Scaling your marketing operation

As your company gets larger and you have to deal with more and more customers, how do you handle the marketing tasks without spending significantly more money? The easiest way to answer this is to use automation. But automation can lead to a lack of personality in your marketing. Sending the same letter to everyone isn’t the most effective way to market. Is it time to hire outside help? So many questions!

What needs to be done so you can scale your marketing operations without going crazy? 

Stop doing it by hand

A few years ago, a colleague of mine worked for a well-known cookie company. He decided to run an initiative where the goal was to get ground-level support for the product by having food bloggers talk about the cookies they sold. My colleague was old-fashioned and was content to look every bit of information about this company by hand, even employing a Google spreadsheet to write in all of the information.

To find one potential food blogger willing to take on the project, the process took a very long time. If they used marketing software, a lot of time would have been saved, saving them a lot of headache and probably a fair amount of money too. Unfortunately, they were content to use the ‘old’ methods of getting it done. Perhaps they were afraid that software would lead them astray, or they just wanted total control over the project. Whatever the reason, there were a lot of inefficiencies.

Marketing software is sometimes perceived as taking over the marketer’s communications with customers. It can seem threatening. But most marketing software isn’t about that. It’s about making slow tasks, especially research, much faster by doing a lot of heavy lifting for you. Even something as mundane as a basic CRM is meant to replace client list spreadsheets by providing an easier interface and better search tools.

Your marketing software journey should start here. Find the inefficiencies in your current workflow. What takes a long time? What task do you dread doing during the week? See if there’s a software package that can assist you with overcoming that particular problem. In the cookie example, most of the time was spent trawling through Google trying to find food bloggers willing to do food reviews in exchange for free product. Using software to pull large lists of food bloggers from search results and then scanning their webpages for certain keywords like “guest post” or “reviews” would have helped immensely. 

Know Each Part’s Purpose

The tradeoff for using software is that you have to pay additional costs. Sometimes it’s a single purchase, and sometimes it’s an ongoing payment. Justifying that cost to yourself can be hard, especially with a piece of software that is unproven. Usually you can use a trial version or, in the case of very expensive packages, request a demo to understand what a piece of software does.

Any piece of software you buy should make your company earn enough money or save you enough time to justify the cost. Period. But slick reviews and grand claims can make you leap into a rash purchasing decision. Avoid the trap of the shiny by knowing your marketing plan well in advance. Ask yourself where does each piece of software fit into that plan, and why it is an improvement over doing it the old way.

You should ask yourself this every quarter. With continual analysis, you can see where the weak parts are in the plan, and, assuming that you are flexible, you will be able to change them and improve them. You might find that a piece of software doesn’t work as well as you thought, or perhaps works extremely well and you’ll want to change your procedures to better utilise it. Always evaluate. 

Build a Tribe

It might be that software isn’t what you need, but other people. Maybe you’re finding you just don’t have enough time to market and provide the goods and services you’re known for. A law firm might suddenly get popular and that dries up their advertising efforts. Don’t be afraid to work with companies who can help you with steps in the process if the time is right. A dedicated marketing company on your side can really help you when the volume gets too big.

Most companies end up building a tribe out of business relationships and hiring contractors to help with certain tasks. Even HR and payroll are getting outsourced these days. Many of the largest companies in the world were able to become that size because of the third-party relationships they cultivated and now nurture. 

Create a Plan

There are a few steps to scaling the operation. The first is to be serious about assessing where you are. You have to know where you are to know where you’re going, and to do that, it’s time to dig down deep into the numbers that you have. Analyse them and figure out the weak spots, take your time in creating something, as this will be a document set that you will return to on a continuing basis. In future blog posts, we’ll take some time to talk about the development of a marketing plan.

 You can bring your operation into the present just by putting the right tools in the toolbox. Back that with the right people and create a plan to make your dreams a reality, and you’ll be able to effectively scale your marketing operation.

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