The Marketing Checkup

It’s time for your annual checkup. We’re going to take your marketing vital signs by reviewing a few key areas. Take a deep breath and step into the examining room. The doctor is ready for you.

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Are your marketing goals muddy or nonexistent?

It’s impossible to develop a coherent marketing strategy without clear goals. What are yours? More customers, members, volunteers, donors? Are your marketing messages in line with what you’re trying to accomplish? If your goal is to attract more customers, do you really want to keep posting about fundraising and capital improvements?

Have you defined your target audience?

It’s hard to market effectively when you don’t know who you’re trying to reach. Who are your ideal customers? What are they interested in? Where do they live? How old are they? What’s their education level? How much money do they make? 

What about your current customers, the ones who already participate in your programs, take your tours or visit your attraction? Do you know what new programs or services they would like? Maybe you should ask them. Do a simple survey. Post some possibilities on social media. See how people react. What they want might be much simpler than you imagine.

Is your website responsive aka mobile friendly?

The number of people who access the web from smart phones and tablets increases each day. If your website does not automatically adjust to fit the visitor’s screen, if it loads too slowly or if people simply cannot find what they’re looking for – your location, for example – you must correct this. It will probably hurt a little, but ignoring this issue will lead to bigger problems down the road.

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Do you have an up-to-date and growing email list?

You must be able to reach people who are interested in what you have to offer without relying on a third party. Email is still the best way to do it. If you do not have a list, start one today. Visit Mail Chimp, an email service provider, and explore your options, one of which is a "Forever Free"account.   

Do you suffer from social media phobia?

The doctor encounters patients with this problem almost every week. Yes, using social media takes time. Yes, there’s a learning curve. Yes, it can be a time waster. So can watching TV or doing endless research. Regardless of how you feel about it, social platforms are where your customers and potential customers are.

If you have no social media presence, start with Facebook. Establish a page for your company, attraction or organization and begin posting and sharing interesting things and appealing images. If you have an old page that’s dormant, revive it. Tell people what you're doing. Invite them to visit your page. When they share your material or comment on your posts, thank them. Use their names. Be nice. Act like a human being.

Have you succumbed to the “Be Everywhere” fallacy?

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This is the opposite of ignoring social media. Trying to be on every channel and social platform is not just a waste of time and energy; it’s ineffective and will drive you crazy. It’s better to master one platform than to scatter meaningless tidbits across the web. Think signal, not noise; conversation, not broadcasting. When you’ve got one channel under control, you can tackle another. The doctor would like to remind you that moderation is the foundation of good health.

Are you using an editorial calendar?  

An editorial calendar not only takes the stress and guesswork out of posting on social media, it allows you to coordinate blog posts, program promotions and other marketing activities with the rest of your team. If you are a team of one, it helps you stay on track. Plan your posts about a week at a time then just follow your calendar.

Let’s say you work at a small museum. On Monday post a picture of an odd object in your collection and ask people to guess what it is. On Tuesday talk about your building or grounds. Focus on a single room or point out something about the exterior. Wednesday post a picture of a staff person or volunteer. Thursday is for sharing an interesting historical fact. It doesn’t have to be about your museum. It could be about your town or region or even something from world history. For Friday post a short quiz. On Saturday you could share posts from other attractions or organizations. Sunday could be for scenic or vintage shots of your area. Find a rhythm and stick with it. Don’t overthink this.

Have you failed to establish a voice?

Do not turn over responsibility for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to an intern or volunteer.  You may ask someone else to do the actual posting, but you must set the tone, define the type of material that is appropriate and monitor what’s going out over social media. More people will see your social posts than will ever hear your carefully crafted presentation at the Rotary or read your editorial in the newspaper. The doctor could share disturbing stories about the consequences of failing to follow this advice. But he won’t.  

Are you failing to network?

Attending local gatherings of colleagues, counterparts in other businesses or sectors, community meetings, even social events, can be beneficial to your organization’s health. You may gain insights into what is working elsewhere, find out what your competition is planning and connect with potential collaboration partners. You may meet people with the tech and design skills you need, as well as freelance writers, social media experts, photographers and who knows what else. The doctor encourages this sort of socializing and recommends that you remain open to new ideas, new people and the possibility that help may be closer than you think.

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All in all, the doctor thinks you’re doing fine. There’s always room for improvement, but if you keep an eye on these marketing areas, you’ll be in good shape. Deal with problems as they arise. Don’t let things fester and make sure you stop by the front desk on your way out to set up next year’s appointment.