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November 4, 2020
By John Muscarella
My team and I recently spoke with several of our partners, many of whom are SMBs, about their challenges and successes around marketing their services and those that they resell. From these conversations came both common threads and innovative strategies that we want to share to “lift all ships” in our partner community.
We will share these insights across a series of blogs that will deliver specific, tactical solutions that you can implement in your own organizations, while highlighting successful partners who are leading the way.
For our first installment, I want to tackle the most fundamental marketing challenge our SMB owners face: “How do I market when I’m the entire marketing department?” We were really impressed by the ingenuity of some partners to amplify their voice to those in their database and to expand their reach to new prospects.
Ted Andress of Digital Daze, LLC, has been partnered with Cox since 2011 and is an authorized retailer with four stores in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To keep his business top of mind and his referral network engaged, he sends an automated email each Monday morning wishing his list a good week along with any new service offerings he has. Rather than blasting this out to a large unvetted list, he focuses on a targeted group where he can build a strong ongoing relationship that yields results for his business.
Ted’s simple Monday morning email hits on several marketing strategies that are important and accessible no matter the size of your business. And we haven’t forgotten about the execution challenge: below we’ll give you examples of free or inexpensive easy-to-use marketing tools that can help you execute your own initiatives.
Targeting. We’ll discuss this in more detail in future articles, but by segmenting your list of customers and/or prospects, you can target your message to their specific needs. The process to bucket your list into the right segment is effort well worth the reward. You can segment by customer/prospect type, industry, size or whatever works best for your business. Once this process is completed, instead of sending one message, you can send a different one to each audience. With the tools we’ll talk about, it doesn’t take much more time to tweak your offer for each, and it will yield stronger results.
Consistency. On average, it takes six to eight impressions for your brand or message to make it through all the noise we are bombarded with. Ted has created that consistent “drip marketing” to his list. Without talking to people on his list, I would guess they have come to expect his friendly weekly message.
Build Relationships. I know you have all built your businesses on relationships, but this point bears repeating. A simple “how are you”/“good morning” non-sales message is always noticed, and although an email doesn’t replace the impact of a face-to-face or voice-to-voice conversation, it does make a difference in building a long-term relationship. In addition to building the relationship, getting your name in front of someone just as they are trying to solve a problem could be the difference between you getting the business and someone else.
The devil is in the details (and the time), but these tools help you effectively create marketing initiatives on your own.
Email Marketing. There are several email marketing platforms, but Mailchimp and Constant Contact are two low-cost examples that come with a large selection of templates that make it fast and easy to create well-designed, branded emails that can be automated to go out when you want them to. Do your marketing work when it fits your schedule and let the systems execute when it’s time. Pro Tip: COX has marketing content available for you to leverage for the messaging in and attachments to your emails. Contact [email protected] if you’d like to find out more about COX marketing support.
Graphic Design. Seems like everyone has slick-looking social media posts and graphics. It’s easy for you to have the same with a free tool like Canva. Simply pick what you are building an image for—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, email header, website header, etc.—and Canva has the dimensions ready for you. Then simply pick one of many templates it has, replace the template message with your own, easily tweak any graphic or color, and download. The intuitive interface makes good design free and easy for anyone. If you’re looking for an image to use, remember that most content is copyrighted, so you want to find either royalty-free or freely usable images. Unsplash offers a huge selection of images that are free to use for any purpose. Simply search for a topic, download it and add it to Canva, your email marketing tool, etc. For icons, iconmonstr has a great selection of free images to download. Its site makes it easy to change the size and color before download as well.
Social Media Tools. Posting to social media consistently is also important for staying top of mind. One of the biggest challenges SMBs have is creating content and managing its delivery across social media platforms. Tools like Hootsuite—which has a free version for businesses that only want to manage three or fewer social media outlets—is a great way to automate and schedule the delivery of your posts in advance. Pro Tip: Block an afternoon every few weeks to brainstorm and write the next several weeks’ worth of social media posts. Use Hootsuite to schedule them, and then forget about posting until your next scheduled brainstorming session. Use Canva and Unsplash to get the right images for the posts.
In upcoming installments, I will interview a Master Agent who has taken his marketing to the next level, discuss audience targeting strategies that work in telecom, introduce relationship builders who break through the noise, and show how to build a LinkedIn profile that sells you and your company.
We value our Cox partners, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can help you grow. Reach out to us anytime at [email protected].
As a senior director at Cox Business, John Muscarella is responsible for the overall readiness strategy for the indirect business sales channels. His team has the primary responsibility to develop, implement and sell solutions utilizing the Cox Communications network throughout the country. John has more than 25 years of experience in business management, which includes sales and leadership positions with companies such as Polycom, Sprint and EDS.
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