Five questions customers ask marketing agencies now

symbol-451843_640By Michelle van Schouwen

2017 is a new adventure in this business of developing, launching, marketing, growing and sustaining products, services and enterprises. Right now, the marketing team at my company keeps hearing several of the same key questions from our prospects and customers, who include small business owners.

Here are those questions, along with brief answers:

1-How can we make sure we develop the RIGHT plan to succeed with our new product or service launch?

First, carefully determine who your best customers are likely to be (by category or name, depending on your business). Then, find out (don’t guess) what these prospects need most that your product or service can provide (you may want to invest in focused or broader research).

Then, develop GREAT messaging based on prospects’ key needs and your provided benefits – don’t skimp on the effort you put into message development.

Next, seek and plan the best ways to achieve multiple points of touch most cost-effectively. Most product launches are marathons rather than sprints, so having a sustainable marketing program that lasts for 12 months or more is often the best way to go.

Think digital and use every appropriate online venue from social media to industry news media and blogs. Make sure the product presentation on your own website is outstanding, offering a “point central” for prospects to get information and move toward purchase. While we typically endorse the concept of leading with digital, your launch may also benefit from non–digital marketing – everything from trade shows to print marketing.

2-Are we spending enough to make a marketing program worthwhile?

This is a legitimate question, asked by small business owners and large corporation executives alike! One-off efforts can be of value, if they entail: A great website, a killer event or a critically important trade show, for example. But the best and soundest approach to marketing entails a commitment to well-planned, ongoing, targeted, strategic outreach. Done right, this becomes an investment rather than an expense. Talk with your marketing partner about return on investment (ROI) and what to expect.

3-Should we care about social media?

Yes. If you don’t use social media marketing, you’re missing out on a cost-effective platform to reach thousands of interested eyes. Best tactics will vary according to what you offer and to whom you need to speak. Social media is a real boon for small business owners striving to do more with less.

4-How can we best use data to build sales and revenues?

Know your prospects (again, by name and/or by category) and learn by experience what they respond to, how many points of touch they typically require before taking what action, and which prospects offer you the best ROI. Know when your customers are buying more… or less. Really leverage your customer relationship management (CRM) software, really track your eblasts, and really look at your website analytics. No time? Get professional help.

5-What are our competitors doing better than us?

Are you seeing their names everywhere? Do they consistently show up ahead of you on Google? Are they the “big name” in the industry or territory, while your company looks like an also-ran? Are they winning away your customers, or beating you to the best new business opportunities? Are their offerings better than yours?

Look hard at each of these issues, and get a strategic marketing partner to support you in developing an action plan. This action plan may include some mix of competitive research, marketing response, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), plus content, social media and other marketing to step up your game wherever it has been weak.

The vSA team is happy to provide a consultation. Please contact us to get answers to your own big marketing questions.

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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 product and service marketing launches, vSAConsult, its executive-level strategic planning capability, and for its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. Also among the company’s most popular services is change management.

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