Built World companies just can’t catch a break. Just when the industry finally embraced the power of digital marketing, that power is starting to get weaker.
Digital marketing is a large umbrella term that covers:
When digital marketing works well, it can be very effective. Not only that, but you get a lot of bang for your buck – it’s far more affordable than the analog marketing methods it replaces. You can reach even more customers without having to pay for ad space, print brochures, or spend a portion of your budget on postage.
These tools are so powerful that they have become ubiquitous. And in a way, that’s the problem.
Digital marketing is a victim of its own success. Because it works so well, everyone has adopted the same tools and best practices.
That means you and your competitors are using the same playbook.
Think about it. If you want to hone your marketing emails and optimize your marketing automation, where do you go for advice? Chances are, you’ll start with a great online resource like HubSpot. That’s always been a wise choice, since their advice is well-researched and has proven benefits.
Thanks to their team of dedicated marketing experts, we know the best day and time to send out emails. We know how many emails to send. We know which subject lines are especially enticing and what calls to action will motivate customers to take the next step.
The result of all that fine-tuning should be attention-grabbing emails, sky-high open rates and a more engaged customer base.
Maybe that was true at one point. But now the result isn’t quite as impressive.
It’s architects, contractors and builders wondering why their inboxes get flooded with marketing emails at 10 AM on the dot every Thursday. It’s those same customers mass-deleting those emails because all the subject lines look similar.
The same thing is happening with websites. Most Built World company websites look great, but they all look the same. Everyone is following the advice from the same “How to Design a Great Website” guide. If it wasn’t for their unique logos and product photos, it would be difficult to tell one Built World company website apart from its competitors.
Social media, SEO, online content – it’s all becoming increasingly uniform.
We have a real problem here. You’ve optimized your digital presence so it appeals to customers. But if that makes you look and act like your competitors, why should a customer prefer your products over theirs?
How to Make Digital Marketing Work Better for You
So, what’s the solution? Do you scrap your digital marketing and go back to designing print ads and sending out mailers? Do you let your social media channels go dark? Do you write boring email headlines because the interesting ones have lost their punch?
Of course not. Digital marketing is still the best set of tools you have at your disposal. You can’t realistically succeed without them.
Instead, you need to take a new approach to best practices. You have to realize that they’re useful, but they can only take you so far.
Imagine if all the NFL coaches based their strategies on a set of best practices. Using the data, they all come to the same conclusions about when to pass or run or what to do on a third down.
At that point, who would win the game?
Easy. It would be the team whose coach deviated from the playbook. The players who showed up to the field with their own unique strategy would have a distinct advantage over all the other copycats.
Built World companies should do the same. Best practices are useful, but falling back on them is a lazy approach to marketing. Instead of copying best practices to the letter, you should be creative, savvy and develop your own digital marketing playbook.
If you want to use digital marketing to stand out instead of looking like your competitors, here’s what you should do.
Those practices are the best for a reason. Without them, your marketing strategy would be all over the place and ineffective.
Anyone can break a rule, but all the great innovators master and understand the rules of their craft before bending them. You need to understand and use digital marketing best practices, but be ready to move beyond them when they stop benefiting you.
Marty Nuemier said it best: “When everyone else is Zigging, you should Zag.” When every marketing campaign is starting to look the same, that’s your sign to try something new.
Too many companies are so worried about the risk of trying something different that they ignore the risk of sticking to the same ineffective approach.
It’s tempting to see every trend as an opportunity. And it can be, for the right company. TikTok might help some Build World companies get on the map, but it might not be right for you.
Instead of stretching yourself thin trying to conquer every digital platform and chasing everything that seems hot at the moment, have a clear vision of how you want to reach customers and focus your efforts where they’ll have the most impact.
Big engagement numbers are bright and shiny, but that doesn’t mean you’ve struck gold.
Having a post go viral can feel like a breakthrough. Seeing a great open rate on your latest email is promising. Your boss might pat you on the back for the number of new followers you drummed up on social media. But none of those numbers mean anything if they don’t help you grow your business.
If you’re happy with the results of your digital marketing, the last thing you should do is coast on that success. Instead, use it as your benchmark to keep testing new ideas. Don’t stop until you find a new idea that delivers even better results. Then, make that your new benchmark and start looking for ways to beat it.
Write Your Own Playbook
Every best practice started off as something fresh and innovative. It was the latest thing that helped companies differentiate themselves from the competition.
Over time, those best practices become widely adopted. When they do, I’m not even sure we should be calling them best practices anymore. They’re more like better practices. Because the real best practice will always be the one that makes you stand out and look different.
Pay attention to what everyone else is doing. When your marketing is starting to look exactly like what every other Built World company is doing, it’s time to throw out the playbook and start writing a new one.
To write your own playbook, you need to be creative, think outside the box and have a clear idea of what will get a customer’s attention.