Marketing Information Overload

A while back, I attended the Digital Summit in Atlanta to do some networking and learn tips from the experts.

One of the experts asked the audience if anyone was still using traditional marketing tactics and let out a small chuckle to those that raised their hands.

I took a sip of coffee from my free, branded traveler mug and used my free, branded pen to jot this note down on my free, branded notepad.

Much like the enormous number of marketing blogs and advice online, a marketing conference can easily become information overload, causing you to question everything you’re doing, and feel the heightened sense of uncertainty regarding your marketing plan.

So how can we navigate through paradoxical information overload and set realistic expectations for our own personal strategies?

Let’s face it, if all of this information is out there for the public, why isn’t everyone crushing it?

The point of this article is to get you thinking about these questions and how they apply to your business. I’ll show you my thought process and conclusions from the digital summit experience including:

    1. The experts’ common patterns of advice
    2. Where the problem may exist
    3. My AAA core marketing strategy

Again, the goal is to get you thinking about these ideas and to come to your own insights.

And so, before you go on…

Take a minute and think about what your core marketing strategy is. If you don’t know where to start, just take a random guess. Write it down somewhere.

Seriously, write it down before reading the rest.

Literally, just one phrase is all you need. Maybe some bullet points if that’s how you roll.

Thank you – you may proceed 🙂

Common patterns of advice from speakers

Almost every expert prefaced their presentation with, “It depends on your audience,” or “You need to be authentic,” or “Find your niche,” and while that is all great advice, it’s not actionable.

Knowledge and action plans on how to optimize Facebook retargeting, SEO, email automation, analytics, and any other marketing platform you can think of was available at this conference.

I would sit through a lecture talking about how traditional marketing is a thing of the past and then walk out of the conference hall to 10 company booths handing out pens, cups, and other tiny gifts with their brands on them. So many mixed messages!

I would skip every other talk and instead sit outside on a bench and write down everything I learned, searching for the common denominators among the overwhelming information.

Here are some of my notes:

    1. Every single marketing platform is important and you’re missing out on the ones you aren’t on.
    2. Also, find your niche.
    3. Be authentic.
    4. Now cheer as loud as you can as we shoot a branded t-shirt out of a cannon into the crowd.
    5. Know your audience.
    6. Make decisions based on analytical insights.
    7. It takes a village to do analytics.
    8. Provide genuine value to your customers.
    9. Do this to increase your conversion rates on “X” platform.Everything keeps changing and it’s almost impossible to keep up.

“HOW THE F#*& DO YOU SUCCEED AS A SMALL BUSINESS??” is all I put down in my notebook after that list.

If everything is changing, are you always too late to the party?

What do you think the problem is?

Our habits indicate that we get caught up in how to change tangible metrics prior to answering the more abstract business questions. We search endlessly for the optimal way to boost Google rankings, run AdWords campaigns, and write the perfect email subject line, but it always leads to the same prefacing statement that each speaker alluded to: It depends on your audience. You need to be authentic. Find your niche.

The platforms in which we engage with customers on continue to change, this is true. Human behavior, on the other hand, is fairly constant.

Before reading on, think about what aspects of marketing you are trying to improve upon. Jot them down.

Are there specific areas you’re struggling with?

Okay, you may now proceed 🙂

So, what should be your core marketing strategy?

My first vehicle was a 1990 GMC S-15 pickup truck. The year was 2006, and I was still learning how to properly drive a manual transmission.

Why is this relevant?

I had to call AAA roadside assistance on multiple occasions. They were [fairly] reliable and could handle multiple situations regardless of the vehicle type. I came up with a different, but equally if not more reliable AAA that relates to a core marketing strategy:

    1. Authenticity
    2. Audience knowledge
    3. Available resources

These three things apply to everyone, regardless of how platforms change. They are at the core of every successful marketing strategy. The questions then shift from, “How do I optimize the conversion rate on “X” platform?” to “How do I get to know my audience?” “How can I be more authentic?” and “What resources do I have to implement with?” This is what influencers mean when they say what you should do depends on your business.

Authenticity – What makes you authentic?

If this A-word doesn’t make your eyes roll at this point, then I applaud your resilience because it’s the buzzword of all buzzwords in today’s business. Telling someone they need to be authentic is as frustrating as someone telling you to “be yourself” prior to a first date or job interview.

That’s from the television show “Lovesick” on Netflix. I find their interaction is hilariously relatable.

So how can you “just be yourself”?

My suggestion is to ask yourself these questions:

    1. Why are you doing what you’re doing?
    2. What do you truly want out of your customer relationships?

These are complicated questions to answer, but they are essential to your authenticity. If you’re only motivated by the transactional value of the relationship, then customers are more likely to see right through the BS you’re trying to sell them. The goal is to create trust, so knowing your core motivation is integral.

Why is your motivation integral to trust?

Because the next part of authenticity is transparency. Are you being honest with who you are as a company and showing that to your customers? If you can be honest, you can let your personality show across your platforms, which also deepens your customer engagements. Another bonus is that you don’t have to spend 30 minutes thinking about how you need to interact with someone, but this does require you to be a little vulnerable.

Karen Talavera broke down authenticity brilliantly in her presentation, which I recorded a quick review of here.

Audience – How can you understand your audience?

“The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel

Can you name a comedian who is universally loved by everyone?

If you can, then take a minute to get on Twitter or Reddit and read what people say about them.

The point is, no one is universally loved by everyone. The best comedians are themselves first and tailor their jokes to the audience second. By broadcasting your own personality, you inevitably will alienate some people, but you’ll also attract a more loyal audience and limit the number of people who are indifferent.

Juntae DeLane spoke about digital branding at the summit and touched on consistently engaging with your audience across all platforms you are on, letting your personality shine through. From here, let the audience tell you who they are and what content they want you to create by identifying their common questions and concerns. I’d recommend using a spreadsheet to break down audience profiles.

What are the demographics?

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Income
    • Employment type

What are the psychographics?

    • What are their behaviors?
    • Where do they hang out?
    • What else do they buy?
    • What do they complain about?
    • How do they speak to each other?

Google Analytics is an additional way to answer these demographic and psychographic questions, but you have to know what you’re looking for when gathering data and setting up reports. This takes time, but it is absolutely a worthy investment.

Andrew Malcolm of Evernote also spoke about the value of your community platform. By having an established place where your customers consistently engage with you, it can then become a large part of your product overall. Your customers keep you updated on what they want and also will come to your defense when the inevitable poor customer review presents itself.

In short, grow your community and engage with them like a normal person.

Available Resources – Where do you focus your attention first?

Let’s take a second and look at the full spectrum of digital marketing tools…

This is why I cringe everytime someone says, “If you aren’t on “X”, then you’re missing out!”

Entire agencies focus on tiny portions of that infographic, so unless you have the budget to hire full teams within your company, then you need to prioritize where to start based on your audience knowledge (from point 2) and your available resources. Don’t let FOMO distract you.

When determining your available resources, be specific AND realistic. Things you need to identify are:

    1. Your specific skills
    2. Your employees’ specific skills
    3. Specific tasks you hate to do
    4. Specific tasks your employees hate to do
    5. Time available for each employee
    6. Company budget

Take this information, merge it with your audience habits, and build from there. Even if that means crushing it on just one platform and “missing out” on all of the other possibilities right now. When you crush it on one platform, you can invest in resources to expand to other platforms. You’ll know which platforms to expand to, because you’re constantly engaging with your audience already and are obsessed with listening to them, and they constantly engage with you because you’ve earned their trust by being you.

Let’s recap, shall we?

My goal was to get you thinking about what drives your marketing plan before you had any influence from my beautifully refined wisdom.

We then touched on all of the content that’s out there focusing on “how to do X” in marketing and how all of that is prefaced by “It depends on your audience. You need to be authentic. What’s your niche?”

And finally, we got to talk about how those prefacing questions lead us to the true core of every successful marketing strategy – my original AAA labeling of Authenticity, Audience Knowledge, and Available Resources.

Did your idea of a core marketing strategy shift or were you pretty well aligned with what you just read? Or, do you think this is all complete BS and have a better solution already? Either way, let’s chat about it!