I was sitting with the leadership team of a new client during an onboarding meeting and we’d gotten to the “do you have any questions for me” stage of the meeting. One of the senior people looked at me and said, “Yeah, I have a question. Will it work?”

I’m a big fan of being straightforward, so I appreciated the opportunity to be equally frank with him. I said, “Well, that all depends on you and the rest of the team. I know our part of the equation will work.”

Marketing, no matter the product or service, is about connecting with the right audience in a way that they find interesting/helpful so that when they’re ready to buy what you sell, you’re in the consideration set.

Within that reality are several places that things can go awry and when something does get off track, the marketing results suffer or over time, the marketing might not work at all.

What are the must do elements to making your marketing work? Here’s what I shared with my new client that day to answer his question, “Will it work?”

We have to be consistent: Marketing is like investing in the stock market. You never know exactly when the market is going to go up or down, so the wisest investment strategy is to invest consistently so you can be in a position to take advantage when it goes up. The same is true with marketing. You never know when a prospect might be ready to turn into a customer. So you have to be consistently in front of them with messages that are attention worthy so that when they are ready, you are top of mind.

Where companies mess this up: You start something but don’t really commit to it. The monthly newsletter goes out four times a year. The blog gets updated once in awhile. Your best customer calling program gets derailed every time you get busy.

We have to narrow our focus: The worst marketing is aimed at everyone. When you try to be relevant to everyone, you can’t help but be very general and broad. It turns out, that’s not particularly helpful or interesting to anyone. The best marketing is when you can get incredibly specific and most people are completely uninterested but the ones who are interested are very, very interested.

Where companies mess this up: This is a tough one for organizations to wrap their head around. Every dollar is not a good dollar to chase. Knowing who your sweet spot customers are and only communicating to them requires incredible discipline and bravery.

We have to be customer-centric: If your marketing is all about you, you’ve lost the battle before you’ve even started.

Where companies mess this up: You blather on about you. You talk more than you listen. You push for the sale too soon rather understanding there are many tiny next steps that need to come before the ask.

We have to make the marketing to sales connection: The only way to be confident that your marketing is worth the investment is to track prospects through the sales funnel and identify what got them there in the first place.

Where companies mess this up: Most companies either can’t or don’t put the mechanics in place to accurately track and measure conversions.

It seems so simple and yet very few do it really well because it’s actually a very delicate dance and it’s so easy to get out of step.

Will it work?  It will if you: Know your audience and what they care about. Earn their trust by helping not selling and be absolutely consistent in your delivery. Track their progress through your sales funnel so you can quantify your results.

That’s it. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

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Drew McLellan
Drew McLellan has owned an advertising agency for almost 20 years, serving local, regional and national businesses. He also coaches hundreds of agencies on business best practices through peer to peer networks, workshops and consulting.  Drew is often interviewed/quoted in Entrepreneur Magazine, New York Times, CNN, BusinessWeek, and many others. The Wall Street Journal calls him “one of 10 bloggers every entrepreneur should read.” He blogs at both www.DrewsMarketingMinute.com and www.BuildABetterAgency.com.

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