One of the most dangerous things out in the free for all of the internet streets is the experts asserting that there’s one single solution to all the challenges of business. You’ve probably seen the pitches via ads in your social media feeds: “follow my top secret formula and everything will be easy.”
(An aside: I have a whole silly and excessively dramatic story about someone telling me I wasn't "successful" because I thought a Facebook group to webinar marketing funnel was not only not appropriate for me, that it was a cookie cutter model that only works for volume-based businesses. So, no, that was not a great top secret formula for everyone.)
The problem with asserting there’s one single solution is that it ignores that “stuff” happens that’s beyond your control. You know, like a global pandemic. Or economic forces, or regulatory changes, or algorithm shifts.
You know, stuff.
So, if you build your pipeline of potential customers or clients using, say, social media and your favorite platform decided to weight videos higher than all the beautiful carousel posts you’ve created, well, your pipeline has to be rebuilt.
Or, if you (true story about Past Sarah incoming) create an SEO strategy that overly relies on backlinks (these are links from highly topical websites) and those sites remove those links, you’ve got to make a shift—and fast. Otherwise, your rankings and therefore your pipeline, disappear.
I advocate for marketing balance, not a single magical solution.
You may ask yourself then, "Well, Sarah if you believe people should have multiple streams of marketing, why do you specialize in authority and search-based marketing?"
The answer is simple: Because I believe companies small and large should have balanced marketing and authority and search-based marketing is 1) a big gap in the majority of marketing strategies I see and 2) I'm really good at both implementing and consulting in this area.
Let's look at what I mean by the idea of balance.
Firstly, this does not mean "equal."
In fact, I believe that everyone should select a primary channel that accentuates their personal or company strengths. (Strengths-based work is a game-changer.) So, if you're like my friend Jamar and amazing on video, you should start there, and then pull in other methods to create a balanced pipeline (he does just this, by the way).
If you're like me, and writing is where you naturally shine, start with a blog/search based marketing, and build on that with a newsletter, and then other elements (currently I'm playing with LinkedIn because networking is something I'm also naturally good at AND it's still a place where writing skills help a lot). I started this effort last year because I realized that my marketing pipeline was overly reliant on search and only search—no good!
The first step in understanding if your marketing pipeline needs to be rebalanced if to create a system of tracking where your leads originate. We do this in a mostly automated fashion these days with a fancy Airtable base that's connected to our inquiry forms. Ours currently looks like this:
I do do some quality assurance every so often, such as making sure that an original record is correct (ie, if someone randomly selected Instagram because they messaged me on Instagram but they were actually a referral, I fix that). You can see that currently referrals are dominating, with Google and repeat clients just behind.
The next step is looking at this over revenue and determining what pipeline sources are profitable (that word is very intentional) and which are less so, and rebalancing your efforts if needed. So, if your data tells you that your Google leads are more profitable, but you're putting most of your energy towards Facebook ads, you may need to adjust the weighting of your efforts.
What I recommend doing once you're clear on this is quite literally drawing out a visualization of what your ideally balanced marketing pipeline would look like. Here's a quick example of how that would look for me:
Expect this will change as you get more information, collect better data, and your business and world changes.
I like thinking about marketing balance in this way because it feels flexible and responsive. We're not putting ourselves in rigid boxes, it's intentionally designed to allow us to adapt when "stuff" happens or opportunities present themselves.
Does thinking of your marketing model in this way feel good to you? What would you select as your "big bubble" in your chart and what actions would complement it best?
I'd love to hear your thoughts—just hit reply and it'll land in my inbox.
Do you have a tough challenge you'd like to tackle with purpose and focus?
⚡️ Then you'll love working with me 1:1 in our Spark Sessions program. This is the quick, intensive boost of marketing & content strategy folks have been asking for! A structured, co-creative experience with me (Sarah) over three two hour workshops that will uncover the solution that will put you on the best path forward. Hit reply and we'll get you scheduled for a call to talk about it!