high-end applications provide complex capabilities. For example, MailChimp and GetResponse facilitate basic email marketing automation, while Pardot offers advanced personalization features that expert marketers can’t be successful without.
Marketing has many steep learning curves, some of which include learning new software.
Although, regardless of which applications power your marketing efforts, the real key to a successful campaign is your ability to implement effective strategies and fine-tune them as you go. Experience is the steepest learning curve of all. If you can master these four areas of experience, you’ll have an advantage over a large portion of your competition:
1. Marketing automation (MA) strategies
Many business owners invest in high-end automation tools thinking a large budget will make them work. However, Active Web Group explains that marketing automation platforms aren’t an out-of-the-box solution. They’re powerful tools that require an intricate setup and have a steep learning curve to master. A business owner can’t expect in-house staff to learn MA software and start producing results the next day. Considerable training is necessary to reap the benefits of any marketing automation platform. That training involves both technical and strategic knowledge.
You can pay your staff to learn how to use your MA software, but you can’t download marketing expertise into their brains. To take full advantage of the features offered by your MA solution, the person using the software needs marketing knowledge. For example, understanding how to apply tags to incoming leads is useless if you don’t understand the goals and strategies of segmentation. In the absence of marketing expertise, you’re more likely to create unnecessary tags that never get used, or redundant tags that get used once. Creating excessive tags makes it difficult to create the groups your emails will go out to. Subscribers might be left out, forgotten, or accidentally deleted.
Copywriting is probably one of the most difficult marketing skills to master. Unlike content writing, copywriting is the art of persuasion, and has one goal in mind: getting the sale. The intended sale could be selling a physical product, converting a visitor to an idea, or getting video views.
To get the sale, a copywriter uses every word intentionally, and often writes in a conversational tone that isn’t grammatically correct. Copywriters write the way people speak. If you’re a phenomenal content writer with perfect grammar, you’d probably make a poor copywriter.
To master the art of copywriting, you can’t rely on existing writing skills. You have to start from scratch as if the only knowledge you have is a basic command of the English language (or whatever language you write in). Three of the best people to learn from are John Carlton, Dan Kennedy, and Harlan Kilstein. All three have mastered the art of direct sales, and each one brings a different area of expertise to the table.
3. Reputation management
Reputation management isn’t technically hard, but it can be a challenge when you struggle with communication and problem-resolution. The art of managing your reputation isn’t only about monitoring what people say about you and defending yourself. You’ve got to get objectively involved in conversations involving complaints with the intention of resolution. When those conversations happen a public space online, you need to make sure your words fully represent your brand.
“Reputation management isn’t about trying to create a façade of perfection,” says Marketing 360. “It’s about making efforts to create a well-deserved perception, and tracking what’s said about you online to make sure nothing outright false is hurting you.”
Anytime you interact with people online as your brand, you’re marketing your reputation. People will take note of how you conduct yourself when customers are angry, dissatisfied, or when something unexpected happens. How you handle the situation matters most.
4. Understanding your target market
Understanding your target market is essential to a successful marketing campaign, but it’s not as easy as it seems.
The biggest rookie marketing mistake is to define the target market based on who uses the product rather than who buys it. For instance, say you’re selling holiday gift packs for men containing warm pajamas, a safety razor, shaving cream, and a leather wallet. If you think your target market is men, you’d be wrong. Your target market would actually be women. It’s not that men won’t buy the gift set, but decades of research have shown that gift sets are purchased primarily by women. Women are the majority of many target markets since they buy products on behalf of others.
If those same items were sold separately on the shelf, then you’d probably have a male-dominated market. The difference is in the packaging.
Ask for help when you need it
If you don’t have time to master these five aspects of marketing, consider outsourcing them to a professional agency. Or, hire a coach to train your team privately, and cut them some slack while they learn.