Beware the Ides of Marketing
While not celebrated like it’s more festive calendar neighbor on the 17th, March 15 – the Ides of March – has certainly known its share of fame, or infamy, throughout history. A few of the most notorious incidents:
44 BC – Julius Caesar meets his demise at the hands of Brutus and company. William Shakespeare later penned the phrase, “Beware the Ides of March,” to depict a soothsayer’s warning to the ill-fated ruler.
1939 – Hitler marches his army into Czechoslovakia, setting the stage for WWII.
1941 – A blizzard roars across North Dakota and Minnesota, dropping temperatures by 20° in only 15 minutes, leaving 7ft snowdrifts and killing 151 people.
2003 – In a strangely disturbing accident of time, the World Health Organization declares a global health emergency during the SARS epidemic. Just two days short of 17 years later, the US declares a health emergency due to COVID-19.
What does “Ides” mean, anyway? In ancient Rome, there was an Ides in every month. Falling on the 13th or 15th, it was a day of paying bills, of settling accounts. As we all know, paying bills and keeping up with accounts requires diligence and focus. Just like Marketing. Without careful planning and monitoring, bad marketing can sneak up on you and wreak havoc. We’ve put together a set of tips to help you avoid an unfortunate “day of reckoning” in your own marketing efforts.
Know who your customer is – and isn’t. Everyone, even Amazon, knows that there are people who will simply never be their customer. That’s okay. Make sure you have an in-depth understanding of who your customer is, what their needs are, and how your product/service can meet those needs. You should be able to create profiles of your “typical” customers. Additionally, create the profile of your ideal customer and brainstorm what it will take to win that person’s business.
You may have magical insight into what your customers need, and you may have the perfect solution. If your message is confusing or off the mark, your solution will sit unused. Craft your message from your customer’s point of view. Think like a customer. What would you need to hear? What makes you different from your competitors – your Unique Value Proposition? Still unsure about how to tell your story? Ask a customer! Test your messaging with a current or potential customer and use their feedback to create can’t-miss messaging.
The Plan (I)
Draft your Marketing Plan. We like to say that the best plan is the one you actually make. Remember, a website isn’t a marketing plan. Neither is a Facebook page. Build your own basic marketing plan using our simple plan template.
The Plan (II)
Just like having a website doesn’t constitute a Plan, sending one email doesn’t constitute a campaign. Neither does making one Facebook or LinkedIn post. Consistency and diligence are keys to successful marketing campaigns and plans. Set activity goals (Posting 3x/week, sending a monthly newsletter) and keep them. At the same time, sometimes even our best intentions go awry. When you get off schedule, or your efforts don’t generate immediate results, stay positive. Be prepared to tweak your plan but don’t abandon your efforts too soon.
The Plan (III)
Measure relentlessly and ruthlessly. Decide in the early stages of developing your plan what to measure. Maybe it’s conversions, maybe it’s Page Likes, or website traffic. Look for trends. Getting plenty of website traffic but few conversions? Is your messaging clear? Do you make it easy for customers to engage with you? To learn more about your product? We can’t emphasize enough the value of an outside lens. If you’re unsure about what to measure or how, or if the metrics tell a confusing story, get help from an outside party.
Have a 360° View
Don’t be Caesar. Unaware and out of touch he blundered into his assassination, realizing far too late that constant machinations had angered even his most loyal supporters. Savvy marketers are always in touch with their customers and aware of their market surroundings. Be on the lookout for opportunities and for reasons to communicate with customers in ways that show you share their goals and their concerns.
For example, the current COVID-19 presents a set of unique challenges along with unique opportunities for communicating with customers. Think about what’s on the minds of your customers right now. For instance, a veterinarian might be well-advised to post information about the virus that’s meaningful to pet owners. (Is it possible to pass the virus to a pet? What are symptoms in a cat or dog?) CPAs amid a busy tax season might consider meeting telephonically with their clients wherever possible. Dentists, physical therapists, stylists – all occupations with close, direct contact with clients need to consider how to stay in contact without actually making contact.
Work with your team to brainstorm options for the days ahead. And keep in mind that your team members are also your customers. Help them think through how, together, you can navigate these uncertain times.