What sets apart good leaders from great leaders is the ability to drive and sustain growth in an organization. Successful business leaders know that marketing is the secret to successfully growing their company.
Over time, we have noticed a lot of commonalities in successful business leaders—almost like a secret sauce that all savvy business owners know and value. We’d like to share the top nine facts about marketing that all those successful business owners and leaders know.
FACT No. 1: Successful Marketing Takes Time
Great marketing strategies (and their eventual outcomes), take time. There’s no rushing true success. Successful business owners know this fact to be glaringly true. In fact, most have probably learned this lesson the hard way and came out knowing that a good business needs a marketer on-staff, at the least, and if that’s not cutting it: hire an agency. Marketing takes time to plan (because a rushed campaign without a strategy will not be successful). Marketing also requires time to do, not just plan.
If your team is slim, asking them to nurture complex funnels and campaigns may yield junk results. It takes a slick team to implement strong campaigns and a robust one to manage it. Choose your marketing team wisely. Whether that’s in-house or an agency, make sure your marketing goals are being managed fully each-and-every day.
Fact No. 2: Every Staff Member is a Reflection of Your Company
You and your employees are a representation of your brand. Whether in the office, or out in the world (including social media!), the people who work for you are the face of your company. This is why hiring the right people is so important: they are, in a sense, your most powerful marketing arm, especially when it comes to recruiting... Whether that be a good or bad thing is entirely up to the person you hire. For those savvy business owners, allowing staff to use personal channels like LinkedIn to market their business is important and a big reason why they make sure to fully vet hires and make certain they’re a good fit for the company’s brand. No one wants to have to save face over an employee that’s questionable or a poor representation of your values, and savvy business owners follow this fact well.
Fact No. 3: Your Clients are Your Biggest Marketing Asset
Valuing your clients’ opinions about your product, brand or service is one of the most important tenets of modern day business. With the dawn of user experience driving everything from design, content and customer service, we have seen a major shift in how companies decide which campaigns work and which don’t: by asking and surveying their customers regularly—and most importantly, gaining insights from their customers and acting on them. Great leaders know this fact inside-and-out. And there’s plenty of solid reasons why this fact might be the most important one to adopt.
First, social proof is important, such as testimonials and case studies ” It’s like that old adage says, if everyone is jumping off a bridge, would you do it, too? Well, most likely not, but what that adage speaks to is the penchant for humans to mimic others. Or to listen to their friends. If your close friend tells you about a new restaurant they loved, good chances you’ll take their recommendation with far more than a grain of salt. In fact, you’ll probably go dine there based on their review. The same phenomenon applies to your customers. If they write extensive positive reviews and testimonials on your site, or elsewhere (Yelp, LinkedIn), you’re sitting pretty on a heap of positive social proof. In fact, according to Harvard Business School researcher, Dr. Michael Luca’s study on the topic, he revealed that ‘a one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue.’ Not too shabby.
Fact No. 4: It Takes Money to Make Money
Many of us groan inwardly at this fact. It’s a tough one to swallow. When times are rough, many business owners tend to cut back on marketing as the first way to save some dough. This is not an action that savvy, successful business owners adopt, though. Smart leaders know that even when times are rough, it’s important to spend money to make money and that means continuing to invest in your marketing efforts. We tackled this topic on our blog here and really dove into the nitty gritty, but the most convincing nugget for this fact might be:
“[...] SCORE suggests that as a general rule, businesses with $5 million in annual sales should allocate between 8 - 10 percent of revenue to marketing. That means, if your business grosses $5 million in revenue per year, you should be investing at least $400K each year or $33K per month into marketing your business.”
There’s a lot of conflicting information around the phenomenon of cutting marketing budgets, but one stat I surfaced during my research showed something interesting about those tough times from Ash Sobhe, a successful keynote speaker, CEO and philanthropist:
“A McGraw-Hill research study of over 600 businesses showed that during the early 1980’s recession, businesses that increased their ad spending had, by 1985, witnessed a 256 percent growth in sales over companies that had cut back on advertising,”Sobhe writes.
But then he drops another bomb:
“The opposite is true as well. In 2002, a year of economic expansion, 80 percent of the businesses that increased their marketing budgets had no gain in market share. This is because everybody increases their marketing budgets during economic expansion.” So what does this mean for you?
Securing a constant budget to support marketing efforts, even when others cut back, is a, according to Sobhe: “a short-term struggle with long-term benefit.”
Fact No. 5: Success Can Grow from Failure
This particular fact is something that most successful people already know, regardless of whether they’re a business owner or not. Learning from your mistakes, like, really learning and understanding the why is one of the smartest things that business leaders and owners can adopt.
In fact, one researcher decided to read every single top-selling book on leadership and compiled some interesting insights by outlining all the commonalities in one book titled, “The Wisdom of Failure.” Author and Bradley University management professor, Laurence Weinzimmer, writes about the insights in an interview with Business Insider:
“What we found with most of our interviews was that most leaders told us the most important lessons came from their toughest challenges, not from imitating somebody else’s success."
This fact alone yielded some of my favorite takeaways from the book, that can actually be life-changing, such as: learning to delegate, or saying no to a quick buck, or knowing when to quit. By adopting a ‘pro-failure mindset,’ you can achieve greatness and smart business owners know this, always.
Fact No. 6: You Need to Know Your Customers Inside-and-Out
We touched on this a bit in Fact No. 3, but this particular fact bares repeating. Savvy business owners are really, deeply entrenched in the entire journey their customer’s take as they engage with their business, product or service. One can understand this journey and your customer base more fully through the process of creating Personas. To successfully market your business, you need to be familiar with the issues and concerns that your customer is experiencing and how your business helps solve their problems. By consistently tackling those pain points, you honestly can’t go wrong. When you address what needs fixing, you provide your customers with enough fodder for them to feel they can trust you, which results in loyalty, or retention, and has the potential to make a life-long customer. And that’s a win/win.
Fact No. 7: Always Address “What’s in it for Me?”
A key aspect of understanding your customer base is knowing what your customers want. Not what you want, not what you think, but what they want and think. Successful businesses do this very well. To address the “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM), your website should be all about your customer. Do you have a big ol’ message on your homepage? If so, does it say “We do xyz better than anyone else…” or something along those lines? See if you can flip your “we we we” into a “you you you” and try to direct the messaging to the customer and make it about THEM not you. Pro tip: Count the times you use “I” or “we,” and the times you use “you” and “your.” Seeing a trend? Carefully flip the we to a you and discover how addressing the customer more than touting your services actually reaps greater rewards.
Author Wayne English writes extensively on the topic and notes, “One thing is for sure, when your website does not tell people what you can do for them, and the competition’s does, you are at a competitive disadvantage. Never require the reader to figure out your message.” This is exactly the fact that smart business owners know. They adopt a customer-first approach that yields better results than we-we-we-ing all over the place.
Fact No. 8: Clearly State Your Value
Can you explain your business’ value in one, clear, succinct sentence or two? If not, no one else will either. For your sake and especially your customer’s sake, you must have a succinct value proposition or brand positioning statement that can help everyone quickly understand what you do, why it’s great and what makes you different. Cornell University offers some fast-and-easy tips to creating a killer positioning statement that I feel are pretty helpful in kicking off the brainstorm session of creating one:
- “It is simple, memorable, and tailored to the target market.”
- “It provides an unmistakable and easily understood picture of your brand that differentiates it from your competitors.”
- “It is credible, and your brand can deliver on its promise.”
- “Your brand can be the sole occupier of this particular position in the market. You can ‘own’ it.”
- “It helps you evaluate whether or not marketing decisions are consistent with and supportive of your brand.”
- “It leaves room for growth.”
If you’re looking for that proof in the pudding, Neil Patel, a leader in marketing solutions, noted the following research on the topic writing for Quicksprout, “Value propositions are so effective that when we tested them on KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg, we found that good ones helped boost our conversion rate by over 10 percent.”
IMAGE CREDIT: Quicksprout
Fact No. 9: Inbound is In; Outbound is Out
Outbound marketing includes most traditional advertising tactics which involves interrupting a customer to get their attention. In outbound marketing, every conversation is initialized by the company, not the customer. Smart business owners are realizing this, on its own, doesn’t work. It’s expensive, hard to track, and customers are option out (think no-call lists, recorded TV, opting out of emails). This is why so many businesses are turning to inbound marketing. By giving away value to your customers, whether that be templates for helping them with a common problem (like we do here on our site here and here!), or having a blog that focuses on problems-and-solutions that your customer faces, you’re adopting an inbound marketing strategy and it works far better than the old-school methods of outbound-ing. We’ve written a bunch on this topic here on our blog, but in case you missed it, here were some of our favorite stats from Hubspot’s 2015 State of Inbound report about why inbound is in, and outbound is out:
- “54 percent more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing.”
- “Twice as many marketers say inbound delivers below average cost per lead than outbound methods.”
The logic is that when you provide value, the leads come to you versus you having to go fish for the leads. You can dial in a strategy so smooth that it actually only brings in the types of leads you want. Which is a beautiful thing.
As you sift through all the facts we went through here, you may discover we left something out. Let us know! Hit us up in the comments section. We’re always listening. And what’s more, we’re here to help. Ask us anything. We believe in the value of marketing and inbound and we believe that these facts can help many business owners evolve and scale their business more fully if they keep these must-knows top-of-mind.