During SEMA360, the virtual show for the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association, Jim McKinley, founder of [un]Common Logic presented on the topic of “Digital Marketing in 2021: What the Winners Are Doing.”
McKinley walked SEMA360 attendees through several ways in which business owners can optimize their marketing efforts by reviewing successes that other leaders are doing.
Reaching Your Customers
McKinley shared the story of Joe Girard, who is considered to be one of the world’s greatest salespeople of all time. Girard was the No. 1 car and truck salesman in the U.S. for 12 years straight (1963-1978) and holds the record for most cars sold, at 1,425 in a year.
McKinley mentioned that Girard’s secret to success was getting people to like him, and he did this through direct mail marketing. In the days before the internet, Girard would send out over 13,000 cards every month to current and prospective customers. These cards would be holiday-centric and it was an easy way for Girard to stay in touch and earn repeat business from his customers.
When it comes to digital marketing today, a lot can be learned from the success of Girard’s story, but it can’t be simply replicated. Today, the digital marketing ecosystem has evolved to a point where most simple, scalable tactics are priced at their actual value.
Marketing in 2020
Winners today have one of the following:
- Structural advantage, such as unique product or relationship
- Monetized traffic at a much higher rate vs. competitors (higher conversion rate or strong brand)
- Does the “hard things” in digital marketing.
To further emphasize the last point, McKinley expanded on three of the “hard things” that business owners are doing in regard to digital marketing:
- Don’t pour digital dollars into a leaky bucket. McKinley gave visual examples of outdated and problematic websites versus updated and user-friendly websites. All successful digital marketers spend a significant amount of resources building and improving their website.
When creating marketing materials, like advertisements, McKinley explained that ads need to deliver on their promises and link correctly to a website beyond the homepage for optimal effectiveness. For example, if the value proposition in the ad is “free shipping” that has to be present on the website so potential customers aren’t lost when they follow the link to your site.
- Market to the full funnel. As a consumer, everyone goes through a “buyer’s journey funnel,” that directs the customer through a purchase. The funnel begins when the customer is aware of a problem, for example, they need new tires. Next, they research the problem. This is when a customer would search “what tires offer the best gas mileage?” The final step is making a purchase. Many marketers focus on reaching those who are ready to make a purchase, but McKinley suggests that it is a missed opportunity to introduce your brand to the customer at an early stage in their buying process.
- Adapt to your market. McKinley emphasized that it is important to adjust your digital marketing in real time. One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing is that changes can be made quickly, allowing businesses to adapt to changing market conditions. Marketing is not a “set it and forget it” program, winners are always adjusting to changes and new opportunities. For example, digital searches for tires increase significantly after the first snowfall, so marketers should be aware that their message should reflect seasonality for their customer’s needs.
What to Do
Because each business is different, McKinley couldn’t recommend one secret recipe for success that would work for everyone, but he shared three key takeaways to help businesses make their own informed decisions about digital marketing.
First, McKinley mentioned that digital marketing is always changing, from customers to competitors to market trends, even things like the weather, COVID-19 and more. Having an understanding that your marketing plans need to be adaptable is the first step towards success.
Second, look for ways to engage with customers on things that they care about. And in order to do that, the third point McKinley made was that businesses should adjust their digital marketing execution. Take risks to find out what works best for your business, by trying new channels, different ads and new creative.