10 Keys to a Successful Marketing Partnership
You would never try to write your own legal contracts. You certainly wouldn’t dream of trying to perform your own root canal. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even attempt to change the oil in your car.
There’s a reason these tasks are left to the professionals. They require a high level of expertise to ensure success. One misstep could have disastrous consequences.
The task of growing your business is no different. Getting and keeping customers is the very lifeblood of your organization, and as such, must be handled with surgical precision. Don’t shortchange your business growth goals or leave the critical process of building community around your brand to chance.
There are many hidden costs of do-it-yourself marketing – not the least of which are a loss of time, loss of focus on running and managing your business and loss of money if you are still playing by the outmoded rules of old marketing. If you are not capitalizing on every opportunity to engage with your customers and prospects via new technologies and new media, your competitors will, and you’ll be left behind.
Yes, you need the creative resources of an agency. But more than that, you need a trusted business partner that is invested in your long-term success. It’s not about flashy ad campaigns or catchy slogans. It goes far beyond advertising and branding. Trustcasting agencies are experts in more than just the creative arena. The real value in working with a trustcasting agency is applying creativity to every element of business growth.
When you choose the right trustcasting agency, you’ll have an equal and proactive partner in the growth of your business.When you choose the right trustcasting agency, you’ll have an equal and proactive partner in the growth of your business. Nothing is more important in today’s marketplace than cultivating and nurturing your core group of customers. Finding them, engaging them in community, building their trust and putting their passion to work to help you grow – this is the specialty of the trustcasting agency.
Working with a trustcasting agency requires you to do more than give your blessing to creative campaigns and sign checks when the invoices arrive. The best marketing partnerships start with you. You must come to your agency with an open mind but armed with clear objectives, good perspective, creative ideas and solid data. You must be prepared to back up their efforts by creating a culture of quality and service within your business to ensure that you practice what you preach.
Following are 10 practices you must implement in order to actively engage with your trustcasting agency in promoting the growth of your business.
Good discipline goes a long way
Your business – and the promotion of it – thrives on your ideas. You must have a clear vision for your company: How will it grow? What do your customers need, and how do you address those needs? How do you create a brand that people embrace as part of their own identity? How do you excite your fans to the point of being your evangelists?
The only way you can make the time you need to grow is through vigilance with regard to organization and productivity.Achieving this level of clarity requires an investment of time, effort and focus – with the greatest emphasis on time. The only way you can make the time you need to grow is through vigilance with regard to organization and productivity.
Efficiency creates more opportunities for profit, while disorganization has significant opportunity costs. Having the right work environment saves you time and money every day. Steve Strauss, author of The Small Business Bible, coined the term R.O.O. (return on organization, estimating that “increased R.O.O. can yield up to an extra two hours of productive time a week and up to an additional six percent of revenue.”
For a business owner or marketer, good time management is just as important as sound financial management. Eliminate distractions. Stop multi-tasking. Clear your desk and clear your mind.
Give yourself the time you need to take a step back and gain perspective. Focus on ways to improve your internal operations, your employee morale, your customer service and your product or service offering, and bring your best ideas to your trustcasting agency.
Out of order comes inspiration
Once you’ve organized your work environment and maximized your productivity, you’ll find that the space and time you’ve created for yourself paves the way for inspiration to follow.
The good news: inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime. Keep your eyes open, be present in the moment and be an active observer of the world around you. Blogs, Twitter, books, magazines, art, friends, neighbors, customers – any of these can be the source of your next big idea as long as you are perpetually searching and constantly in tune with your passion for growing your business.
The challenge of inspiration is that you never know just when it will strike. Ideas don’t arrive on schedule. In fact, they are probably least likely to come when you are sitting in front of your computer. More often than not, your best thinking happens when you are driving, cooking, sleeping or even brushing your teeth. Make sure you always keep your journal or smartphone at hand so you can jot down a note whenever and wherever you might be.
Part of being a good entrepreneur is being a good steward of ideas. Don’t allow inspiration to pass you by without capturing it, and don’t allow the motivation behind it to dissipate before you explore all the possibilities that lie therein.
Every idea has the potential to become something valuable, even if you can’t immediately recognize how to execute or monetize it. That’s where your trustcasting agency comes into play. Bring them all of your ideas – no matter how rough and unrefined. They’ll help you sift through them, identify the gems and polish them into a brilliant and actionable business growth strategy.
Playing the numbers game
It’s a fact: business growth requires some degree of trial and error. However, that’s not to say that you can’t tip the odds of achieving success in your favor.
In today’s marketplace, good marketing is more cost-efficient than ever before, but it all starts with good data. You need a solid foundation in order to ensure that your efforts are driving revenue rather than undermining profitability.
The key is having good metrics in place – metrics that go much deeper than just measuring traffic to your website. You need to quantify your core business operations. At the most basic level, you must know the real cost to acquire a new customer and the lifetime value of that customer.
There are a number of factors that play into these figures: What brings your customers in the door? What motivates a them to make a purchase? How much do they spend? How many times do they return? What brings them back, and who do they tell about their experience? If they leave, where did they go and why? By answering these questions, you can determine the level of investment you must make in your marketing and trustcasting efforts in order to continue to grow.
If you have a Web presence and are active in social media, it’s also critical to keep a finger on the pulse of your online community. Again, it starts with the basics: the number of visitors to your site, what brought them there, how long they spend there and what causes them to leave.
But in the Web marketing universe, where community building is essential to brand building, you must take this analysis much further. Is your online following growing, and if so, how quickly? What is the ratio of active members to total members? How many mentions are you getting in the social web, and are they positive or negative? Are your fans sharing your content and links with their friends, and are their friends then passing these on to others within their own networks?
If this sounds daunting, don’t worry. Your trustcasting agency can show you how to take your business processes and break them down to the numbers. Together you can examine the data to determine what’s working and what’s not and use this information as a baseline for improvement. In doing so, you can be sure that you are making a sound investment in growth, not just spending money and hoping for a good return.
There is no substitute for consistency and quality
Now that you’ve made an objective analysis of your business operations, it’s time to take a subjective look at your brand and its perception in the marketplace.
Sit down with your trustcasting agency and inventory everything that you put in front of your customers – from your signage to your business cards to your merchandise displays to your advertising and website.
Evaluate each element with critical eye. What do these things say about you? Do they all work together cohesively to make a clear and deliberate statement? Or are they sending mixed messages about who you are and what you stand for? Worse yet, are they turning potential customers away because they project a lack of professionalism or quality?
Your customers can always tell when you cut corners, and it undermines their trust in you. As you work through this process, a good exercise is to look at the best of the best – companies like Apple, BMW and Nike that have mastered quality in the perception of their brand. What trends do they follow? What is the common thread that runs through everything they release into the marketplace?
For example, Apple has built their name on unparalleled quality in design, and nothing reaches the consumer that doesn’t reflect their unrelenting dedication to protecting this reputation. From their products to their packaging to their stores to their ads, Apple is invested in sending a clear and consistent message that they stand for innovative, beautiful design. As a result, when people do business with Apple, they know exactly what to expect time after time.
You can’t fake quality. Your customers can always tell when you cut corners, and it undermines their trust in you. Instead, you must recognize the importance of quality as a way of demonstrating respect for your customers and be committed to preserving the integrity of your brand through and through. With the help of your trustcasting agency, you can ensure that just like Apple, BMW and Nike, it is your name that is synonymous with quality in your market.
Keep your enemies closer
It is the curse of the entrepreneur to be obsessed with the competition. And, to a degree, that fixation can be quite productive.
If you’re like many business owners, you probably think that your competitors know more than you do, are doing more and are doing it better. However, if you want to get and stay ahead, don’t just assume – analyze.
Be your competitor’s customer. Pay close attention to each and every aspect of your experience. What kind of service did you receive while you were there, from the moment you set foot in the door until you left? How do they organize and present their merchandise? Did you walk away with a positive impression? What are they doing to build community around their brand? What kind of incentives do they offer customers to become their fans and evangelists?
Get every detail down, and feed this information to your trustcasting agency. Together, you can determine whether your perceptions line up with reality and mine this information for opportunities to outperform your competitors and conquer your market.
That being said, it’s also important to keep your focus on your competitors in check. It’s necessary to keep tabs on what your competition is doing but not to the point where it becomes a distraction from or a detriment to doing what is best for your own business.
Don’t fall into the temptation to follow your competitors or replicate what they are doing successfully. Instead, allow your trustcasting agency the freedom to try new things. You need to carve out your own niche in the marketplace, create your own identity, offer something unique to your customers and cultivate your own community of dedicated followers.
Everyone is in marketing, everyone is in sales
No matter what business you are in, you are in the customer service business. Brands are built on engagement. You may get only one chance to make a first impression, but the reality is that each and every impression counts toward earning and sustaining customer loyalty.
Good customer service is the proof in the pudding of your brand promise. Good customer service is the proof in the pudding of your brand promise. Your marketing investment is nothing but money down the drain if you don’t back it up with relentless dedication to ensuring that every customer experience reflects the values you claim to stand for.
Your trustcasting agency can help you initiate the trust-building process through honest, communication that demonstrates respect for the customer. But if the customer has a bad experience face-to-face, the foundation you’ve worked so hard to establish will be quickly destroyed. You can’t win loyalty through even the best, most well-crafted and sincere marketing messages; you must earn it through a series of positive experiences over time.
When a customer comes through your doors, your employees are the ones that make or break their experience. Every detail – from their appearance to their demeanor to their attitude to their response to requests or problems – shapes the customer’s perception of your brand. If they have a negative encounter, they won’t lose faith in your staff member, they’ll lose faith in you, and you’ll lose the lifetime value of that customer.
As a result, marketing is the responsibility of every person in your organization. From the first impression to the last, you must place value on every interaction and every event. Don’t be complacent in expecting that a certain percentage of customers will inevitably have problems and be content to offer an apology after the fact.
Indoctrinate your employees on the importance of service that goes above and beyond expectation at every opportunity. Teach them how to anticipate needs before they are even expressed, listen attentively for concerns and proactively address problems. Continuously seek out and improve areas of weakness. Make every encounter as personal as possible, no matter how large or small your business.
Trustcasting begins at home
The charge of a trustcasting agency is to help you meet your business growth objectives by facilitating the process of building and maintaining trust. Everything they do is centered around developing authentic and reciprocal relationships that are founded upon honest, two-way communication.
Most often, this process is focused on your customers, but cultivating trust and honesty within your organization is equally important.
Just as you strive to create a personal experience for your customers, do the same for your employees. Engage in face-to-face interaction whenever possible. Foster an environment that promotes open communication at all levels of your organization. Give every employee complete transparency in regard to their job tasks, why they are important and if their work came to a good effect.
Even more importantly, your employees are one of the most cost-effective sources of ideas that you have at your disposal. Your people are your eyes and ears. They are in the trenches of your day-to-day business operations and on the front lines of customer service. As such, who could be better qualified to identify areas of improvement and propose viable solutions?
Design positions in a way that allows every employee to provide input and experience personal growth. Listen to everyone’s opinions and let them know they are a part of the process and that their voices matter.
By encouraging employees to share ideas, you send the message that you are entrusting them with a stake in the company. In return, they will invest a higher level of trust in you and be motivated to always demonstrate honesty and fairness in their dealings with you and their colleagues.
Invest in your employees
Just as your best customers are your brand ambassadors, so are your best employees.
As such, your hiring practices are critical not only to the health of your brand but also to the success of your trustcasting agency’s efforts to further the growth of your business. There is a profound difference between employees who are competent in their jobs and those who actively contribute to your success.
It is essential to hire people who not only have the skill set you need but also are a good fit with your corporate culture. Seek out those who have an innate talent for leadership and put them in roles where they can help you keep your team motivated. Those who are passionate inspire others to want to work harder, too.
Once you have the best people in place, foster a culture of execution in which every employee is empowered to make decisions. Support them by developing a corporate philosophy that clearly defines the core values that drive your business practice and helps them understand what differentiates you from your competitors.
High caliber employees will be able to take this philosophy and apply it creatively to their tasks, the way they perform their work and the decisions that they make so that everything they do reflects and promotes the values your brand stands for.
As an entrepreneur, you are essentially in two businesses: the business of what you do and the business of promoting and growing your company. The mission of your trustcasting agency is to support you in achieving your business growth objectives.
Not every corner coffee shop wants to become the next Starbucks, and that’s okay. However, the success of your partnership depends on clearly defining those objectives. What is your purpose? To stand pat and realize a certain level of profitability? To expand to multiple locations? To own your market locally, regionally or even nationally?
What is your timeline for growth? Are you content to test the waters where you are, or do you want to pursue an aggressive expansion plan?
Just as importantly, do you have a stopping point, and if so, what is it? Not every corner coffee shop wants to become the next Starbucks, and that’s okay.
No matter the scope of your aspirations, you still need good marketing. It is essential to make the investment in creating a culture around your brand in order to sustain the longevity of your enterprise. However, your growth objectives hold the key for your trustcasting agency to determine the tactics and resources necessary to reach those goals.
Patience is a virtue
The final key is the most simple but perhaps the most important: don’t expect results instantly. Business growth is about increasing awareness, building trust and earning loyalty, a process that takes time and dedication. There are no shortcuts to cultivating real, authentic relationships with your customers.
Don’t get frustrated if things don’t work as you planned immediately, and don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by fear of or anxiety about failing. Keep trying new approaches, slowly building on those that work well and shaving off those that don’t.
Through it all, maintain your motivation, passion and focus. Don’t try to be everything to everyone all at once. Stay true to your core brand values and concentrate on what you do best.
Above all, have faith in your trustcasting agency. They are in the business of understanding the culture of today’s consumer and creating platforms for long-term success. The methods of new marketing may feel unfamiliar, but in reality, the practices and principles of trustcasting are rooted in and based upon a timeless, proven approach to business development.
The ultimate payoff for your steadfastness and patience will be getting and keeping the best kind of customers – true, dedicated fans that identify themselves with and become evangelists for your brand.