3 Questions You Must Answer Before Investing in Any Marketing Tactic

Tactics

Which of these marketing tools is most effective?

1. Google Adwords PPC
2. Blogging
3. Direct mail

Trick question.

The truth is that the value of any marketing tactic can only be measured by comparing it to other marketing tactics. PPC, blogging, direct mail, or any other marketing tool is neither a good or bad use of your resources. It’s only better or worse than your other options.

Before making any decision about where to focus your limited marketing dollars, you first need to answer 3 critical questions.

Mailing Massively for Maximum Losses

Tactics

Despite the “Social Media Makes Everything Else Obsolete!!!” chorus from inbound marketing purists, direct mail as a viable lead generation tactic is still alive and well. Sort of…

Using direct mail effectively does not mean running 1,000 names and addresses through a mail merge and stuffing envelopes until your fingers bleed from paper cuts. That’s no better than randomly picking up the phone and spitting out a memorized, generic pitch before the inevitable hang up. Reaching more people at the expense of quality sacrifices the very advantages that professional services professionals and firms should be capitalizing on:

  1. You don’t have to sell 2,000,000 units a month to be very profitable…2-3 new projects usually does the trick.
  2. You get paid for your expertise and ability to solve a very specific problem. The market for that solution is finite, which makes it easier to target.
  3. The amount of intel available online is staggering, making it easier than ever to know exactly who to reach, exactly what to say to that specific person, and exactly how to position your services.

Easier

Strategy, Tactics

Branding advertising campaigns for professional services (Insert firm name here, tagline, “Industry-leading something or other,” phone number and website) exist not because they are part of a larger, well thought out strategy.

They exist because they’re easy.

It takes thought and time and commitment and effort and tough decisions to develop an effective business development strategy that attracts clients by creating value, solving problems and engaging them with relevant content. So much easier just to buy some ad space, throw your name in front of the audience and wait for someone to care. They won’t.

If you aren’t willing to invest the time and energy to connect, why would they?

Prospecting Painfully

Attitude, Tactics

There’s a terrible, tragic falsehood about prospecting and selling that I would like to challenge: The idea that in order to be effective, it should be painful.

Smile and dial. Make those calls. Rejection is part of the game.

Meh.

If you loathe cold calling but love hosting seminars, which do you think you’ll be better at? Can’t wait until next Wednesday evening’s chamber of commerce mixer? Find more events to attend. Love writing well-researched, personalized sales letters? Write 3 more a day.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push our comfort zone and follow through in the face of rejection. It does mean that wasting valuable time and energy on the one or two things that we hate (and will probably not do very well anyway) steals all that talent from the 10-15 other things that we can execute beautifully.

The Web 2.0 Crutch

Tactics

Blogs, Linked In, Google Adwords, sales letters, virtual trade shows; all of these will be a monumental waste of time, money and energy unless you are spending most of your (business development) time…

…TALKING TO PEOPLE.

People. Not readers, markets, demographics, prospects, tweeters. People.

It’s my only real complaint with Web 2.0 and Social Media. It’s become all about the gadgetry, but the content quality and the conversations the content is meant to spark is thrown in as an afterthought. Classic quantity mindset.

Worse, broadcasting a message is so easy now, that anyone can do it. It’s safe. You don’t feel the sting if someone passes over your blog post, doesn’t re-tweet your amazing insight or marks your email as spam.

Think of all these incredible channels simply as inexpensive ways to potentially initiate a real-life discussion with someone about their problem and how you might solve it. If you’re spending all day blogging, tweeting and bulk emailing, but very little or no time actually conversing, then you’re missing the entire point.

Use every tool at your disposal, just don’t hide behind them.

A Complex Solution is Just a New Problem

Strategy, Tactics

“This year we’re going to finally lay down a marketing plan and stick to it.”

This enthusiastic announcement is then usually followed by pages of complex analysis, graphs and spreadsheets. Weeks and months of planning. More speeches.

Then, before you know it, it’s the end of the year.

Start. Pick something simple, actionable and attainable. Get it out there. Then pick the next tactic. Get that out there as well.

Marketing is not a research project or exercise in theoretical applications. It’s action. It’s experimenting with ways to solve more people’s problems. It’s trying something that may not work the first, second or third time. It’s adaptation. Evolution.

Start.