Every new business has an aspect of their launch that includes the “If you build it, they will come optimism.” In reality, there are several basics that need to be in place for you to be found first. Everywhere you look, marketers say, don’t worry, we can just drive paid traffic your way. A great marketer will take inventory and ensure the fundamentals are there first. Here are a few points to consider before you look to hire a marketing consultant:
1.) Where Am I With My Products & Services?
Let’s face it, if you don’t have a great product, no matter what kind of traffic you drive, or marketing you do, you won’t last long. Think of restaurants, even in a two restaurant town, if the pizza place consistently burns pizzas and gives visitors a negative experience, they need to fix their process or find a new business model. If you are running an eCommerce business, or a brick and mortar, you need to make sure you have great products as well. If you are a dentist in need of marketing help, but can’t retain customers, why can’t you retain them? Is it the waiting room experience, or perhaps you are always running behind (Add 5-10 minutes to each appointment?). Get the fundamentals figured out, so you can wow your customers. If you are selling water bottles, make sure your products are tested and ready to go to market. If the lid leaks and I get water down my chest every time I drink from it, I am not going to keep using it, then I also am not going to be recommending it to friends. Unfortunately, you may never get my feedback that your water bottle is now in the trash can, so make sure you test it for honest feedback before you cast a wide net.
2.) Do I Have A Stable Website & Technology?
There are so many options out there now. Do you build a WordPress site, use Wix, build a Squarespace site, or maybe you want to sell your goods on BigCommerce, Shopify, Etsy, or run a subscription box service through Cratejoy? I just quickly ran a half dozen options past you and didn’t need to take a breath. That is the first decision to make if you are going to be an online business, so make sure you think through what you are going to do, what your budget is, and how to get the most bang for your buck. When you build your website, it is very easy to get caught up in all of the bells and whistles available, including your online and in-store point of sale integration, or maybe there is a really cool tool to enable cross-selling across your website. These are all great features, but I think it really boils down to a couple things:
- Is your product or value proposition clearly outlined?
- Do you have a clear call-to-action to get people to do what you want them to do (ie: book an appointment, shop in the store, or sign up for your email list?).
- Does your site look trustworthy? This goes back to the previous point, are the images professional looking? Do you have typos in the copy? Do your links all work?
If you cannot answer yes, then you need to stop there. You need to have the basics before you can expect someone to become a customer. Are you unsure? Get a free site audit here.
3.) Have I Started Using Email Marketing?
“I hate all the spam I get in my inbox,” is the common complaint I hear when explaining email marketing is one of your best tools as a business owner. I think my spam folder is sitting at over 100,000 emails, so I agree to a point. That said, I also sign up for many email lists when I am on the go, or maybe not ready to purchase today, but want to remember a product, service or tool when I will need it 6 or 12 months from now. Going back to my last point, email capture forms on your site are a must! With email comes great responsibility, because someone is trusting you with their email address and access to their inbox. Sure they can ignore it, but now you need to provide value. Set up your campaigns so that the cadence is not too frequent, yet not too infrequent. Use email as your opportunity to build a relationship with your customer the same way a salesperson would with an in-store customer. Also, make sure that you aren’t sending the wrong emails to the wrong people, in most cases a male doesn’t want to receive women’s shoe sales and of course a woman doesn’t want to be receiving men’s dress shirt ads if she was shopping for something else.
Pro tip: If you are an eCommerce store, try to create email capture as one of the first steps in your checkout process. This way, if someone abandons their cart when it comes time to input their credit card, you still can contact them and follow up.
It is getting competitive out there. Many marketers may claim that they are the best in Austin, or New York, or wherever you may live. The best advice you can get for marketing is making sure that your foundation is in order before you step out and try to spend money generating traffic. It is often too easy for someone to show you customers are coming, spending your hard-earned money, and three months later give you an excuse that your website or product wasn’t where it needs to be. Stepping through these three points before you consider hiring an outside marketer will ensure that you’re in a good place to build and grow your business.
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