A group of five people in business casual wear sit and stand around a glossy table scattered with paper. One of the members of the group, a woman in a gray tartan dress, leans over the table and writes something on one of the papers with a pen.
When coming up with a marketing plan, make sure you don't put all of your promotional eggs in one strategic basket. — Getty Images/fizkes

Over the last few years, the ways in which brands and consumers connect have changed dramatically. Customers have high expectations of the companies they patronize. It’s no longer enough to offer a high-quality product or service. Today’s customer seeks entertaining content, personalized service, and convenience in addition to the desired product.

For marketers, this presents a challenge: What, and how, do you need to communicate your unique brand offering in a way that resonates authentically? It starts by dropping marketing practices that no longer serve your small business, updating your marketing strategy, and implementing new marketing tactics. When updating your marketing, here are some practices to avoid and what to do instead.

Segmenting your audience with surface-level data

In the past, many business owners used demographic data, such as age, gender, or location, to create targeted messaging. Segmenting your audience with surface-level data may have worked in the past, but today, advanced analytics allows you to go deeper.

“Creating a personal, human connection within any commercial message requires defining consumer segments that describe people according to multiple dimensions that influence their purchasing behavior — from their psychographics to attitudinal characteristics,” wrote Harvard Business Review.

Psychographics, or segmenting people based on their attitudes or beliefs, can help you create messaging that’s more relatable. Research from the EY Future Consumer Index provides five different segments of consumers that can be used to frame your marketing:

  • Affordability first consumers: Members of this group are focused on living within their means and budgeting carefully. They’re also primarily concerned with product functionality.
  • Health first consumers: Members of this group are focused on protecting their health, choosing products they trust to be safe, and minimizing risks involved with shopping.
  • Planet first consumers: This group seeks to minimize its impact on the environment.
  • Society first consumers: Members of this group want their purchases to contribute to the greater good, and they seek honest, transparent organizations and brands.
  • Experience first consumers: This group wants to make the most of life and is adventurous in its purchasing behavior.

Consider how your marketing outreach and campaign messaging can better relate to one or more of these psychographic segments.

[Read more: How Pet Brand BARK Grew Revenue Per User 97% by Pivoting to a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy]

Creating only promotional posts

If your business is using social media exclusively to try to convert followers to customers, you’re missing a big opportunity.

“While 86% of social media users follow a brand, nearly 60% of them are annoyed with too many promotions by brands,” reported Sprout Social.

Moreover, one in four customers is annoyed when a brand doesn’t respond to their social media comment or direct message. Being overly promotional is a mistake that can actually do more harm than good.

Instead, use your social media channels to entertain and engage with your customers. Consider posting user-generated content rather than slick marketing videos. Talk about things other than your product; today’s customers care about your company’s mission and values, in addition to your products and services.

Psychographics, or segmenting people based on their attitudes or beliefs, can help you create messaging that’s more relatable.

Marketing to the masses

In the past, marketing was all about reach—“going viral” to try to reach as many people as possible with your campaign’s video or post. Today’s truth: less is more.

“Every person is unique, and you need to cater to that fact. Gone are the days of blanket personalization,” wrote Entrepreneur.

One survey found that nearly half of customers said they would more likely patronize a business again because of a personalized shopping experience. Consumers want brands that can serve them exactly what they want, when they want it. An experience with a company should be frictionless, anticipatory, relevant, and connected, according to Harvard Business Review.

What does this mean for your marketing? Replace email newsletters with outreach campaigns that integrate data from the customer’s personal history with your brand, for instance. Consider how your mass outreach can be broken into more targeted messaging.

Treating marketing as separate from service and sales

In the past, marketing has been siloed from customer service and sales. However, creating distinct teams that operate independently may not be serving your company.

Consider how marketing, sales, and customer service can work together to create a cohesive experience for your customers. For instance, if there’s an active marketing promotion, sales can take advantage of the campaign to sign or re-sign clients. Likewise, the marketing team can reward dedicated customers for sales referrals — one of the best ways to source new customers.

Customers don’t necessarily see these business functions as separate teams. How can you create internal synergy to meet this expectation?

Using one type of content

Finally, marketers have been hearing for years that when it comes to content, video is king. That’s still true, but every king needs a queen — or at least, a court.

Marketing teams need to integrate different flavors of content into their marketing program. Support your video with images, gifs, and audio.

“According to our research, 53% of professionals whose companies leverage content marketing find ‘podcasts or other types of audio content’ effective when it comes to engagement and brand awareness,” wrote HubSpot.

Audio content is on the rise with apps like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. Get ahead of this trend by investing in audio early, and your marketing will benefit in the long run.

[Read more: Social Commerce and Loyalty Drive Key Marketing Trends]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published May 12, 2022