I get it. “It costs too much to hire someone.” I’ve heard it way too many times.

The consumer is evolving at a faster pace than ever and, the shifting marketing landscape continues to prove that we only thought we knew what we knew before. Whether you’re going the route of doing your own marketing, building an in-house team, or engaging an agency or consultant, you must learn a few things to make the most of the tools and resources you will have at your disposal.

Understanding Your Audience

Step number one in creating a strong marketing plan is to understand your audience. Who are your customers and who do you want them to be? What are their struggles and how can you solve for them? What questions are they asking and are you the resource they find when looking for answers. The art and science of building personas may seem like a boondoggle to some but understanding your audience and having a level of empathy for them will guide you to develop the type of marketing programs that will have appeal and the results your business will need.

Planting Your Brand Flag

Understanding what your brand is and what it isn’t are the key to a strong brand positioning. And, like most good habits, consistency is what will ultimately cement your position in the consumer’s mind. It’s not the end of the world if you take a step back and realize your brand is all over the place. Breathe deeply and start the work. There are steps you can take to reign in the outliers and center your brand. Establish a purpose. Develop brand guidelines so that everyone involved will understand what is good and bad for the brand. Articulate the emotion so that everyone on the team can make a deep connection to the brand. Involve employees. Be aware of the competition so that you can always stand apart from the crowd. Finally, be willing to be flexible so that the brand can continue to grow.

Digital Brand Knowledge

Marketers cannot control every single mention of their brands. Yelp, Google, Facebook and others have given consumers the platform to praise you as easily as criticize you. When a customer has a bad experience, they no longer have to go in search of “the manager” or a comment card. Today’s comment card is in everyone’s hand and is easy to submit with a touch of a button-like graphic. And just that fast, the whole world knows the good…the bad…and the very ugly. Digital brand knowledge is now mandatory.

Analytics

If you’ve been in the field of advertising or marketing for more than a year, you have undoubtedly come across an article entitled Greatest Commercials of Fill-In-The-Blank. What most don’t realize is that these are often ranked because of some wow factor – a surprise appearance by a box office draw, unique use of special effects, technology or some other executional element. Today’s typical CEO is now less attracted to awards and accolades and more attracted to reaching their business goals (and often their bonus). Creating marketing programs that make a business impact requires an understanding of data – how to gather it, interpret it and implement the learnings. Good marketing relies on good data.

Creativity

If you think I’m going to suggest you take a painting or ceramics class, you’ve made a common assumption. Creativity is about curiosity and bringing new ideas to the table. Creativity is a trait that can open new avenues for your marketing because you’re not limited to the status quo. Feed your creativity by reading excessively, watching movies, visiting new places, working with others or by trying something new. Some of the best ideas can come to you when your brain is just open. These activities bring your guard down and allow you to see more than what you thought was there.

Learning these things will make you a better DIY marketer, but it can also make you a better client. You’ll be able to clearly give direction and measurable goals so that both you and your agency, consultant or marketing director can be successful.

This column originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Biz New Orleans.

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