Nikki’s Notes: Raising ROI is a Cross Country Event Not A Flat Race
The complexities of marketing spend in building a great ROI for business offer a gamut of challenges for even the most seasoned business owner. Successful brand building and sales gains require a long-term investment view and a carefully constructed content strategy.
Nikki explains it this way:
“For many years I have shied away from clients that ask for one off press releases or short term content creation. Naturally I appreciate their reaching out to me, and I take the time to explain to prospective customers of my PR/Marketing company exactly why one off pressers are a waste of my time and their money and thus a poor return on investment [ROI] for them. My most successful marketing campaigns have always offered a mix of well-structured, current content with flexible strategies.
Think of growing your business as a cross-country event. First you need your horse obedient and supple so he can answer your requests for control and athletic ability on the cross-country course. Enter at A for the dressage phase. In your business this translates to having relevant and engaging content on your marketing platforms. Social, websites, e-books, white papers, blogs, press releases, editorial publishing options, etc. must all provide a solid base for what is to come next. The sales funnel and conversion to sales must be well managed and implemented to build trust via transparency throughout.
For the next phase, the fun and exciting cross-country, the course will be long and the horse must be fit and nimble to accomplish a successful ‘go.’ Confidence must be built with each stride and obstacles easily cleared with good form. The rider that pilots the horse must have a clear plan when it comes to interval training techniques, medical care and have put the necessary work in to the horse’s training to successfully navigate the varietal fences that will come up on course. Of course this is a team effort, and requires vets, alternative medical providers, nutritional expertise, transport and grooming help etc. All of which cost money.
This is akin to knowing your business, being flexible about taking the long versus short option when faced with a difficult fence, or in business, an issue. Of course as a rider you have to multi-task. You need to keep a weather eye on your competition, the clock and the condition of the footing on course and make sure your strategy to get to the finish line of this leg of the event is clear before you set out.
In marketing terms this is where the importance of content strategy lands and where experience in PR is a necessity. What do you do with bad press on your social media? How do you handle a product quality or design mistake? When do you ‘hold on course’ and when do you push on at a full gallop? Copycat products may attempt to usurp your market share and may muddy the track. How do you handle their bad behavior? Whip them into shape with the help of expensive legal counsel or divert them with clever content and improved marketing?
Before you kick off on course developing your business you’ll need a solid PR/Marketing partner that can help you train for ultimate success, someone that will earnestly collaborate as part of your team. They must liaise with everyone in your company, whether it is your current overworked marketing team, hardworking sales team, or C-level executives, and deliver unique and fresh ideas to advertise and illustrate your brand. Content created must exhibit sincerely good wordsmith skills that will take the long term view of the company needs.
Competing is after all, not about success at a single event. It is about building a solid strategy for both this season and the next and the ones after that.
A great example of a long-term approach to building ROI, is the humble blog. Even today, blogging is still a mainstay component in any content strategy. Whether the writing provides content authority or that overused term, thought leadership, and incorporates personal professional premium content, cleverly written blogs provide material that will yield positive sales results well after they are published. Just because a blog does not offer an easily measurable ROI it does not mean it is not of significant value in your overall strategy.
The last part of the competition is held in full view for all to see in a large arena with the show-jumping portion. This is where both rider and horse must demonstrate that they both have a good handle on both flatwork and jumping. Where tight turns demand agility, and lightly cupped rails, spread fences and upright obstacles are jumped with aplomb. The horse should be sound and well, happy and confident at the end of the day.
For the business owner this is where their product or service will clearly shine. Supply chains, quality control, positive customer reviews combined with a coherent marketing strategy with clever content will produce loyal engagement to the brand. Trust and transparency are built over a period of time not over a few furlongs at a flat out gallop.
At the showjumping phase, the real return in ROI will be showcased, but not necessarily up on the leaderboard as the winner. Sometimes coming in 2nd with a polished performance is a better outcome than just outrunning the competition. It gives you a firm foundation on which to build for the future.
So measuring ROI is not something that can be done instantly when it comes to marketing strategy. And simply throwing money at PR/Marketing e.g. PPC, will not result in strength and resilience for your business.
In equestrian terms think of it as buying an expensive, well-trained horse, but not having a successful competition season because the one thing you can’t buy, is the seat to properly ride it. For that you need to be patient, put in the work, and invest in a good trainer to guide you to success. Or in the case of your business, a seasoned and proven PR/Marketing professional that can identify weaknesses and strengths in your business and carefully craft and execute the right regime to develop over time the full potential in your brand. Accomplishing that is not as expensive as you might think!”
Internationally published writer, content creator, PR/Marketing specialist, photographer and British international Grand Prix level equestrian Nikki Alvin-Smith offers “Engaging Content that Engages Riders to Read,” with unique and fresh material for your horse or pet related business, magazine, website, newsletter, blog and email blast sales machine. Her portfolio of works is extensive and includes equestrian and pet features that have been published worldwide in over 225 different magazine titles. Her clients include equestrian and “B” list movie celebrities for whom she regularly ghostwrites and provides PR services; manufacturers of equine and pet related medical devices, feedstuffs, supplements, grooming supplies, fencing and barn equipment, horse transport, horse structures and professional equine service providers; profit and non-profit initiatives and organizations; and non-equestrian related businesses/publications in the pet industry, investment, real estate and international travel and rural lifestyle.