Every business that aims to be sustainably profitable must engage in some level of marketing activity, whether traditional marketing that utilizes old-school resources such as press releases and print ads, or content marketing that employs social media platforms, blogging and the like.
The ROI of marketing campaigns is often devilishly difficult to evaluate. How does anyone know what an organization is really getting from a marketing campaign or the value of what that might be? Furthermore, what are the outcomes that matter in marketing? Let’s examine the benefits and ROI that marketing campaigns have the potential to generate.
Since recent data is available, we’ll focus on content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 85% of B2B and B2C organizations participate in content marketing, yet only 21% of those who devise content marketing strategies are able to measure the ROI. Among the elements that marketing execs usually design their strategies to influence are:
- Brand awareness and loyalty
- Customer engagement
- Lead generation
Before campaign focus decisions are made, it is advisable to select which of the above elements—may we call them objectives?—that your organization would like to impact. To make those calculations, one must understand the value and expected ROI of the chosen objectives. They are not of equal value.
Promoting brand awareness and loyalty is a common objective and if yours is a B2C operation, this will be easier to achieve. But can a typical Solopreneur who sells B2B services ever build a brand that is truly distinctive? Very rarely, I’ll guess.
Usually, a successful personal brand emanates from the cult of personality that a well-connected person has been lucky to attain, usually through family or industry connections. When the home town high school football hero goes into business, he is positioned to benefit handsomely from his playing field reputation, updated to become his brand.
My experience indicates that the average Solopreneur should approach personal branding and brand awareness activities with a grain of salt. Keeping one’s name visible is very affirming, but I think you’ll find that business is obtained from who you know and who knows you, rather than the number of times potential clients see your name in media outlets.
Now about customer engagement — are you really inclined to invite those with too much time on their hands to bond with the Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook posts sent by your organization? Beware the Pandora’s Box that customer engagement can become. Giving information and receiving candid feedback are great. Ongoing dialogues with the self-important are a waste of time.
Lead generation fills your sales pipeline, but what is the most effective marketing strategy for B2B Solopreneur service providers to influence that objective? From what I’ve seen, viable leads are created face-to-face.
Potential clients may read your newsletter, watch your videos, or read your case studies, but they are unlikely to hire you unless they’ve met you and even then, a personal endorsement of your work from a trusted source is preferred. In contrast, speaking engagements and teaching workshops allow potential clients to meet and get to know you and over time develop the trust in your expertise that might lead to doing business.
After all is said and done, sales, up-selling and client acquisition are the only marketing campaign metrics worth measuring because they result in revenues. The number of social media followers, website page views, newsletter sign-ups and blog post comments are only vanity metrics and they do not correlate with revenue.
Successful marketing campaigns pave the way to sales. Savvy marketing makes your operation look competent and trustworthy and can persuade those who might do business to take a second look. A well-conceived marketing message can also open the door to up-selling. Referrals are created when your organization exceeds expectations and satisfied customers sing your praises to other potential clients.
Solopreneurs can switch focus away from vanity marketing metrics and toward campaigns that enhance the perception of the value of your service and your expertise in providing it. Marketing messages that address client priorities and position your business as providing the best solution will be the most effective.
Thanks for reading,