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Marketing Strategy: Think Three Moves Ahead

I’m terrible at sports. Always have been. My head is too big to avoid being a target, and my back was apparently designed to do little more than keep me upright in a chair. As a result, I gravitate to games that don’t require any strength, agility or physical prowess whatsoever – games like chess (and pool, but only when I’ve had one too many. Not sure how that works, but it does. Buy me some drinks and I’ll show you).

shutterstock_123556159Although I’m not able to play chess very often, when I do, I tend to hold my own pretty well. It comes from a strategy I learned from someone along the way: always think three moves ahead. If you take more into account than simply one move, your game takes on a strategy, and each piece acts as part of the whole army. No arbitrary pawn moves, no lost pieces without a gain in return.

Now let’s shift that same idea to how you market your business. Like shooting a cue ball with no plan on where it’s going to stop after making your shot, why would you dump money into a brochure that doesn’t encourage the reader to do anything with it? Doesn’t make much sense, does it? But it happens. All. The. Time.

Instead, think three moves ahead. Here are some ideas to get you warmed up:

1. Print Ads. Let’s face it, print ads are expensive, but they’re great if used properly. You had better make sure that it leads your audience somewhere. Create a custom URL to a landing page that continues the message of your ad, but giving them a chance to act (sign up for a white paper, subscribe to your email newsletter, contact you for a free consultation, etc.), and a deadline to act. This gives you the chance to initiate a conversation (which would be your third move).

2. Social Media Posts. If you’ve been hanging around this blog long enough, you’ve learned that social media is all about the conversation. Are you posting the start of a conversation, or simply blasting a statement onto your feed? If you’re encouraging your followers to speak their minds and engage with your brand, you’re on the right track. It’s their interest and ultimate preference in your company that you’re trying to foster, so understand that it will take time if you’re doing it right (with genuine concern for providing value to your audience).

3. Business Cards. Now this is tricky. We’ve all been conditioned to treat business cards as little more than a way to keep from writing your number on a napkin. Beyond making it’s way into someone’s CRM, they’re pretty worthless unless you try giving them something exclusive – a URL on the back that leads them to a recent presentation or case studies, a limited-time offer for consultative services – that drives them to do more than add you on LinkedIn. Give them something else to think about, and although your card might not live much longer, it can die with a higher purpose.

4. Your Website. This one astounds me to no end. You’ve spent potentially tens of thousands on a website, for what? To show off what you know, what you can do, so your visitor can check it out and maybe reach a contact form? That’s no way to get that budget back. Instead, consider adding some inbound marketing or visitor tracking software to your site analytics to learn more about your audience, allowing you to craft content (landing pages, white papers, blog posts) to them and turn your site into a lead-generating machine. Or hire someone like us to do it for you.

Once you get in that mindset, you’ll soon realize that there are ways to think three moves ahead in virtually every piece of marketing you create.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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