Last week I was privileged to attend a two-day leadership training seminar that focused on Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It was a great experience both personally and professionally. (Thanks, ExactTarget!) In fact, I found the “7 Habits” principles to be so inspiring I wanted to find a way to translate them to the world of digital marketing.
First things first what is a “habit”? We generally hear people talk about habits in a negative context like smoking or nail-biting. But habits can also be positive and constructive! A habit is simply a behavior that’s repeated so regularly that it becomes almost involuntaryand once a habit is formed, it’s very hard to break. That’s why it’s so important for marketers to develop great habits.
Under the Covey philosophy, the first three habits are all about improving from the inside out. These habits lay the foundation for your actions, and they typically aren’t visible to the outside world. To me, this equates to the planning and data management that creates the foundation of a solid marketing strategy. Habits 4-6 in the Covey philosophy are about the things you actually do. Similarly, once you’ve got your plan and your data in place, you can confidently start executing your various marketing campaigns. Finally, the seventh habit is all about continuous improvement and renewalI think that one is pretty self-explanatory!
Habit 1: Be Proactive with Your Data
It all starts with data so get your data house in order NOW. In order to send targeted, relevant communications, you first need accuate, organized, up-to-date data about your audience. And how do you get that? Ask them! Use a Preference Center to ask your audience what they like and what they need. Then set up a CRM system to help you utilize all that great data when you’re creating new marekting campaigns.
Habit 2: Begin with the End In Mind
It’s critical to have clearly defined goals before you start executing on your marketing strategy. What do you want to achieve in the next 30 days? The next 6 months? The next year? Are you trying to increase traffic and drive sales through your website? Do you want to build your social media audience through channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn? Lay out specific, measurable goals for the short term, mid-term, and long-term.
Habit 3: Make Time to Plan
I can’t stress this habit enough. It is absolutely essential to have a solid marketing plan in place from the start, to lay out the strategies, tactics, and channels you’ll use to convey your marketing messages. A well thought out marketing plan can also help you make make informed decisions about whether to get involved in “the next big thing.” And there’s always a “next big thing.”
Habit 4: Create Win-Win Situations
Obviously the win for you is increased traffic, new leads, or a sale. But what’s the win for your audience? If you can’t answer that question easily, then your marketing campaign needs some work. For example, if you’re looking to drive more traffic to your blog, start by providing content that your audience actually wants to read! Give them content that answers a question or helps them solve a problem, and they’ll repay you by sharing your contentthus bringing more visitors to your site!
Habit 5: Know Your Audience, Grow Your Audience
Use the data that you’ve collected (see Habit 1) to develop a clear understanding of your target audience. What is their role within their organization? What are their challenges? What do they need from you? Then find ways to increase your audience by attracting more people with similar characteristics. For example, using the “custom audience” feature on Facebook, you can find and target specific customer segments.
Habit 6: Build Synergy Between Channels
Your audience is on more than one channel, so you need to be able to reach them where they are whether that’s email, Facebook, Twitter, mobile messaging, or the web. And with careful planning, each of these channels can help build and support the other channels. As a simple example, your emails can include an invitation to follow your brand on Facebook and Twitter. Your Facebook page can include a tab where users can subscribe to your email campaigns. You can use Facebook posts and tweets to promote new posts on your blog. The possiblities are practically unlimited!
Habit 7: Measure, Refine, Repeat
Highly effective marketing is a constant cycle of testing, measurement, and improvement. Experiement with different ways of doing EVERYTHING, from email subject lines and send times to various types of social offers and mobile messaging campaigns. Review your results to see which techniques are most effective and which help you make the most progress toward your stated goals (Habit 2). Then apply your learnings to improve your next campaign.
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