We get hung up sometimes with all the new stuff in the world of digital marketing. There are so many shiny toys that it's easy to feel behind, to feel inadequate, to feel like there's a lot more we're not doing. Life's a lot like that, so why shouldn't we worry the same way about marketing and all these new online things? I want to reduce that worry.
Just like health and fitness, a strong core is the real secret to success.
What Is The CORE?
In our bodies, the core is the abdomen and lower back and all those muscles in a ring around us there. We might lift weights to keep our arms looking good, or we might run five miles a day, but we're not strong unless our core is strong. It rules the roost.
In marketing, the core is knowing our customer and prospects, and reaching them where they are. Nothing more. Nothing less. Everything that we do radiates out from that. So, when we look into what we're doing with our business, let's focus on our core, because the truth is, as pretty as good biceps and a six-pack abs body is, if we don't have a strong core, we're just a facade.
The Core Tools of Marketing
Database - Your client and prospect list, your database, is the base of everything. If you don't know who your customers are, who your next customers will be, then that's where you start. When I say "database," don't get nervous. We could use a piece of paper, an Excel spreadsheet (or Google Docs, because it's free), but the point is the same: you have to know who your existing customer base is, and you have to have a sense of where to find the new ones. B is harder than A, but it doesn't mean that you don't have to try. For now, let's just accept that you need a place to store clients. I use Batchbook by BatchBlue for my contact database.
Email Marketing - After that, realize that you don't need to use all the newer social media tools. They just make it a bit easier. My second core tool is email marketing. Yes, it's not dead. Done well, email marketing is still the best, most effective marketing tool the digital world has ever created. Number one. But it has to be done personably, with a lot more emphasis on delivering value in and around your offers, or people will tune it out. DailyCandy is very well-received. Woot is well-received. Your product-laden website-looking email might not cut it.
Message Boards/Forums - Lately, I've been experimenting a lot with online community as a marketing tool. I co-launched Third Tribe Marketing with some of the world's best bloggers, and we've got a thriving community going there (we talk about online marketing). I'm thinking that there's tons of value still hidden in forums, whether you own them or not. Amazon's forums have lots of action, for instance. Google and Yahoo still have very active groups communities. In our case, we built and own our real estate, but don't let that hold you back.
The Frilly Stuff
I write a blog (well, I write several including for you here at OPEN Forum), and I shoot video reviews and interviews all the time. This is shiny and it's really great because it allows me to write about what might be helpful to my community, what might be of interest to my buyers, what might lead to more business. I shoot video, take pictures, and do all kinds of media making. The reason is, I think people need to think like media companies to build awareness and to turn that awareness into a relationship.
Should you do everything? Not all at once. But if I were to pick from the "frilly" category, a blog is a pretty darned good platform to use.
It's About the Core
In the end, if you're not developing your core (your database, your email marketing, some kind of community of prospects), then I feel you'll be just chasing all the new tools with the hope that something might stick to the wall. Work your core. It's where all the "muscles" of your other marketing efforts get their gut value. The benefits of staying focused is that you'll win a lot more longer term value. The other benefit is that you'll let the bleeding edge adopters find where the best outposts and extra efforts should go, while you stay focused on your core efforts.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't try new things. I'm saying you should keep the core as the center of all you work on. There's a big difference.
How are you looking at your various marketing tools?Chris Brogan is the New York Times bestselling author of the NEW book, Social Media 101. He is president of New Marketing Labs, LLC, and blogs at chrisbrogan.com.