Building a machine

A marketing campaign is like a machine. And not a machine you buy off the shelf or even a machine you build yourself with numbered instructions to follow step-by-step.

Marketing campaigns are like brand new, complex inventions with hundreds of moving parts. And when you take it out for its maiden voyage, things are likely to go wrong.

You may discover that some of the parts you used create unexpected friction with other parts. Or perhaps that cheap part you used was cheap for a reason. Of that when you started cutting corners because you were running out of time, those actions had bigger consequences than you anticipated.

Obviously, you will find no shortage advice online about how to run a successful marketing campaign. Everything from how to write the best headline, to how to segment your audiences, how to structure a Facebook live event. Not to mention the benchmarks for email open rates, how many clicks to expect, how much to invest per conversion.

But none of these benchmarks relate exactly to your business with your unique proposition and your niche audience.

When you are disappointed by the results of your first campaign, you might think the entire thing was a failure. An activity to be avoided in the future lest it cost you more money.

What many entrepreneurs don’t see is that the only difference between the campaign that generates thousand of dollars in sales and the failed campaign they ran yesterday is the number of times they did it.

Failure to launch

If you’ve run an online marketing campaign before you probably know the feeling. That fullness with anticipation at the thought of legions of new fans halfway across the world. Untapped audiences who never knew they needed your wisdom and skills until you popped up in their newsfeeds.

A few days later, you’re hit with a different kind of feeling. Overwhelm, as you realize just how many moving parts need wrangling. How every tiny element - headlines, calls to action, images, video, email subject lines, emojis, hashtags - in your sequence is a variable and every variable requires testing to get right.

Say for example you want to run a webinar to launch a new workshop you have created. Over the years, you’ve built up an email list of about 1000 contacts and have about 400 Facebook fans.

Historically, you have shared content with your audience in fits and starts. You may have even tried a Facebook ad campaign once before and seen lacklustre results. But for your webinar campaign, you are pulling out all the stops. You have a Facebook ad running, a beautiful landing page, an email sequence encouraging registrants to show up live and are sharing content about your webinar on all channels.

Yet, on the big day, only five people show up live to watch your webinar - a far cry from the 250 you were aiming for. You hope more people will catch the replay yet only a handful even open your follow-up email. You make no sales on your workshop and wonder how it all went so wrong.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why even bother with marketing campaigns at all? After all, you get most of your clients through word of mouth.

The thing is, while you’re focusing on what a failure your first campaign was, you’re missing a ton of learning, a ton of new information about who your audience is. You also just created more content via your webinar you can share with a more engaged audience.

This is not the time to quit. It’s the time to commit to working on every little piece of that campaign until you get the results you want. And getting it right doesn’t mean following all of the advice out there about how to write great headlines, how to use video in your ads, how to get more people to click your links.

It means getting it right for your particular audience, communicating with them about their particular needs where they have a tendency to be. Every headline, every caption, every image, every call to action until it’s spot on.

The content trap

When you think of online content for your business, how do you feel?

Obliged?

Overwhelmed?

Content marketing can quickly become just another thing on your to-list. Just block out a couple of hours per week to churning out the next batch of posts. Quantity over quantity. Keeping up appearances.

But the way we read online is even more frenetic than the way we read print. The old upside-down pyramid of news journalism is even more relevant today than ever.

Every single word counts.

When you write for your audience, everything you say needs to be tighter, sharper, shorter, clearer.

Give yourself time to write it. Then more time to tighten it, clean it up and write it again.