And I am failing on at least one of those fronts …
Every year I do it. I turn into a sloth in the winter. Bears hibernate. I hibernate too. But bears don’t eat while they hibernate. I hibernate and eat, and then there is wine, and a beer or three with the game … maybe a cocktail at dinner. Then spring rolls around I want to get out and ride a mountain bike up and down hills, over rocks and ruts, and around trees, as fast as gravity will allow. Unfortunately, because my workout routine was not consistent, gravity is too much of an advantage on the downhill parts of the trails this season.
Once again, I have started getting back in shape from ground zero. I’m forced to ride on roads until I get my legs under me. I hate riding on roads. I’d rather dodge rocks and trees than Buicks and Fords. I have to start the core work from scratch, and my shoulders and arms will be sore when I finally do get solid enough to ride the trails. I gave up all my gains from last year, again. I swear to God I’m getting too old to keep enjoying an off season.
It finally occurred to me that what I was doing is exactly what I have been lecturing small and mid-sized businesses about not doing, as it relates to their marketing strategies. I have been the evangelical hypocrite. I have not maintained my physical condition to a state of riding readiness via consistent, steady, and committed work.
As it turns out, marketing is exactly like staying in shape (I’m the “larger” rider on left above). Those who are successful don’t do either sporadically. They work out 3-4 times a week. Every week. They apply a systematic, consistent, and disciplined approach. They don’t stop for five months and then bitch about not seeing results. They don’t stop marketing when they get a few extra leads in the funnel. Look at the people you know who are in good shape: There is a common denominator, and it is consistency. Be consistent working out, and be consistent with your marketing.
Two weeks ago I had a sales manager tell me, “We don’t need marketing. We have enough leads, we just don’t have enough sales people to close them.” Interesting that his CEO had just told another staffer that they were having a hard time finding good salespeople. My experience is that great sales professionals will flock to a company with a lead generation surplus, and those things don’t happen without consistent marketing.
Just try it long enough to be able to actually say you were consistent! We have a customer, a great little company competing among giants – and winning. In Q3 of 2016 they decided that they were going to commit to a marketing program. They had no real web presence, in spite of being in business 20 years. So, we built a site, integrated web forms, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and MA (Marketing Automation). But, let’s not get into the weeds. What really happened was they started pushing content on a regular basis. They blogged. They started a newsletter campaign, and now they’re doing an E Learning course to distribute as gated content.
Eight months in and they are seeing results. Page views are up 541%; users per month up 394%; sessions per month up 172%. All the content they curate and create is pushed socially too, so 34% of the site traffic came from social last month. New leads into the CRM are up over 30%. And they’re just getting started.
The reality is that most small and mid-sized businesses have in the past, are currently, or will be soon — guilty of ‘taking the winter off’. Just as I am guilty of doing with mountain biking; and they lose all of the gains from the prior work. According to the SBA (Small Business Association), every business should establish a percentage of top-line revenue to allocate to marketing; and do it. Most do not. When the lead funnel starts looking empty, they scramble to do something. Sometimes anything. Like a lost hiker suddenly screaming in a forest after walking silently and aimlessly for days.
What the Business Leaders are Saying
Carla Johnson, one of the Top 50 Women in Marketing and author of Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, summed up the need for consistency perfectly:
Marketing doesn’t only mean having something to say, it means creating consistency so people know what to expect. Consistency creates trust. People know that you’ll show up at the same place and the same time with something meaningful to deliver. Too many brands publish when they’re under pressure to bring in leads and then other priorities interrupt the flow. Solution: Be boring as can be by being predictable.
CEOs agree. In fact, based on a 2014 study by global marketing firm Stein AIS and Chief Executive Group, 62% of CEOs identified “Need for ongoing customer engagement” as the marketing dynamic with the greatest impact on marketing and business success. In companies with sales north of $250 million, the number of CEOs citing “Need for ongoing customer engagement” as the most important marketing dynamic jumped to 67%.
Clearly, customer engagement matters, but how do you do that without a steady and consistent commitment to marketing? You don’t. If you don’t do it consistently, you get to start all over again, and again, and … you get the picture.
Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) Research Director Lisa Murton Beets authors CMI’s annual content marketing surveys. Lisa published highlights from 2017 Technology Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America in March via an article titled 7 Things Top Technology Marketers Do With Their Content. Here’s what tech marketer shared regarding consistency:
One of the big differences between top-performing technology marketers and their less successful peers is that they deliver content consistently. In fact, consistency tops the list of factors they take into account while creating content — and it’s something they do more often than their top-performing B2B peers.
Having read this back to myself aloud, maybe it will finally sink in. Accordingly, I’m off to do some crunches, a few lunges, and maybe post a blog. Then I’m going to put reminders in the CRM to start my winter workout program in October instead of March, eat more unsweetened yogurt and kale (yuk), and be more consistent with our own marketing.