How do you decide where to invest your marketing resources? How do you know if your investments are performing?
For a small software company these investment decisions matter. You know you don’t have forever to achieve success in your market. Time is your enemy. The window to see your technology adopted will only stay open for a short time.
You have to make some hard choices. Marketing is not something where you can just sprinkle some fairy dust around and try a little of a lot of activities.
But how do you know where to make your marketing investments?
Here are three criteria you can use to help you make your marketing investments.
Use engineering to accomplish marketing goals
Before you add more features to your software, ask yourself “How much incremental business will this feature generate in new customers or in retaining current customers?”
Of course you can’t know for sure. No one has a crystal ball to look into the future.
But I bet you can estimate based on what customers have told you, what you hear in your support questions, and what your competitors are doing.
Patrick McKenzie, a software engineer and entrepreneur, says don’t “build marginal features that nobody has asked for and that nobody will see.”
Before you commit to new product features, consider your software product and the website that delivers your product as one complete system. When you make decisions about using engineering resources to add new features, include marketing features on the list.
Now when you look at the list, which features have the greatest ROI? If you use engineering and A/B testing to improve the purchase process, does that rank higher than some of your planned product features?
Approach marketing as a process
What happens in a production process? Raw material enters at one end and finished products come out the other. In between, various work stations add value to the raw material in a specified sequence. Production engineers work to remove waste and smooth workflow in the system. They prioritize bottlenecks and remove them one at a time. They analyze cause and effect to see where delays and obstacles occur.
Marketing is a similar process. The raw material is potential buyers who enter your system. Buyers may not even be fully aware that they have a problem. You add value to them through education in a series of steps, helping them to understand the gravity of the problem, the benefits of solving the problem, and how to remove obstacles that are in the way of solving the problem.
The finished product in the marketing process is a customer. Waste is anything that slows the movement of a buyer to the next stage in their buying process.
How do you orchestrate the marketing process? Start by understanding your buyers and the journey they take to become a customer. Study their persona so you know where they fit in their organization, their responsibilities, the metrics that matter to them, and their challenges.
And then begin measuring and testing. What are the best sources of buyer traffic to your website? What educational material do they spend the most time on? Where do they seem to get stuck or abandon your site?
Create a relationship with your buyers
It takes more than a great product and a smooth process to convert buyers into customers. People buy from people they trust. They look to common relationships for reassurance. They don’t want to make changes because change involves work and risk.
So part of the value to add during the buyer’s journey is to help them learn to trust you. It’s to see how greatly the benefits outweigh the work and the risk of change. Buyers need to be persuaded through your copy, your design, and how easy you make it to move through their buying stages.
How do you know what your buyers find persuasive? Once again, testing and optimization are your friends. Test landing pages, messages, buttons, calls-to-action, and funnels to see what works best.
Use engineering to accomplish marketing goals. Approach marketing as a process. Create relationships with your buyers. These are the three fundamentals of online marketing. Evaluate your marketing investment opportunities against these criteria.
Over time your marketing system will become more robust and more efficient. More buyers will move through their journey more quickly. You’ll gain more control and predictability over your marketing results.
Photo Credit: Luz