I recently attended a marketing training conference on a proprietary website platform for a service-providing client who has successfully built a sophisticated, content-rich website that has been generating an increasing number of leads along with exceptional conversion rates. I vigilantly update this client’s site with local, fresh content that relates to each of the multitude of services this company provides. Customers use the Internet as an information source to make an informed purchase. If they use your website, you are a step ahead of your competition in making the sale.

I was already very familiar with the key talking points at this conference, but it’s important to hammer those same points over and over again. I’d like to use this blog to review these marketing “musts.”

  1. Know your cost of customer acquisition. Keep analytics that show how your customers found you and the associated costs of using that channel. Some sources will cost you more and some, like referrals, are free. As long as the incremental revenues exceed the incremental costs of buying those customers, you’re ahead of the game. Also, at the end of the year, figure out your average cost per lead. This is an important metric to gauge the effectiveness of your overall marketing strategy and fine-tune where necessary if it’s not meeting your expectations. Marketing optimization is a year-by-year iterative process.
  2. Know and be able to communicate your brand story. These are the benefits of a customer using your product or service; those intangibles that separates you from your competitors. A customer chooses you, not because of what you are selling, but because of the positive feelings and emotions you are providing through your brand. Your branding must be current and consistent. You might not need a complete overhaul, but designs trend with the times. You don’t want to look outdated. Even if your brand story appeals to nostalgia, your design can still have a hip “retro” look.
  3. Have a clear, solid referral strategy in place. Since referrals are generally your lowest cost lead source and are so powerful, encourage referrals by incentivizing them. Treat your current customer base as your best de facto sales force and a reward of more than a thank you card is appropriate.. After all, that referral saved you a lot of money from getting that customer on your own.
  4. Google yourself and your company. Know what is being said about you on Yelp, social media, and elsewhere. Try to find your company as though you were a potential customer. How long did it take to find you and your phone number? Even call your office to see how your inquiry was processed. Is you call being timely answered, is the person taking the incoming call helpful and friendly? You are spending so much time, energy, and resources on generating those leads. Each and one deserves white-glove treatment by your staff.
  5. Get social proof. Customers are bombarded with messages and desensitized to self-serving messages. Show them why you deserve their business through case studies and reviews. Case studies are concrete examples of your experience. Reviews are customers who are vouching for you. Potential customers have a “good enough for them, good enough for me” mentality, taking comfort in following the lead of others. Finally, use PR to show the media that you are the expert. Get to know your local press, so when they are looking for news in your field, you are the go-to person for information or a quote.

These conferences are always a fun opportunity to meet with other marketing professionals and share and learn from our collective experiences. Conferences are a great way to shorten your learning curve by leveraging the experiences of others. Perhaps the biggest take-away was that the core marketing fundamentals never change. Rather, it’s how we need to effectively implement them as we interface with new and challenging technologies that are more personal, faster, and interactive.