By Michelle van Schouwen
Reading industry pundits’ advice for marketing in 2017 can be dizzying for busy small business owners.
-More marketing automation
-Deeper evaluation of and response to the value each sales lead may provide (“lead scoring” and “lead grading”)
-Tracking the customer experience lifecycle
-More content, less content, shorter, longer, denser
-The “death” of lead generation (although, as Mark Twain might have said, reports of the death of lead generation are greatly exaggerated)
It’s important to read up on what’s changing, including new technologies and tactics that can help you meet your goals for the year. But it is equally important to know that certain marketing truths remain not only relevant but key to your clear thinking. Among these are the following:
-Marketing needs to be sharp, targeted and powerful. This includes the increasingly important arena of content marketing. Don’t let anyone talk you into publishing dozens of poorly written, minimally valuable, less-than-targeted articles or posts… or even one.
-Lead scoring and grading are great additions to your planning, but if marketing outreach tactics can be implemented cost-effectively, even second-tier leads can stay on the radar. Sometimes outstanding new customers still come from left field. (This article is useful in helping determine whether and how you can use lead scoring and grading for your company.)
–Inbound marketing offers significant benefits to business-to-business companies, but don’t exclude outbound and sales. Many products and services still require so-called “intrusive” outbound marketing. For many companies, “being in the right place at the right time” to make the deal demands a mix of inbound and outbound marketing AND an active sales presence.
-Marketing still requires the long play. Product and service launches should be phased and thoughtful. Prospects and customers require frequent and often diversified touch points. Memories are short, so never assume anyone will remember what you communicated two months back.
-Small companies must continually nurture new prospects and update their offerings. The customer lifecycle is now more trackable than ever, thanks to integrated customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation. It demonstrates that you need to keep creating new customers at all times. Needs change, client companies merge and decision-makers leave their posts.
-Expert partners matter. Marketing improves when good minds work together. Couple your knowledge and passion with the expertise of a marketing company that understands your business.
Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. vSA is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, vSAConsult, its executive-level strategic planning capability, and for its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B.