#scon10: Seven Steps to Marketing Success
 One quote from Daniel Kraus stood out to me during his presentation at this week's SugarCRM conference: "It's not honesty, it's marketing."

The Magnificent Seven

Naturally, the whole room chuckled. Putting my consumer shoes on, sure, it's an uncomfortable reality, but one that's being realized in all sorts of ways. Unfortunately, they're not always the right ones. As the president of a smaller company called Leading Results, Kraus had advice on building a supportive strategy for online marketing in seven steps:

Foundation

It starts with defining your ideal customer. Note that this does not mean your target customer. An ideal customer is someone that is profitable, values what you do, refers you, etc.

A marketing message can be built around what these ideal customers think and feel. Kraus suggests contacting 8-10 of them and asking why they chose you. What did you do that they valued most? What is unique about your company?

Content That Educates

Next, put together a marketing overview. Like a case study, it should address FAQ from customers and prospects, talk about unique benefits, and subliminally communicate that the ideal customer is not just anybody with money. "Make it tell a story about your business," he said.

Lead Generation

This one might sound familiar. Lead generation leaves nothing out--nurture marketing, current customers, referral marketing, new prospects, PR and community all have potential to bring in new leads.

Lead Conversion

Kraus says there's a lot of missed opportunity in trials. Creating an environment for something as informative, predictable and non-threatening should lead to deeper levels of conversion.

Customer Delight

Enter the quotes and testimonials, referrals, additional product sales, additional services, etc. These perks are especially important today given the number of highly influential venues for people to talk about how unhappy they are (Twitter, Facebook, Yelp).

Kraus suggests considering newsletters. "They aren't just for prospects," he said.

Harness the Internet and Amplify

Ah, the social media bit.

"There are 530 million people on Facebook," Kraus stated. "If it was a country, it would be the third largest in the world." Whoa.

Those numbers certainly make social media marketing important, but Kraus urges us not to think of it as a strategy unto itself.

"It must be overlaid by an entire marketing system, he continued. "If you have defined your ideal customer, then you know where to engage them on the social web. Use it as a listening post. What's being said about you? Optimize your brand assets, local profiles, online PR engines, etc."

Live by a Calendar

Monthly themes are important, as are weekly actions and deadlines. It's not just about being organized, but systematic as well.

Pants On Fire

Back to the not-honest part. Kraus says marketing has fundamentally changed in the last 5 years, and on this front we agree. We've moved from things like  print ads and radio ads--outbound stuff--to blogs, white papers, and podcasts. This is because  rather than companies going out to look for customers, customers are coming in to look for the companies. Why not make them feel like you're giving them your undivided attention?

It is for this reason, perhaps, that Derek Grant of Pardot deemed pre-sales engagement the most critical step in automated nurturing in Tuesday's marketing discussion. If a prospect finds you, these days it's often because they wanted to, and they want to want your service. It's not exactly lying, but it's automatically tweaking your responsiveness to match--not overwhelm--that want as it changes over the course of a business relationship. 

Much like logging onto Facebook and seeing ads that specifically cater to people in your age bracket, automated marketing feels personal, almost intimate. Can you think of any better trust-gaining marketing tactics?