One of the best pieces of advice I received early on in my business came from a man I had met at a local business owners meeting. He was in his late 80′s at the time, and had actually been retired for nearly twenty years already, having sold his business for several million dollars; but he came to these meetings regularly to stay connected with the local business community and provided lots of valuable guidance to young or new entrepreneurs like myself at the time if we were willing to listen.
I was, and I owe much of my success to his many tidbits of wisdom, but the one thing above all else that I can directly connect to real profits and growth for me was this, he said to me one evening “everything is a campaign”.
At its core what that means is, you have to plan everything you do as a piece to a larger pie. You never just advertise, you never just network, you do these things with a set goal in mind and a long-term strategy that you’ve planned for already.
I think the easiest way to explain this, is with the exact example he gave me during that conversation so many years ago. I didn’t record or write the conversation down, so I’m going to paraphrase here:
He asked me to “Look at the weekly in-store coupons that retailers run. They often lose money from those sales when customers use the coupons, because the discounts are often higher than their profit margins on the particular items. So, why do they offer them?”
My reply was “Because almost nobody comes into a store and buys one thing. So, they make up the losses on the additional items the customer purchases.”
He said, “Nope. They do it because the most valuable customer is a repeat customer that becomes a regular customer. The lifetime value of a customer who comes into your store once every week or two is so great, that taking a loss on something once early on to establish the goodwill and relationship is a no-brainer.”
When I think about that now, you could easily apply it to what online marketers, especially software and information product sellers, have been doing for years too. They give away free products, ebooks, reports, demo/trialware software, just to capture email addresses. It’s the same thing as an in-store coupon, because getting that intimate connection with customers that allows you to actually walk into their life any time you want via their Inbox, and make them an offer, is absolutely worth trading that free product for early on in the relationship.
But, this isn’t just about customer acquisition, those are just simple illustrations to help package the underlying concept that everything is a campaign, and must have a long term goal and strategy behind it to be successful.
Your entire business is a campaign. You start at one place with a goal to reach another. You will plan and work to reach that goal, and that’s the definition of a campaign. Each thing you do along the way, should also be a smaller campaign that flows fluidly into your larger campaign.
Let’s assume that in looking at his business, an online marketer decides he needs to increase his social networking because after looking at the numbers from his limited attempts so far, he sees that it’s a profitable use of his time for his business (it isn’t for everybody, despite the hype).
At this point, let’s say the online marketer has a few hundred followers on Twitter, a few hundred likes on his business Facebook page, a few dozen subscribers to his YouTube channel, and each video he uploads usually gets about 100 to 200 views. He also has an email list that he’s been building for years, long before the social networks came on the scene, and he has a few thousand people on his list.
From these hypothetical numbers, the problem is clear to see. If his goal is to increase his social networking, than he needs to start by increasing the numbers of people he’s connecting with on each of the social networks.
So, what’s the “Easy Button” one-stop-shopping solution to that?
There isn’t one. There are dozens of ways to increase your reach on social networks, but no single way that will lead to satisfying results. For that, he must think beyond just increasing his numbers and into how that will impact his business as a whole.
The key is always to build a campaign that utilizes several (or all) of those dozens of options, and to tie it all together into a cohesive campaign with the big picture.
Leverage what you’ve already got, use that email list, use your web site and/or blog, look for ways to create cross-overs to get your Twitter followers to also begin liking your Facebook page, and your Facebook community to begin following you on Twitter. Get all of them to visit your YouTube channel, and give them a reason to subscribe when they do. Give all of your followers and subscribers a reason to share your content with their friends and circles.
Once you’ve completely leveraged what you already have, expand outwards. Look at ways to reach new people. This can be anything (or everything) from traditional article marketing to buying PPC ads. But whatever methods you add into your campaign, tie them all together.
For example, just writing an article and submitting it to some article site with a link to your blog, or web site, or social network profile, isn’t going to be very effective, even if you’ve got a great landing page, unless that landing page has a direct and logical next-step connection with the article content they came in from.
Fortunately, that logical next-step connection isn’t very hard to create with a little planning.
With an article you’re giving readers some piece of information that should answer one of their internal questions, once they have that piece of information what’s going to be their next question or pain point? Ask and answer this for your niche demographic, and you’ve got the next-step connection to add to your landing page.
Now, take that to the next level. Your landing page exists to either capture their email address, or make a social network connection with them by trading content. They either submit their email address to get the free report or ebook or whatever you’re offering, or if you have some sort of content locker setup they have to follow you on Twitter or Facebook to access the content. Either way, you’re trading with them.
But, once the trade is done, don’t just stop because you’ve got them in your “funnel”. Being happy to have them in your auto-responder sequence at this point is a wasted opportunity. Think of that as the bonus, not the end of this campaign. This is where you can tie the smaller campaign of growing your social media presence with the overall campaign of growing your business.
Right at this moment, you know exactly where their mind is at. You’ve just walked through two steps with them, answered two internal questions for them, so what’s their logical next-step again?
With all of the information and answers you’ve just provided to them, will they logically have another question? Another point of hesitation? Or maybe it’s more logical to believe at this point they’ll be ready to purchase a solution? If you know your market, you should be able to anticipate what they need now and give it to them.
The point is, getting a purchase is the real target, so you keep moving them along, giving them answers to their questions until they reach that stage where their only choice is to buy a solution or continue living with the problem; even if the problem is simply not having the product, that’s a legitimate problem if the product empowers them in some way.
By staying with them until the only logical next-step is to buy or live with the problem, you’ll see a much greater return on your efforts, and still have them in your “funnel” for future marketing too.
That’s how everything is a campaign.
Most people (and by most people I mean the majority of people who aren’t having success), would see increasing their social network followers as the goal, and direct their efforts at simply increasing those numbers.
When you see everything as a campaign, you learn to tie all of your efforts into your overall business campaign, which means there are really two goals. First, to get them into your “funnel”, either with a social network connection or by getting their email address. And second, to turn them into a customer that pays you for something as soon as possible, because that’s what your business campaign needs in order for you to move from your starting point to your target point.
Nothing you do should ever be an island. It shouldn’t be isolated in application or short-term in concept. Everything you do needs to be part of something bigger, and planned out to tie-in with your entire business in some way.