Do you have a clear online strategy? A clear marketing strategy?
Content Strategy – What Is It
Many businesses do not have a marketing plan. Yet by simply taking a little time to plan and integrate their marketing efforts. Furthermore, they could transform their online marketing results. Developing a focused inbound strategy can make your marketing spend go further and generate more leads.
The important part of any online marketing these days is to move away from telling and selling. However, if you add value through your content you will dramatically shift to gaining your customer’s attention and building a relationship.
People want businesses to be helpful and feel that they have their interests at heart: quite simply they need to trust your business, see that you offer value for money (brand positioning) and care about the customer (your product and customer service). Inbound marketing does help by providing them with relevant content that helps at each step. Just a few examples to help:
- helpful tips and hints that solve problems – blogs, ebooks, cheat sheets…
- provide value add through knowledge sharing & demonstrate expertise…blogs, webinars…
- collaborative in listening to product/service development…openly invite people to share ideas and thoughts
- openly social and responsive to customers…e.g. respond to Tweets, Facebook comments, review sites – customer service
- provide product comparisons/reviews to simplify the buying process
If you simply add value through content and do it regularly you will attract customers. Your marketing strategy then needs to focus on profitably getting, keeping and growing customers by continually delivering value.
Some key points:
- Inbound marketing costs 62% less tand traditional outbound marketing – source Hubspot
- People trust other people – source Nielsen
- 67% of BtoB have generated leads from social media – source CMI
If this sounds tricky it isn’t and I will guide you through some simple steps to get a killer inbound marketing strategy in place to win more customers
Marketing Strategy – The Three Parts
In planning, there are 3 terms that are repeatedly used but often mistakenly mixed up: (if you already know this then apologies, but often people get them mixed up) strategy, objectives and tactics. Here is a brief explanation of each and their relationship to each other.
Action: Set your self some clear objectives for your Online Marketing and relate them to your business e.g. leads per month via a website, sell XX units per month by XX date, improve conversion ratio from XX to XX.
Marketing Strategy – 10 Step Guide
This is a simple step by step guide to help you focus on how you to get a winning inbound marketing strategy in place. Let’s face it there are only so many hours in the day and so many people you have working for you (if any). A focused marketing strategy helps you make choices and decide on what is important vs nice to do, what will deliver results vs just keep you busy. You need to get the best results for your time, effort and money.
1. Business Goals
Develop clear goals, objectives and measures and then put in the diary your review dates – stick to them so that you really do take time to review your performance. I know this is going back to basics but seeing how you are achieving your objectives will keep you motivated and on track. Try this simple form to help you.
2. Understand Your Niche Market (click for blog)
The one big mistake to make in marketing is to be all things to all people; trying to please everyone doesn’t work and will quickly sap you of time and money. Focus on a niche market and develop your your community and a social tribe around your brand.
3. Do Your Research
Do your homework and understand your customers AND your competition. you need to offer a unique product or service that your target audience will find of value. The other reason is that if you listen (social media monitoring) on social networks you can find out:
- problems your target customers are having (possibly with competitors).
- what content they value and share (so you can develop this into your content strategy).
- Don’t just use online though – good research is continual so think about regularly (quarterly) organising focus groups and doing some deeper online behavioural research.
4. Set Your Objectives
Set out clear objectives make them SMART. Your objectives should be directly linked to your sales process:
- the number of leads.
- the number of qualified leads.
Be strict with your self and set your objectives based on a daily/weekly/monthly timing and prioritise them. If you can’t measure it then it is not an objective – inbound marketing is all about understanding how your customers buy, fitting content to that buying process and then measuring how you generate and convert leads. If you have too many objectives then it becomes hard to measure and maintain a focus.
Split your existing and prospect customers into groups. Traditionally this was done using demographic data age, income, location…but I always recommend people do this by how people buy, lifestyle choices, the frequency of purchase, cost-effectiveness, characteristics – these differ by market and by business. Segmentation matches the right products to the people that will want to buy that product and increases conversion rates.
Great content and regular content helps with search and provides a reason for people to come back to your website. Develop high quality, unique content that helps your customers. Great content gets shared and if really good then people will also link back to your website. Links, SEO and improving traffic should be a key part of your marketing strategy.
6. Define Your Marketing Personas
Marketing personas are a useful way to describe your customers and prospects. They describe in detail, the character traits and characteristics that help you write copy and make decisions about your target audience. If you are briefing people e.g. agencies or your team, marketing personas help you all have the same picture of who you are marketing communications are designed for and help people understand the rationale for your marketing strategy.
7. Define Your Unique Selling Point – Your DNA
Do you know what is the margin ingredient that makes your business special, the reason customers stay with you? Do you know the purpose of your business?
If you understand and communicate clearly what makes you special and unique then it will help you differentiate yourself from your competitors and help build your brand. Some ways to differentiate yourself:
- are you faster
- provide better service levels
- longer guarantee (better quality)
- better support
- more customised/tailored service
Identify your strongest point and use it in your marketing communications to clearly position your product (s)or service(s).
8. Plan In Your Social Strategy
Whether you are in BtoB or BtoC you need to use social media channels to connect with your customers. Build a social tribe around your increase brand awareness by people sharing your content, commenting on your blog and subscribing to your content. Social provides leads and opportunities. Your time is valuable so focus your efforts and link them back to your objectives – how and where do you target audience use social media?
9. Use Measures That Are Realistic
At an event, I heard someone say that a measure of success was the number of cards left on their stand. They at the same time were running a give away to encourage people to leave their cards. The result was that most of the cards were not their target market. Measuring the right thing is just as important as matching it to your objective. Critical measures should ultimately link back to revenue, customers (retention, acquisition, profit, service levels…). A good example here is Facebook likes are not a good objective… the number of leads from Facebook is better. Make sure everyone in the business understands your marketing strategy and regularly communicate and review the measures.
10. Develop Your Plan & Budget
How much money will you spend, and on what? Spend wisely and refine your spend by using your measures. If it isn’t working stop it. Spend your money on what does work and what you can improve. Marketing is a continuous activity of building and refining what you do. Remember ot have fun and enjoy it though loving what you do is more than most people get to do. A marketing plan is the last step in putting in place your marketing strategy.
Success is rarely something that happens by chance. Good smart planning and hard work will help you develop a winning marketing strategy and keep you ahead of those that don’t. An online strategy is dynamic and needs to be relevant to your customers – and they change so make sure you change with them.