Learn As You Go
I attended an Econsultancy webinar recently and one of the things we discussed was the idea of “learning through innovation and experimentation.” This is what a lot of people don’t realise: even the best marketers in the world don’t always get it right. Marketing isn’t about guaranteeing results, it’s about doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. It’s about learning as you go.
If any marketer ever tells you that they will guarantee you success, then run a mile. It’s just not possible. Marketing is about people, and people can be fickle and unpredictable. All you can do is put yourself in a position for the best chance of success and then monitor and learn as you go.
Learning for yourself is the most important thing you can do in marketing. What another business has done, either successfully or not, is about how that’s worked for them. Every business has different resources, a slightly different way of doing things, a different brand and message, a different culture, different people and different goals. Even if you and a competitor sell exactly the same thing to exactly the same audience, it’s likely you would get different results from the same marketing campaign.
What you need to do is find out for yourself what will work. And you do this firstly by research. Knowledge comes from learning. So learn about your company, your market, your competitors and your customers. You might think you know this already, but do you know:
· Exactly what products or services sell the best
· Exactly where you get your leads from, and where the barriers to sales are
· How effective your marketing is to date
· What your competitors are currently up to
· Who your customers really are
· All the latest trends in your industry and what’s likely to happen in the next 12 months
The more you find out about these things, the better the chance of success you’ll have in your marketing. We call doing this sort of exercise a “Marketing Audit”. If you’d like to know more about this, do check out my book “How to Write an Effective Marketing Plan” where I detail an easy way to complete this.
From here you will be in a great position to create an informed strategy and plan. You’ll also find out how to do this in my book. But even once the plan is set in motion, your learning still hasn’t ended. You need to keep monitoring and measuring.
If you tried something out and it didn’t work, that isn’t anything to feel ashamed or annoyed about. No marketer has even been 100% effective. The only thing you need to worry about is if you keep on doing the thing that didn’t work. You need to give something a fair amount of time (say 6 months), you need to keep an eye on how it’s performing (that’s where having some targets in place is useful), and then you need to decide to stop doing it if it isn’t giving you the results you require. On the flip side, if something is performing really well you need to ramp it up and do more of it.
But, of course, none of this is possible if you don’t have a way of measuring your marketing and you don’t have targets in place. If you don’t know what you wanted to achieve, how can you determine if it’s been successful or not?
The word ‘success’ is key here. If your social media posts were to get 500 likes, you might think that’s great news. But is that really success? How does that benefit your business? What you need to decide is how many leads you want and how many sales. If you have hundreds of likes but not one lead, then the marketing isn’t working. Don’t be fooled by these vanity figures. Decide what success means to you and only focus on that.
The Next Level
The two key words I started with were innovation and experimentation, and this is high level marketing stuff. If you’ve got a thriving business and you’ve mastered all the basics, this is where you need to go next. How can you push things to the next level? More sophisticated marketing comes from innovation and experimentation, and this means that the best marketers are still learning as they go. You can never know it all.
Don’t be tempted to experiment too much too early on, though. Everything ultimately is a bit of an experiment as nothing is ever guaranteed, but start with some basic channels and a really strong message. Simple, safe, effective marketing might be boring, but if it gets you results, who cares.
What does success mean to you? When you’ve answered this question, make your marketing work for it.
If you’d like some ideas on how you can go about measuring your marketing, check out my blog Easy Tips for Tracking Your Marketing.