As a small or medium-sized business, it is important to set your company up for success by creating a scalable marketing engine that sustains your growth.
You can offer the best services and products in the world, but that doesn’t matter if you don’t have a streamlined, scalable and efficient marketing machine that gets your offering in front of your ideal customers — at volume.
Flying or Falling?
While it can be easy to improvise your marketing during the early stages of your business, flying by the seat of your pants as you expand is riskier, and it becomes more difficult to manage predictability. If you don’t put a scalable marketing engine in place now, miscommunication between marketing and sales will increase, leads will get lost, data will get corrupted and things can get chaotic.
A scalable marketing engine, when configured and integrated properly, helps your business navigate market fluctuations and replicate success, as well as maintain data and lead integrity along with acceptable ROI.
Understanding the Role of Your Marketing Engine
If you want to build an effective marketing process for your small business, you need to understand the role it plays in your business. The fundamental purpose of marketing is to produce qualified leads with processes that are:
While casual marketing efforts may work once in a while (for example, you get lucky when a LinkedIn post goes viral and brings in a dozen new leads), you need a marketing system that is dependable, turns out consistent results and you can easily expand to meet the growing needs of your business.
In this post you'll notice we use the word “system” several times. A system is a self-contained set of processes, technologies and people. While the exact systems in a marketing engine vary by industry, there are some features shared by every kind of business.
These are the types of features and applications you’ll find in an effective marketing system:
- Market Research
Systems for researching your ideal audience, leads and competition
Systems that test the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and find ways to improve
- Marketing Strategy and Management
A robust marketing plan that can guide your company through the ups and downs of the annual journey to get new customers and keep existing ones
- Inbound Marketing
Cultivating an online presence and releasing content that answers the questions your ideal customers are asking or researching online
- Outbound Marketing or Business Development
Taking advantage of advertising, PR and prospecting opportunities
But! just having these aspects of a marketing engine in place doesn’t equal success. Why? Because these systems are only as effective as they are scalable.
Why Scalability Matters
One of the biggest benefits of having a fine-tuned marketing machine driving your business forward is that you’ll be able to quickly adjust to changes in the market and in technology. Many small and medium-sized businesses get overwhelmed by the multiple facets of marketing and so continue to back-burner any serious marketing efforts. This will cause you to lose market share and leads to your competitors.
Scalability is a widely used term, but it simply means your systems can generate and process more — more leads, more sales, more revenue — at a faster pace without breaking down. Scalability means your business is free to grow and that you won’t risk losing leads to an inefficient marketing process.
How to Build a Scalable Marketing Engine
Now that you understand the importance of having a scalable marketing engine, the next thing to do is create one.
Define the Marketing Needs of Your Small Business
The first step on your journey to a successful marketing engine is to define the marketing needs of your business: volume of leads, qualifiers and size. This is where you’ll figure out which systems and applications your engine needs. For example, do you need inbound, outbound or both? What type of automation can or should you be using?
The key features of a scalable marketing engine include:
- Effective communication between sales and marketing
- Standard operating procedures that team members follow
- Systems that maintain data integrity
One of the best ways to define your needs is to sit down with the people in your business who are on the front lines — your sales team and marketers (whether they are in-house or outsourced). Take the time to review assignments, lead sources, campaign structures, content frameworks, sales workflows and any other intersections and interactions between sales and marketing. By defining the communication needs of your sales and marketing teams, you can improve these intersections and create a scalable marketing engine that is able to efficiently process a high volume of leads without losing data integrity.
Data integrity refers to the ability to perform data analysis on key information used within processes without having to exert additional effort to determine the meaning of information. For example, the marketing team uses two-letter abbreviations for states (WA, TX, CT) when updating a lead's record and sales people do the same (instead of spelling out each state: Washington, Texas, Connecticut).
A few more ways you can improve the scalability of your marketing engine include scaling your campaigns, data and replication.
1. Scale your campaigns
Similar to how you analyzed communication inefficiencies between your sales and marketing teams, you also need to look for problems in your marketing campaigns. For example, are you creating most of your emails from scratch? Or are you sending more emails than necessary?
If your team is still writing emails from scratch, then create, test and start using email templates. This will save time, reduce costs and help your team scale to meet a growing number of leads. If your sales team is sending multiple emails to each lead, look for ways to incorporate your most effective offers into early communications. High impact emails right at the beginning will improve scalability.
2. Scale your data
Is your company data held in one centralized digital location, or does your marketing team have to spend a lot of time digging through file cabinets and computer folders to find data? A scalable marketing engine will centralize data based on shared data points and give your team the ability to quickly pull, upload and re-pull reports and lists.
3. Scale data and campaign replication
This is one of the most crucial features of a marketing engine because your business won’t be able to scale properly if you have to recreate data reports and marketing campaigns from scratch every time. Instead of recreating materials and campaigns, invest in template programs so that you can quickly replicate successful marketing efforts.
4. Bring in a professional marketing firm
If you’ve tried to work through the steps listed above but keep encountering problems, it may be profitable to partner with a professional marketing firm. It can be difficult to identify the blind spots in your own business; bringing in a third party ensures you don’t miss any opportunities for optimization and that your marketing engine is set up for success.
How can you improve the results of your marketing?
About the Author
Neil Eneix founded Fannit, a marketing agency based in the Pacific Northwest, in 2010 with his brother, Keith. They have been very fortunate to work with a wonderful family of clients, watching their businesses grow through the power of digital marketing.
At the office, Keith works with clients on developing out their business strategy, in addition to nurturing relationships. He is amazed by how much influence and power SEO and good content can have over a business’s health.
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