Everything, from deep government dealings to the most basic of dollar stores, has a framework that defines how it functions. These frameworks are in place for one reason, and one reason only: to ensure that the long-term goals of the business or entity are met.
Now, the long-term goals of a government are likely very different from those of a dollar store, and probably have very little to do with the sort of marketing framework we’re talking about.
Marketing framework is the core through which a business gains new customers, grows its brand reputation, and increases its conversion rates. Of course, there are a multitude of ways in which these tasks can be accomplished, but much like you wouldn’t start building the bedroom of a house before laying its foundation, it is unwise to look for new customers before establishing a marketing framework.
What would a CEO do?
Think of all the CEO’s of the big companies. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Elon Musk. They all know the most important part of marketing your company, which is the underlying marketing framework that dictates how every individual campaign will run. The reason that it’s so important to consider this framework is that the cost of both traditional and online marketing is not low.
In fact, it can be very high, and as the cost grows, so does the pressure.
Obviously, this isn’t anything new.
When you invest money into anything, you expect something in return for it. The more you invest, the more you expect. The problem with marketing is that there’s no direct, quantifiable return on your investment. You can’t point at any one thing and say that it’s a direct exchange for the money that you’ve invested.
Instead, there’s multiple metrics which can increase because of marketing investment, such as conversion rates, lead numbers, web traffic, brand visibility, and so on. Many are overwhelmed by this, and simply forego marketing altogether.
Rookie mistake. As any good CEO knows, you should never shy away from something which seems difficult. Very often, these are the same things which can be most beneficial for your needs.
With the right tools, marketing can become much easier to track. Through the use of multiple analytics tools, you can track the success of your marketing, right down to the click. Google Analytics, the most well-known of all the analytics systems, can provide information about who’s viewing your web page, whether they’re completing your call-to-action’s, and if these are the same people that are ultimately becoming your customers. With this level of information available to you, can you really even say that marketing is difficult?
This is where the marketing framework comes into play. A framework allows you to account for potential results of your marketing actions, and should be based around real-time data collected from analytics platforms. This allows you to visualize the results, immediately justifying the need for marketing.
Because the goal of your business is to generate a return on investment, your framework should be built around this need. We’ll look more in depth about what matters when building a marketing framework, but here’s a short rundown of how to position a framework in terms of ROI (return on investment).
- Outline the costs of your campaign: Every dollar in should be accounted for, and should have a logical reason for its use.
- Explain the revenue that resulted as a direct cost of the campaign: This means really digging into the analytics data, to determine whether any new customers directly result from the campaign.
- Document your analytics data. While you’re on step 2, you might as well describe the data that you’re viewing, as it might come in handy later.
- Using the analytics data, clearly state how many new leads and sales were generated because of the marketing campaign.
- Report all your findings accurately and honestly. When I say honestly here, I’m not implying that you’re going to lie about your findings. I use the word honesty to refer to the scientific process of data analysis, which dictates that an appropriate sample size should be taken, and statistics should be analyzed in the greater context of the business framework. For example, if only a portion of the revenue increase came from PPC advertisements, but the overall revenue of the business increased, it would be dishonest to say that it directly resulted from the PPC ads.
Now that we’ve reviewed the importance of ROI when building a marketing framework, let’s look at how you can build a marketing framework, and what important factors might influence how you do so.
Have you ever wondered why an in-store employee will approach you right as you’re looking at a product? They could have asked if you need help a hundred times from the moment you walked in, but they waited for you to walk over to a specific section and to look through products.
Sure, it might have something to do with the fact that they were texting in the backroom when you walked into the store. But I like to think it’s something more, something which we can see more clearly with online marketing.
These employees understand the power that timing can have on a buying decision, or even the willingness of a customer to work with the employee. If they were to approach you from the moment you entered, you wouldn’t know exactly what you want yet, or if you did, find it yourself, quickly, and leave the store. You know the employee is looking to sell you on something, so you naturally decline their help.
However, when you’re already looking at products on a shelf, your guard is down. Maybe you’re confused about similar products, or maybe you’re just taking your time to decide. Regardless, at this point, you’re more susceptible to allowing the employee to help, increasing their chances of selling you on something. Whether you buy something that day is no longer as important, because the employee has now spoken to you, has provided you with a pleasant experience, and will remember you the next time you’re in the store. If you don’t buy it today, you might come back and buy it tomorrow.
Online marketing works the same way. It’s not meant to sell the customer on something all in one shot, because that’s just not how customer buying practices work. Just because a consumer has left your webpage, doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. With so many venues through which to market, and with such advanced technology at your fingertips, you can orchestrate marketing that hits the consumer from every side at every point in the buying cycle.
For example, perhaps they were brought over to your website by a PPC ad on Facebook. They check out what products and services you offer, but something comes up and they have to leave your site. The next day, they see a banner ad while browsing the news. This is a remarketing ad which ‘follows’ the user across the web, advertising your business to them. They remember about viewing your website yesterday, and head over yet again. This time, they go through the transaction process, entering their email and information, but decide not to complete it because the price is too high.
Maybe they’re going to wait for a discount.
With their email now at your disposal, you wait a few days and send over a courtesy email, urging them to complete the transaction and to become your customer. As a sign of goodwill, you include a 15% off coupon code. The customer is enticed by your kindness (but more likely the discount), and finishes their purchase with your business.
Using the tactical art of timing, you’ve turned a consumer into a lead, and then turned that lead into a sale.
When you go into the bathroom, you don’t just pull your pants down the moment you get in there, and go wherever you please.
Instead, you walk in knowing that you need to reach a toilet or urinal in order to do whatever you have to do. Doing anything else would just be silly (or normal if you’re not potty-trained, I’m not judging), or even dangerous! What if someone slips…?
You could even say that your goal is to do your business in the toilet, and in order to achieve that you’re willing to wait the extra few steps to get into the stall.
Marketing is no different.
You need an logical goal which you’re working to achieve, with anything you do supporting said goal. Otherwise, you might end up with stuff on your floors that shouldn’t be there.
When you work towards something without a logical goal in mind, you inadvertently save yourself time and money, both of which can be better spent on a focused campaign.
What your goal is will depend entirely on the type of business that you run, and the brand that you’re looking to build for yourself. One goal that you could focus on, for example, is gaining new customers. Your business needs customers to grow, as these customers provide you with the profits that sustain your growth. For this goal, you would invest heavily in PPC ads, remarketing ads, banner ads, and consumer outreach.
An alternative goal that you could focus on would be brand growth and reputation, as this is a huge part of what makes consumers aware of your business, bringing them to purchase from you. If this is your goal, your marketing campaign should focus on social media exposure. Posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so on. You could also reach out to newspapers, radio stations, and bloggers, as these generate high numbers of social users.
Keep in mind, most broad goals will work well together. Brand exposure and customer acquisition can go hand in hand, as what stimulates one can stimulate the other.
Ultimately, sit down and really analyze what your business is about. Think of the industry that you operate in. If it’s medical, more traditional marketing approaches might work best. If you run a tech company, obviously online marketing would be your tool of choice. Once you understand the path that your marketing should take, you’re ready to construct the framework which supports it.
FIRST, identify the needs of your customers.
SECOND, identify the needs of your business.
FINALLY, connect the two so that they work together fluidly.
Questions about the source material, about supplementary materials, and about what you plan to argue. A thesis is formed through the process of questions and answers, and that’s exactly how you should start building your marketing framework.
What are your businesses goals right now?
If you thought we were finished with this, you were wrong. Identifying your goal is criteria that cannot be overstated, simply because so many business owners forget it. Knowing your goal (or goals) is crucial to creating that marketing framework which fits your needs. Consider whether you want more leads, or more visibility. Perhaps you want both. Maybe you want only social media visibility, or maybe you want a local presence. These are all questions that you should ask of yourself and your business so that you can move forward.
What will your initial investment be?
Establishing costs is just as important as managing expectations, and that’s why it comes second. Much like your first relationship, marketing is not what works right off the bat. (It’s difficult to nail it… am I right?) Testing is essential when building your first marketing campaign, because it’s the only way that you can see what works! Think of this as the research portion of your campaign, where you invest small sums into different marketing, to determine which is best for your business. Once you find the one, you can put more funding into a full-scale version of it.
What results should you expect?
Being realistic is a good quality to have in life and for marketing, that couldn’t be truer. If you predicted that your leads and sales would increase tenfold because of your marketing, the chances of you hitting those results are very slim. Marketing can’t do the impossible. There are no instant results, and the more you hope to achieve, the longer it will take, and the costlier it’ll be.
The results which you expect should be correlated to the resources which you’re putting in. Look at other businesses with similar marketing frameworks and investment amounts, and see what targets they’re hitting. Of course, you shouldn’t be replicating their work!
Build your marketing campaign with the needs of your business in mind, and who knows what targets you’ll be able to hit.
I mentioned the consumer buying cycle earlier, so now let’s go a bit more in depth.
The first category of the buying cycle is:
- This is where consumers find out about your brand, through one venue which you’ve chosen. This can be the billboard in downtown, or the social media ads, or the newspaper listing, or even word of mouth. Whatever it is, they realize your business.
- Existing customers can be a primary source for making consumers aware of your business. Word of mouth is powerful, and that’s why it’s so important to leave a trail of only satisfied customers.
- Once consumers are aware of your business, they need something to draw them in. Otherwise they just lose interest.
- Again, existing customers can act as your very own salespeople. If I’m over at a cellphone store and I was impressed with an employee’s service, I won’t hesitate to tell other customers I see about this. You’ll be surprised at what wonders this can work.
- I mentioned this part of the cycle already and gave the example of an employee approaching you. This step is extremely important, as it can make or break the entire sale.
- When the consumer hesitates is when they’re most vulnerable to sales tactics. Reach them at this point in the cycle and make sure they buy now!
- Brand reputation, and consequentially, brand loyalty, is what keeps consumers coming back to you time and time again, and pushes them to bring their friends and family to your business. Loyalty is valued everywhere, and even more so in business.
- As the last step in the purchase cycle, this is also your opportunity to capture any consumer that fell away at some part of the cycle. Think of it like fishing, and if you don’t catch something, you starve!
We covered a lot of material today, all of which relate to the marketing framework for your business.
What you won’t find anywhere else, however, is someone who can lay out the basics of marketing how I just did. That’s because not everyone really understands marketing, let alone how to teach others about it.
But don’t be worried. With this guide, you too can become the marketing expert that you’ve always wanted to be.
A few parting reminders:
- Your marketing campaign should be goal driven. You should know exactly what you want and what your business needs, and you should make strategic choices to achieve these goals. Also, there’s nothing wrong with trial and error. All great success is built on mistakes.
- Timing is crucial. Hearing the right words at the right time are all that it can take for a consumer to become a customer.
- Ask lots of questions, especially those that have tough answers. Questions can help you understand what your customers need, thus allowing you to build your brand in a way that connects with your audience.
- Follow the consumer purchase cycle and build your marketing campaign to fulfill the needs of each core area. These are: Awareness, Engagement, Decision, and Retention.
It might be difficult, time-consuming, soul-eating, and even life-defying, but there’s no way of getting around it. Marketing has to be done, and it has to be done properly. Start slow, and work your way up, laying the bricks that will hold the marketing foundation of your business, allowing it to flourish into something bigger than life.