The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Discovery
What is Discovery and why is it so important for success?
Marketing discovery is generally the first phase of our work with a client. The Marketing discovery process is the ideal opportunity for us to learn about your company, goals and competitors, along with opportunities in the marketplace. Discovery lays the foundation for the success of your company’s marketing program.
Your company has a unique value proposition, approach, staff, history and offerings. It makes sense for a new partner to spend time with key company stakeholders to truly understand your business goals, processes and position in the marketplace.
Marketing discovery is our chance to learn about your marketing program and its goals. It takes place via workshops held in-person or online. We aim to learn about your business, your previous marketing endeavors, and the bottom-line results of those efforts.
Typically, something has happened — or not happened — within the company that would prompt you to seek out a marketing SOS, such as:
- Are you losing traction?
- Have you hit a plateau?
- Are leads down?
- Is conversion flagging?
- Are tactics that used to work failing?
- Is progress slowing?
The discovery process is all about uncovering low-hanging fruit, sharing big-picture goals and learning what you’d love to achieve if only you had the time and bandwidth.
Often, businesses have an idea of what they want to pursue in marketing, but during the marketing discovery process, it’s not unusual for us to uncover unanticipated issues. We also identify opportunities that you may be too close to see.
The marketing discovery process illuminates the elements necessary for a successful content strategy. When Savoir Faire begins working with you, we dig into a variety of attributes of your company, including:
Where you’ve been and what you’ve done informs us on aspects such as rate of growth and key milestones.
Your core competencies:
Sharing what you do better than everyone else in your field.
Your services and/or products:
This may seem obvious, but the discovery phase is often when we find disconnects in existing messaging about your top services or products.
Your competitive landscape:
Discovering what your competition is doing and the channels they use helps us tap potential customers you may not realize were out there.
Your past marketing efforts:
Analyzing what you did before we met is key, as there’s not always a need to recreate the wheel. It may just need some new spokes and air in the tire.
Your current digital footprint:
This gives us an idea of what you have already set up for analytics, how you’re measuring marketing efforts, etc., so we know where the gaps exist and how we can fill them.
Most importantly, this is when we discover your goals, which serve as the destination that informs the entire strategy.
The marketing discovery process often unearths golden nuggets we can roll into a winning content strategy. Our team uses this discovery time to hone in on how our combined areas of expertise can help you reach your goals. In our workshops we listen for:
Market opportunities based on knowledge you don’t know that you know (Trust us, that knowledge hides in your noggin, but we’ll suss it out).
Insight on how to organize and present information on a website and how to utilize keywords and search terms to generate organic momentum online.
Messaging that informs the campaigns we’ll deploy on your website and other digital channels.
Elements for a Successful Marketing Discovery
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half,” John Wanamaker, department store titan, famously stated.
That adage was true for a long time, but no longer. As digital marketing technologies continue to evolve, we can identify how a company’s marketing dollars are performing down to the penny. Our main goal as a marketing company is to use our expertise to increase your bottom line. The marketing discovery process is the beginning of that journey – though you may be surprised how many companies want to skip that first step and get right to the “marketing.”
What we realized a long time ago is that taking between four and 12 weeks for discovery lays the foundation for our success. Skipping the foundation can reduce achievements, which is bad for both of us.
Getting to Know You
Our preferred way to connect with you and start to develop a relationship is ideally in person. It also allows you, the client, to get to know us and learn how we work. You’ll get a sense of our expertise during the first sit-down, giving you confidence we know what we’re talking about.
Of equal importance is getting to know you and your business. Even if we know a particular industry in-depth, we need to spend time to understand how you do business, which may be different from your competitors.
We generally begin by asking you questions, such as:
- What are your business goals?
- What’s different/changed?
- How have you achieved goals in the past?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What are your greatest successes?
These answers, which may not all come during this first meeting, help us get a snapshot of your industry and where you fit into the marketplace. Not only is it essential for us to get an understanding of your audience, but also to learn about your main competitors.
Skilled marketers listen for things you didn’t know you knew — yet you are communicating them!
The alternative to discovery is jumping straight into marketing execution based on either anecdotal information or assumptions. This may look something like: “Plant managers are the decision makers. Print 10,000 brochures and mail them — and send them an email, too.” But what happens when you learn that plant managers have nothing to do with the final decision? Or that they don’t respond to direct mail? Or that your brochures went straight into the trash? The time and expense invested in the discovery process will result in more effective and efficient marketing efforts in the long run.
Marketing discovery helps us develop your marketing strategy more effectively. We’ll dig into your prospects, leads, past customers, existing customers, vendors, influencers and decision makers. Any or all of them could be the key for devising a campaign.
For example, one of our current clients is a manufacturing company, and we discovered we need to reach two distinct audiences: procurement specialists/buyers, and engineers. Engineers are looking for technical information, such as tolerances; buyers are looking for an entirely different type of information. We continually market to both of those segments differently.
At the end of the discovery process, your marketing partner will have a much better understanding of your company and industry. And you might have learned about some low-hanging fruit you’ve previously left on the table. This allows both you and your marketing partner to develop a clear understanding of what we can accomplish together, namely a mutually-agreeable digital infrastructure plan, a content strategy and a shared vision of what the ongoing marketing program will look like.
Just as online research leads to discovery of content (i.e. new streaming shows to binge), the marketing discovery process leads us to a content strategy. The Savoir Faire marketing discovery process generates deep knowledge about a company, including the company’s prior marketing efforts and results. It’s our opportunity to ascertain company goals and outline what a marketing program needs to attain those goals.
A Marketing Audit Helps You Move Forward with Clearer Prospects
Auditing Your Audience
Audits are a key piece of the discovery process, where we learn what sets you apart from the herd and how we can utilize that to drive more prospects toward you. Discovering who actually buys your products or services is important, so we will look into details such as:
- Who, specifically, is your buyer?
- Are there influencers involved in the process?
- How long is the sales process?
- What questions do they ask during the sales process?
- What are their top objections?
- Why do you lose a sale to a competitor?
- What industry publications does your audience read?
- What websites do they go to for industry news?
- Are there common industry resources everyone uses?
Answering those questions, and others, helps us to learn how to build a competent marketing program making continual progress toward your goals.
During this audit, we look at your existing digital infrastructure, including your website, email marketing, SEO and social media. We’re looking for what exists today, what measurements we can dig out and what short-term improvements we could make.
Google Analytics may already be set up, but it might not be as thorough as it should be. If you use email marketing software, we can dig in to look at reports, open rates, click throughs, etc. The same goes for your social media. We can pull insight reports to see what posts are the most engaging.
A marketing audit is a shrewd way to implement some in-house checks and balances. Auditing offers peace of mind — or confirms your worst hunches about the effectiveness of your marketing investment.
An audit uncovers:
- The current elements of your program or campaign and their effectiveness
- Your marketing challenges and opportunities
- A roadmap for moving forward more effectively
- How you can utilize marketing professionals to augment your in-house efforts
The audit takes into account your marketing investment, whether it’s time and/or money. Generating performance reports on your current program and taking the time to analyze them provides direction on moving forward most effectively.
Here are some questions to gauge the status of your existing marketing efforts:
- Does your site’s navigation provide a clear, easily understandable map of the information on your site?
- Are site pages up-to-date or do they include old information?
- How often are you publishing fresh content?
- Are there forms on the site? Have they been tested for usability?
- Are hyperlinks current and working?
- How fast does your website load?
- Is it mobile friendly?
- Do you have a strategic library of keywords you’d like to show up for?
- What is your baseline keyword performance and are there trends?
- How long since you reviewed/refreshed your keyword library?
- What pages rank well in search engine results?
- What pages do people enter your site on?
- Which pages are visitors leaving the website from?
- What keywords are your competitors succeeding with?
- What are you trying to achieve with paid digital ads?
- Do your landing pages deliver on the promise your ads make?
- Are you tracking performance metrics consistently? Have you identified any trends?
- Are you able to track leads generated via ads to sales?
- Are you measuring return on ad spend quarter-to-quarter?
- Have you looked at enhancing your ads with sitelink extensions, callout extensions or phone extensions?
- Have you changed your copy to bolster performance of old or underperforming ads?
- Have you tried Google’s dynamic search ads?
- Which platforms are best for your business?
- What types of posts are garnering the most engagement?
- What posts send traffic to your website or landing pages?
- Which posts make sense for boosting?
- How are any paid social campaigns performing?
- Do you know who is in your email database? Can you identify unique segments in the list?
- Are you sending regular emails to your email database?
- Are you tracking performance metrics consistently? Have you identified any trends?
- Have you reviewed key indicators of list health?
- Have you tested deliverability of emails?
- Have you ensured your templates are up to date?
If you find this list overwhelming, don’t despair. A marketing audit is an excellent opportunity for engaging with external marketing professionals without the pressure of hiring them in an ongoing capacity. An external team brings a fresh eye and perspective to your efforts and identifies gaps, opportunities and low-hanging fruit you may have overlooked. Plus, you’ll get the chance to witness an agency’s professionalism and measure their fit for potential future projects.
An external team brings a fresh eye and perspective to your efforts, IDing gaps, opportunities and low-hanging fruit.
The Importance of Competitor Analysis
Performing a social media competitor analysis can help you in several ways:
- You’ll learn how your company’s social channels stack up next to your competition’s
- You’ll discover ways to strengthen your social posts
- You’ll encounter pitfalls your competition has fallen into and learn how you can avoid them
- You’ll see what the competition is doing well and if there’s anything you’d like to emulate in your social media strategy
This analysis determines your competitor’s pros and cons and how their strategy compares to yours. Use it to benchmark your wins and losses in order to find gaps in and opportunities for strengthening your own social media strategy.
To start, create a simple template in a spreadsheet, where you can outline your social data as well as the data of your competitors. (A social media competitor analysis can also help you identify competitors you didn’t know about.)
Collect information such as:
- Which social channels do they have profiles on?
- Which do they post on regularly?
- How many followers/fans do they have?
- What type of organizations do they follow?
- How frequently do they post?
- What days of the week and times do they post?
- What do they post about? Products, services, their team?
- Which types of posts garner good engagement?
- What types of media do they use? Videos? Infographics? Product photos? Team photos? Professional or casual photos? Interactive media?
Once you compile this basic data, a picture will emerge of how dedicated your competitors are to reaching their customers and prospects via social media — and also how successful they are.
For example, you may discover that a competitor uses infographics on their social channels to stand out and attract eyeballs. Infographics aren’t as challenging to produce as you might think.
You might also determine which days and times of the week the audience is online and engaged. Competitor images might inspire ideas that you can easily implement. You also might see that certain types of posts work better for your competition on different channels.
A competitor may use Facebook to post about company culture, and their brand evangelists could reward those posts with likes, shares and comments. Twitter might be their outlet for sharing industry-related news; whereas LinkedIn might be their best channel for B2B news, offers, or service explanations.
It’s also a good idea to look at and make notes on the social media presence on your competitors’ websites:
- Where are the links to their social channels? At the top of the page? The bottom? Both?
- Do they use icons generally associated with the social channels (i.e. Twitter’s bird silhouette) or something custom?
- Do the links go to their actual social media profiles and not to a generic page like facebook.com?
- When you click a link to their social channel, does it open a new tab or does it take you off the site?
If there’s a large and active social audience for your industry, it might make sense to have linking icons at both the top and bottom of your navigation, so your customers and prospects can easily access them. Having the links open in a new tab is also good for your “average time on page” metric in Google Analytics.
Use keywords to find your competition
Google Ads provides a free Keyword Planner tool that helps you identify relevant keywords to advertise your business. You don’t have to advertise on Google to use this tool. The keyword planner provides a list of keywords and the average number of monthly searches for those terms. Once you’ve identified a few relevant keywords, you can check who’s ranking for them by just typing them into Google and looking at the top-ranked results. (Do this in an incognito window so Google doesn’t apply your search history to its results.)
Look at the social channels and websites of the top results for those keywords to analyze whether they are truly your direct competitors. There are also free and paid tools that help you track, analyze and compare your competition on social media, such as Hootsuite and SEMRush.
Based on what you learned in your audit, you may be able to identify gaps in your social strategy:
- Are you lagging behind the competition or out in front of them?
- Are your posts garnering engagement?
- If your competitors can do it, why can’t you?
Maybe you don’t have the staffing in-house right now to dedicate to a social media strategy – or even the time to perform this exercise. We not only do social media competitive analysis for our customers, we also formulate their social strategy, produce a social media post calendar, and actively post on behalf of the brand.
Marketing Discovery Leads to Content Strategy
Once we understand your goals and needs, we’ll develop a content strategy, as ongoing content is key to your digital success. Some people use the phrases content strategy and content marketing interchangeably but, while they do cross over sometimes and inform each other, they are different.
Content strategy is the game plan we create, follow and adjust for a company. It governs the actions we take in regard to content. We implement the strategy via ongoing content marketing.
Content strategy guides the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content. This definition comes from Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach in their book, “Content Strategy for the Web.”
Further, content marketing is the creation and circulation of content that fills a need for potential customers. It provides education. solutions to pain points or deeper knowledge about your company’s area of expertise. Content marketing strengthens the trust of your brand. Analysis of ongoing content marketing also teaches us ways to improve the larger content strategy.
Discovery informing strategy
When Savoir Faire’s team first meets with a client, and the client immediately says, “We need a blog,” our first question is, “Why?”
But why? Isn’t the only question we ask. A content strategist asks and discovers the answers to the Why? How? Who? and When? questions related to content. Then we extrapolate out to answer What and Where with the content marketing program.
A blog may very well be a solid part of your eventual content marketing program, but we’ll determine that together by going through the marketing discovery process and developing a content strategy.
We Dive Deep for Your Success
Here’s an example of a marketing discovery process we did for a retail store with a significant online presence. The shop was looking to improve its email marketing program. We assessed the email portal they used, looking at lists and groups as well as their previous campaigns. We dove deep into their Google Analytics. We also looked at a third-party service controlling the engagement tool they use on the home page.
We looked at the contacts that unsubscribed, and the reasons why, and then cleaned up the email list, removing bad email addresses. Next, we created segments for targeted emails. These were based on elements like engagement, email activity, campaigns already sent and other contact properties. The more data we have, the more effective we can be with segmenting emails, making them more relevant, and more engaging, to the recipients.
Next, we looked at click through rates of the emails, the dates/times sent, which emails brought in the most revenue and which products were the most-popular. Through analytics, we researched where customers were coming from to help the client improve their digital ad spend. Through this client discovery process, we also found that they were not utilizing some elements of Google Analytics, which could provide valuable data about what’s taking place on their website.
Advanced analytics is one of the tools we use to measure the data that allows businesses to make concrete decisions confidently. They provide better, deeper reporting and tell a more significant story about what’s happening on a website. Instituting this advanced tracking is critical to the success of improving and evolving a website.
Getting to the “Aha!” Moment
Let’s say you want a public relations effort to get your business on TV. We’ll ask, “Why do you want to be on TV?” Then, we’ll ask, “Why?” again. Bear with us. Finally, we’ll ask, “Why?” one more time.
That’s when we will get either, “I don’t know,” or the aha moment will emerge. You thought you wanted to get on TV so more customers could find you. Instead of PR, though, we discovered we need to focus on your website and get web traffic heading your way and then capture leads for your internal team to engage with and nurture.
What Happens After Discovery?
Building the Machine and Running the Machine
Our three-step process starts with discovery. From that, we build a marketing strategy that’s implemented in the next two phases.
The first part of the strategy is applied when we build the machine. This is where we build (or rebuild) the digital framework of a marketing program. That could include a website, marketing automation or inbound marketing system, along with social media or email campaigns.
The second piece of the strategy is implemented when we run the machine. This is when an ongoing program is executed, measured and analyzed, and continuous improvements are made based on results and data.
Machines have engines, and engines consume fuel. We like to think of content as the fuel that keeps your engine running smoothly. We’d love to take a look under the hood of your “machine” to see where we can dig in and get to work. Reach out today for a free — and painless — consultation.
We want to see your business grow and for you to achieve your goals. The discovery process is critically important and effective for your success. We’re happy to share specific examples of those achievements with you at that first sit-down meeting.