Many businesspeople have an inaccurate view of how marketing works and operates. There is a rather large misconception surrounding the results and value that marketing delivers to the business and how it delivers marketing.
The fundamental role of marketing will never change
As much as the world continues to evolve (now that the internet, apps, devices, and the cloud rule all our lives), marketing is still the act of maintenance. In fact, you can think of marketing as the “customer maintenance department.”
Now, let's explore the word maintenance for a moment. The Oxford Dictionary keeps it simple for us, using keywords like process and preserving, as well as the phrase “state of being maintained.” The synonyms are also very telling. Words like care, conservation, upkeep, and nurture – what???
You mean marketing in its truest form (maintenance) has always been about the act of care, conservation, upkeep, and nurturing? Yep! Even though we have all been on the Inbound and Content marketing trip for a while now, all the time thinking we were on the cusp of something revolutionary, it’s been here all along.
Marketing is maintenance. It’s the continual maintenance of a relationship with your audience through preservation of your brand and message and engagement with your community. This constant upkeep takes work and dedication.
Why are so many companies failing at good marketing... err maintenance?
Have you ever owned a potted plant? If you have, then you may know where this analogy is going. Potted plants are nothing like kids. They don’t scream when they are hungry or in need of attention. If you don’t take care of them, they just sit there and wilt, the leaves slowly turn brown, one by one they begin to drop, and then the entire plant dies at some point. Without consistent nurturing and attention, your plant will inevitably die a slow (and maybe even painful, who knows?) death.
This potted plant scenario is what happens with so many small and even medium sized companies today. Many times, these companies have small marketing departments, and slowly priorities are shifted. The important activities such as sharing content, engaging with their audience, and building relationships dwindle as the demands of the department grow, and the size of the staff remains the same.
Slowly but surely the brand message becomes watered down because many times, there is no message going out at all. Marketers tend to get caught up in the need to support sales initiatives and internal operations, and then the actual maintenance of the brand's message just ceases to exist, just like your sad little-potted plant.
Additionally, just like the potted plant, your brand isn’t going to scream out: “Hey dumbass… people don’t know who I am anymore! Our customers have forgotten about me! All that work you are doing to produce content no longer matters anyway because we are now irrelevant to our community, and no one knows about or remembers us. Our voice is now lost in the noise of the internet and industry!”
Avoid the fail of the potted plant analogy
Now that you are worried about not working hard enough to maintain your brand, let’s discuss how you can avoid the above-mentioned fail. How can you keep all the maintenance tasks going while still keeping up with all the critical projects and needs of your company?
1 – Prioritize and Say, “Wait”
There are times when you HAVE to stop and re-order your projects and tasks. There are times you have to tell people certain demands must wait. We all plan. We are marketers. However, to stay relevant, we have to turn on a dime and be a bit agile throughout the year. There are times when analytics may show you that something isn’t working, you have to change course. Always having a fluid plan and knowing that projects and requests will pop up throughout the year is key. These ever-changing priorities will help preserve the continued social engagement and brand messaging your company needs to succeed. Be transparent with the projects you have on the list and where the new projects are in the priority line.
2 – Fail Proof Your Brand Ears
In all honesty, some people are not good at maintenance – hopefully, they don’t find themselves in a marketing role! No, but really, if you aren’t too good at it you must find a way to “fail proof” your marketing maintenance tasks. If you don’t have the luxury of an assistant who spends all her free time on Instagram, then this next part is for YOU. Stay in touch with your community by using tools that help keep you connected.
- Stick to your editorial calendar with all the tasks associated with it. Force (yes I mean it), force yourself to adhere to your engagement tasks. Use tasks with reminders in your mail app and set recurring tasks so you can’t forget important publish dates. There are many CMS (content management systems) tools that will do an auto publish to your social accounts for blogs and other content as you produce it. We use Kentico and if configured correctly this is a powerful little feature.
- Set up your social tools with all the necessary notifications configured. Make sure you know when someone wants to start a conversation on Twitter, posts a comment on a blog, or needs insight into a product on your website. Make sure you are always listening on all your marketing channels!
- Remember the community owns your time (this is a career, not a job, right?) You are always on call – face it. When the customer sends a Facebook message at 6 pm on Saturday – someone (unless you have that afore mentioned assistant, this is you) better be ready to respond, even if your office hours are only M-F, 8am-5pm. Setting up notifications on your mobile social apps is easy and will keep you connected to your community day and night.
- Stay current. Know what is going on in the world. Know how that news affects your community, and make sure your messages are sensitive and relevant when needed. There are some great podcasts out there for specialized facets of news and business that can help keep you informed.
3 – Don't be afraid to change it up
Try something new every once in a while! Know your brand and community well enough to know what is acceptable, but also, what pushes the envelope sufficiently to get noticed. Every good marketer knows you must be remarkable to survive. These are just the facts of our day. However, it’s easy to get in a rut with anything. Make sure you are trying new tools, listening to your peers, and finding out about new tech that can help improve your processes and keep you from killing your brand’s message with inactivity.
If your community doesn’t hear from you often enough, you ignore them in the online social realm, and you simply fail to be visible, you will slowly die – just like that office potted plant. You must continue marketing maintenance day and night to achieve success. That is the fundamental role of marketing that will never change.