Creative Marketing: What I Have Learned by Listening to My Clients
I like to think that I’m a pretty upbeat guy. Ask me how I’m feeling and I’ll let you know that my glass is almost certainly half-full, if not overflowing, most of the time. This positivity stems from the fact that I feel incredibly blessed to be in a creative job that I’m as passionate about today as I was some 20+ years ago (yes, I am that old) when I first started exploring it. Despite this, I still hit the occasional bump in the road and feel a little jaded and uninspired from time to time — I think we all do.
It’s not always easy, producing engaging, relevant and timely content. This is particularly true when you’ve been working flat out trying to meet deadlines and ensure you have all your creative campaigns in place. Sometimes, it’s time to step off the treadmill and seek a little inspiration.
So what do I do when I feel like my creative spirit needs a little rejuvenation? I speak to my clients.
I’m a great believer that marketers should always dedicate a little time each month to speak with their clients. If we don’t speak to our clients and take the time to know what their problems are, how can we ever hope to solve them?
Remember: The primary job of a marketer is to solve problems for your target audience. If you can do this, the problem of lead generation and sales will look after themselves.
I love speaking to my clients at iContact because in the main, they are just so inspiring. They constantly amaze me with their business acumen, I enjoy learning about their particular industry, and they inspire me to do more.
After speaking with a client, writing these blog posts becomes so much easier. In this line of work, I couldn’t hope for a more inspiring muse.
There is no “typical” iContact client. This is because, I believe, there isn’t a business out there that couldn’t benefit from email marketing. However, there is often a common thread running through many of the businesses I speak with.
Their marketing departments tend to be quite small. More often than not, the marketing department is just one or two people. Sometimes the “marketing department” is the business owner themselves and marketing is just one hat they have to wear alongside many others.
I often find that small marketing teams can be much more productive than larger marketing departments. This is often because they are unencumbered by overly complex processes, or being tied up in meetings and just having to get on with things.
I like to call this style of marketing entrepreneurial marketing. This is when you take a limited resource (or even just an idea) and turn it into cash. Of course, email marketing, with its low-cost base, is the perfect accelerant to make this happen.
So What Did I Learn by Listening to My Clients?
- They Are Busy People: Yes, they all have a lot of things going on, but despite their incredibly heavy workload, they want to do more. The most successful marketers among them understand that they cannot do everything themselves and so have learned to outsource several aspects of their marketing activities to qualified people who have the time and the experience to ensure campaigns are delivered on time, on budget and on brand. At iContact, we help these people by offering professional design, list management and other consultative and creative services. In fact, you might be surprised what we can do for you. So stop thinking you are alone in this business because in many ways, our expert team is your expert team.
- They Want to Learn: They know that marketing, particularly in this digital age, doesn’t stand still for very long. So they go out of their way to keep up to date with all the latest trends. Dedicating just 15 to 20 minutes a day to reading blogs like this or listening to your favorite industry-related podcast during your commute into the office can help you stay up to date with what’s hot and what’s not. They also enjoy learning more advanced strategies by taking the time to read detailed industry reports and whitepapers, like iContact’s Ultimate Subject Line Guide, and attend regular online training events and webinars.
- They Enjoy Listening to Experts: A true expert will inspire their audience and make them want to do more. They won’t try to confuse people with complicated language and jargon — but instead take complex ideas and create easily understood solutions. Many of my clients tell me that having access to a strategic advisor who lives and breathes email marketing and can advise them on best practices and help implement new creative strategies is worth its weight in gold. Having an expert looking over your lists and campaigns and advising on best practices and tried and tested strategies can turn marginal gains into significant growth opportunities.
- They Want to Test New Ideas: Listening only takes you so far — it’s acting on the information that you receive that gets the job done. Our best clients are never satisfied with good or even great results. They want to be outstanding, and the only way they can do this is by constantly testing and optimizing their campaigns. Of course, iContact’s software and human power make prioritizing testing very easy. If you are unsure of how testing can help your marketing, start with something simple like your subject lines (even our most advanced clients tell me they would like to improve their subject lines).
Whenever I close the conversation with a client, I always like to ask what advice they would offer to someone considering starting email marketing with iContact. The answer is always the same.
They tell me that they should put any uncertainty behind them and just get on with it. Even for the most technologically unsavvy marketer, the learning curves are never too steep and there is always someone available to hold your hand while you learn about the process.
Note: I always tell people, if they can list an item on an online marketplace like eBay, they can build and send a successful email marketing campaign.
My clients also tell me that once you start email marketing, your only regret will be that you didn’t start earlier.
How Can We Help? We’re Listening
How can iContact help you send your very first email marketing campaign? Or maybe we could help take your existing send strategy to new heights? Let us know in the comments section below or contact us here. We’re always listening.
This abridged post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.