Transition times: Moving to the next stage (and its marketing challenges)

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April, like spring, has been a time in my life for rebirth and new discoveries. Special experiences and epiphanies date back to my younger years, including the point after the third year in university, I realized I could experience my career as a journalist/writer. Six years later, when I realized I had proven I could function as a foreign correspondent by living through the Rhodesia/Zimbabwe civil war, I recognized my religion (Jewish). Another 11 years later, in April, 1991, I became aware of the powerful concept of self-responsibility, which led to my marriage in 1993.

This April, so far I haven’t experienced any blinding insights, but certainly much change is imminent. There are some fundamental business issues that will be resolved in the next few weeks that I’ll share once they are completed. And there is the new business launch, Ontario Construction News, which will start daily publication on May 1. In the midst of this business activity, there is a polyglot of responsibilities and duties in administering current operations, some travel, and community service projects.

So what does this have to do with marketing? The answer: Right now if you are a marketer/business developer I may be both the best and worst lead you can develop. The “best” because transitional circumstances means that I could be looking for new ideas and approaches to resolve problems that I haven’t experienced before or for which I lack awareness. A good example of these sorts of times can be: “Are these weeks when there is a need to speak with lawyers?” and that certainly is the case right now.

The worst — well as you might imagine, I’m rather busy these days. In fact, I’ve found it challenging to maintain this blog’s traditional daily schedule. Thankfully, after about eight hours of intense work on Saturday morning, I caught up on most (but not all) of the week’s backlog. So how would I respond to a marketing message or (worse) intrusive phone solicitation for something outside of my immediate task load?

We see this paradox in marketing and business development everywhere. The few people with the decision-making power to make the largest decisions (of necessity) build the biggest moats around themselves to protect their time and space and, if you pierce it without welcome, you almost certainly will not receive the reception that you are seeking.

Are there answers to the problem?

This week, I started testing one approach — targeted online advertising. In my case, it is for our new publication with a highly specialized and geo-specific market. The challenge with the legal ads we are selling is that there are two classes of potential clients; large institutions and law firms who may purchase these ads consistently over time, and ordinary business owners/contractors who may need them at most once or twice a year, or lifetime.

We have some advantages in the offer. It is very specific, we can define the geography closely, and our existing publishers/services serve the market. Accordingly, I had my designer prepare some 728×90 and 300×250 ad banners, set them within Google Ad Manager, and started the campaign.

I’m a few weeks early for direct response advertising — we cannot legally accept the ads until the last days of April, but, heck, I don’t need to pay any cash for the marketing. I will enhance things as soon as we can legally convert inquiries into orders with some selected Google AdWords. Reason — we are serving a highly specific and unique niche, and it looks like there is absolutely no keyword competition for the relevant phrase. I expect the online ads won’t be very expensive. Of course, these marketing initiatives are associated with our website, with an appropriate landing page and systems/content suitable for the offer.

The second answer is to realize that, while much marketing success occurs when you can meet a sudden and unexpected need, relationships and brand identity are often built gradually and slowly, and take plenty of time to develop and augment.

In times of change and crisis, we’ll often look for answers to people and community we know and respect. Here, the years of service you’ve given your great clients, and your community service and association volunteering and leadership will provide the bedrock for the marketing breakthroughs possible when a potential client has new needs.

The conclusion: Just as April has been a time of change and discovery both when I was young and am now much older, the best approach to reaching potential clients at change points could be a combination of fast-acting/response online marketing, and much more traditional (and slower) relationship maintenance and community service. The old and new really can work together well.

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