How to narrowly focus your marketing for greatest impact

Online channels are all well and good, but they’re growing increasingly expensive, and there’s a lot of clamoring for attention. Consider scaling back—and maybe even offering tasty samples.

Juggling all the latest communication channels can end up flatlining your marketing efforts.

Brand marketers are finding it increasingly challenging to meet rising customer communication expectations. According to Invesp, 95 percent of marketers say they understand the value of a multichannel approach, but only 73 percent have a vetted multichannel strategy ready to use.

A focused, “less is more” approach will be more beneficial than having your hands in everything. Determine how many channels you can handle, master them, cut them if they do not work, and add more as you are able.

Cases in point

Take Sophia Amoruso’s success story. She started Nasty Gal alone with a shoestring budget and then mastered each social media platform as her customers migrated to newer ones. As a result, she grew her company 500 percent each year from its inception to 2014.

Trader Joe’s took a similar approach to maintain its competitive pricing on high-quality goods. It focused on one channel—a newsletter—to minimize marketing costs. Additionally, the company’s biggest marketing expense goes toward food sampling. In-store sampling stations create a distinctive consumer experience, aiming to increase revenue from customers on site.

Understanding this “less is more” approach and tailoring it to your company’s needs might be the breakthrough change that attracts and retains your most lucrative consumers.

How to decide

Choosing the most efficient, cost-effective communication channels can be challenging. Here are five ways to determine which options are best for you:

1. Align with your value proposition.

A clear value proposition helps your team enact its strategic plans. In order to present one face to consumers, your team members must align with the “what” and “why” behind your value proposition.

According to Tenet Partners, only 28 percent of employees strongly agree that they know their company’s brand values. Simply sending out a survey that asks team members for their definition of the company’s value proposition can quickly identify knowledge gaps that you can address in all-hands meetings, road shows and internal communication.

2. Map channels to established goals.

You must also outline each channel that helps you achieve your objectives and understand how your brand and tone fit into each ecosystem. GoPro has a strong track record of establishing channel use goals.

To highlight how adventures contribute toward a healthy work-life balance and to promote its brand identity, the company introduced an employee program encouraging product managers to take their GoPros on mini-adventures during work hours. This not only engages employees with GoPro’s brand identity and mission, but it also creates custom content to share across channels.

By identifying how to connect your brand’s identity, goals and channels, you can better design and execute a fully integrated campaign that highlights your offering while tapping into crucial audience and channel sectors.

3. Be realistic about your budget.

Email and social media fall on the cheaper side of channel adoption, but the days of free social engagement are waning. According to Adweek, social media spending spiked by 60 percent year over year in the first quarter of 2017, and further growth is likely. Additionally, for paid search, a worthwhile investment starts at $3,000 to generate results.

Invest in marketing technology that fits your team size and budget. If you have only two or three people and no creative team, start by implementing basic tracking for key metrics or simple marketing automation, and then expand these as you grow. Wads of cash cannot make up for undefined communication channel goals, however.

4. Build around your resources.

Your team’s collective skill set will determine your ability to execute a strategy. For example, if you lack creatives, you will be limited in terms of inbound and basic optimization tactics, such as A/B testing.

Augment your team with freelancers, consultants and agencies to fill the gaps. As the department matures and as technology advances, the team’s skills will diversify. With this growth, your tactics (and channels) should become more robust and complex.

Don’t waste money on sophisticated tools such as Domo or Tableau if no one on your team understands analytics. Instead, stick with free resources, such as Google Analytics, database reports and spreadsheets.

5. Connect on common ground.

Be thoughtful about the customer experience you offer. Guide team members to specific areas where your customers want to engage, and focus on excelling on those channels. Each interaction defines your brand and determines whether people will spread your message organically.

The communication channels that your customers prefer might surprise you. Though email has been a staple for reaching audiences, direct mail is making an impressive comeback, especially among millennials. Research by Royal Mail MarketReach and TNS found that 87 percent of consumers consider physical mail “believable,” while only 48 percent feel the same about email.

Marketing today requires staying vigilant and following consumer trends. The platform of choice might change, but for most companies, an approach that focuses on a carefully selected set of communication channels is most effective.

Christine Alemany is the CEO at TBGA.

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