How do you make sense of everything a marketing role throws at you? It can feel like drinking from a fire hose.
We share a simple framework (backed by specific examples from your peers) in this article – read on for case studies from an accounting firm, mattress company, email newsletter, and home services platform.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
Marketing has gotten complex.
In the early days, there were just three TV networks, the local newspaper, direct mail and a few radio stations.
Most products were fairly straightforward and directly competitive.
There was a limit to how much you could slice-and-dice your audience – either they live in a geographic area or they probably like a certain topic because they subscribe to a certain magazine.
Endless channels. And technologies. Ways to carve up a potential audience. And, ultimately, limitless ways to spend your time. Having a marketing role today can feel like an infinite scrolling website – it…just…never…ends.
So how do you make sense of it all? How do you prioritize?
As Albert Einstein, the man who simplified physics into general relativity, has said – everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
To that end, and to help you prioritize, Flint McGlaughlin, CEO of MECLABS and MarketingSherpa, simplifies marketing down to its essential elements in this quick video.
In his book, The Marketer as Philosopher: 40 Brief Reflections on the Power of Your Value Proposition, McGlaughlin provided key questions for each element of marketing he discusses in the video:
To help you answer those questions and structure your marketing activities, in this article we bring you four quick case studies – one for each element of marketing.
First up, an accounting firm that is working to enable its team to be good senders of its message through the trying times caused by significant growth. Next, a mattress company that focused on a specific receiver to stand out in a hyper-competitive marketplace. Then, an email newsletter that grew its list thanks to a simple messaging change. And finally, a boiler installation platform that sparked a conversion rate increase with a simple means of communicating trust added to its homepage.
The Sender is the communicator of The (marketing) Message. The message often publicly comes from the company – through a newspaper advertisement or on a landing page. However, companies don’t really communicate messages. They are artificial constructs. The true communicators are the people that work at the company.
Every interaction with a company communicates a message. Every touchpoint with a customer is a chance to reinforce – or undercut – your company’s stated value proposition. So what does your company do to enable the senders of its messages?
Box Advisory Services recently went through a significant growth phase. The business grew 220% year over year.
“It’s been a stressful period constantly onboarding and coping with the additional work coming through,” said Davie Mach, Director, Box Advisory Services.
The chartered accounting firm has been hosting monthly lunches to get the team out of the office in a more relaxed environment to both reward and relieve them of stress. In addition, the Australian-based company encourages its team to work from home one day per week.
“Many of my staff also work in different locations or have varying hours that may suit their lifestyle better. But most importantly, I’m checking in with them to make sure they're coping okay. I have many staff who are honest and want to do good work, and often this means that they don’t pipe up when they need help. By checking in, it gives them an outlet to express anything they may have,” Mach said.
The Receiver is the one who the marketing message is intended for – often a potential customer or sometimes a person who influences the purchase.
“The best thing I did to transform my entrepreneurial career is to focus on pleasing one particular demographic of the market,” said Stephen Light, CMO and Co-owner, Nolah Mattress.
The shift to focusing on side sleepers wasn't intentional. “Our initial goal was to market to booth side sleeper and back sleepers, but the praises from industry experts made us focus more on pleasing the side-sleeping market,” Light said.
Before the shift, homepage copy talked about how the mattress company’s products were designed for side and back sleepers.
When the team decided to focus on side sleepers, they moved that copy lower on the homepage and replaced it with the “Best Side Sleeper Mattress 2021” section.
“The move boosted our click-through rates, which means there is a huge demand for mattresses for side sleepers. We STILL mention back sleepers though to maximize revenue,” he said.
Since shifting its marketing to focus more on side sleepers, the company has averaged a 30 percent increase in monthly sales, with a 75 percent increase during its best month.
“Focus on a portion of the market with specific and unmet demands. Proper market research is key in pinpointing these opportunities, so I recommend investing money to get high-quality results. As long as you can identify these specific demands before your competitors, I'm confident you can succeed like we did,” Light said.
The Message is what you need your potential customers (The Receiver) to understand about your product.
Zero to Marketing uses a double opt-in – every time someone signups, they receive a confirmation email with a link they need to click in order to be added to the list.
“It’s a best practice to maintain high deliverability and avoid landing in the spam folder. It also saved me a few times when bots attacked my website with fake signups,” said Andrea Bosoni, Founder, Zero to Marketing.
But it’s a double-edged sword. Bosoni performed a quick analysis and was shocked to see how many pending subscribers hadn’t confirmed their subscription. Roughly 40% of signups never made it onto the list.
“This was unacceptable considering how hard I work to drive traffic to my website. But I didn’t want to turn off double opt-in, so I started thinking about ways to improve that number,” he said.
He tried rewriting the confirmation email with the goal to make it more persuasive, but nothing changed.
Then he realized the real reason people weren’t clicking the link – they weren't opening the email in the first place. “My experience tells me that the biggest factor to increase an email open rate is the subject line,” Bosoni said.
The default line was “Confirm your subscription.” He added two simple words: “Action required.”
Creative Sample #1: New subject line for triggered, double opt-in email from email newsletter
That simple change cut pending subscribers in half overnight – from 40% to 20%. So Bosoni went from getting 60 confirmed subscriptions out of every 100 signups to 80 confirmed subs out of every 100 signups – a more than 30% increase.
The Means refers to the mechanism used to get The Message to The Receiver. It could be a print ad in a newspaper. It could be an email. For our next case study, it was a specific element on a homepage.
After a couple of years in business, the team at Heatable launched a new website. They started getting a traffic boost thanks to carefully researched keywords.
However, the traffic boost didn’t bring enough conversions. “Conversion rate hovered around three to five percent, which is the industry average, but we weren't happy with it,” said Sam Price, Founder Heatable.
“But then we realized that a single element was missing: an embedded snippet of our outstanding rating on TrustPilot,” Price said.
The team created added a TrustBox to the homepage.
Creative Sample #2: TrustBox widget on boiler installation platform’s homepage
Thanks to the new TrustBox, the conversion rate on the website’s 150,000 unique visitors per month nearly tripled.
“When marketers say ‘means,’ people usually assume we [are talking about] channels of communication – be they a YouTube channel or a newsletter campaign or a podcast. But means don't always have to be a comprehensive or a discrete medium. They can be something as small and seemingly simple as our TrustBox widget. While it doesn't take up much space, nor does it require maintenance, it has this incredibly clean and effective message. Visitor-wise, this message reads: ‘Many people trust these guys and love working with them,’” Price said.
They are true for any communication objective.
If you’ll notice, I don’t have the famous Einstein quote at the beginning of this article in quotation marks. Because, as I researched for this article, I learned that he did not say his famous quote. At least, not in those words.
Einstein actually said, “It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”
The famous quote everyone thinks Einstein said is actually a rephrasing of his original quote by composer Roger Sessions. In other words, a Sender with a viewpoint outside of the scientific community found a clearer way to communicate the Message through a Means (a New York Times article) that would get through to the Receiver (regular people who aren’t scientists).
Or as Dr. Roger D. Aines and Amy L. Aines said in Championing Science, “Certainly, simplicity in expression makes the message available to the most people. Both Einstein and Sessions have that right, in either form. But what interests me is why it takes a composer to produce one of the most famous quotes about science. Are we not capable ourselves? Do we insist on all the accuracy and detail, obscuring the clarity of message?”
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