Marketing can make all the difference when it comes to getting customers to connect.
This year at Virtual Fiber Connect 2020, there are a slew of marketing experts discussing everything from optimizing your marketing plans for customer service to what we can expect in 2021. We asked three members of the Marketing Trends & Changes Panel to discuss what they think is going to be top of mind for marketers in the New Year.
FBA: In your opinion, what do you think is the #1 thing people need to be thinking about from a marketing perspective going into 2021?
Kevin Morgan, Chief Marketing Officer at Clearfield, Inc.: As we move into 2021, social media and digital marketing will become more important for companies to establish or build on leadership positions. Choose a topic, an area of expertise, a solution, or a service offering and then build a plan to continually promote that idea through social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) and digital marketing platforms (company websites, E-mail campaigns, banner ads, remarketing). My number one marketing thing I am thinking about in 2021 is marketing automation tied into account-based marketing (ABM).
Christy Batts, Broadband Division Director at CDE Lightband: It may sound redundant but Covid 19 has changed a great deal about our world. How we interact with one another, how we gather our information, how we connect to the outside world and even how we work or learn day to day. And these changes may be with us for some time. As companies learn to adapt they will also identify new revenue streams, faster processes and more remote management with their teams. Once Covid 19 is over and we return to normal, what will be our new normal? What aspects of this new approach to our lives and our businesses will we want to keep, lose, expand on? Marketing messages have to evolve with these changes in our communities.
Kimberly McKinley, CMO at UTOPIA Fiber: Video. Strong video content is going to be crucial for marketers as we go forward. More and more consumers are consuming video content. Fun Video Content. Just because we are in the broadband industry, it doesn’t mean that it has to be boring.
FBA: Why is having a strong marketing team so important when it comes to fiber?
Kevin: Fiber can be an intimidating technology to those that have never used it or deployed it. But like many other things in life. Lack of information gets filled in with negative thought. That’s why it is so important to educate people on fiber as a technology, fiber as an enabler of a better lifestyle, and fiber as an ongoing wise investment. The marketing department plays a critical role in accomplishing these things.
Christy: When I started in the municipal fiber and broadband world, fiber was such a new concept to our communities. Now everyone has services delivered via fiber. Having a strong marketing team helps to ensure that while you tell your fiber story you make sure that your potential customers understand what sets you apart from the other providers, why your fiber network is important to your community and how your service will improve their lives.
Kimberly: A strong and robust marketing team is crucial for a successful marketing push. A marketing team doesn’t have to be all internal employee. I employ 2 full time marketing employees at Team UTOPIA alone with a full-service marketing and PR team. I also have hire a consultant for digital efforts. Not everyone specializes in everything in marketing so bring the best team together and collaborate on the efforts.
FBA: What are some of the big mistakes you think companies make when building a marketing plan?
Kevin: Determining the project scope is a key element of building a marketing plan that if overlooked can cause many problems down the road. The scope needs to answer who, what and why. Who are we competing with? What is the competition selling? Why are we better?
Christy: There are two keys to a successfully executed marketing plan. First you must know your market, it’s demographics, growth potential, what makes the consumers in your market buy one product over another. Are there growth areas and non-growth areas to help you decide where to focus your message? Secondly, build your plan, implement and track it. But be prepared to evolve and change it if the message doesn’t deliver the results you expected or if you need to shift focus to another idea. Having a core message, a brand and a product focus is always important.
Kimberly: I have a lot of ideas on this question 1. thinking that anyone in your company is a professional marketer. 2. Trying to take on too much at one time. Make sure you are building a plan that is feasible and doable in the time frame you have laid out. 3. Like I mentioned earlier, hire an expert. A digital marketing professional might not be great on grass root or direct mail marketing efforts.
FBA: If a company wants to improve their marketing, what is the first step they should take to get started?
Kevin: I’ve heard it said that getting a new customer is seven times more difficult that keeping an existing customer. But getting new customers will depend on the success of existing customers in my opinion. The first thing to do is to highlight successes. Where have you been successful with your products and services? Why did you win? Document that and then promote it like crazy.
Christy: Make sure you are tracking performance and watching the metrics from your campaigns, your social media sites and your website. Once you know what works best and gets the best results you can play with messaging and images to drive more growth. Knowing what works and what doesn’t in your market can help you hone your messages and delivery so you get the best success for your budget.
Kimberly: Understand the goals of the company. You can’t develop a marketing plan without understanding the mission and goals of the company.
FBA: Anything else you'd like to add?
Christy: Make sure you have a healthy marketing budget and use those funds to the fullest. Keep your cause marketing budget separate from your media budgets. That way sponsorships don’t overtake the funds needed to drive measurable customer growth. Sponsorships and community support funds are important ways to get your brand out there but are not always quantifiable in actual customer growth numbers.
Kimberly: Marketing is HUGE to a project’s success and it is not easy, and it is a constant battle. The marketing field is constantly evolving and your marketing plan needs to be constantly evolving.