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3 vital steps in your 2015 marketing strategy

What’s the difference between a list of marketing activities and a true marketing strategy? A fully thought-out strategy is essential, says ClientsFirst MD Jon Pittham

If you are looking to improve your firm’s marketing in 2015 then a fully thought-out strategy is a must. For some, building a marketing strategy will be second nature but, to others, this could be the first one you have ever done. Whichever camp you are in, there are key elements your strategy must include to be successful in the modern online (and offline) world.

When we talk to clients about strategy, here are just three of the many steps we consider. If you’re a marketing pro then take a look at your strategy and see if you can tick off these elements as having been properly considered. If you’re a marketing newbie then consider making this year the year you build on these ideas.

1. Your real objective

It might seem a boring and obvious place to start but there is a lot of mileage to be gained out of spending time setting overall marketing objectives and then stress testing them to find your real objectives.

For example, let’s say that you have an objective to improve your SEO, which has been a common marketing objective for the last ten years or so. You’re a locally-focused firm and you would like to rank number one on Google for ‘financial planner Milford Haven’.

But is that really an objective? Or is it an action?

Why do you want to rank number one? Probably because you would like to attract local clients. That’s an objective. Ranking number one is merely a marketing action to help you achieve your objective. Or is it…

A quick look at Google’s Keyword Planner reveals that there are no monthly searches for ‘financial planner Milford Haven’.

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Targeting that as your marketing objective not only fails to get to the root of your aims (getting more local clients) but also won’t help that aim. In fact, you will potentially waste a lot of time and money pursuing an objective that doesn’t help anything!

List your objectives, then stress test as much as possible. Your marketing will thank you in the long run.

2. There is little harm in trying new marketing opportunities

The traditional routes to market for our above example firm in Milford Haven might well have been using the local press, other forms of local advertising, appearing at local events and other activities designed to increase their presence in the local community.

The new routes to market are exciting and relatively cheap but it is surprising how many firms are put off from even trying them.

Online referral companies, such as VouchedFor and Unbiased.co.uk, receive mixed reviews depending on who you ask. It is easy to be put off by a colleague who has had no leads through from them.

But does trying them out really cost that much in the long run? And have those with few leads really put the most effort possible into the opportunity? Have they carried out a campaign amongst their own clients to increase their VouchedFor reviews and move further up the site’s search rankings, for example?

Similarly, paid for social media marketing is on the increase but few SMEs and even fewer advisers are taking advantage of the opportunities it affords. With Facebook’s advertising platform, for example, you can target only people in a region of Milford Haven, only of a certain age and only with an interest in something relevant; the Financial Times perhaps, or even just ‘retirement’.

You can also set a daily budget, or a budget for your whole campaign.

You’re in control, which really begs the question: why not give it a go?

3. Linking activities is vital to your overall success rate

When we talk to clients about this step we normally refer to it as ‘lead nurturing’ but you may have also have seen it talked about as a ‘sales funnel’, a ‘marketing process’ or your ‘hot prospects’.

The essence of this thinking is once you have engaged a prospect, how do you get them to the next step?

You’ve produced a blog, the client has clicked it. Now, how do you get them even more interested in your services?

Your Facebook Advertisement got a click, but you don’t know who from and where did they go afterwards?

You have a lead from VouchedFor and a meeting set up. How can you help to convert the prospect to a sale?

Mapping out these processes can help not only to move prospects closer to being clients but can help you to spot gaps in your marketing.

In the first of the above processes, for example, we might recommend that the blog include a prominent call to action button within the text which invites people to sign up to your newsletter or, better yet, submit their details to download a valuable guide or enter a competition. Now you’ve not only engaged with them once but you can continue engaging with them. When they click on your newsletter (that they have now subscribed to), you can automatically send them a follow-up with relevant information about what they clicked on.

Making sure that nothing operates in isolation gives potential clients fewer opportunities to drop out of your sales process. It is the difference between having a list of marketing activities and having a true marketing strategy.

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ClientsFirst is offering summaries of the  2015 Budget on 18th March, outlining the most significant announcements, to be distributed to your clients by 12pm on Thursday 19th March at the very latest. Sign up before 27 February 2015 for 10% discount.

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