Sometimes it’s best to study the pros. Here are some of our favorite tried-and-true marketing methods employed by expert marketers.

Marketing has changed rapidly since the pre-internet days. Advertising campaigns in glossy magazines and radio spots no longer boast the same return on investment.

With more ways to reach your audience, it can be hard to know which methods to choose. Especially since the wider range of platforms makes it difficult to stand out against your competitors.

Even online strategies fall by the wayside. Banner ads and certain types of email campaigns no longer work.

Sadly, only 61% of marketers believe their marketing strategy is effective. Having an ineffective strategy is frustrating – not to mention damaging to your business.

But there’s hope yet. Studying the habits of expert marketers unlocks a new dimension to marketing that can supercharge your own habits.

Read on to discover the 8 key habits of the experts and learn why you should adopt them yourself.

1. Expert Marketers Know the Power Lies in the Segment, Not the Broad Group

We all know the power of demographics. Shared values or particular behaviours are easier to identify across a group or generation.

Many marketers stop at this point. They build their campaign and focus it on an age range, a family type, or another grouping.

These groups have their uses, but they’re not the whole picture.

For example, if you’re marketing to millennials, they have a different set of needs or desires than baby boomers. But staying at this top level doesn’t take into account the differences within the targeted group.

Expert marketers know the groups need to be broken into sub-segments. Ethnicity and gender are obvious ones. But what about their individual interests?

Are they gamers? Cinema-goers? Stay-at-home mums? Football fans?

Using more specific criteria to break down the target audience means you’re more likely to reach specific people.

That Means Your Message Resonates with the Right People

Once you know who you’re targeting, you know how your brand matters to them. Figuring out the relationship between the target audience and the brand is the key to designing a successful strategy.

Let’s use millennials as an example. Many see this generation as ‘digital natives’, doing everything online.

Yet despite the stereotypes, millennials aren’t necessarily materialistic. 72% of millennials would rather spend money on experiences, rather than ‘things’.

Expert marketers will design an experience suitable for their chosen sub-segment of the millennial generation. Since Millennials love sharing images of their experiences online, these images become user-generated marketing content for the brand.

2. Adding Value Is the Key to a Successful Experience

You don’t want to focus on creating an experience just to earn a handful of status updates. Expert marketers understand they need to add so much value that the experience enhances the status of the attendee.

If your campaign involves physical events, then put the focus on providing value. A half-hearted effort will only make the brand look poor or out-of-touch.

This also applies to the content that you post online. Does it add value to the lives of your customers? Or does it enhance their experience of your product?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to both of those questions then you’re on your way to joining the ranks of the expert marketers.

3. Co-Operate with the Entities That Already Appeal to Your Target Audience

Building an audience base from scratch takes time and money. Expert marketers know that involving third parties provides a valuable shortcut.

While you’re building your target audience profile, identify those entities that appeal to your sub-segment. Think of blogs or websites, as well as social media platforms.

Pinpoint TV shows, video games, movie franchises, or other forms of entertainment readily consumed by your target audience.

Developing content with these platforms or properties creates a more attractive experience for your target audience.

High-end fashion label Comme Des Garcons partnered with Nike to launch a collaboration pair of sneakers during New York Fashion Week. The collaboration brought a new audience to both brands, who occupy opposite ends of the fashion spectrum.

This goes well beyond the old ‘sponsored by’ or ‘brought to you by’ idea.

4. Experts Don’t Rely on Social Media as Their Sole Marketing Channel

In the early days of social media, marketers saw the platforms as a space to enjoy free advertising. With fewer brands online, it was easier to stand out.

That’s no longer the case. With more users online, as well as brands, social media is a cluttered space and messages easily get lost.

The drop in organic reach (i.e. free traffic) has led to the rise of paid advertising, with most social platforms now offering the ability to post ads or ‘sponsored’ content.

Expert marketers understand that social media isn’t technically a media channel. If you approach it as a platform for sharing content, you get very different results.

Here are 3 ways the experts use social media.

  1. Make it easy to share content, especially from your website. Add sharing buttons to all of the major social platforms.
  2. Give your target audience a reason to share your message. Will they be entered into a competition? Does using your hashtag make them part of a community?
  3. Sponsor content that your audience already wants to share to boost its visibility. This is far more effective than just buying ad space.

5. Don’t Stick to the Same Old Formula for Months at a Time

Once you hit on a strategy that works, it’s tempting to continue using the same set of tactics. But expert marketers understand that marketing changes on a rapid basis.

The tools you use fall out of favour and audiences develop new preferences even within a few months. New platforms emerge that require new tactics.

Sticking to options that you know work will see you get left behind. So make a point of evaluating your campaigns and strategies on an annual basis. Re-evaluate every six months if you really want to stay on top of new platforms.

This also means you may need to admit when a hunch turned out to be wrong. Or perhaps you connected your customer insights with your strategy in a flimsy way.

Admitting your mistakes is a powerful way to keep moving forward. Learn from them and try again.

6. Never Stop Learning

It’s essential to keep up to date with changing marketing principles. But how do you do that?

Maintaining curiosity is a key way to retain your interest in marketing. Approach new platforms or channels with a sense of wonder. Get to know the way they work as a user does so you can better serve your audience with content they want.

You’ll also need to hone your experimentation skills. Expert marketers love innovation and invention, and they’re happy to continually test and adjust their ideas until they find a formula that works.

Focus on areas beyond marketing. What new technology is emerging that you might be able to use? Don’t just stick to social media or the online space.

Augmented reality and virtual reality both offer interesting opportunities if a marketer is keen to experiment with them. Amnesty International began using VR to engage with people in the street and saw a 16% increase in sign ups for regular donations.

7. Embrace Your Brand and Communicate That Passion

Don’t be afraid to use the same voice across all of your channels. Many marketers fall into the trap of focusing on visual elements or flashy content to grab attention.

Yet your voice is a simple way to differentiate your brand from your competitors. Remember that your target audience is made up of people, just like you. Talk to them like fellow human beings, not potential sales figures.

Remember that you’re there to help them. Expert marketers know that marketing shouldn’t be about the product’s features or even the prices. It should be about what it does for your customer and why they should care.

Bring that ‘why’ into your brand’s voice and really connect with your customers.

8. If You Study Nothing Else, Study Copywriting

Copywriting is at the foundation of every marketing campaign. It comprises your sales pages, brochure descriptions, email communications, and social media output.

Learning the art of copywriting also gives you a thorough education in; understanding target audience, positioning, working with consumer insights and communicating with your prospects.

A single well-written sales email can often generate more sales than a flashy social media campaign. Working on your storytelling abilities will enhance your copywriting and take your communications to the next level.

Many marketers ignore the finer points of copywriting so adding this skill to your arsenal can only help raise you above your competition.

What Should You Do Next?

If you try to master all of these 8 habits at once, you won’t be able to measure which ones see the greatest results.

So work through the list and determine which of these habits you want to adopt first. Try out the suggestions on a campaign and record the results.

Expert marketers measure everything so they know what to focus on, and what to ignore. You should do the same.

Once you’ve mastered one habit, move onto the next. You’ll be in the big leagues in no time. Good luck!

Photo by William Iven