Marketing: 11 Ways to Help Your Business Keep the Lead

By Mathew Sweezey

The use of marketing automation is on the rise in the business world, especially among smaller companies. Because the tide is rising, just having marketing automation won’t keep you ahead of the pack in the years to come. You’ll have to learn how to stay ahead of the pack and discover new ways to innovate.

Here are a few ideas that can keep you thinking in the right direction.

Test often

Marketing automation gives you the amazing power of testing. You can split test just about anything and everything. If you’re not constantly testing, you won’t be growing.

  • Use test groups. Consider testing a new idea with a small test group on a regular basis. This might involve testing new subject lines, new layouts in e-mail design, or new mediums to market on. Consider having people sign up to be part of the test group so that you can keep the group controlled and have a baseline to measure against.

  • Establish a baseline. You must have a baseline before you can test. Do not begin testing until you have at least a few months of constant data to use as a baseline.

  • Plan hard stops. You also must have a hard stop to end your test. Run a test for a short period of time and then stop it. You must do this to be able to consider whether any change has occurred.

  • Evaluate holistically. Numbers are only a part of the feedback. Include the telephone and call people in your evaluation, asking them about their experience during the test. Did they notice any differences from previous efforts? Did they enjoy the experience more? Did it get in the way of their ability to sell? Could they communicate effectively? Did they get what they were looking for?

Anticipate new marketing-mediums

New mediums will be arising faster than ever in the next 5–10 years. By 2020, expect to see more than 100 marketing mediums — not just different ad channels, but new channels altogether. With marketers having the largest budget in the company, technology will follow the money and create more marketing channels. Here are some ways to evaluate new channels to see whether you should be marketing on them, as well as how to track your effectiveness on them.

  • Evaluate users. Who’s using the medium you’re considering? Just because a new channel is hot doesn’t mean that it’s a good use of your time. Ask the vendor for the advertisers kit to get the full breakdown on your core demographic. Pull your list of your hottest deals recently and snoop. See if any of your hot deals are using that new channel, and if so, at what capacity. If you don’t notice any hot prospects using the new marketing channel, then don’t invest in it.

  • Set a goal. Your goal for the new medium needs to be small. Don’t expect it to beat a channel already developed. Also, don’t look for a shooting star; instead, put in the effort needed for a good return. Aim for base hits, not home runs. Good goals might be to generate one lead over two weeks, or to generate ten leads this month. Regardless of what your goal is, set one and have a deadline.

  • Kill your efforts. If you your channel isn’t producing, you need to kill it. Even if you’ve invested time and it has some returns, know when to kill it off. A social channel with no activity looks worse than not seeing one at all.

  • Measure results. Use your marketing automation tool to track the channel. These days, any channel can be tracked with a custom redirect. So you should always be able to use your own tools to track and not have to rely on a tool’s metrics.

Stay creative!

This is an area that many of us fall behind on cultivating, but creativity is imperative if you want to be the best. Remember that when everyone has marketing automation, your creativity will be the only thing separating you from everyone else. Creativity is the only way to be better in the future.

There are a lot of things you can do to stay creative, and here are some favorites:

  • Read. Seems simple enough, but reading every morning will help you stay in the right mind set. Read anything and everything. Some great magazines for marketers looking for new ideas are People Magazine, COLORS, and any design or architecture magazine because they have tons of advertising. You’ll see the most expensive ads in the world and find cues from some of the industry’s most creative people.

  • Exercise. Enjoyable physical exercise is great for your physical health and your creativity. Take a hike in the woods, practice yoga, or go for a swim. Some of your best ideas cook in your head while you exercise.

  • Hang around with creative people. Surround yourself with people whom you perceive to be creative or on the cutting edge in their own fields.