Introduction to marketing methods

Marketing has changed significantly over the last 30 years. Traditionally, marketing messages were crafted to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible. But using channels with broad consumer reach, such as radio and print, did not ensure your target customer would be exposed to your message.

Managed like projects, marketing work tended to center around specific product or campaign launch dates that happened once or twice a year. These were typically major investments and any return on that investment was hard to calculate because detailed data simply was not available.

The introduction and adoption of the internet has transformed marketing. Today, digital marketing mediums are the primary vehicle to reach customers. The data available from these channels enables marketing teams to deliver highly personalized, highly targeted messages.

Access to data makes it possible to accurately measure the impact of their work. It also reveals deeper insights into buyer behavior at each stage of the marketing funnel. Marketing teams are now more accountable for how their marketing budget is spent and the business impact from that spend.

With this more targeted and data-heavy approach, marketing teams need to know the most effective methods to reach and communicate with their target audience. And of course, be able to adapt that channel plan based on what stage in the buyer journey a prospective customer is in.

This means investing in different marketing methods — from creating content that drives brand awareness to producing case studies that support purchasing decisions for prospective customers. Many marketing teams have also embraced new workflows (such as agile) to facilitate rapid iteration and innovation, both at a tactical level and for strategic initiatives.

Common marketing methods

Digital marketing

Digital marketing communicates the benefits of a product or service using digital mediums — including online display advertising, search marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing. Digital marketers are able to track and capture a large amount of data from these channels. Analyzing this data can help deliver insights into customer behaviors so marketers can create more targeted online experiences.

Digital marketing spend grew 13 percent in 2019, according to the Deloitte CMO Survey. Spending that budget in the most effective way possible requires a "launch and learn" mentality focused on quick learning and iterations. Digital marketers have to pay close attention to performance metrics — from what messages are resonating to what channels are yielding results and spend need to be adjusted.

Product marketing

Product marketing is responsible for articulating the unique value of a product and how it solves a customer's specific problem. Product marketers deeply understand the product, market, and customers. This expertise is used to craft buyer personas, messaging, positioning, sales enablement tools, and much more. This team also partners closely with product teams to launch new features or services, conveying the value of the new offering in a way that resonate with customers.

Not all organizations have product marketing teams as a stand-alone function. Instead, responsibilities may sit with other members of the product management or broader marketing group, depending on the organizations size and complexity.

Product marketing workflows typically closely reflect how the organization brings new experiences to market. Some products — like physical goods — deliver new offerings only a few times a year. Software products, on the other hand, may release new functionality quarterly, monthly, or even weekly. The go-to-market approaches that product marketers would use for those two examples would vary greatly.

Content marketing

Content marketing delivers helpful and relevant marketing materials to prospective and existing customers. Many companies differentiate from competitors by writing thought leadership content, such as blogs, ebooks, and white papers. Marketing content can include other types of media such as podcasts and video. The goal is to educate potential customers in a way that makes them more likely to convert and keeps them engaged with the brand post-purchase.

Content calendars are built around strategic themes that support the broader company goals. They should be flexible enough to take advantage of new opportunities or, conversely, to readjust content that is not resonating. Content marketers need to understand what customers engage with in order to create compelling content. To build this understanding, content marketers are constantly evaluating how content is performing. This includes measuring website traffic, free downloads, and leads or sign-ups generated from specific content pieces.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing uses networking platforms (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram) to promote a product or services. The goal is to increase brand awareness, generate awareness and interest in your offering, and develop relationships with your customers. Effective social media marketing is a powerful way to convey the personality of a brand and engage directly with customers in real time with the channels they prefer and already spend time on.

Marketing teams must stay nimble in order to respond to the ever-changing conditions of social media. Not only are social media marketers continually evaluating the content they are scheduling based on engagement metrics including likes and shares, but they also need to be prepared to quickly respond to customers — from praise to critiques to questions. This requires a deep understanding of the product or offering, as well as a consistent and established message.


How do marketing methods affect how teams work?

Marketers have to adapt the way they work in order to stay competitive. Regardless of the specific channel or method, teams need to work in an integrated way to effectively engage and convert customers. While formal methodologies have not surfaced in marketing as they have in product management or software development, agile marketing has gained traction as more teams desire a faster way to produce results.

What is agile marketing?

Agile marketing is an adaptation of agile software development. It has gained popularity in recent years as a way to measure results and adjust quickly in a digital landscape. The goal is to incrementally improve results over time by applying lessons learned from rapid iterations and small experiments.

Teams regularly evaluate priorities so that customer problems stay top of mind. For example, digital teams are constantly evaluating results of advertisement copy and placement. They tweak the copy based on what is resonating with customers and what is not.

There are times when a project-based approach to marketing campaigns is still needed. Marketing launches with established launch dates and fixed timelines require a more concrete schedule. Launching a new blog, for example, involves the coordination of multiple activities across various teams. Milestones and deadlines keep the scheduled launch on time and on budget.

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