As of October 2017, there are roughly sixteen marketing channels available to us.
Businesses need to get very, very good at getting clients in just a few of these channels. Trying to master them all is not only extremely hard to do, it is also the fastest way to get stuck in the idea of the week rut. You need to discover the channels that are relevant to your audience and focus solely on those.
A business may need to go through a trial and error phase to figure out which channels can produce sustainable growth.
Here are your channels to choose from:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – This includes on-page SEO and off-page SEO tactics  aimed to help you bring in organic traffic from search engines.
- Referral Marketing – This includes intentional word of mouth activities, viral tactics, and intentional referral generation  (should be a must for any business).
- Speaking Engagements – I’m always telling people just how valuable speaking for leads  is. This includes speaking engagements at events such as industry conferences. Note, you don’t need to get paid for the speaking engagement itself for it to be worthwhile. If you do it right, you’ll be walking away with leads that will pay you more over time than just one speaking engagement would.
- Content Marketing – This includes publishing, optimizing and sharing educational content that draws search traffic, links and followers.
- Public Relations – This includes activities aimed at receiving coverage in traditional media outlets.
- Online Advertising – This includes the use of pay-per-click platforms, social networks, display ads and retargeting.
- Offline Advertising – Yes, this can still be a powerful marketing tactic. This includes advertising in offline print and broadcast outlets such as magazine, TV, and radio.
- Sales Playbooks – This includes the creation of specific actions aimed at mining, generating, nurturing and converting leads.
- Email Marketing – While people may give up social media from time to time, you’ll likely not hear people say they’re giving up their emails. Using targeted and automated email campaigns based on conversion actions is a great way to get your message to the right people.
- Utility Marketing – This includes the creation of useful tools that stimulate traffic, sharing and brand awareness.
- Influencer Marketing – This includes the practice of building relationships with individuals and outlets that can influence pre-established communities.
- Partner Marketing – This includes co-marketing activities that run in collaboration with strategic marketing partners.
- Social Media Marketing – This includes the act of building engagement on established platforms and networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as targeted industry platforms.
- Online Events – This includes events such as webinars, demos, and workshops conducted using online tools
- Offline Events – This includes events such as workshops, demonstrations, seminars, trade shows, showcases and customer appreciation events
- Community Building – This includes the intentional act of building and facilitating a community around a shared interest or topic related to the organization’s industry
Now that you have a better understanding of the channels available to you, look at your business and determine your most effective channel. Be mindful that you don’t mistake the success of one channel for another. For example, if you convert all of your leads via personal sales calls, it might be tempting to say that sales is your most important channel. However, if all of those appointments come about because people find your website when they search, then SEO or content might actually be your most effective channels currently. Bottom line, be sure to attribute the right efforts to the right channels.
Why do I recommend that you do this? It’s far easier to generate more leads in a channel that’s already proven effective than it is to jump in and explore new channels.So this would suggest that once you find a channel that’s driving leads, you should expend a great deal of energy finding more ways to leverage this channel, rather than simply accepting that you are receiving all the leads you can.
This applies to cross-channel leverage too. For example, if referral generation is your greatest lead channel then you should consider tactics in other channels like content or speaking as ways to enhance your referral generation channel.
Each of these tactics could be stand-alone initiatives, but with a channel leverage mindset, they make up an integrated playbook of support.
Once you analyze your current business channels and begin considering new ways to grow, you can create a list of potential projects you plan to test in your channels of choice.
When brainstorming potential channel tactics to try, first map out three or four of your biggest objectives for the upcoming quarter. From there, tie trackable goals to each objective. You should be able to get some focus on tactics that might actually help you achieve your defined goals. At this point, you can probably identify some candidates that would make good projects to test.
There are many variables that go into determining what projects to test. Look around and see what’s working for others, ask your team to weigh in, network your ideas with strategic partners. Competitors can also be a great source to generate ideas.
You’ll want to test and fail fast so you can move on and succeed even faster. Here’s the key – spend time before you test to design the project so that you know what you are trying to do and how you are going to measure it.
Marketers often get a good idea and then try it without any way to know if it worked or not. You’ve got to be precise in what you think will happen, how it will happen and how you know if it happened. You’ve also got to A/B test, which is very easy to do these days given the number of tools available.
The point of all of this is to identify bets that pay off big so you can double and triple down on those and drop the others.
When you do this repeatedly you start to find the best channels for profit and you can start to play in those few channels like a champ.
Lastly, take the winners and find the best way to document and delegate. By doing this, you can free up more time to strategize on ways to make new, informed bets.
Keep a running log of all of your tests to help you stay focused on what works as well as learn how to get better at creating new ones. Once you get this system down, continue to operate it and evolve.
What marketing channels work best for your business? How did you decide to go with those channels?