Hamilton Wallace, small business marketing consultantI’ve learned a lot in 2011 about marketing and persuasion.  From every direction — clients, my work for clients and from everything in between.

Looking back, here are the things I’ve learned that will make what I do in 2012 better-

Message, what you say about what you sell, is more important than ever.

There’s always a rush to the next “thing”; from direct mail, brochures and trade shows to email,  websites and social media.  However, one thing remains the same.  Regardless of the medium, what you say needs to be clear and relevant to the issues your customer cares about today.  If you’re not getting results it’s probably your message, and not that next cool thing you’r trying to be part of, that needs fixing.

Pay as much attention to conversion as you do attraction.

On-site conversion (“converting” website visitors into taking the actions you want them to take) is as important as attracting more people.

There are two ways to increase leads and sales from your website.  One, attract more people (more of the right people).  And two, convert more of those people into customers or leads.  That’s it.

Most small business owners only think about attracting more people.  This is a mistake.  Give as much investment to converting people as attracting people.

Your off-site footprint is more important than ever.

Yes, you need to keep chipping away at making your website better.

No, I’m not just talking about social media here.   Be where your customers are.  If they’re using Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook you need to be there.  Nothing new here.

I’m talking about the other places, too.  Are your customers on forums, Wikipedia, YouTube, etc., looking for related content?  Search on the words that bring the most traffic to your site.  Where else can you add content and extend your footprint?

Your marketing or advertising agency isn’t the answer.

Today, marketing success is more about the small stuff and less about the big stuff.  The small stuff — weekly refinements to your online campaign — you must do, your agency can’t.  Your agency SHOULD teach you how, but it’s rare when you can afford to hire out the small stuff.  The big stuff — a new ad or brochure — your agency still must do.  But those things are becoming less important.

Bonus Marketing Lesson-

It is what it is. . . . .or, quit your whining!

Our job as marketers is to grow sales.  Not just in good times, but in ALL times.  Including now.   If now is less than optimal for you, you can’t afford to be any less aggressive than when things are great.  You may need to do different things.  You certainly will need to do things differently.  And it will feel uncomfortable doing it.  But the only mistake you can make is not acting.

Act.  Don’t wait.  Frankly, the new normal will be a lot closer to now than the way it used to be, so waiting is not an option.

Make 2012 worth it.