As you look back over your 2017 marketing efforts to see which spend brought the best bang for your proverbial buck, keep a careful lookout for any gaps you may have in your inbound marketing efforts. Where were you weak? Where were you strong? What did you miss entirely? In other words, and to paraphrase the London Tube warning, mind your gaps.
Mind Your Gaps
Of which gaps do we speak? Take a look below:
1. Do you know clearly and without any doubt who your target buyers are?
We’re talking “clearly” as in: you’ve done your research (interviewed current and past “best” clients, run some analytics). You’ve taken a look at each past and current client’s revenue and profit – and run the numbers for your perfect clients. You’ve written these in reports distributed to both your marketing and sales teams. You’ve also prioritized each ideal prospect based on profit and revenue potential.
2. Are you using the right marketing channels to reach these ideal buyers?
Not all marketing channels are right for all of your perfect prospects. For example, at a basic level a B2B marketing plan could well “ignore” Facebook, but may absolutely need to be on LinkedIn. Are you using the right keywords? Are Google Ads a good buy, or do you do better with SEO/organic search results?
Great content has proven to attract highly qualified prospects, yet how are you getting that content to your prospects? How are your e-mail marketing efforts working? Are prospects engaging with your offers on social media and email campaigns?
3. None of this works unless you have the right technology to execute and operate your marketing.
We’ve found that many B2B companies strive to attract ideal customers using inbound marketing techniques, but discover that the process definitely is hard work. Marketing automation tools that help you broadcast your content and analyze your results can make the process much easier!
You also have to produce a lot of content (and do so consistently), perform analytics, continuously develop your website, send out regular emails, manage your social media channels, and more.
It makes us tired just typing all this, so it’s no wonder many of our clients tell us they felt overwhelmed when they tried to do all this in-house.
4. Do you have – and work to meet – SMART goals that are aligned to different stages in the buying cycle?
As you well know, the term SMART as it relates to goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound (a deadline). Many gaps in any marketing plan often occur as a direct result of not having set appropriate goals.
What’s more, you should create SMART goals for each stage of the sales marketing funnel. That is, your goals should be aligned to each stage’s needs and the results you seek for each.
Let’s take the top of a typical sales funnel: visitors to your site.
- Specific: Who do you want to visit your site?
- Measurable: How many visitors do you want?
- Achievable: Are 50,000 visitors a month achievable? Possibly. But do you need 50K? Perhaps your products/services need only 5,000 to see you meet revenue goals.
- Realistic: If you want 50,000 more visitors a month in six months, is this realistic? Would an increase of 2,000 a month, each month over a span of about two years be a more realistic goal to shoot for?
- Time-bound: Set one realistic and achievable deadline.
5. Have you set benchmarks for how you’ll use these channels to reach your targeted buyers?
If you haven’t done so already, take a look at past years’ results for all of your marketing channels and create a benchmark for next year’s efforts. What will happen as you reach your desired goals? Where can you cut back and where do you anticipate you’ll increase efforts and marketing spend? You may find that your results vary, but having benchmarks allows you to see over time what works best.