Five ways to amp up your marketing (Q&A with author Whitney Keyes)

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Years ago, before I took the plunge and started my own business, I looked across the market to find marketing experts & consultants I admired, who were doing things right, who had things to say and clearly had found a good niche and a following. These are the people I wanted to model myself against.

Whitney Keyes was one of those people.

She might not actually know that (she might be finding that out by reading this), but it was clear as I got to know her from afar that she was world-class. And when I finally got a chance to know her directly, it was refreshing to see I had actually underestimated her smarts, expertise and communications skills.

Which brings me to Propel: Five Ways to Amp-Up Your Marketing & Accelerate Business, Whitney’s new book. It’s a fast read, but full of important, practical advice for businesses of all sizes, and sales & marketing professionals of all types.

In the brief Q&A below, Whitney addresses some of the themes of her book.

So many companies – big and small – struggle with their marketing. What are 2-3 primary reasons why most marketing efforts fail?
The biggest mistake I see companies make is not keeping the end in mind. By that I mean they react to situations instead of taking a more proactive approach to using marketing as a powerful solution. For example, a business owner might think he needs to launch a Twitter campaign. But if he runs a small restaurant and is just trying to fill the place with diners on Friday nights, it might be more effective for him to invest his time in a different marketing activity. The same is true for a global corporation. A bit of research and planning upfront always pays off.

Another reason why marketing efforts fail is because companies think they need to do it all: email news letters, YouTube videos, online surveys, Twitter, mobile apps, events, Facebook, brochures, etc. Just because you “can” do all of these things doesn’t mean you “need” to do them right now. As a result of this all-or-nothing thinking, and trying to do everything perfectly, the marketing work gets spread too thin. Mistakes start to happen, time and money is wasted and business leaders often end up frustrated that their marketing activities didn’t work.

This is exactly why I wrote my book; to help people do smarter marketing that gets the right results. In the book, I distill the process down into five key parts: strategy, story, strength, simplicity and speed.

You spend a lot of time in the book talking about the importance of story. Why is a good story so important, and how do you effectively weave that into tactical things like search, social and individual campaigns?
When I introduce the concept of “story” in the book, I’m referring to a brand or the complete experience your create for your customers. Many people mistakenly equate a brand with a logo; while a logo can be a important, visual aspect of telling your story, it is just one small piece of the whole pie. Once you are clear on your brand attributes and the real reasons why people do business with you – that’s your story – then it is crucial that you incorporate those messages into every marketing activity. This includes content on your website, social media communication – everything.

The book is so full of ideas and actionable items, it would be easy for a reader to get overwhelmed with where to start. So what would you recommend they do first, then next, to gain some momentum and traction?
While the book can be used in a modular way, allowing the reader to skip around to any relevant content, I also designed it to serve as a linear workbook. The first section is about strategy and as I mentioned earlier, that’s a crucial first step many business leaders and marketers skip when it comes to their marketing. Take time up front to envision the end game. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you just trying to get people to your website or are you trying to build a global brand? Do you plan to run one retail store or eventually have a chain of over 100 across the U.S.?

Then, once you are clear on where you want to go with your business, you work backwards. Your next step is to determine what marketing you need to do to help you reach that end point. And to do that, you need to clarify your brand story and that’s the second section in my book. Those are the most important early steps I always recommend.

I expect some readers of this book don’t, in fact, have a marketing team or dedicated marketing resources (at least yet) to help execute this. Is this book still relevant to them, and if so how do they approach prioritizing and executing on your ideas?
I wrote this book to serve as a virtual VP of marketing so any business leader can quickly access ideas and information about how to use marketing in smarter ways to be more successful, however he or she defines it. If a reader is launching a new business, I’d suggest reading the book from start to finish. But if it is a business leader with an existing company that needs to revamp its brand or attract more customers, my advice is to jump into the chapters later in the book to help turn ideas into action plans and prioritize those specific goals.

Talk about the process of writing a book. Was it what you expected, was it worth it, and what would you recommend to other would-be authors?
A life-long goal of mine was to write and publish a book the “old fashioned” way by creating a proposal, finding and agent and securing a publisher. I had self published smaller workbooks in the past and wanted to see if I could land a national book publishing deal. And I did! I have a terrific agent, John Willig, who was instrumental in me reaching that dream and I lucked out getting a terrific publishing partner in Career Press.

Once the contract was signed, I had only four months to write the full manuscript. Getting started, as well as wrapping up, were the two hardest parts of writing the book. This might sound odd, but it was both MUCH harder and MORE rewarding than I ever could’ve imagined. Now, looking back, I only remember the good stuff, like the excitement I felt when I saw my book on the shelves of my local Barnes & Noble store, as well as in my favorite, local indie book sellers, Ravenna Third Place Books and Elliott Bay Books.

The publishing industry is changing and there are pros and cons to publishing on all of the different platforms available to writers today. You have to make the best decision for your personal and professional writing goals. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat and I’m already working on my next book idea.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

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