The importance of continuous marketing is a mantra you’ve most likely heard repeatedly. It can play a key part in keeping your pipeline full so, yes, it needs to be an integral part of your business. Some designers may say, “I don’t need to market – I rely on word-of-mouth”. If that is you, then do you have a reliable pipeline that is always full? What is your backup plan if that stream of word-of-mouth clients dries up? Some designers are frustrated as they feel that their marketing isn’t working. Ask yourself why it’s not producing a continuous pipeline or is not attracting your ideal clients.
To keep your pipeline filled and attract your ideal clients you need to have an effective marketing plan. And not just a marketing plan that feels effective – but one that you know is effective based on trackable numbers. In this article, you will learn how to determine what is working and what isn’t. Why waste your time and money on something that doesn’t work? How do you come up with a marketing strategy for your business that is both efficient and produces results? Then how do you evaluate its effectiveness? Here are some suggestions to create and continue an effective marketing plan.
1. Determine your marketing goals.
You can’t create a marketing plan unless you know what you’re working toward. Is your goal just to build a pipeline of projects? Do you want to take on any type of project, or do you want to be more selective? Be very clear about your goals regarding the type of clients and projects you want to attract with your marketing. Be sure that your marketing goals support your brand messaging or company’s vision so that you don’t find out too late that there is a mismatch between the client and your business.
2. Identify your audience
Who are your ideal clients? Why waste money marketing to people who don’t meet your ideal client profiles? Have a thorough understanding of each of your ideal client profiles.
Determine the following information (and more!) about your preferred audience:
- Where do they get their information about your niche?
- What are their demographics? (age, income level, and anything else relevant)
- What are their needs, interests, and values? What are they motivated by?
This research will guide you as to where to put your marketing resources – both time and money.
3. Know your value
Understand who your competition is and then identify how you are different. Simply ignoring the competition does not make them disappear. Instead, be aware of the competition, then identify your differences and focus on the value your firm offers clients. It’s also possible that the value or services you offer compared to another firm sets you both apart such that you serve different audiences, and they are not a competitor at all. Knowing who you aren’t competing with is just as important as knowing who you are competing with.
Get input from others
Ask some past and present ideal clients what they feel is the value your firm offers. What encouraged them to work with you? And of course, ask them for testimonials that you can use in your marketing! Sometimes you are too involved in the business to recognize all the value that you offer. Only an outside perspective can tell you the honest truth. You may just learn something about your business from these testimonials! Many firms are so focused on the material aspect of their business (such as providing a beautifully designed home interior) that they fail to realize the intangible value they bring (such as creating a space that enables creativity through its design).
Perception is key
Keep in mind that how your firm is perceived is very important. Use content marketing to create a reputation as an expert. To do so, create articles, blog posts, and other digital content to post to your website. Be sure that the content marketing is information that will appeal to your ideal clients. And try to create some amount of content that readers or viewers couldn’t get anywhere else! If you’re not standing out from the crowd, you might not be providing enough value. Another reason to have very clear ideal client profiles is so you know what content will attract them and retain them. Know what drives their purchasing decisions and then experiment with different angles, formats, and styles to reach them. You won’t know until you experiment whether your audience prefers blogs, or Instagram posts!
4. Find what works
Yes, you need to have a marketing plan, but you want an effective plan that is working. You’re not just checking off a box – a functional marketing plan could be the difference between having projects, and not having projects. To identify what is working and what is not, you need to track the results. What good is your plan if it’s not producing positive results?
Track your results
This is where analytics tools can be a great help, as they can identify the keywords your target audience is searching for, enabling you to weave these phrases into your website and widen your online scope. Marketing reports can also offer benchmark data on your response time to client inquiries, and compare it to other industry pros, to determine if you are capturing potential leads in time. This is essential information to analyze to ensure potential clients aren’t being overlooked because of poor time management. There are countless marketing tools, platforms, and plugins out there that will give you access to the information you need.
Track visitors to your site
Google Analytics is a great tool to analyze traffic to your website. You need to track page views but also the amount of time each viewer spends on each page on your site. It is very important to check the bounce rate (the rate at which people leave a page shortly after arriving on it) to see what can be improved. A page with a lot of views may seem good until you see that visitors leave after only a few seconds! Use the information about how people are locating your site to identify what is working and what is not working. Put key details and information on pages and locations that see many visits, and make sure nothing critical is buried on a page no one visits.
Track the effectiveness of the platforms where you post
Don’t post on every platform. That is a waste of resources. Again, go back to your ideal client profiles. Where do those clients go to find information that your business might cover? On what sites will they spend time? Don’t listen to any gurus who tell you that you need a presence on a specific platform. Trying to force something because you feel obligated to is not the way to operate on social media. Instead, find where your greatest successes are and funnel more resources into these spaces. Every social media app has some form of analytics. Use these to track engagement and growth, and use tools like trackable links to see what posts are bringing in leads.
Are your posts reaching current and potential ideal clients?
If you blog, then have a process in place so those posts reach as many ideal clients as possible. That does not mean posting immediately on multiple platforms. Start with 2-3 social outlets, post consistently for 3-6 months and track your results. If you are posting regularly but your followers are not taking action, then you are probably not reaching your audience. Or if some posts are taking off, but others are not, you might determine that those topics were not a match for your clients. However, this can be complicated and there are many factors such as posts not being promoted as hard by the social media platform, a holiday or industry event pulling people away from their devices, or any number of other reasons.
Finally, evaluate the return on your investment (ROI) of resources – financial, time and personnel. By regularly tracking your results you’ll be able to eliminate what is not working. The information will also identify where best to invest those valuable resources to preserve, strengthen and transform your marketing plan.