Unbeknownst to him, when Jean Cote brought home a majestic Siberian Husky named Onyx, he’d set in motion the chain of events that would launch his marketing career. With little more than a video camera and guest appearances from his four-footed friends, the dog lover melded his expertise into an education program for dog training. It was serendipity. But before the business hit its stride, the unlikely marketer found himself in the crosshairs of failure more times than one would care to admit.
Propagating new products or ideas into the world pits any business — regardless of niche — against new, unforeseen challenges. An airtight, fine-tuned campaign strategy is a guiding light through the fray.
Jean was thrust into marketing in a sink or swim-like scenario. But where he and other burgeoning entrepreneurs stumbled, you need not. We asked four avid marketers from a broad spectrum of industries how they piece together the perfect marketing campaign for their business. And they delivered.
Meet the Experts
Juan Martitegui, Founder and CEO, Educatemia
Erin Chase, Owner, $5 Dinners
Ryan Gromfin, Owner, The Restaurant Boss
“We are a Teleworking Academy. We teach people how to become freelancers, train them on the jobs available and teach them how to get jobs in Upwork, freelancer and similar types of sites.” – Juan
Diet and Nutrition
“I sell online classes (educational info-products), and offer a freezer meal plan membership. My mission is to help people spend less money on groceries by getting organized in the kitchen and being smarter with meal planning and grocery shopping.” – Erin
“I sell marketing and business automation [as well as dog training on the side]. I like to think of myself as the expert or architect behind-the-scenes who designs the processes that will help grow and scale that business. Whenever I work with a client, my goal is to double their sales.” – Jean
“I sell products, consulting and coaching services plus software to independent restaurant owners.” – Ryan
Picking a Target Audience
A marketing campaign is a coordinated effort designed to motivate a target audience to take a specific action. To effectively market your next big thing, you need to have this prerequisite on lock. The more dialed, the better.
Envision Your Ideal Customer
“I basically imagine who we can help the most, who’d be interested in something like this the most and who’d have the ability to pay for it. That way we find audiences that intersect in those parameters. After that, we try to create ads/messaging and marketing collateral that would be of interest to them.” – Juan
Use a Trusted List
“I have built an audience of restaurant owners over the past four years using various social media channels and strategies.” – Ryan
“For our product suite, we use a number of different campaigns and offers, and each one is tailor-made. We have several contact lists and use segmentation and marketing automation to send different promotions and newsletters to different audiences. We ask those who are interested in our products different questions and, based on their responses, we move them through different autoresponders and different information.” – Erin
“I’ll sit down and drill down on exactly who we’re trying to attract. We’ll create a customer avatar which represents our “ideal customer” — usually we’ve already worked with someone similar in the past so it’s a simple process. Just think back about a customer you’ve really enjoyed interacting with, list out all of the characteristics about this person, what they like, what they dislike — and talk specifically to that ONE person. – Jean
A pre-planned campaign ensures consistent messaging and branding on every interaction you have with your target audience segment. Everything they see should support a single goal and a single narrative. Diction and personalization count.
“Everything has to be written or created with ONE person in mind. You might consider interviewing a previous client and asking them what it was like working with you. You can then use their exact language in your copy, videos, etc. You could alternatively survey your list or audience, but the problem with that is you can’t really get in depth like you can with a one-on-one conversation.” – Jean
“The goal of our messaging and content is personalization. The more personalized we can get (at scale), the more successful our campaign or product launch will be.” – Erin
Let Your Audience Pick for You
“Once we know our audiences, we decide what messages, lead magnets, stories we ‘can’ tell them. We don’t ‘pick’ the best message. Our audience does that for us. We split test ads, landing pages, and sales pages aggressively. Then we ‘pick’ the ones that converted the most.” – Juan
Adopt Your Niche’s Vernacular
“I have gathered a good amount of data via surveys, emails and conversations with my audience over the years. I try to use the same words and expressions they use when speaking to me.” – Ryan
Planning campaigns forces you to look at all your marketing efforts through the lens of your business’s strategic goals. Playing into those strategic goals, your immediate campaign goals demand a sharp focus on an end-result — typically customers and revenue — which can be achieved by prompting leads and customer to take a specific action: to opt in, to download an ebook, or to buy something. As such, campaign goals should be precise, quantifiable, and most importantly, attainable.
Simple and Straightforward
“Let’s try to get X new clients, or X new appointments.” – Jean
“The goals for our marketing are always very focused. Sometimes we do content for ‘trust building,’ sometimes we want leads, others are a specific call to action. It depends on the stage of the funnel for the prospect.” – Juan
Set a Baseline
“My general rule of thumb is to generate $1 per active email address per month. Certain months are higher due to increased activity with launches, and certain months are lower because of a slowdown in my product offering cycle, but over an extended period of time that is my long term goal. For each launch, I set targets based on previous launches, but my starting point is usually to convert 2-5% of the active subscribers on that promotional sequence.” – Ryan
Think of the content you consume on a daily basis: the ads you’re targeted with or the blogs you visit. Each of those is anchored to a particular pain point or serves to satiate you in a way that keeps you on the hook. As our experts assert, campaign content is a window into a better life — often provided for free.
“Every piece of content should always lead to some type of offer at the end, preferably to an irresistible offer that makes it almost impossible to say ‘no.’ This is not to be misconstrued as a sales pitch in disguise, where you give no value or give a lot of hype and then try to sell something. What I’m talking about is genuinely helping people, giving your BEST content away for free, and at the end, make a very soft pitch. First of all, this makes converting people SO much easier because you’ve not only established yourself as an authority figure (you know what you’re talking about), you’ve cultivated trust (you’ve actually helped them). In fact, I often encourage my clients to build a Goodwill Campaign for their business, where they map out the different milestones that their ideal client has to go through and create content to help them overcome them.” – Jean
Paint a Picture
“The goals of our campaigns are to get people using our products (not a traditional free trial, but similar) and to get them thinking about how their life will be better after they learn new strategies and smarter ways to shop for food or work in the kitchen.” – Erin
Solve a Problem
“My content is developed around solving a problem or addressing a pain point that my audience shares.” – Ryan
Aim to Please
“We basically think: What do they need to hear to get ‘x’ response? How would they prefer to learn about that? Is it a PDF, a webinar, a phone call with someone on our team?” – Juan
YouTube: Getting YouTube views has become increasingly crucial, particularly to marketers employing a multi-channel approach. The good news: It’s adaptable to virtually any industry, allowing for easy integration into any marketing plan.
“Without question, YouTube is my largest source of ‘free traffic’ if there is a such a thing as free because while I don’t pay to push my videos on YouTube, I have substantial costs associated with creating videos.”
Social Media: Social media has become a pay-to-play arena. Advertisers know they can reach their audiences with the right messaging, audience settings, and budget.
“I use Facebook ads for highly targeted paid traffic. In addition, I post regularly to Facebook and semi-regularly to Twitter, but I use those to engage further with existing leads. I’m happy to report that my email list is fairly close in size to my Facebook and YouTube channels. That is the goal — convert followers to subscribers.” – Ryan
Cross-channel approach: In efforts to put the customer first, a cross channel approach fires on all cylinders in offering a congruent, remarkable experience that takes into consideration the customer lifecycle across multiple, strategic touch points.
“We use our existing social media platforms, including Facebook Live videos, Facebook Groups, Instagram and Pinterest to drive awareness, engagement and share about the value and benefits of our products.” – Erin
Wherever your customers are: Social media is not the magic pill that many marketers suggest it is. Not exactly anyway. It really depends on what mediums your audience uses to consume information. If, for instance, you’re selling to people who are somewhat computer averse, you probably don’t need to be on Snapchat.
“It’s wherever your ideal customer is. Hard to beat advertising on Facebook / Instagram / Google AdWords.” – Jean
“We keep it somewhat limited unless our audience is not there. The channels we try either work or they don’t. If we don’t come close to meeting our goals, we drop them. If we are close, we stick to that platform and optimize.” – Juan
“We are always looking at:
- Best/worst ROI channels (sales vs. spend)
- Best/worst volume channels (amount of leads or sales)
- Best/worst lead to sale conversion rate
But we live or die by the gross margin per lead and the gross margin of our company (sales minus ad spend). We try to increase that as much as we can.” – Juan
Sales and Lead Push
“We focus mostly on the sales and leads KPIs for our campaigns. We typically alternate between sales push and leads push, so as to not exhaust our channels with the same content and ‘sales pitch’ over and over. We use different channels and storylines to help shape and share the message with our audience.” – Erin
Varies by Campaign
“It totally depends on the campaign, but usually if it doesn’t make money, then it’s a flop. You’d have to look at landing page conversion rates, how many people consume the content, how many people apply or request the initial offer, etc.” – Jean
“I clean my list weekly. I delete any unsubs that have never purchased or bad email addresses. I run any contacts that are inactive for 60 days through a re-engagement sequence. If they don’t re-engage they get placed on a separate list where I only email them once a month instead of once per week and for promotions that they have not opted out of. If they remain inactive for six more months, they are deleted.” – Ryan
It’s not uncommon for something to go haywire during a launch — whether it’s a server crash, an email send to the wrong list or simply poor positioning. Whatever the case, marketers need to be prepared to change course on a whim or adjust campaigns accordingly.
“For my evergreen funnels, I am most interested in breaking even on the ad using my tripwire. My goal is be in a position where I can spend more money than a competitor on an ad, because technically my ads don’t cost me anything. After my tripwire/ad combination is converting, I measure my conversions to the next product inline from each email. My goal is to sell 10% of the second product to people who already purchased the initial tripwire. I will continue to tweak those offers until my goal is reached or I will pivot to a new offer/tripwire/ad combination.” – Ryan
Cut Your Losses
“It depends a lot on the stage. At an ad level, we normally give the ad 50 to 100 clicks to determine its CTR (Click-Through Rate). If the CPL (Cost Per Lead) can’t beat the control, then we drop it and try again. We then do the same thing at the landing page stage. After 500 or 1,000 leads of a campaign, we measure how it’s working. If it isn’t, we stop running it.” – Juan
Adjust for Preferred Results
“Well, it makes sense to keep adjusting the campaign until it actually works. Usually when a campaign isn’t working, it’s not the entire campaign that flopped; you have to look at the statistics and see where the disconnect is. First, always rule out any technical problems. Second, see where the disconnect is — maybe the video on the sales page needs to be changed. How long are they watching the video? Maybe just the intro needs to be changed to capture their attention. What if we changed the hook. You get the idea. The point here is not to ditch a campaign altogether but to make small tweaks, test, analyze and continue until it works and is profitable.” – Jean
No Pivot Necessary
“Right now, we are continuing to drive leads into the different workshops and opt-ins that we have for our existing products. We have ‘quasi’-pivoted in a number of ways as we have built out the info-product suite and developed a full set of tools and resources for our customers and prospect base. As long as the business stays profitable and financially healthy, we will not pivot and will continue to work closely with customers to get feedback and improve the existing product suite.” – Erin
Evergreen or One-Off?
The question of whether or not time-sensitive or timeless campaigns yield better returns can’t be met with a definitive answer. It rests solely on the resources and immediate campaign goals of your business. Wherein scarcity often drives more sales in a short window, evergreen introduces longevity. But on the flipside, the best evergreen campaigns are merely retrofitted one-off campaigns.
“I much prefer evergreen campaigns. Mainly, because you can set it up one time and it continues to work for you month after month, automatically. There’s nothing wrong with doing dated campaigns, and in truth, they tend to produce more income because they are tied to REAL scarcity, and you can promote a single offer to all of your social media channels at the same time, driving even more traffic to this ONE offer. But the tradeoff is they require a lot of time and effort.” – Jean
“We have done a combination of evergreen and one-off promotions, really depending on what the product is. For the courses that we ‘launch’ a few times a year, we use scarcity and deadline to drive enrollment. For the courses and membership that is open for enrollment all the time, we use a few different seasonal and timed campaigns to drive leads and sales. Each are effective in their own way for each respective product.” – Erin
One, Then the Other
“I run both. I launch a couple of products once per year, then make it available in evergreen — with fewer bonuses and for a short period of time following a lead capture or downline purchase. They are NOT available for sale on my website via a ‘sales page.’ With respect to my services, those are always available, but a customer must reach out to me and show interest in my services. I don’t chase them; it takes too much time.” – Ryan
“We try to make everything evergreen. But here is what we do. We create a full funnel. After that of course, that funnel yields ‘x’ result. But it also yields ‘x%’ of leads that did not buy. We are not throwing all of those leads away, so we do one-off promos to them. If a promo did well then we automate it and becomes part of our evergreen funnel.” – Juan
Organic vs. Paid Traffic
While Juan otps. for a strictly paid traffic approach for lead generation, it seems as though most entrepreneurs meld efforts to get both organic and paid traffic to their landing pages.
Why Not Both?
“I like both. Organic traffic is more of a long-term project; things like doing SEO and social media presence require a lot of time and effort, and you don’t really see any real results until a few months into it. In my opinion, if you can turn paid traffic into profit, you’re set.” – Jean
“BOTH — paid traffic pays my bills; organic traffic pays for my golf.” – Ryan
Mostly Organic; Some Paid
“We have spent a little ad money on driving opt-ins to some of the free workshops we offer, but most of what we have done has been organic and through existing social platforms. The plan in Q3 and Q4 is to dial in on the marketing messaging and get the best ROI for our ad spend.” – Erin
In equal measure, the size of your operation and the nature of your business dictate the distribution of labor as far as your marketing goes. Whether it’s you yourself, an in-house team, or outside strategists who draw up the marketing plans on a whiteboard and push play in your marketing automation software, a streamlined process is everything. Here’s how our entrepreneurs handle the workload.
The Lone Wolf
“I strategize and implement everything.” – Jean
“We have a media buyer that coordinates the graphics for ads, copy for ads, etc. Then we have a project manager that builds pages on Instapage/ONTRApages and all the campaigns in ONTRAPORT.” – Juan
“For the strategizing and deeper integrations with ONTRAPORT [marketing automation software], I work with a business model and marketing strategist. We meet twice a month to discuss and brainstorm the next steps and ways we can best use ONTRAPORT to help meet goals for sales and leads. Currently, I oversee and manage the project, while working with two others who set up pages, opt-in forms, messages and such. We work well together through project directives, plans, and maps to keep projects moving forward quickly and efficiently.” – Erin
Marketing Campaign Best Practices
Beyond creating an excellent product that’s sure to wow your tribe, these campaign best practices are the key to staying in business.
“I think we’ve had success for two reasons: personalization and personability. Our products are very brand-personality driven, and our entire team works hard to keep up our personability. We want to be a personable brand, while at the same time communicating zest for life and encouragement directly to the person on the other end of the message.” – Erin
“Consistency and giving my best stuff. Don’t hold back. If you watch all my videos, you can basically get my course for free. I don’t get caught up in quality of video or graphics. I always have spelling mistakes. Do I wish it was perfect? Of course, but the content is king. I try to push tips that will get them results, QUICKLY.” – Ryan
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
“Build, test, deploy, analyze results, tweak, repeat.” – Jean
Must-Try Marketing Trends of 2017
Whereas some marketers like Jean Cote are honing their efforts on one marketing channel like SMS text messaging, others execute multi-pronged approaches to compose a cohesive narrative for their audience.
Give Multi-Channel Personalization a Shot
“Personalization across multiple channels: Facebook ads, emails, Facebook Groups. I’ve been working hard to make sure that our members and prospects see what they need to see, when they need to see it. We’ve done this through messaging and copy, through surveys and tagging, and through Facebook Custom Audience rules. Now we are touching on these with prospects to make the experience feel more like ‘Erin is my best friend and we’re just chatting here on this web page.’” – Erin
Don’t Chase Shiny Objects
“Nothing is new; I don’t chase technology. Facebook ads, YouTube and ONTRAPORT have been all I need for the past four years, and I don’t see the “next new thing” changing that anytime soon. I prefer to focus on execution and messaging. I have wanted to start my podcast for years, but haven’t had the time. I don’t feel like I missed the ‘podcast boat.’ There are old podcasts that suck and new ones that move to #1.” – Ryan
“Using data to make money. Teaching the Facebook algorithm what we want, and using chatbots.” – Juan
Always Be Failing and Learning
Some marketers credit their marketing conference ticket stubs for their status while others have put those behind them. Here’s how they got to where they are:
“I set aside at least two hours a week to read, research and learn about current trends and strategies. It’s easy to skip this, but I’m diligent about it because I want to stay ahead of the curve and keep growing the business. Learning, researching and then taking quick action and implementing have been crucial to helping me reach this level.” – Erin
“We are always learning and always testing what we learn. Learning without action is not productive. Also spending a ton of time and money in masterminds, seminars. We also learn A LOT from ‘the market’ — looking at our competitors and talking to our customers.” – Juan
Mistakes — Get Used to Them
“Lots of mistakes and late nights. Lots of reading and listening to others. I have a strong filter; I listen to a lot of people, but I only ‘follow’ a few. Everybody’s an expert in marketing today. I am NOT one. I have two or three people who I am religious about studying from, the rest I don’t even care about. I went to every seminar in the world to find my gurus, and now I avoid seminars, unless it’s one of my guys (or girls).” – Ryan
Bounce Back Like a Champ
“I started out doing all of this on my own, for my own little dog training business. I was in the trenches, testing offers and studying from all the Internet Marketing gurus. Truth is, I’ve failed more times than I can count. I’ve stopped counting when I realized it’s part of the process. Every time you fail, or every time your campaign doesn’t succeed, guess what? You learn something! When you create a marketing campaign, something will not work; it’s guaranteed. What’s important is that you tweak it and continue moving forward. That’s really the secret to being successful online.” – Jean