14 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

How to improve your Email marketing

Many small businesses use email marketing as it is a popular and cost effective way for small business owners to consistently engage with past, current and prospective customers. If done well, it can be quite effective. If you already engage in email marketing, here are some tips to help you improve your results and work towards achieving email marketing success. If you haven’t tried it yet, keep this information in mind to help guide you through the process.

Whether you are trying to increase click through rates (CTR) to your website or ecommerce store, increase your email open rates or boost the number of times an email is shared, there are some things to keep in mind to help you improve your approach.

Tips for Email marketing success

Deliver one clear message. Have a single focus. For instance, focus on one topic and avoid ambiguity in your email content. Having too many focuses or too much information often gets ignored and is not as effective in grabbing people’s attention.

Small Business tips for better email marketing

  • Share a clear reason why subscribers should click your ‘call to action’ for instance, click on your or ‘web link’, or ‘subscribe’, or click your ‘buy now’ button.
  • Don’t make your emails too long, as most people just scan for key pieces of information.
  • Cut out words that may trigger spam filters, particularly in the subject line, such as, ‘free’, or ‘you are a winner’ etc. Avoid overusing exclamation marks.
  • Be consistent, establish a set time and day to deliver your emails. It could be weekly, monthly, quarterly or whatever time you think works best for your audience. Try and schedule your emails so that you are consistent.
  • Make your emails mobile responsive. This is such a popular medium for readers nowadays. Make sure you are not missing opportunities by not investing in making your content mobile friendly.
  • Keep subject lines short and communicate something of value.
  • Ensure your target audience can still read your e-mail without having to download graphics.
  • Keep your copy simple and professional and focus on the benefits to the customer.
  • Make sure it is easy for people to unsubscribe (opt out) of receiving your emails.
  • Segment your email lists so that your messages are more relevant and targeted to your specific clients. For example, if you have a sale on women’s cosmetics, it is less effective sending a blanket email to your entire list. If you segment your list to females within a certain age range, then your email will be more effective. You can also segment by geographic region, or job title, or by buyer behaviour, depending on the sort of data that you capture about your customers.
  • Track response rates and metrics from email campaigns so you that you can obtain insights into buyer behaviour and refine campaigns.
  • Add links to your images, so that readers can click through to your website or store via images.
  • Add social sharing buttons like Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter to promote social sharing.

Finally make sure you preview and test your emails before sending. Do all of the links and buttons work correctly? Have email addresses and web addresses been spelt correctly? What about phone numbers? Consider split testing your emails to determine which one will perform best. Finally ensure that everything is in order before sending.

Don’t forget to track your results so that you can measure the impact of your efforts. If you need any assistance with your email marketing or any other marketing services find a marketing consultant that can help point you in the right direction and get you started.

Effie Cinanni is Founder and Director of Small Chilli Marketing, a Melbourne based consulting firm specialising in marketing and communications for small business. She is an Associate Member of the Australian Marketing Institute and a Certified Practising Marketer (CPM). She has experience across a range of industries including; IT & software, allied health, children’s services, real estate and professional services. Effie is degree qualified in Marketing & Finance and has worked in marketing and business consulting roles for over for 15 years. Her experience encompasses all facets of marketing, including strategy, planning, digital, communications, branding, event management and online.

Direct From Website Audio Recording & Digital Marketing

Content on the internet and in the world of digital marketing is created and shared in different formats such as…

  • Email
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Text
  • Animations
  • Images

Audio [in the form of Podcasts, Voicemails, Interviews, Customer Feedback etc etc] is one of the principle means of digital marketing communications and the ability for businesses to be able to capture the full sentiments of their customers through voice is on the rise.

Traditionally customers are able to leave a voicemail for businesses by [of course] using their phones; these voicemails will be picked up by the relevant personnel and acted upon accordingly. Customers [or prospects] visiting the company website are able to leave an email via the contact page is all well and good and does work however; at times one is not able to fully convey their feeling through the use of the written word alone.

It is with this last point in mind that we look at companies taking in messages from clients as a matter of course and, using these audio recordings along with all of the inflections and emotions that one is able to provide through the human voice alone as a key component of their digital marketing strategy development and execution.

Giving clients the ability to leave audio recordings [whether it be a simple 30 second voicemail or 5 minute customer satisfaction feedback request] is an aspect of business strategy that will give any company an edge of its competitors. Bear in mind that we are talking about using audio recordings from an ongoing strategic perspective, encouraging customers to leave feedback that we as business owners are able to use for marketing development purposes.

So from the simple 30 second voicemail to a 5 minute customer feedback; providing website visitors with the ability to record audio right from the website using whichever computing device they happen to be using e.g..

  • Desktop
  • Tablet
  • Smart Device
  • Mobile Phone

… we have established will give a competitive advantage to the company in question within the market place that they are operating within.

There are other categories of business use that can also benefit from the ability to record audio without having to use special software or expensive recording equipment as in most cases the microphone within the computing device will be more than adequate enough to provide high quality audio.

Interviewers and Podcasters are on category of user that can benefit from sitting down in whichever location they happen to be in and straight from the computer to the cloud, record and archive audio recordings. In this case we are talking more about 30 minutes up to around an hour of audio going straight to the cloud.

One of the great advantages of this method is that at any time one can access the dashboard and download the voicemails, interviews, podcasts or customer feedback recordings and edit and use for whichever purpose as per the business use requirements.

As we continue to see the world of digital marketing itself evolve, audio will continue to play an important part and; giving clients the ability to effortlessly record audio via the company website can only serve to enhance any company’s digital marketing efforts.

Digital Marketing As A Subset Of Business Development Strategies

One point that it is wise to focus on when considering developing and refining top level business development strategies is that…

… The Integration Of The Digital Marketing Activities Into That Of The Top Level Business Development Plans Are Essential For Success With Any Tactical Activities…

It is indeed quite possible for organisations to be taking part in daily social media or online internet marketing activities taking place on a daily basis and for these activities to be shown to be having little [in some cases none at all] effect on key marketing parameters such as…

>>> Marketing Funnel Interaction

>>> Lead Generation

>>> Target Marketing

These are but a few of that which we consider to be business fundamentals and how these key business imperatives dovetail into the core internet marketing activities are fundamentally important to the organisation’s overall marketing activities effectiveness.

If the case exists where the top level business strategies have not been clearly defined and there are significant online marketing activities [in terms of social media interaction, paid advertising and content creation and publication for search engine marketing purposes] then the conclusion may be drawn that as a consequence there is no real foundation on which to base the digital marketing activities.

In the cases where the business has taken the steps to develop and to base their activities on foundational marketing planning then in these circumstances – these plans can be used to serve as a basis on which to base the digital marketing; search engine and social media activities upon.

Main point being – We Cannot Forget The Marketing within the “Digital Marketing” phrase. With so many daily activities that can be executed such as…

  • micro blogging
  • email marketing
  • blogging
  • guiding prospects through specific marketing funnels
  • video marketing
  • keyword analysis

… more and more the higher up the organisation that ‘over the internet’ marketing is visited then the great effect will be seen in terms of product / service awareness; increase in brand equity which culminate in revenue generation.

With so many digital marketing tools out there that the digital marketing professional can make use for customer interaction, brand development and product / service promotion and; with the ‘noise level apparently increasing on a weekly basis,

the case for increased focus on the integration of digital marketing with core business development planning must be highlighted.

Taking this one step further by factoring in search engine and social media marketing at the strategic business phase will ensure that the online marketing implementation serves the company to maximum effect.

The Key to Make Your Marketing Message Stand Out

Do you have a difficult time articulating what it is that you do?

Have you noticed other people’s eyes glaze over when you respond to the question, “What do you do”?

Whether you’re delivering your elevator pitch at a networking event, introducing yourself at a business reception, answering the question at a cocktail party, or promoting your services in print (online or offline), stick to the outcomes you deliver and spare the details on how you get there.

I recall being introduced to a “business consultant” at one networking event, and he looked surprised when I asked what he did. It was as if every person should know exactly what a consultant does but in reality, there are many possibilities in the realm of consulting.

He went on to explain the tedious details of his work, and yes, I felt my eyes glaze over but made an effort to concentrate on where he was going with his long-winded explanation. By the end of it, I still had no idea about the benefits his clients got from working with him or whom I could potentially refer to him.

As a copywriter, I write persuasive content that influences my client’s market to take action and buy from them. My clients don’t want to hear about the research I do into their competitor’s deliverables (and more) or how I find the keywords needed to ensure their prospects will find them.

And they don’t care about the numerous drafts and re-writes I do or how I print off my work, edit with a red pen, transfer those changes, and edit again – at least not initially (and a lot of that they don’t care about at all). They want to know that I can help them get more paying customers!

Every entrepreneur and sales professional has their special “magic” (your process) they use to get to the solutions or answers their clients are seeking. But keep that magic a secret for now – it’s all yours. Instead, focus on these 3 areas:

1. Understand your target audience and what matters to them the most (in other words, what is their big problem).

2. Share the outcomes they get after working with you (the solution to that problem and how they’ll feel after they’ve experienced your offerings).

3. Why you – what value do you bring to the table that makes you stand apart from other providers?

A wellness provider, for example, may offer a multitude of therapies, but instead of rhyming off that long list, which can be overwhelming and confusing, share the outcome of how your customers will feel after they’ve experienced your services.

Remember, your customers want to get from point A to point B. They’re looking for answers or solutions. In your initial meeting or your marketing messages, please don’t share the twists, turns, and obstacles (your process) it takes to get there. Just let them know what they’ll get when they choose you to help them.

Susan Regier, owner of Vantage One Writing, is an in-demand copywriter, marketing strategist, and business breakthrough specialist to serious entrepreneurs who want to have a profitable business they are passionate about. She has the uncanny ability to find the hidden gems in a business that can ignite sales and profits for her clients.

Getting a Return on Investment (ROI) From Your Business

There is no doubt that you would work very hard to make a success of your brand and your business and that you will at some point be able to bring your business to the next level. However, does all of your hard work, time, and energy yield monetary results as well as your ability to build meaningful relationships, etc.? Being able to get a return on investment (ROI) is very important as well. Of course, the ROI may be many different things and you will want to seek all of them.

Your business goals must be married to your ROI

If you haven’t given too much thought to ROI and how it relates to your business, you need to think about it and do something about it. After all, your survival depends on it. Before anything else, you need to have a clear understanding of what ROI is to you and to your brand/business.

The definition of ROI will be different things to different people/businesses. Once you have established your brand’s objectives, exactly how ROI fits into that scheme will become clearer to you. Of course, what sort of ROI will depend on your social media activities because they are a true potential source of revenue, etc. Of course, other efforts can also bring a return on investment as well. It is important to remember here that ROI can come in many different valuable forms.

It is very important that you look carefully at what you want to accomplish and then make a plan for how to accomplish it. Some of the factors that you should consider when thinking about ROI are training, development, the type (and sophistication) of social media technology that you use, labor, and how much of an overhead you use.

Why ROI is important to measure
No matter who you deal with professionally, there will always be people who have some sort of investment (not necessarily monetary) in your business. It may be in the form of consistent interactions, relationship building, etc.

Some other really good reasons to measure ROI are that it alters the perception of your social activities within your business, it brings the importance of your social activities to light for your business, it allows you to determine if your efforts are being spent in the right areas, it helps you to understand where you need to tweak your efforts appropriately, shows you exactly where the gaps are in your social media efforts, and gives you a deeper understanding of your target audience’s wants and needs as well as what inspires them.

How do you set achievable social media goals?
The social media objectives that you set for your business/brand should be based on:

  • Conversions
  • Creating awareness and buzz of your brand
  • Giving your customers the most meaningful, memorable experience possible
  • Ensuring that security measures have been taken and continue to be followed

Social media will allow you to continue to have a successful business and if you tie your objectives closely to your social media objectives, you will succeed. Of course, those are not the only goals that you will want to establish for your business. Make sure that your goals are measurable, specific, can be obtained realistically, are relevant to what your business is all about, and are timely. You never want to fly by the seat of your pants. You will need to not only establish your objectives but you will want to have a clear understanding of exactly what you want to accomplish is a certain amount of time.

Make sure that you pay close attention to metrics
Metrics are extremely important because it is essential that you know what you are doing well (and what is working) and what you are not doing well (what is not working). At that point, you can make adjustments and improvements. If something is not working, you shouldn’t keep doing it. You have precious little time. The last thing that you need to do is to waste any of it. In that situation, there are other things that you should try. Perhaps, those things will work more effectively and you will achieve the results that you are trying to achieve.

When it comes to metrics, there are several different aspects of your social media activity that you will want to pay attention to:

  • Audience engagement
  • Your reach
  • How your website traffic looks (whether it is increasing with quality connections)
  • Lead generation
  • Conversions
  • ROI (in this case, monetary)

As far as your metrics are concerned, you will want to ask the following questions:

  • Do the metrics align with your brand’s objectives?
  • Do the metric types and trends help you to make business decisions?
  • Are you able to compare the metrics with the objectives and have a clear understanding of the picture?

ROI is an extremely important aspect (result) of your business and even though you will not be obsessed with the revenue part of it, it is important, at the same time, that you don’t lose sight of it either. After all, you still need to run your business and, from a practical perspective, you can’t do that without money. In fact, without ROI, you can’t claim that you are running a successful business.

Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.

His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.

A Different Approach to Goal Setting

We all know that it’s important to set goals. Unfortunately, the way we think about goals tends to reduce the chance that we’ll achieve them or that they’ll fulfill us.

One of the most common models for goal setting is SMART Goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, & with a Timeline.

Certainly, it’s useful to have this kind of focus. It’s simple and utilitarian, but almost useless in helping you to achieve something of real significance.

What’s missing it the purpose behind the goal. That is, what is the big WHY behind any goal you set? And it’s important to realize that all WHYS are not created equal.

When it comes to life goals, relationship goals, business goals, creative goals, and, of course, marketing goals, most of us set goals around what we want to achieve, what’s important to us.

In other words, goals that feed our ego, selfishness, self- aggrandizement. This is something that almost everyone misses. For most, goals are about me, me, me. What can I get to enrich or improve my life?

Well, what’s wrong with that?

Look, to some degree a certain amount of enlightened self-interest is necessary. You need to pay your mortgage and put food on the table. But I want to argue that this should be a secondary consideration regarding any big goal that you set for yourself.

I remember the story of when Steve Jobs was trying to recruit John Scully to become the CEO of Apple. Scully was currently CEO of Pepsi Cola. He asked, “John, do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?”

Indian entrepreneur Kamil Anji Reddy expressed this very well: “Everyone has a purpose in life and a unique talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.”

This is the first of five articles about the 5 Pillars of Marketing, my marketing model that helps get your marketing on track. Read the article at The original 5 Pillars.

Are Jobs and Reddy being too idealistic?

All I know is that the greatest business people, scientists, artists, and yes, even politicians, are not very motivated by what they can get for themselves, but by how they can help others and make a real difference.

Achieving great goals is not about wealth accumulation (although that may often be a side benefit) but about lifting up others, and creating something of lasting value.

The first pillar of marketing is setting a goal for your marketing. What specifically do you want to achieve? But more importantly, if you achieve that goal, what difference will it make to your clients, your family, and to the world?

My goal for the More Clients Club is to have 1000 members within a year or less. But what motivates me to work on achieving that goal is the thought of 1000 self-employed professionals who are better able to share their valuable work in the world.

When we are so focused on what we’ll get, what we’ll achieve, what we’ll earn, there’s a certain emptiness to it. And no matter what we achieve, it never seems to be enough. If we chase our goals to achieve “ultimate success,” how is that really possible if our goals are shallow and empty?

Believe me, this wasn’t always my attitude about goal setting. I chased money as much as anyone else. But I also discovered that when money was my prime motivator, things didn’t work out too well; the projects tended to flop. But when my focus was on service, things went faster, more easily, with more energy and success.

I recommend that when you think of goals, also think of service as the Queen of Soul did:

“Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.” – Aretha Franklin

“Earn your success based on service to others, not at the expense of others.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“If you create incredible value and information for others that can change their lives – and you always stay focused on that service – the financial success will follow.” – Brendon Burchard

“When your dreams include service to others – accomplishing something that contributes to others – it also accelerates the accomplishment of that goal. People want to be part of something that contributes and makes a difference.” – Jack Canfield

The Five Pillars of Marketing Success

Does the following give a pretty good picture of your current marketing activity?

You have a website but you’re not really satisfied with it. You go to networking events once in awhile. If someone asks you to give a talk, you’re happy to do it. You post on Facebook and/or LinkedIn semi-regularly. When you find the time, you send an article to those on your relatively small email list. You occasionally set up meetings with colleagues to explore opportunities.

Now there’s nothing wrong with any of those marketing activities. And usually, they will result in landing some new clients.

But this is not the approach that works to get a steady, predictable stream of new clients.

Please don’t tune me out here, thinking, “Well, I really can’t do more than this. I’m already stretched thin. If you give me too much to do I’ll get overwhelmed.”

I agree. It’s not that you need to do more marketing, it’s that you need to shift your marketing paradigm from one of “Randomness” to one that is “Focused.”

Random marketing is just that; it’s all over the place. You do a little bit here and a little bit there on an inconsistent basis. You are trying to keep your face, name, and message in front of your prospective clients but the results are unpredictable.

The Random marketing paradigm is not very effective because it doesn’t gain a lot of momentum. You don’t do enough of one marketing activity to grab the attention of your prospective clients and move them to take action.

The Focused Marketing Paradigm is very different. It’s based on repeatedly communicating very directly to your target market with a very definite end in mind. It gets the attention of your prospective clients and they ultimately take action.

The Focused Marketing Paradigm has Five Pillars

Understand and implement these five pillars and I promise you’ll see a shift in your marketing results.

Pillar One: Focused Goals

A Random goal is saying something like, “I’d like to attract a few more clients to my business.” Not very compelling is it?

A Focused goal is much more specific. “My goal is to land 3 new clients in the high-tech plastics business in the Houston area with an average project size of $30,000 each by the end of the year.”

The more detail, depth, and specificity about the goal, the better. You’ve really thought through what you want to achieve and also have confidence that you could deliver if you did reach your goal. It’s so real to you that you can taste it.

What is the Focused Goal for your marketing?

Pillar Two: Focused Program or Service

Random programs or services are generalized consulting, coaching or training programs. “I offer management consulting and training to corporations.” Kind of vague, right? But this is what I hear all the time.

A Focused Program or Service is more tangible. “I offer the high-tech plastics industry Management Acceleration Programs for emerging leaders in the industry.”

In my business, I’ve always offered programs: The Marketing Mastery Program, the Marketing Action Group, and the More Clients Club. And each program has very specific parameters, deliverables, and objectives. It sure makes intangible services easier to market and sell.

What is the Focused Program or Service you’re offering?

Pillar Three: Focused Target Market

In the above example, the target was the “high-tech plastics industry.” But it’s more common to hear things like, “I work with large companies who want to increase productivity.” This is too general and it makes it hard for clients to know if you understand them and can help them.

A Focused target market is where you are absolutely clear what kinds of people or companies can most benefit from your expertise. And then you articulate that clearly.

I worked with a financial planning company last year that targeted middle class families in the Buffalo New York area. Guess who they attracted to their practice? When people read about who they worked with on their website, they said, “That’s Us!” and called them.

Who exactly is your Focused Target Market?

Pillar Four: Focused Message and Value Proposition

A Random message or value proposition tends to be too general and can be hard to pin down. It avoids making a promise that is meaningful to the prospective client.

Messages such as, “We offer the best service in the industry,” or “Smart insights into great management,” are meaningless to your prospective clients. The value is not immediately obvious.

A Focused message or value proposition zeros in on exactly what your clients get and what it means to them. I admit that this can be the marketing pillar that is hardest to pin down. Ultimately you have to test a number of different things.

For the re-launch of the More Clients Club, my current value proposition is: “Everything Self-Employed Professionals Need in One Place to Attract More Clients.” And now, of course, I’m bending over backward to deliver on that promise.

And a marketing message or value proposition is much more than a sound bite. Your message must permeate every aspect of your marketing, from your website to the emails you send out. Your prospects need to be constantly reminded of the value you offer.

What is your Focused Message or Value Proposition?

Pillar Five: Focused Marketing Strategy

A Random marketing strategy is much like the collection of marketing activities I outlined at the top of the article. You’re just all over the place, throwing something at the wall, hoping it will stick, with no organized system or plan.

A Focused marketing strategy is more like a putting on a theatrical production. You have the script, the actors, rehearsals, and opening night, all executed on a strict timeline.

Two examples:

For my Marketing Mastery Program, I held a series of introductory teleconferences, invited those interested to apply for the program, interviewed each applicant, and then converted 50% into participants. Over a 6-week period, I filled my business for a full year – four years in a row.

A career coach in one of my programs recently filled her practice in three months with a focused campaign of personalized emails designed to get appointments with her ideal clients. Then she converted a large percentage into paying clients.

That’s the power of a focused marketing strategy.

You need to identify the right marketing strategy for your business, but even more important is the way you organize and implement the strategy.

Developing a focused strategy is the most complex and challenging of the Five Pillars. You can’t just put together something haphazardly and hope you get the equivalent of a professional Shakespearian production.

What is your Focused Marketing Strategy?

If you work to build a focused plan with these five solid pillars, your marketing will work better and faster, attracting more of your ideal clients, usually at a higher rate.

I recommend you work on one pillar at a time. Write them out and fine-tune them until you feel confident and excited about them. Yes, you will need to do some research and study to make sure your plan is viable. But this is certainly better than spinning your wheels with a random strategy that is going nowhere.

The Big Secret to Marketing Success

What do you think you need more than anything else to attract more of your ideal clients?

Many people will say, “better information to show me how to do what works.”

Others will say, “more motivation and drive to implement what I already know.”

Another common answer is, “more time to fit marketing activities into my schedule.”

And lots of people will say, “I need better goals and more clarity about what I want to achieve.”

In writing this ezine/blog for the past 20 years I’ve talked about the importance of all of those.

But I’m finally understanding a factor that is much more important: good habits.

Over the past year, I’ve been a big advocate of the writings of James Clear. He writes a blog about success and habits. And he just came out with his first book, Atomic Habits, which is fantastic.

Even though James isn’t a marketing expert, I’m convinced he’s right when he says that the ultimate determinant of success is building positive habits.

This idea is simple but true: Self-employed professionals who establish regular marketing habits have a much better chance of succeeding than those who don’t.

And the crazy thing is that the four items – information, motivation, time, and goals – I mentioned above don’t actually make a huge difference.

Information. These days, we have access to more information about marketing than ever before in history. And much of it is free and instantly available through a Google or YouTube search.

The problem is that most of us have not established a regular habit of studying what we need to know to become better marketers. The information is useless unless we become proficient at implementing it.

And even if we pay good money for courses and programs, much of it goes to waste. I just learned recently online that 97% of people who buy a course online never complete it.

Motivation. If we measured motivation by intention, we are all motivated. Don’t we all want and need to grow our businesses? But we keep getting distracted and don’t follow through on our intentions. Again, the issue is poor habits.

Time. If only we had more of it. But unsuccessful marketers have just as much of it as the most successful ones. The key is that they dedicate more time to implementing regular marketing habits.

Goals. Nothing wrong with goals except that they are only a starting point for success. And they can get us stuck in the future, instead of doing what needs to be done today – the routine marketing habits that we perform every day or week.

“A habit or system beats a goal every time.” – James Clear

The research is in and the conclusion is clear.

Establishing positive and consistent marketing habits have a bigger impact on marketing success than anything else.

We may have great information, high motivation, lots of time, and clear goals, but unless marketing activities are performed regularly and habitually, the chances of success are slim to none.

The question you should be asking is, “How do I start establishing better marketing habits?”

James’s Atomic Habits goes to great lengths to share a multitude of ways to become an expert habit practitioner. So I highly suggest you get his book. It could be the most valuable ‘marketing’ book you’ll ever read.

But let me also give you my perspective on what it takes to establish new marketing habits.

The C – SPAT Model

This is a model I came up with for one of my marketing programs.

Coaching or Context. A coach declares the game, how it is played and how to win at it. And this creates the context in which you play the game. It helps if you have an outside source that can hold you accountable to play by the rules necessary to succeed.

This principle is why when you’re working with a coach or in a program that you suddenly find it’s easier to take action and form positive habits. The context of the game helps shape your behaviors.

Notice that all professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants go through rigorous training in the form of a professional school and internship. And in this context, professional habits and protocols are established.

As independent professionals, we’d all prefer to do things on our own, charting our own direction. That’s nice, except that it doesn’t always work very well, does it?

Study. A big part of the game is study and learning the body of knowledge necessary to perform effectively. Again, the information required to be an effective marketer is readily available, but you need some assistance in sorting the wheat from the chaff and studying what is most useful.

Planning. All successful marketing needs a plan. The alternative is implementing random marketing activities with little structure and direction. So it’s not how much you know, but how you put what you know into action.

Action. Success doesn’t come from being busy or doing a lot of things, but in doing the right things at the right time. This is where establishing regular marketing habits comes in.

To some, it might be writing an article once or twice a week. For others, it may mean setting up more meetings with networking contacts. Or it could be booking regular speaking engagements.

The secret to making this work is to leverage the first three steps of the model – Coaching, Study, and Planning, into marketing Actions that you perform as consistently as possible.

Tracking. What gets measured gets done. And when we fail to measure, habits don’t tend to stick. When we measure and track habits, the chances increase dramatically that they are performed consistently.

It can take some time to establish positive habits. You know that’s happened when you don’t even have to think about it anymore; you just sit down and write that article every Monday or make five calls to prospects every week.

And when you’re in action like this, you create a feedback loop, learning what works the best and what doesn’t. This enables you to fine-tune and adjust over time until your marketing habits become more established.

So, stop putting so much attention on searching for the “perfect” marketing strategy, getting motivated, finding more time, and setting goals.

Instead, use the C – SPAT approach to establishing positive marketing habits.

Cheers, Robert

Action Plan Marketing helps self-employed people attract more clients through action-oriented marketing strategies that get you in front of prospective clients.

Marketing Writing: From My Dog’s Perspective

For the purpose of this article there are only two things you need to know about me:

1. I’ve been writing in my business for 35 years. And pretty much regularly, once a week for 22 years.

2. I own two very adorable, wonderful dogs, Dylan and Meera.

One of them, Dylan, is pictured below. As you can see, he’s taken over the chair in my office. Dylan has informed me that he wants to contribute to this week’s ezine/blog article.

Since he’s never told me this was an interest of his, I asked him what he had in mind.

Dylan: Well, I noticed you’ve been writing a lot about how to get attention with emails and you came up with that weird thing, ABDO (Attention-Based Direct Outreach). But I have some ideas on the topic that I thought might be relevant. From what I can see, it’s all about getting people’s attention. And that’s my specialty.

Robert: Yes, Dylan, thanks for your help with this topic. I know it’s an issue for most self-employed professionals.

Dylan: You bet! Half my life is about trying to get your attention. So I’m an expert. (The other half is about finding a comfortable place to sleep.)

Robert: So you know a lot about getting attention. Great. What can you share with my readers?

Dylan: Well, first of all, it’s all about looking adorable, cute, playful, and huggable. You’re a complete sucker for that stuff.

Robert: That I am. But how would we translate that into an email or blog post?

Dylan: You might start with pictures of dogs, of course. Looks like you’ve done that already, so good start!

Robert: OK, great, some graphics to grab attention. So what’s the next thing to draw the reader in?

Dylan: Don’t you notice that I’m always smiling? I have a sense of humor. So play with me, tickle me, or give me a toy. I want to have fun. Otherwise, I get bored.

Robert: Right, so I need to have fun with my readers. Is that what you’re saying, to add some playful humor?

Dylan: No kidding, genius. Look, I know what you write about is very serious stuff, but give me a break. People read serious stuff all day long. Add a little levity and you’re gonna get their attention. Hardly anyone is doing it. So it makes you stand out.

Robert: Brilliant Dylan, but how do I engage my readers in the important stuff, the things that will help them in their business?

Dylan: Well think of all the things you do to get my attention. It’s all about certain words. Treat. Beach. Walk.

Robert: In other words, stuff you would kill for?

Dylan: Exactly. Say stuff that I’m most interested in. I could care less about stuff you care about like jazz, politics, and dystopian sci-fi. So, for your readers, talk about the stuff that they salivate over.

Robert: Like, more clients, more money, easier marketing, having fun in their business, stuff like that?

Dylan: Boy, for a human, you catch on pretty fast.

Robert: Well, I get what you’re saying here. I need to focus on the stuff they want the most and show them how to get it.

Dylan: You betcha!

Robert: Anything else that works to get attention?

Dylan: Well, make it more energetic. You know I like action. I like to play, to run, to wrestle with Meera (Dylan’s sister). So put action in your writing, especially stories.

Robert: Yes, I often do that. Success stories are always a hit: How a client struggled, learned some marketing secrets and emerged victoriously.

Dylan: Riveting stuff. And then tell people what to do.

Robert: You mean a call-to-action, yes? How do you recommend we get better at that?

Dylan: Well, duh, know what you want and ask for it. When I want to go out, am hungry, or need a run you don’t see me moping around hoping you’ll read my mind. I let you know by barking or jumping all over you.

Robert: Exactly! Well, we have words for that, don’t we? It’s all about making specific requests.

Which reminds me, we’re doing a webinar on ABDO (Attention-based Direct Outreach) this coming Thursday at noon Pacific (1 Mntn, 2 Cntrl, 3 Estrn, 8 UK, 9 EU).

Dylan: Cool. And everyone is invited, right?

Robert: Absolutely. And we’ll send a reminder email on Thursday morning so you don’t forget. But mark your calendars now.

Hey Dylan, thanks so much for your canine writing wisdom. Looks like you’ve been paying attention.

Dylan: My pleasure! And a final tip: Every once in a while give your readers a rub behind their ears.

Cheers, Robert

Action Plan Marketing helps self-employed people attract more clients through action-oriented marketing strategies that get you in front of prospective clients.

An Idea With No Follow-Through

An ongoing debate exists in the marketing industry that begs the following question: Is it more important to devise a marketing strategy or to execute actions to achieve your goal?

There are good arguments all the way around this debate, but when it comes down to it, the answer is really… neither. You simply can’t be successful without either one.

The problem, however, is that many companies, consultants, and marketers do a lot of “theory” and talking, without taking it beyond that. They can sit around and discuss all the latest marketing tactics and even try to put them in place, but in the end, it’s all for naught if they don’t develop a solid strategy and execution steps to make it work for their business.

It’s like school-you can sit in a classroom and learn all the information and theory that is taught to you, but what good is it unless you can apply it in real life? We all know this, but as marketers, we forget that it works the same way. Understanding theory is helpful, but you need to know how to develop a strategy and execute that strategy to actually see results.

From Marketing Theory to Strategy & Execution
Successful marketing is really a 3-part process that involves following sound marketing theories, creating a detailed strategy, and executing that strategy. Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail.

Follow Sound Marketing Theory
Marketing theory is the science of marketing. It’s the “rules” and guidelines we follow. It’s the methods we use to form our strategies.

Marketing theory can lead to strong marketing strategies, but too often, we get stuck on the former. We might feel as though we are getting things done by talking and learning about various types of marketing theory, but in essence, we are just spinning our wheels.

Mike Roach, CEO of CGI, was quoted as saying, “Strategy without execution is a hallucination!” If that is true, then marketing theory without strategy and execution is psychosis. It’ll get you nowhere.

Create a Detailed Marketing Strategy
According to, a strategy is “the series of choices you make on where to play and how to win to maximize long-term value. Execution is producing results in the context of those choices.”

Your marketing strategy is your map. It’s like a light shining in the darkness, guiding every decision you make. Without it, you’re driving in the dark without headlights, expecting to find your destination and not crash in the process.

Your strategy shines a light on the road ahead, making it clear when you could veer off a path and driving you forward in the right direction. With it, you’re able to work your way around your obstacles, follow your objectives, and illuminate the choices that will get you to your goal efficiently.

According to the Small Business Association, only about 50% of small businesses succeed within the first 5 years. It’s not that businesses don’t have some sort of plan in place; the problem is that most small businesses don’t have a clue how to map out a plan that will lead them to success.

They don’t have a strategy that is based on sound evidence, data, and experience. Instead, they read a lot of marketing theory and try a lot of different things.

That is not the same thing as having a strategy.

Without a sound strategy, companies struggle to keep up with their competition, they miss opportunities that would lead to better results, and they win fewer customers.

Execute Your Marketing Strategy
Execution is what seals the deal. Without it, no strategy will be realized, which is why it’s crazy that so many companies create a business plan and then file it away in a binder on a dusty shelf.

We know that we can’t get anywhere in business or life if we don’t take action, so too often we find ourselves spinning our wheels moving from idea to idea. We’re taking action, but it has no real strategy behind it.

When we skip over strategy and start executing based upon abstract marketing theory, we’re shooting in the dark hoping we hit something, but we rarely hit the thing we want to hit. Unfortunately, that’s what too many companies are doing.

We should use marketing theory to inform our decisions and help us plan our strategy, and when we do that, our execution will be solid.

Why Companies Struggle with Marketing Strategy & Execution
There are so many reasons why it’s easy for companies to struggle with strategy and execution…

Where to Start?
Right off the bat, it can be downright scary to figure out where to start when it comes to drawing up a strategy and executing it to success. Digital marketing has become more and more complicated as new technologies and opportunities keep cropping up.

With so many options, how can companies choose? How do you know which marketing ideas to subscribe to and which ones to ignore? Just because one marketing theory works for one company or even thousands of companies doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another company.

How to Maneuver the Marketing Paradox of Consistency & Change?
The fact that marketing is ever changing makes it that much more difficult to execute a sound strategy. How do you know where to place your time, money, and energy? And what if you put all that effort into 1 or 2 marketing tactics and then they lose their effectiveness?

How do you create something concrete that is ever changing? How do you know when to be flexible and change your marketing plan versus when to stay steadfast? After all, remaining consistent is essential when it comes to digital marketing, but so is changing with the times. It’s a paradox that can be difficult to maneuver.

How to Know (Not Just Guess at) Who Your Customers Are?
Most companies don’t spend enough time discovering who exactly their customers are to be able to draft a marketing strategy that will lead them to success. It takes customer data, assessments, feedback, and a lot of investigation to really get to know your customer, but knowing how to compile all of that information can be overwhelming.

Since different marketing tactics should be used for different customers, knowing this is essential, but too many companies guess at who their customer is rather than knowing them in depth.

How to Bring It into the Everyday Details?
Understanding how to integrate your business plan into daily work is not as easy as it might seem. As a result, decisions are often made without the consultation of the marketing strategy, and that means they are not likely to be in alignment with the strategy.

Methods need to be put in place for sharing the company’s marketing strategy with all team members and keeping them on the same page. This ensures the company’s message and interactions are carried out consistently. Expectations and follow-through need to be set up so that there is no duplication, which only leads to wasted time and money. Every decision should be made with the strategy in mind.

How to Not Let Everything Else Get in the Way?
Especially for small companies, one thing or another can come up that gets the business owner off track, and unfortunately, when that happens, marketing tends to move to the back burner. Unless time is dedicated to each and every week to working a marketing strategy, forward movement in business is highly unlikely.

The Solution
Look, here’s the bad news…

For most small businesses, overcoming all of the obstacles that get in the way of creating and executing a sound marketing strategy is not really feasible. Without an in-house marketing team that is skilled and dedicated to marketing planning and execution, it is understandably difficult.

But here’s the good news…

That’s why most small businesses turn to marketing experts for assistance, and when they do, their business explodes.

It is so important to partner with a company that can do more than just talking about marketing theory. Your marketing partner needs to be able to come up with a solid strategy and determine which tactics will best fit that strategy for your unique business.

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