team maze

Don’t Overlook the Easy Wins

I’m fairly certain that one reason Parthenon keeps me around is that I’m a relentless reader and learner. What I lack in other areas (see: cursing), I make up for by devouring new ideas on all kinds of topics.

So, yeah, I’m on top of the fact that VR is about to take off, that Internet of Things is going to change our lives, that podcasts and video are exploding and that we can now track our customers with more and more data than ever before.

I love to talk about that stuff and to brainstorm ways new technology can help our clients.

So don’t fault me for what I’m about to tell you: Crazy new ideas are fun to think about, but make sure you didn’t miss the easy marketing wins.

Just because it’s basic doesn’t mean it’s ineffective.

With that, here are three things I think every marketer should be working on today, if they aren’t already:

1. Make sure people can find you

If you have a business with physical locations, your job is to make sure people can find you when they’re looking for you. Period. That means keeping your information up to date on maps and directory sites. It also means designing your website to make it easy for visitors to get your address or contact information.

We recently talked about some work we did with a nationwide hospice company, helping to redesign their website and improve their listings across the web. Nothing groundbreaking, but work that had to be done — and that’s had a substantial impact on their business. The results shocked even me — website traffic up 70 percent and calls to their locations up 750 percent in a year.

Reputation and listings management isn’t quite rocket science but it takes knowledge of how they all work together. You can partner with someone to improve your directory presence or do the grunt work yourself. Either way, make sure it gets done.

Bonus: Once you’ve claimed your pages on directories and listing sites, make sure you tend to your reviews. Often they’re the first experience someone has with your company. Read and respond to all of them, especially the negative, and do what you can to make bad experiences better. You can even use them to improve your customer service standards.

2. Grow your contact list

Marketing today is about permission. Permission to share our messages with people — in their inbox, newsfeed, phone screen, etc. And then permission to ask for a sale.

The key platform is still email. It still produces the highest ROI of any channel because marketers don’t (yet) have to worry about an algorithm deciding if their content is good enough to deliver. Every email gets to your contact’s inbox.

So if you’re not gathering email addresses, start. If you’re not delivering engaging, valuable messages on a regular basis, start.

Get permission. Earn their trust. Make a sale.

3. Plan your content

It’s nearly impossible to run a business today without a presence on social channels. There are 1.7 billion Facebook users today and the network continues to grow its footprint in our lives. And yet, many businesses are still relegating social duties to that of an afterthought — dropping them on the plate of someone who’s already at capacity or trying to keep up when they can.

The same also happens with company blogs too often. We know that regularly written, valuable content can have a profound effect on business growth. Yet because the task of creating and curating them often doesn’t fit nicely into a job description, blogs are forgotten.

Stop forgetting about them by doing the work upfront.

We’re fans of regular content planning — quarterly, monthly or otherwise. We recommend it for all of our clients and we do it for our own blog.

Why are we such big fans? Because we know it works. We also know that a lack of planning doesn’t work.

To me, content planning has two important aspects: The preparation (meeting to sketch out a plan) and the tool.

Preparation includes looking at data to see what topics will resonate with our audience, gathering stakeholders in a room to make decisions and then mapping things out visually so we can see what will be written, and when. Yes, you should meet in person to get everyone on the same page and create accountability.

The tool we really like (and use) is CoSchedule. It helps us to visualize what our months will look like, track progress, and even links to our platforms so we can post content directly from the calendar.

I know planning isn’t particularly exciting (it’s not big data or robots). But when done right, it keeps us moving forward with the work we know will grow our business.

If you’re looking for some wins on your marketing board, getting back to basics might be an effective way, even if it isn’t new or sexy.