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Crushing Confusion

The most common marketing challenge and how to overcome it.

In any given month, I come in contact with a lot of small-business owners. I also speak with many marketing agency owners like myself. What do you think is the most common marketing challenge that I come across? My guess is you’ll think of some of the more obvious issues businesses run into, like needing an updated website, lead generation, and driving traffic.

I agree; these are all pretty common issues. But, there is an underlying root cause to almost every marketing challenge I come across. The most common marketing challenge is confusion.

With so many marketing tactics and channels, it’s no wonder people are battling confusion. It comes in many forms. Can you relate to any of these?

  • Is my marketing working?
  • Where should I invest my marketing dollars to see the best return?
  • What marketing tactics should I focus on right now?
  • Why am I not generating enough leads?
  • How can I create a simple, effective marketing plan to follow?
  • How can I differentiate my business from competitors?
  • Why is my business not showing up in search results on Google?

Confusion is paralyzing! It’s impossible to create an effective marketing plan when you are battling confusion. It’s frustrating. So how do you eliminate confusion? By focusing on the fundamentals.

In my article last month, I referenced this quote from Michael Jordan: “Get the fundamentals down, and the level of everything you do will rise.” When you skip the marketing fundamentals, it’s like trying to build a house without having a foundation. It’s simply not going to work, and you will waste your marketing investment.

The marketing fundamentals that are essential to start with we call the marketing strategy trilogy (see figure 1). Let’s dig into each one of these elements in a little more detail.

Figure 1_Marketing Trilogy
Figure 1: The Marketing Trilogy

Strategy/Target Market
Your target market provides direction and focus. When you’ve identified who you are trying to reach, it’s much easier to figure out where they are and what you need to do to reach them.

There are three aspects to your target market:

  1. Ideal Clients: First, it’s critical to identify the two or three types of ideal clients you work with. Creating ideal client profiles (a.k.a., buyer personas) will give you a clear picture of the kinds of clients who you want to attract.
  2. Map the Customer Journey: The customer journey is the experience a prospect has from the moment they think about buying your products/services through his/her entire relationship working with your business. In mapping the journey, you identify their actions, needs, and expectations at each phase. Which leads us to the next step…
  3. Content: The last part of mapping the customer journey is identifying the content your business can create to meet the actions, needs, and expectations at each phase of the customer journey.

In this case, storytelling is your messaging. It’s what you say and how you communicate with your target market. Storytelling creates clarity and engagement with your target market. When you use storytelling to create your messaging, you will experience four awesome benefits:

  • You’ll increase profits.
  • You’ll increase customers.
  • You’ll save time.
  • You’ll save money.

Having a system in place to market your business helps you understand when and what you execute on. There’s no more guessing what you should be doing with your marketing. You’ll have a framework to follow that will yield consistent, repeatable results.

The system we follow and recommend focuses on six key elements (see figure 2).

Figure 2: The Small Business Marketing System
Figure 2: The Small Business Marketing System

Marketing your business shouldn’t be a challenge. All you need is a plan in place. Armed with the three elements of the marketing strategy trilogy, you have what you need to create a marketing plan you can follow.

Keep in mind that your marketing plan isn’t static. Your plan will evolve and change as your business does. By measuring and tracking your results, you can course-correct along the way.

Start with these fundamentals, and you’ll be well on your way to marketing success.

Tim Fitzpatrick is the president of Rialto Marketing. He spent 10+ years in the consumer electronics industry as a partner in a distribution company before getting into marketing consulting & digital marketing. He helps eliminate the confusion of marketing for system integrators so their business’ can grow.

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