“Patience is a virtue”.
It’s an age-old saying, and one that’s just as true today as it was when it was first coined.
Patience is an essential business skill. Yet when it comes to marketing, we often expect immediate results; expectantly watching our real-time metrics and feeling a crushing defeat if results don’t live up to our expectations. There may even be a temptation to scrap that campaign and start again from square one.
However, the truth is that there are no quick fixes in marketing. Whether online or offline, you’ll only find marketing success with heavy helpings of patience and tenacity.
There’s No Such Thing as a Shortcut
There’s a critical home truth about marketing that we need to get out of the way. Good marketing comes from continuous hard work, dedication, and diligence. Unfortunately there is no objectively proven magic formula that will instantly make any marketing campaign a success.
Alas, the closest we marketers get to a magic wand is the one in Photoshop.
Putting together any kind of marketing campaign isn’t a case of blindly throwing creative ideas at the wall and seeing which ones stick. In fact, there is a lot of work to be done before you even start thinking about the polished, creative message your end user will see.
Marketing is Far More Than Just Creativity
Naturally, marketers are skilled at coming up with creative campaign ideas that move the needle and drive businesses forward. But marketing is far more than fluffy, blue-sky ideas from the beanbag chair department. There’s a lot of surprisingly dry desk-work that needs to happen behind the scenes first.
Just as you’d plan your route before you embark on a long journey, you need to be clear on the direction that your marketing needs to take before you head out on your promotional expedition.
Before any marketing team starts designing assets or writing copy, they need to reacquaint themselves with the business’s big picture strategy and direction. This can mean aligning their path towards crucial KPIs, the company’s marketing strategy, their brand guidelines, their content strategy, their social media strategy, and/or their SEO strategy. They may also need to carry out fresh market and competitor research or explore the viability of certain approaches.
After all, what’s the point of putting a campaign out there if you don’t know what success means to you? What’s the point of releasing a campaign that stimulates metric A when business really depends on the success of metric B? What’s the point of putting out marketing messages that may be detrimental to other strategies and goals?
Marketing is Like Science
But once the research and strategy stages are over and the campaign is released out into the wild, that doesn’t mean that a marketer’s work stops. In fact, it’s only just begun!
How? Well, it might be helpful to think of marketing like science. In fact, there are a lot of parallels.
To break new scientific ground, scientists take a cyclical approach called the scientific method. A scientist will make an observation, form a hypothesis, create experiments that test that hypothesis, observe the results, and iteratively improve upon their ideas until they have something provable and repeatable.
Another good analogy is taken from software development: the concept of DevOps. Without getting too technical, DevOps is a never ending cycle of continuously improving a piece of software; creating new or updated code; testing it; releasing it to users; monitoring it for successes and failures; then planning how to maximise what’s working and eradicate what isn’t. This cycle continues ad infinitum, continually improving on previous iterations to make the software as good as it can possibly be.
Marketing has a lot in common with both examples. You have an idea for a marketing campaign – that’s your hypothesis. You create it and release it, keeping a close eye on how it performs – that’s your experimentation and monitoring phase. Once the campaign has run its course, you take a look at the data to understand what worked and what didn’t. You then use these observations to tweak the campaign or to course-correct future campaigns and the cycle starts anew; forever on the treadmill of deploying campaigns, measuring their results, and applying what you learn with every single pass.
Taking a cyclical, data-led approach is especially useful when you consider how business tends to fluctuate over time. As markets change and business develops, your marketing aims are likely to change too. This will likely give rise to a need for new, fresh ideas and approaches which should all be factored into your iterative marketing system.
Just as it would have been impossible for NASA to go to space or for Microsoft to develop Windows in a single day, no business will simply stumble upon their own magic marketing formula without continuous effort and large helpings of perseverance.
Forever Building on Strong Foundations
The more experimental cycles your marketing journey takes, the more you’ll naturally learn about your audience – who they are, what they need from you, what they expect from you, what messaging engages them most effectively, where you appear to be most visible, and much more.
Over time, you’ll develop a crystal clear picture of the boxes that your campaigns should generally tick. It’ll become easier to second guess the kinds of campaigns and messaging your customer base will resonate with.
However, the things you learn about your audience shouldn’t just inform future marketing campaigns. These lessons can (and should) be reflected in your wider marketing, sales, and product strategies. They may even disprove previously held ideas about your audience that you’ve had for years!
Some of these lessons can be hard to come to terms with, especially when they come out of left-field. But if a preconceived notion gets disproven time and time again, then it’s time for change.
Give it Time
So any good marketing – whether it relates to strategy, design collateral, content marketing, copywriting, or user experience – needs time for testing, experimentation, and reflection.
You can’t win a marathon without the right preparation and training. It’s highly unlikely that you will hit all of your goals out of the park with your first marketing campaigns, even with the most skilled marketing talent to hand. It’s likely that you’ll still have lessons to learn and things to tweak come your tenth, twentieth, even fiftieth iterations!
You will uncover data that will surprise you. You will uncover details that will completely stump you. That’s OK. Keep going. Keep learning.
We sincerely hope that this article has been useful to you. If you have the patience for marketing but need some help bringing your promotional ideas to life, then get in touch with the team at OLCO Design. For a free and informal chat about how we can support your marketing goals both now and into the future, simply book a consultation with us!