50 Quick Marketing Tips to Provoke Your Thinking

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In this post, Kevin Namaky shares short but provocative marketing tips to spark ideas for improving your strategy, initiatives and projects.


Some people always have their antennae up. They’re always looking for small things that give them an idea for something bigger. Maybe it’s something they saw someone else do. Maybe it’s something another company puts out there, possibly in another industry or category. Maybe it’s a brand case study that pushes them to think differently about their own brand. Maybe it’s a TED Talk or a speaker at a conference that delivered a few useful marketing tips. Maybe it’s something that appeared in their Twitter or LinkedIn feed.

If you’re the type of person that’s always looking for that next spark, then this post is written for you. Here I’m going to take a shot at not one… not two… but 50 quick marketing tips. They are bite size and in relatively random order, so take a quick read through or print it out and highlight the ones that jump out at you. It’s obviously not all-inclusive (it’s what I came up with today when I got on a little bit of a roll). But, I hope you find a new spark in this list somewhere. There are 50 of them after all. 🙂

50 QUICK MARKETING TIPS

  1. Choose a very specific target customer and don’t chase everyone. It may seem counterintuitive, but the sharper your target, the more you will sell. More target audience tips here.
  2. Think about your sales funnel and write it down. Seriously, draw a funnel and process map. Do you know how you actually acquire and convert customers?
  3. Talk to real people in-person (customers) about their experiences (good and bad), problems, goals, wants and desires.
  4. Observe people in action. Go beyond verbal discussion and observe people in their own environment. You’ll get unarticulated insights that are many times more valuable than anything they actually say.
  5. Use hypotheses to your advantage. Don’t just conduct research and start asking a laundry list of questions. Know in advance exactly what you’re looking for and tighten up the discussion to get what you need.
  6. A/B test your executions. Set aside a small amount of your budget to do this and afterwards put larger portions of your budget behind the winners.
  7. Use appropriate controls when conducting research. Don’t fall into the trap of testing a bunch of variables only to realize you can’t decipher what’s really working or not because you didn’t have appropriate controls in place.
  8. Articulate your internal vision for what the business will accomplish in the long term. Make it specific enough that you can say whether you did it or not, and also big enough that it is motivating.
  9. Start killing strategies and projects if they don’t directly support or drive towards number 8 above. A strategy or project must address a specific roadblock or business issue that stands between you and your vision.
  10. Identify a customer need for every product or service you provide. If you have trouble identifying one, you either need to conduct research to find out what need the product serves. Or, if the offering doesn’t really meet a need, then eliminate it and optimize your portfolio.
  11. Conduct a competitive audit or landscape. You should know your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, whom they are targeting, and be able to sketch what you think their strategy is. Only then can you appropriately develop your own strategy and position yourself to win.
  12. Write down your positioning in a very precisely articulated brand positioning statement. They are words to live by.
  13. Write down your brand architecture. By brand architecture I mean your portfolio strategy that delivers your positioning. Can you articulate it?
  14. Create legally ownable assets. Trademarks and patents are your friends. When you create a new name, logo, selling line or technical advantage, start thinking about this early in the process and build something you can own and protect.
  15. Clarify team roles. Help your marketing team operate in an efficient and intentional manner by actually writing these down. Don’t wait until you need to post a job and then use whatever HR happens to work up or have on file from the last time you hired.
  16. Look at trends in your own category but also beyond. Look at where other categories or industries are going that might give you new ideas. Look at macro-trends, particularly as you conduct higher level strategic planning.
  17. Ask for money. Think of something that would greatly boost your business, help answer a critical question, or jumpstart progress towards your business goals. Estimate the benefit, estimate the cost, draw up a short proposal and pitch it. You might actually get it. And, if not, you become an idea person.
  18. Read. You should read each day. Subscribe to publications or blogs. Follow influencers and experts. Look at relevant magazines. The more you read, the more ideas you get.
  19. Call sales and ask them what they think. Solicit their advice. You don’t have to do everything they say, but there is value there and you can build mutually beneficial relationships.
  20. Treat your employees with respect. This may seem obvious, but if you don’t get to know them as people, learn their dreams and support them, you will get poor results and they will leave. The Two Main Ingredients for Loyalty in the Workplace
  21. Audit your advertising. Ask two questions. Is it on strategy? Is it effective? If you or your agency can’t answer these clearly and if the answers aren’t yes and yes, you have work to do.
  22. Tour the factory. Get up-close insight into exactly how your product is made from beginning to end. Ask questions. Talk to supply chain and the factory floor associates. You’ll often find ideas there. Do this at least once a year.
  23. Analyze your P&L. You should have a thorough understanding of your profit and loss statement. Know the key drivers of your revenue, costs and profitability. Understand how moving or allocating resources differently will impact your top and bottom line. Call up a Finance partner if needed.
  24. Take a class and learn something new. Is there a skill you lack? One that you want to keep up to date? Is there a new technology you want to learn? Would you like to develop a marketing strategy and plan?
  25. Recruit complementary talent, not by prototype. Many companies recruit and develop according to a very specific blueprint of the “ideal” employee. This outdated approach leads to groupthink, demoralizes good talent, and creates negative internal competition. Start looking for people with varying strengths that you need in your company.
  26. Sharpen your product design by focusing on improving the features that directly support your strategic benefit. While you may have some (only a select few) points of parity, do not waste resources investing in product features or attributes that do not support your benefit.
  27. Identify different standards for different offerings. A private label offering should not be held to the same P&L success metrics as a premium branded business. Likewise, a large cash cow business should be judged differently than a share fighter or a high-growth small business.
  28. Find partners that you can team up with for mutual benefit. They could be supply chain partners, technology partners, licensing partners, sales channel partners, etc.
  29. Don’t take “no” for an answer from lawyers. Lawyers do not make business decisions. A lawyer’s job is to assess risk and communicate that risk to business leaders. Many times, lawyers will protect the business by starting from a “no” position. But it’s your job as the business leader to uncover what it will take to get a yes and/or make the final call.
  30. Engage lawyers early in the process. Whether it’s innovation or advertising execution, don’t be afraid to involve legal counsel early on. They can help steer you to a better outcome (e.g., approvable claims) so you aren’t surprised down the line. Avoid Confusion, Write Better Concepts: Types of Marketing Claims
  31. Create a manual of your key foundational documents and information. It can be digital or in a physical binder and should include information you will use daily and that you should always have easy access to. Think product/service lists with financial info, P&L statement, most recent share report, strategic plan one pager, positioning statement, brand architecture, marketing plan overview, media plan, top customer list, key account planograms, etc.
  32. Update your media mix to reflect your target audience. Many brands default to a traditional mix of TV, radio, print and digital. But great brands get data as to which medium the specific target consumes versus gen pop. Get down to the level of specific publication, channel or network.
  33. Leverage digital. While this is all the rage for most companies, there are still some businesses that do not use digital (especially B2B). Do not falsely believe that in your industry, digital doesn’t matter or is less effective. I can make an easy and effective argument for any industry that you can efficiently reach your audience using digital. Do you have a marketing/lead funnel?
  34. Go beyond digital. If you are small, it’s possible you are using digital as your primary and maybe only method of connecting with your potential customers. Yes, you may not be able to afford big TV budgets. But, you can partner with organizations that are already connected to your audience.
  35. Construct a benefit ladder and fill in your functional product and customer benefits as well as your emotional benefit. Now do the same for your competitors. Is yours unique? Meaningful? True?
  36. Learn how to give good feedback to agencies and consulting partners. If you are unsure, ask someone you trust to observe you providing feedback. Or ask an agency or consultant you trust (but don’t expect them to bite the hand that feeds them).
  37. Do not fall in love with any of your ideas or executions. You will have lots of them, but you need to be OK with some or even most of them hitting the cutting room floor. It’s all part of the process and the most important thing is to make choices.
  38. Sponsor an event, or create your own.
  39. Always identify a clear objective for any strategy, project, initiative, communication execution, or even each of your regular internal meetings. Knowing the objective makes you focused, efficient, respectful and more effective. Who doesn’t want that?
  40. Call an expert when you need an extra boost. It could be you lack internal resources or skillsets, you are unsure how to tackle a specific challenge, or you just want to bounce your thinking around a bit. But don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Just don’t stay stuck.
  41. Attack a competitive weakness and exploit it. Find out what’s wrong with their product or service. What do they lack? Where do they disappoint? Are any of these weaknesses a strength for you? Could you design or develop new products to address the problem?
  42. Focus on behavior in your communication strategy. Identify what the customer/consumer is doing today and what you want them to do tomorrow. Then think about their mindset today versus the new mindset required to change that behavior. That is where your communication strategy comes from.
  43. Be realistic when it comes to behavior change. Consumers and customers rarely make significant behavioral changes easily. It’s not in our nature. But you can often get big results by focusing on small behaviors.
  44. Find a compensating behavior. Does your target consumer/customer use your or your competitor’s product or service in unexpected ways? This often reveals an under/overmet need, presenting an opportunity for innovation in design and/or messaging.
  45. Don’t expect consumers or customers to “love” your brand. Consumers sometimes love products, but they don’t love brands. Their loyalty is always more fickle than you think and you need to re-earn their loyalty each and every day.
  46. Assess your brand equity by first determining what equity you currently own (via research). Then strategically decide what you want the equity to be in the future and compare it to the present. Now, what are you going to do about it?
  47. Look at new targets and domains for opportunities, particularly if you are in a category where you hold very strong market share. If you are running out of upside growth, a new target or domain where your brand equity is relevant may be just the thing your business needs. Here are some good examples of brands that expanded their domain.
  48. Focus on one target or domain to strengthen your position and grow. This applies if you don’t have strong market share among your core target or in your core category. Don’t dilute your focus and chase other targets or domains if your base business isn’t winning. Get sharper.
  49. Develop your team. Many businesses enlist outside consultants when they want to unlock new opportunities. But the reality is that consultants and agencies aren’t any smarter than your own team (in most cases). It comes down to how much time and money you invest internally versus externally. Invest that money in your own team first. It will also increase their loyalty.
  50. Make your work visible. If others in the organization know about your work and why they should be excited about, you will have a much easier time executing the plan, gaining resources (money, people, time) and making it all happen.

TAKE ACTION

Did any of these marketing tips create a spark for a new idea or change to what you’re doing? If so, take it the next step. Do something with it. Make something great happen… today.

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