Marketing: Tactics vs. Strategies
by Saralyn Collins
Over the previous months, we have discussed how critical it is to have a clear and concise marketing message. It still amazes me, when attending networking events in the area, how many people cannot quickly and clearly explain who they are and why I should do business with them….as opposed to their competitors.
There is NO question: gaining clarity in your marketing message is not only the first step in growing your business, but actually one of the most critical steps in everything you do.
If you have not worked on this yet, I suggest you commit right now to spending the time it will take to get this in your mind – word it properly – and begin using it. If you are struggling to get this clear and concise – then work with a coach or consultant and get your message sharp! I’m convinced, if you do it “right” – it will pay big dividends in your results.
So let’s begin some discussion about what happens AFTER you have your marketing message figured out and you are comfortable using it on a regular basis. Let’s talk about marketing strategies.
Strategies vs. Tactics!
First – most of what you have tried in the past has been a “tactic” – not a “strategy”! Someone told you about something they read or tried and you decided to “give it a try.” You said, “Let’s see what happens if I try this… ” It’s that old “throw it out there and see what sticks” way of doing business. When you use tactics, it probably means you have no clear vision of an overall plan and the activities you attempt do not have direct correlation to your overall growth goal. It’s just something else to “try” and see what happens.
UNDERSTAND: neither “give it a try” nor “Let’s see what happens” are solid business-building strategies! That is leaving the results all up to someone or something beyond your control. Why would you do that? Why leave the future of your business up to some unknown?
I am moving most of my clients away from traditional “goal setting” for many reasons – the main one is that as much as I have studied it, taught it, and said I believe it – I have never really been able to make it work completely for me. I don’t think I am alone – I believe there are many out there who have tried so hard to use all the traditional goal-setting processes and felt so inadequate and ineffective and didn’t know why.
So, we are learning to use a process called “Outcome Based Thinking” and while you still set some goals – the way you work it all out is slightly different. You have to determine what outcomes you must have to make an activity or strategy worth your time, energy and money. If that activity moves you closer to your final goal, quicker and more effectively – then you focus your time and energy on that. If you cannot get a good answer then you must choose a better activity.
You see, our problem is rarely that we waste time on poor choices – we just don’t spend enough time on the BEST choices. That is truly the difference in working hard and working SMART!
In the words of Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing – a Marketing Strategy is an activity that gets the favorable attention of an ideal client for your service and builds enough trust that they will want to explore doing business with you.
A massive mistake too many make is to lump marketing and sales all together. You can be the most effective marketer in the world but without the ability or method to close a sale – you still have nothing! As well, without smart and effective marketing, you probably won’t have any prospects to sell to!
Remember, a Marketing Strategy doesn’t sell. Only the Sales Process can do that, but it can prepare the ground by building that trust.
What and When
One of the biggest areas of confusion in marketing is which marketing strategy to use and in what order.
Again, Robert Middleton helps us by providing a chart on Building Trust through Marketing Strategies:
Visibility – The primary marketing vehicle here is written (and graphic) materials. This forms the foundation of your marketing as it simply gets your name and message in front of your ideal clients on a consistent basis.
This includes your web site, blog, ezine, articles, and social media such as Twitter. It also includes things written about you (PR) and even advertising.
Often this is as far as Independent Professionals go. Visibility starts to build trust, but not completely. Just think, do you buy a product or service after seeing an advertisement or someone’s Twitter tweets only a few times? Of course not.
And the solution isn’t to do more and more of this. The solution is to move to the next stage of building trust, by increasing Credibility and that’s through presentations.
|Visibility||Written Materials||Web content, articles,. eZines, blogs, columns, P.R., social media|
|Credibility||Presentations||Talks, workshops, keynotes, teleclasses, webinars, podcasts, CDs, videos|
|Networking||Social gatherings, joint ventures, phone follow-up, one-on-one meetings, sales appointments|
|Reliability||Performance||Quality and consistency of work, keeping word, follow-up, communication skills|
Credibility – A presentation is any opportunity you have to communicate your ideas or the value of your service to a group, in an audio and/or visual format. Talks, intro workshops, keynotes, teleclasses, webinars, podcasts, CDs and video all build this credibility.
The combination of Visibility through written materials and Credibility through presentations is often enough to get an ideal client into a selling conversation. But it often takes an additional step that is more personal.
Intimacy – This is the big “X Factor” in building trust. When you meet and connect with someone in person, you convey things that can’t be communicated through the written word or through presentations.
You’ve seen this happen hundreds of times. You meet someone and they tell you about their services. Their enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment build almost immediate trust.
This is why all Independent Professionals should also take advantage of opportunities to network, meet with prospects face- to-face, follow-up with teleclass participants by phone, attend conferences, brainstorm and mastermind, etc.
When you implement all three marketing strategies you create Marketing Synergy. The result of marketing synergy is Knowing/Liking/Trusting. When you are at that point, it is relatively easy to set up selling conversations with ideal clients.
There is one last step that may be the most important of all. It’s actually the one that the majority of Independent Professionals rely on more than any other. This is Reliability, which is conveyed only by working directly with a client.
Your efforts to provide quality, consistent work, to keep your word, to follow up as promised and to communicate clearly and confidently can also be seen as marketing strategies. After all, it’s Reliability more than anything else that is responsible for clients referring new business to you. No matter how well you do with the first three, you can undermine all of those efforts if your degree of performance falls short.
Yes, this can all be overwhelming… it’s so much to learn and then implement. But there are plenty of people around who would love to act as a guide and coach. Don’t hesitate to reach out and engage someone to help guide you through these strategies and keep you pointed in the right direction!
Saralyn Collins can be reached at Saralyn@SaralynCollins.com or 828-649-8011. She has almost 30 years experience in guiding businesspeople to develop strategies that actually produce results! You will also learn many of these strategies and make great connections at the Business Magnet lunch ‘n learn each month. For information and to register, go to www.wncwoman.com .