We have had a huge marketing epiphany. Okay, epiphany may be a little strong, but we’ve had a whole lotta learnin’.

Social media has created the most significant growth opportunity small businesses (think: insurance agencies) have ever been afforded. Every business with a social media account is now free to move around the world of marketing.

In the past, effective marketing campaigns were largely the realm of the “big boys” as they were the only ones with the big budgets.

Not only are big budgets no longer necessary, in many ways, they get in the way. And, we can all thank and curse social media for delivering that reality.

Making Marketing Meaningful

Effective marketing is no longer about telling your audience how their life is incomplete unless they buy whatever it is you want them to buy.

Today’s marketing is much more meaningful. It’s about educating your audience, helping them understand their own challenges, and offering paths to improved results.

Today’s most effective marketers are more than willing to give before ever asking for anything in return. Don’t get me wrong, marketing is still about creating sales opportunities, but it is much more about creating the right sales opportunities. Opportunities with prospects who are truly aligned with your way of thinking and who value what it is you deliver.

And, yes, marketing still requires a financial budget, but it is now affordable for any reasonably successful business. However, effective, educational marketing also requires a time investment:

  • Time to study the challenges of your audience
  • Time to develop solutions
  • Time to create content to educate your audience on what you have learned and developed

Beware the Barkers

Here’s where we can all curse social media. Some marketers want the best (I would argue the worst) of both worlds. With the big-budget barrier removed, way too many are standing out on the social media corner barking their self-promotional, “look at me” messages at every passer-by.

For all the noise they make, rarely do they offer the advice or insights their audience is looking for, and needs, to help address the challenges they’re facing in their businesses.

This is a case of buyer-beware.

When marketers stand around barking their message, loudly and often, it becomes tempting to listen or, at the very least, difficult to ignore. But look deeper before entering that circus tent. If the message is all wrapper and no candy, move on.

If the marketer spends more time talking about themselves (product, service, accomplishments, etc.) than they do talking about their audience (challenges, struggles, solutions, etc.), walk on by.

Don’t be that guy (or Gal)

We all know businesses that market themselves like this. While it may feel tempting to go that route because it’s splashy, it will not build the brand you want. Don’t let the vocal minority’s engagement with this type of marketing fool you into thinking it’s a valid approach. The vast majority of people see right through the gratuitous, self-promotional marketing and want nothing to do with such a brand. It will NOT attract the quality clients you want for your insurance agency/consulting firm.

Here’s a litmus test for your own marketing efforts and internal buying decisions:

If you aren't regularly getting feedback from your audience that they have changed their business behaviors based on your marketing advice, then you aren't effectively speaking to the needs of your audience. You have work to do.

And, before you commit to your next business partner, ask yourself a similar question: Have I already changed the way I work because of what I learned from this partner through their marketing content?

If the answer is no, then don’t expect to learn very much from them during an actual engagement. And you can expect your prospects are thinking this same thing about you.

Photo by Vectorzilla

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