7 marketing guidelines your competitors are following.

I was meeting with a prospective client recently who was frustrated at her firm’s limited ability to execute any marketing activities. She was looking at competitor websites, and wondering out loud how those firms were able to write articles, conduct seminars, advertise, network, and execute all of their marketing tactics.

The answer is that they use a mix of realistic planning and crisp execution to ensure that their marketing programs are effectively developed, launched, managed and tracked. Here are 7 principles you should adopt to execute and maintain an effective marketing program.

  1. Set reasonable goals and expectations. If you are just starting something, understand that it may take a few months before you see results. Be patient. If you haven’t done something before, set an easy-to-attain goal and build from there.
  2. Use your current marketing assets. You already have what you need to implement a successful program. Marketing “assets” include your team, your experiences, your clients/contacts, and your network. Start with what you already know, like writing about client lessons learned, before jumping into geofencing or Super Bowl ads.
  3. Do one thing at a time. When you start a marketing program, the tendency is to make a laundry list of things you want to do and try to implement everything at once. Not surprisingly, little gets accomplished. Prioritize. Pick one or two of your best ideas (like a blog and newsletter since they can use the same content), then block out time and execute.
  4. Educate. As I tell sales organizations, ditch the pitch. Prospective clients are researching your firm for a specific reason. It could be that they are looking for new ideas, trying to solve a problem, or seeking increased business efficiency. Engage them through education, not a sales pitch. We remember those who provide sound advice or help solve our problems. The more you share, the more engaged they will become with you and your services.
  5. Measure results. This includes interim measures of success, like website visitors, phone calls, and initial consultations/meetings, along with longer-term measures such as new clients and revenue. Treat all of this information simply as data. Build on the best ideas, and drop the failures. Actually, there’s no such thing as a failure when you’ve learned something from it.
  6. Stick with it. It kills me when I see a website with only one blog post from sometime in 2012, or receive a great “monthly” e-newsletter with no second edition. Marketing takes time and effort. Build a calendar for the first 6 months and allocate an adequate amount of time for you and your team to execute. If you can make it 6 months, you can go indefinitely.
  7. Get help. Not that kind… You already spend too many hours practicing your specialty while operating a business. Do you really want to take on another full-time job and run a marketing program? Invest in an expert.

As you start to see positive results, you can make adjustments and add in new activities. Just remember to keep following these guidelines, so that your results continue to improve as your marketing program expands. It won’t seem like much at first, but when you look back a year from now, you’ll be glad you made the effort.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.SM

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