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Four ways to take advantage of the new age of marketing

It’s time to ditch habits that don’t translate into the digital world.

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Television, print and billboard ads were once the gold standard for marketing. Basically, companies pushed their name in front of the masses in an attempt to build brand awareness.

But now customers want personalized, one-on-one interactions with brands, and marketers are beginning to see how a targeted approach can stretch their marketing dollars further and generate leads faster. This changes everything.

Print, radio and Super Bowl commercials – there's only one reason companies spend money on these marketing methods: bragging rights. They have little to do with actual branding and lead generation.

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But you probably knew that. What you may not realize is that many startups still use techniques that seem hyper-personal and new but actually don't move the needle for their companies. Here are some conventional methods that are missing the mark:

  • Cold calls: Although the B2C world has long rejected this method, B2B companies are discovering the faults in this strategy too. Buyers want to establish their own solutions and work out their issues online. Marketers need to offer as much information as possible online, or potential clients will find a competitor that does.
  • Blast e-mails: Many people still swear by e-mail marketing. But a mass-delivered message just doesn’t work for most companies – even if it’s delivered by e-mail. One message can never resonate with a general audience.

Join the new marketing era

Every successful marketing trend these days stems from knowing your customers, where they congregate, and how they form trust. Marketers no longer "think" of campaigns; they build them around buyer needs. Personalization has become the key to generating ROI for your marketing efforts.

Knowing your buyer is the most effective marketing tool you can have. Start with customer profiles and dig deep into who your customers are to figure out how to reach them.

Once you understand your customers, consider these marketing tips to make your strategy work harder.

Start with content marketing. Customer-driven content marketing can help your company address potential concerns and convert customers with more precision. Too often, companies blindly produce content, throw it out into the world, and hope it brings in leads. The content often centres on what the marketer thinks is important rather than what's useful or relevant to customers. With few metrics to accurately measure content's success, many marketers have difficulty gauging its effectiveness. Still, when done well, content marketing costs 62 per cent less than traditional marketing and generates three times as many leads.

Use marketing automation to help you scale. Marketing automation software helps companies market across multiple platforms. These services do everything from organize leads to create hubs that launch digital campaigns across many networks. This trend is still new though, and few companies have adopted it. But jumping on early will give your company a competitive edge in the next wave of marketing.

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Use social media to extend the conversation. If content marketing starts the conversation and marketing automation scales it, then social media perpetuates it. Find out where your potential customers hang out, then speak their language. Don't offer e-books on Twitter, for example. Join the conversation on their terms.

Don't forget the old ways. Personalization doesn't mean you should completely reject older methods. Instead, personalization can transform those old techniques into efficient marketing tools.Direct mail is one example. Mailboxes were constantly stuffed with junk a few years ago, so no one noticed a good campaign. But many companies have stopped sending mail, and buyers are becoming much more receptive to good mail campaigns. This presents the perfect opportunity to create a targeted direct-mail message that potential customers will find refreshing.

Traditional marketing campaigns bring a single company message to a large pool of potential buyers, but that just isn't cutting it anymore. Consumer trends are shifting toward personalization and marketers need to take note. Buyers want results. When you tell a compelling story that directly relates to them, they'll believe your company can deliver.

Content marketing, marketing automation, social media and even personalized traditional outlets can all reach potential customers effectively. But make sure your campaigns hone in on buyer personas and address their specific needs. Then you'll have customers for life.

Justin Gray is the CEO and chief marketing evangelist of LeadMD. He founded the company in 2009 with the vision of transforming traditional grassroots marketing efforts through the use of cloud-based marketing solutions.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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