7 Essential Habits for the Modern Marketer
Starting a new business or getting back into the game? Eeps! How nerve wracking! How scary! How exciting! How all of the above!
The birth of a new idea, or the return of an older one, can leave us biting our nails and feeling butterflies. It’s easy to feel lost, unsure of ourselves, doubtful if our instincts and experience are enough to navigate this new online frontier of modern marketing.
Marketing is the ability to promote or advertise your idea, your business or yourself. Modern marketing challenges us to become comfortable in the world of technology, websites, social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and Google. That’s a big ask!
How do you know which social platforms to use? What skills do you have to master, and which ones can you ignore? What are some tricks to branding yourself or your business for 2019?
This article will answer these questions and more. The following seven habits, or principles, are designed to provide you with plenty of action items to bring clarity, direction, and encouragement as you enter the modern marketing world!
I've been there. I feel your entrepreneurial jitters.
You see, not only did I start my own business eight years ago, but a large part of my job is to help people just like you navigate this crazy world of technology and modern marketing. Think of it as Dear Abby for technology.
I’ve had the pleasure of launching and re-launching hundreds of businesses. I won’t lie - running a successful global agency is pretty fun. But my greatest joy is connecting with individuals one-on-one and passing on the gift of empowerment, knowledge, inspiration and encouragement that has been given to me.
It’s an exhilarating process and I'm honored and grateful to share a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Everything has changed. Nothing has changed.
It’s hard to remember that Google, WordPress and Facebook only came into existence around the year 2000. Over the past 20 years, marketing may have changed (#understatement), but the fundamentals have not.
This is important to remember. People want to know if there is a trick to mastering modern marketing. Nope, but there is definitely a discipline required.
We just need to learn a few new communication methods to achieve the same, or better, results. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to be willing to adapt and learn new things.
Scary, yes. Inspiring.... even more so!
Ready to embrace modern marketing for 2019? Let’s begin with what I consider the most important principle of all.
No. 1 Be Observant
My mother worked for a non-profit recruitment company for homeless men and women in Berkeley in the 70’s. Every morning, she would distribute newspapers and donuts and task the candidates with reporting to her by 10 a.m. with news they deemed relevant to their industry.
She held the highest placement scores for anyone in her position, and she always believed it was because of this simple daily practice. It showed the men and women respect, it created discipline and confidence, and it gave them something important to fill their time with when they weren’t sure what to do or how to begin the more daunting task of finding a job.
Later, when the newspapers and donuts were cut from the budget, the success rate dropped as well.
Research industry trends & know the players
The modern marketer has the answers to everything under the sun, right in the palm of her hand. With technology changing and progressing around us, it is important to dedicate part of your routine to your continued education and training.
You don’t have to be an expert. We’re all trying to keep up. If technology intimidates you, this habit will give you permission to be the student. Watch. Listen. Observe.
Dedicate a part of each day or week to research. Keep it relevant – avoid getting lost in YouTube videos of cute puppies and Ellen re-caps (I know… so tempting). Capture your observations into a trusted system – I use a simple notebook – where I can come back to and extract action items. Getting Things Done, by David Allen, has revolutionized how I organize my notes and thoughts.
I suggest keeping a time limit to this practice, like 30 minutes, so it feels intentional. Donuts are optional.
Subscribe to 1-3 blogs or news outlets that are relevant to your industry. I love theSkimm.com, which sends me a daily email with global highlights so I sound smart at parties. Think with Google provides exceptional research on a variety of industries. Google topics and key words, or names of businesses and CEO’s to study trends.
Podcasts are an excellent source for insider scoops and are a preferred research tool for modern marketers.
Who is your ideal customer or target audience?
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or joining an established team, who will you be serving exactly?
Creating a full profile for each type of person you want to attract or connect with is the most valuable first step of launching or re-launching a business. The more you study and know about your ideal customer, the more you will know how to effectively market yourself to them.
You really can’t know too much here. I have created a PDF exercise here, which takes you through a series of questions to ask for each ideal customer you might have. Take your time to be thorough and have fun with this!
I used to get annoyed by some of the questions I received from my clients around technology. I was so busy trying to succeed and get a project done that I wasn’t listening to what my clients were asking. When I stopped talking and started observing, I discovered a much better way to communicate. I needed to slow down, break topics down into smaller parts, be much more patient.
When I truly listened, I was filled with love for my ideal customer. My frustration was replaced with empathy. I was also inspired to expand my services! My observations guided me clearly to know how to communicate with my customers and clients, and where to find potential customers.
My clients responded overwhelmingly to my shift. My business tripled and my reputation included being known for understanding for my clients’ needs better than they did!
No. 2 Be Prepared
Ok, so now you know who you want to work with or for, but where do you start? While it may be tempting to jump into action, try to resist. Instead, we want to take this next phase to prepare and plan as much as possible.
Measure twice, cut once… right?
A Marketing Plan (or some call it a Media Plan) is an excellent way to map out the communication strategy for the year ahead. If done properly you know what platforms to use, what topics or themes to cover, and when you get a vacation.
I like to guide my clients through this fun exercise that produces a detailed calendar of the year with all events, seasons, trends, campaigns and milestones that need to happen.
Creating a plan gives you structure.
It reminds of you of considerations that will impact your success. It lets you zoom in and out to see how small positive steps you take today really do matter.
Creating a plan also lets you dream!
This is the time to dare to be bold. Make declarations and put them onto your Marketing Plan. Even the most practical realists know that large milestones must be dissected into smaller parts. Break each project into individual bite-sized action items, and get these scheduled. Brick by brick, plans become achievements.
No. 3 Be Consistent
The importance of observing and planning first is that once you begin communicating, modern marketers expect you to stick around. Consistency is key. Momentum is built upon your ideal customers knowing they can trust you to show up regularly.
I realize this can feel like pressure. Modern marketing is like entering into a relationship. That’s why it’s vital you commit to what is realistic. Don’t say you’ll send an email newsletter every Tuesday and Thursday, if you know you can’t even get one out per month.
Better to start small and build than over-promise and under-deliver
This is actually good news. It’s permission to do what’s best for yourself and your life. It’s not the frequency that matters, it’s trusting you to keep your word. Modern marketing is about building relationships. If you say you’ll send out a quarterly blast – and then you DO – we’re thrilled!
This habit applies to social media, as well. Again, I realize this is a tough area for most of us to maintain consistency. I certainly struggle with this, as I think most modern marketers do.
That is why the earlier habits are so essential! Put time and thought into planning a realistic social content calendar, so you can avoid overwhelm, burnout and stress.
You do NOT have to use every single social media platform!
Because you spent time observing and knowing your ideal customer, you’ll know exactly where they hang out and what social platforms they use. These are the only social platforms you need to be on, and I strongly recommend starting with just one at a time so you can get comfortable with posting regularly. You can ignore the rest (I know, this is great news!).
Don’t waste time on Snapchat if your clients are all over at LinkedIn.
Have questions about technology or modern marketing? Take this quiz to find out how much help you need, or might like to have.
No. 4 Be Focused
Quality over quantity. Our circle of influence with modern technology has made the world such a small place. Even in the 1990’s, a person would never imagine a personal video clip could be seen by millions of people around the world in hours!
Now, there’s this unrealistic pressure to collect fans, followers, subscribers and viewers by the millions. It’s an easy mistake to make, since it would appear that “more is better.”
Do you react better to focused quality attention? Of course you do. It is always better to tend to one customer at a time whenever possible. Each customer is unique, and taking care to provide excellent service will ensure a positive review, a genuine share to their friends, a “true” fan who will engage with you.
A further benefit to this principle is a sense of pride in oneself. I get far more satisfaction and personal fulfillment when I connect with a client one-on-one. I learn as much as they do, and it helps me perfect my product, skills and services.
Focus is a win-win for all. The quantity will take care of itself if you follow this principle.
No. 5 Be Vulnerable
The word “authentic” has become an overused buzz-word of the modern marketer, but it comes from an intense desire consumers have to connect. We balance the sterility of technology with the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with complete strangers.
This is not a new concept, it’s just a bit different with modern marketing. Actually, I think this is an area we are still sorting through currently… it’s easy to blur the lines between business and personal a bit more than I think is appropriate.
So, welcome to the work in progress! This means it’s up to you to sort through what’s appropriate for your ideal customers, and what’s a graceful amount to share.
The key to this principle is to be human. Share stories. Have a sense of humor, or show us behind the curtain.
Do be a person. Be emotional.
Don’t be abstract. Vagueness kills vulnerability. Details draw us in.
Vulnerability is hard for many. It takes practice and requires energy. It takes time and is uncomfortable sometimes. It is risky.
It’s ok to experiment and find your voice. I have often made subtle shifts in my voice to find what works and what doesn’t. I’ve used more slang in the past than I do now, finding the right amount of informal play without offending my audience. This just takes time.
At the beginning of this article, I stated that the fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed. This is most true for this principle. Marketing has always been about creating a compelling and emotional desire – cracking open the heart of someone – so they will remember you, and hopefully want what you are selling.
In today’s modern marketing, vulnerability is both easier and harder to achieve. Easier because we have so many more ways of sharing personal content. Harder because the line between personal and business can get a bit muddy and today’s consumer demands the real deal, no BS allowed.
I actually have a cool exercise for how to generate genuine inspiration and be vulnerable enough to share it with others for modern marketers in my free playbook, which you can download here.
No. 6 Be Helpful
Google calls this principle “assistive marketing” and it’s important to embrace this new style of communicating as a modern marketer.
As technology has evolved, consumer behavior has grown to expect a tremendous amount of help. Businesses not only offer a product or a service, they now provide an experience. We have grown to expect a company to not only sell us a thing, but stick around to teach us how to use it, and be available to support our every question.
You will gain the loyalty of your ideal customers if you can become a resource. See what ways you can improve their experience with your help.
I love this evolution of marketing because it invites me to indulge in my own training and become an even better expert. It also is incredibly fulfilling to offer this level of support.
Assistive marketing is here to stay, so we want to embrace this principle and explore how we can over-deliver.
No. 7 Be Accountable
The modern marketer doesn’t guess or wonder how she’s doing. We use insights and data to guide us and inform our progress.
Reporting is more available to us than ever before. Average folks, who didn’t know the definition of the word algorithm, now want to know how to manipulate them.
Dedicating regular time to your routine to study the metrics of your marketing efforts will guide you to become more efficient, more effective and ultimately more successful.
Technology changes fast. Be flexible. Perform regular marketing "audits" by looking at data.
For your website, look at Google Analytics. For social media, each platform offers wonderful reporting. Your email newsletter should provide reporting to show you who opens and clicks on your emails. There are other reporting systems as well – the key is that you are willing to look at the numbers and learn from them.
Reporting is like a crystal ball. It is there to help you!
Conclusion: Be Willing
Modern marketing will continue to change by its very nature. As new platforms surface, and older platforms fizzle out, you can avoid the frenzy of “trying to keep up” and rely on the fundamentals of marketing that continue to drive us to want to connect, feel and trust each other in business.
Practice these 7 principles and adapt them into your routine. When in doubt, go back to #1. By developing good habits, you will see how modern marketing is simply the evolution of communication, with a few new bells and whistles to choose from.
Now, I’d love to hear from you! Which habit is the most challenging for you, and why? Contact me here, and I’ll be sure to answer.
Greta Rose Zagarino is creator of G.P.S. (Greta Personal Support) and the founder of Greta Rose Agency, a development and design firm specializing in customized WordPress and eCommerce websites, SEO, graphic design, social media fan acquisition, and integrated marketing strategy. Greta’s projects have been featured on NBC Nightly News, Oprah.com, Marie Forleo’s MarieTV, Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, theSkimm, the U.N., and TED. Greta has been a recurring guest lecturer for Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. With over 15 years experience and leadership in marketing, development and design, Greta has leveraged cutting edge technology and social media to help propel her clients’ businesses in a profound and measurable way. She has received a service award from the Governor of California, and is also the recipient of the prestigious Spearhead Medallion for Excellence in Service. Greta lives in Hood River, Oregon with her husband and their rescue pit bull, Macy Grey.