Back to Basics: A Checklist to Help Simplify Your Marketing Approach

Businesses can get better returns on their marketing efforts by homing in on what works and putting away what doesn't, according to this expert.
June 19, 2018

Do you think your marketing efforts have become stagnant? You might find that simplifying your approach might yield some better results.

Here's a checklist of my favorite methods of doing a reboot of sorts with your marketing team. Getting back to the basics can help you see better ROI from your marketing.

1. Establish which marketing channels are and aren't working.

There's a good chance that you've got a solid marketing channel already working for you. But it doesn't hurt to check your analytics and really dig into what's working.

You can then take an objective look at what's not working. (Try not to base it off of subjective factors like a channel's potential or how the channel makes your company look.)

Try identifying five things that your marketing team could do every day that would have a big impact on your marketing in three months.

Once you have an objective list of your marketing efforts and what's working and what isn't, you can then move on to the next step.

2. Master one platform at a time.

Oftentimes I see companies struggling from trying to do too much. There's pressure to maintain every possible marketing channel. The problem with this is that your marketing can suffer a little on every platform.

Instead of trying the “spray-and-pray" approach, consider taking the channels that are already working for your business and improving upon them. Really dig into squeezing the most out of the channels that are already working. You can pause the channels that aren't working, or even quit them if they never really worked.

Taking your already solid platforms to the next level can help you improve the other platforms that haven't been performing as well. A high tide raises all ships, after all.

3. Start focusing on the daily, mundane things that move the needle.

Many teams (marketing or otherwise) become enticed by the big, flashy promotion. Viral content, for example, could be a massive boon for your business. But viral content by nature is hard to predict, and even harder to obtain. Lots of factors (including luck) go into successful viral content.

Success is defined as the little things that you do every day over time. Try identifying five things that your marketing team could do every day that would have a big impact on your marketing in three months. You might pick things like write 500 words for the company blog or improving existing content to boost your SEO. Pick whatever makes the most sense for your business, do these five things every day and keep a log of them. You might be surprised by the results.

4. Reduce extra marketing tools and systems.

Removing extra processes, tools and even people from the marketing workflow can help simplify and speed up marketing efforts. 

This can be as simple as creating graphics yourself with services like Canva or Stencil instead of using a designer. You might go so far as to removing the need for extensive approvals and revisions from other stakeholders in an attempt to move faster.

Taking an objective look at all the processes that go into your marketing should hopefully shed some light on the removable workflows and moving parts in your company.

5. Make a seasonal marketing calendar.

Many companies center their promotions seasonally. There are Father's Day sales, Labor Day sales, holiday sales…there's no shortage of seasonal marketing opportunities

If you can create content that aligns with these seasonal opportunities, you could potentially capitalize on search and social traffic during that part of the year (and hopefully every year after).

Seasonal marketing takes the guesswork out of drumming up ideas for content. You already know the theme, you just need to fill in the blanks for the content. You can use tools like BuzzSumo or EpicBeat to find examples of content that has worked in the past for seasonal promotions.

6. Focus on platforms that give you the most control.

Are social platform algorithm changes hiding your content? Are search engines ranking your pages lower and lower? While there might be things you can do to improve these factors, you're forever at the mercy of the external platform.

This is why I think it's helpful to focus first on the marketing channels you can directly influence. Email, for example, is a channel that your business has much more control over. An email campaign's effectiveness has more to do with things under your control—like well-written subject lines and email content.

7. Focus on consistency, not potential.

It's easy to get into the “keeping up with the Joneses" trap when it comes to marketing. 

I see brands do this all the time: A burger chain will run a promotion that becomes viral on Twitter, and then a competing chain will follow suit on their own with a less successful attempt. Flattery is a form of a compliment, but that may only help your competitors in the long run.

While there might be a lot of potential in viral content, consistent improvement over time may yield better results in the long run. The reason why companies chase viral promotion is because consistency is hard. It's hard to stick with something until completion. (This is why we make the same New Year's resolutions every year.) 

It's my experience that when you're doing the hard things other companies don't want to do, you're on the right track.

8. Put an emphasis on being genuine.

This is my favorite marketing tactic, and it has worked every time I've used it. 

When you send a hand-written email or note to someone, it stands out. When you have an actual conversation with someone, they'll remember you. When you can genuinely help someone, they'll usually tell others about it.

I say this because the current marketing trend for getting mentions or links is to send mass emails to anybody with an email address. I receive hundreds of automated requests over the course of a month from businesses wanting me to write about their product. Guess how many of these products I've written about? Zero. Yet I've gone out of my way to write about products and services from people who I care about and who have sent me genuine requests.

Take the time to identify a handful of people who you can send a genuine, heartfelt email or message to. Make the message personal and about them. How can you help them? How have they inspired you? Do anything but pitch your product. If you send a well-crated, personal message, you may have a better chance of them responding positively to you.

Does this method scale? Not really, and that's the whole point. Being genuine can't scale. This is how the message receiver knows that you've put in the time and effort to get their attention.

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