Micah Paldino, the CEO of PB&J, a marketing, design and PR studio, answers your latest questions on marketing.
1. If I don’t have a marketing strategy, how do I begin to make one?
MP: To begin a marketing strategy that will work in the long run, you need to evaluate your business and operational goals first. What are your financial goals for the new year? What does success look like? Work with a business-savvy friend or confidant to help you establish long-term projections — then you can actually work towards something.
Once you have established your financial goals, you need to start evaluating your core audiences: Who are they? Where do they live? What drives their consumer behavior? Establish a document, a one-page sheet that serves as your go-to foundation for these answers, making sure to include consumer profiles. These two main foundations that make up your business and consumer profiles will guide how you find the right media for the message. You can start to ask yourself where you should spend your marketing dollars, how much energy you should spend on earned media (social media, PR, experiential) and paid media (advertising, sponsorships, paid social media posts). Establish a 12-month calendar in iCal, and start to chart a course of when and how you plan on reaching out to your core demographic.
2. I’m trying to target a niche demographic (18 to 30 year olds), but don’t want to alienate the rest of my customer base. How can I target this demographic via marketing, and yet still attract other customers?
MP: This can be a tricky road to travel, but can be very rewarding if done correctly. The one main take away from the 18 to 30 set is that they are extremely social, and respond best when authentic delivery is done right. The millennial consumer is super tuned into their community, social happenings and events around town, so leave your macro message to target a larger subset, and talk to the millennial through experiential marketing, which could be event sponsorships and young professional meet ups. Again, it’s about finding the right media for the message.
3. I’ve heard “content marketing” a lot this year. What exactly is this, and is it something I (as a health club operator) should be doing?
MP: Content marketing is a very valuable tool that tells your audience more about your brand. In artistic terms, content marketing is a dynamic tool for brand expression. When done correctly it makes you an expert, and gives you a platform for you and your business to be thought leaders in the industry. For the fitness industry, club operators should absolutely be partaking in content marketing, however, every brand has a unique voice and it must be treated with kid gloves to really make the right impact. What works for celebrity trainers might not work for a local personal fitness trainer. Before even exploring a content marketing strategy, ask yourself what unique spin you have in your industry, and how that content will inspire and drive people to your brand. Then you can really evaluate how much time to spend on the initiative and how often you plan on updating your channels.
4. How do I go about evaluating the ROI of a marketing campaign?
MP: There are two ways to evaluate the ROI on marketing outreach, through qualitative data (potential consumer feed back, changing brand perception) and quantitative (how did your efforts turn into sales?). Many clients are only interested in the latter, but what should be noted is that qualitative results are longer term wins or insights, and this consumer feedback will only help you be more efficient in the future. When outreach turns into positive sales, it’s the result of what we at PB&J call “closing the loop.” This terminology serves a holistic effort that helps give insight into the brand, motivates consumers to take action, and in the end purchase. Even with micro marketing efforts the consumer should be given a clear path to purchase, and this is ultimately your responsibility to see that it’s a seamless transaction. When looking at dollars spent compared to dollars won, it’s a very simple equation of adding and subtracting, but caution yourself to make quick judgements about what worked and what didn’t. Consumers now are bombarded with advertising and it takes much longer to get consumers in the door.
5. I’ve been in business for over 15 years. Are there any marketing strategies that are now outdated that I should avoid?
MP: The answer is yes. The main strategy is to spend time on the front end gathering the right data and avoid putting all of your eggs into one basket. A marketing strategy that wins is one that takes time to evaluate consumer behavior, construct smart messaging that is aligned with the brand, and finds the right media for the message.
By Rachel Zabonick