Marketing has a lot in common with evangelizing. You have something you believe is valuable, and you’re always looking for ways to communicate that value to those who might benefit from it. Typically though, you’re not knocking on doors asking people if they’ve 'heard the good word.' Instead, you try to anticipate the needs of your audience and engage with them on their terms.
The question is, how do you anticipate those needs? How do you cater your message (and ultimately your product or service) to the needs of the customers? Typically, marketers base their decisions on one of three approaches:
1. Analyzing the data
2. Leveraging their personal experience
3. Listening to their customers
Each system has its strengths and its drawbacks, and each requires different skills. Don’t know which one you are? There’s a pretty easy way to tell.
For many, marketing is a science. You work by the numbers and trust the data to make the decisions. To help maximize the effectiveness of your number crunching and data analysis, you use a number of tools that can help you get a leg up. Tools like Optimizely can help you gather data on user experience to see what elements of your website work best, and what could stand to be improved.
As for managing the data you’re collecting, a data analysis and marketing dashboard suite like Domo can help you get the most insight out of your numbers, especially in regards to marketing.A word of caution: making decisions by the numbers can be taken to the extreme, and can sometimes disconnect a marketer from the people they are trying to connect with. Likewise, not every potential opportunity will be reflected in the numbers, and sometimes you will have to ignore the data to make the right decision.
For those who have been in the business a while, experience is often their guiding light. Empirical evidence has shown them what works, what doesn’t, and how to make the most of a marketing campaign. Mistakes have been learned from, successes have been celebrated, and marketing skills have been refined. You trust your gut to know what decisions to make. You know what you’re doing, and you know how to get the job done right.
One of the tools that’s great for marketers like this is Marketo. It’s a lead generation and automation tool that helps marketers know when a lead is ready to be passed on to sales and pursued. And for those who like to work old-school, Vista Print is an excellent tool to go the traditional printed material route.
A word of caution: the landscape of business in general, and marketing specifically, is changing rapidly. What served adequately in previous generations will not necessarily be successful when trying to entice digital natives. And as things continue to change, those who rely solely on experience may find themselves left behind.
Then there are those who believe that the customer is king. They’re active on social media, responding to customer feedback (both negative and positive). They have their finger on the pulse of their customers, and are intimately in tune with the desires and pain points of their buyer personas. These marketers often test their efforts, review feedback, adjust, and repeat. Done well, it can create brand loyalty by showing that the company isn’t afraid to change course to meet customer needs.
Qualtrics and Google Surveys can both help you get active about collecting feedback via surveys and questionnaires, but don’t underestimate the value of checking your social media feeds. A company that interacts with the online community tends to be well respected.
A word of caution: those who focus solely on listening to feedback from the masses tend to overlook what their company has to offer by way of experience and expertise. You’re at the mercy of the ebb and flow of popular opinion, which is a shaky foundation indeed.
Clearly, the best approach is a well-rounded one, as each methodology can add serious value when applied appropriately. As long as you use them in balance, your marketing stands to do exactly what it’s supposed to: grow your business.