At the beginning of last year, we put out a post called 12 Online Marketing To-Dos for 2012 + 1! The response was great. We’ve gotten lots of feedback on this list as well as some updates on what our clients are doing with it.
As it happens, every year in our industry, lots changed. That said, I think the list from last year still applies (with the exception of #13)…
- Critique your site
- Develop a keyword list
- Eliminate bad content
- Rewrite old content
- Develop a content strategy
- Update your design
- Start blogging
- Embrace social media
- Develop an editorial calendar
- Take the keys from the intern
- Be a resource
- Prepare for the zombie invasion
Of course some will argue that #13 is still a concern. I guess it’s best to be prepared for anything.
For this year’s list, I want to dig a little deeper. Let’s assume for a second that you’ve implemented the list above or at least started the process. What’s next??
Here are some suggestions for ways to improve your marketing efforts in 2013…
- Assemble your content team
- Develop buyer personas
- Engage your experts
- Attend conferences and workshops
- Tackle mobile marketing
- Use mobile
- Be more agile
- Break down silos
- Empower your team
- Get rid of dead weight
- Redefine social
- Read more
- Write more
1 – Assemble your content team
It’s time to start making some serious content. Content marketing is the new SEO. Marketing your business using original content is how you…
- get qualified traffic
- generate a loyal following
- gain traction and make connections via social channels
- and if done correctly, it’s how you build the trust you need to easily convert a follower into a client
I am not naive enough to think that any business has enough time to sit around and generate new content all day every day. This is painstaking and time consuming. You have a business to run. But, with the right team, and a solid plan, you can make content marketing work.
Use what you have readily available. You don’t have to turn your entire staff into a bunch of bloggers. This rarely, if ever, works. Writing assignments are ignored or put off until the last minute.
Instead, identify members of your team who might be passionate about content marketing. Find the writers on your staff who can quickly churn out some posts and make it part of their daily routine. Don’t just dump this on an intern (see list above), choose someone who has skin in the game, someone who truly cares about your success.
And make this part of their job. Make sure they understand and accept it. You do not want to treat this like a secondary project that can get pushed aside for “more important” things. It is a task that needs attention and respect.
Arm members of your team with video cameras and audio recording devices. Remember, content does not always need to be written. Videos and podcasts can be highly effective forms of content. Your team can interview clients, internal experts or industry experts. They can document events or seminars.
If you do not have anyone on your team who can manage the tasks listed above, consider hiring someone or contracting these things out. Content is that important.
2 – Develop buyer personas
Developing content as a marketing tool is a waste of time if you don’t know your audience. The best way to understand your audience is to develop your “buyer personas.”
One way to do this is fun and can be a great team activity. Chart out the “personas”. You can use real examples of different client types or create characters around different client profiles. Have fun with it.
The point is to identify the different user groups and assign a name to each. For example, if you are writing a post for power users, you are writing for Brad.
3 – Engage your experts
Every industry has experts. For this, I am talking about the people that everyone in your industry knows.
In order to gain some traction in your industry online, you will need to build your reputation. I’m not talking about your Klout or Kred score. I am referring to the amount of actual trust, respect and engagement you command through your online channels.
To build your reputation, it helps to work on the company you keep. The great thing about social media is that you now have direct access to so many people.
I am not advocating that you stalk your industry experts. I’m suggesting you follow them and interact with them on social channels. If they blog, read their posts and offer some thoughtful questions or comments. If they speak at events, go to those events. If they’ve written a book, write a review, write lots of reviews, or even post a review on your blog.
Remember, experts are people too. They work very hard and love to get positive feedback on their efforts. If you consistently offer them real feedback they will notice. If you promote their work, they will notice. Scathing critiques are best kept to yourself; or you can “damn by faint praise.”
Don’t go into this expecting something. The only thing you should expect is to learn and build relationships. However, after some time you will find that you will be chatting with these folks just like you would any other person in your field.
At some point, you might have a strong enough relationship with the experts that you can invite them to comment on your blog. You might even be able to get them to guest post on your blog. This adds credibility to your marketing channels.
4 – Attend conferences and workshops
Get out there! You can’t expect to build relationships by hiding behind a screen. Sure, social media has allowed us to be “social” from our desks (or couches) but nothing beats face-to-face chat.
Typical networking events are great if you are simply looking to go out and promote. But, to really make connections that matter, you want to engage with folks that share your passion.
Passionate people are always learning. Most industries have conferences and workshops built around this desire to learn. Do some research and find the learning opportunities in your industry. Chances are the experts will be presenting at some of these events.
By attending these events you will…
- Learn new things!
- Meet passionate people and start building relationships with them.
- Meet experts, face to face.
After the conference, take time to follow up with the people you’ve met. No expectations. You simply want to continue the conversations.
5 – Tackle mobile marketing
Seriously, it’s time. It’s exploding. Mobile marketing is mainstream!
At the very least you will want to make sure your website is mobile friendly. But go a bit further. There are so many ways to use mobile marketing to reach people where they are spending a lot of time…
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Targeted mobile landing pages
- SMS Marketing
- QR Codes
Mobile marketing is a matter of knowing the user and understanding their Zero Moment of Truth – the moment when they act on an idea. The days of building a site and hoping for traffic are long gone.
It’s time to target these users and they are on mobile. Working with your list of buyer personas, identify some possible scenarios where one of them would be looking for you on their mobile device. How do you make sure you are there in the best way possible?
- Be in their inbox, if they subscribe to get emails from you on their mobile device, you are already accessible
- Write the content in a mobile friendly format. Use location based words whenever possible.
- Have a presence on social channels where you think your audience is. They will be checking Facebook, Twitter and others on their mobile devices.
- Develop campaigns using email, advertising and other promotions that push your audience to targeted mobile landing pages. Keep these pages simple and make the call to action very obvious and very desirable.
- Permission based SMS marketing (text messages) works really well when marketing “daily deals” or “exclusive content” that is attractive to a mobile audience.
- QR Codes in promotional materials direct your clients to a mobile landing page. And make it worth their while. Example – make the mobile landing page an email newsletter signup to get a free eBook.
6 – Use mobile
How do you expect to market on a channel if you don’t even use it yourself. Assuming you are one of the minority of business people still using a feature phone, stop it! Get a smartphone. Get a tablet. Take advantage of the technology available.
Download some apps. Check your email on your phone. Do a little shopping on these devices. This is the best way to understand this channel. If you have first hand knowledge of what it’s like to buy something on a mobile device, you are better prepared to sell something through this channel.
7 – Be more agile
This is a term generally associated with software development. Basically in the agile development model, you identify your budget and deadline but the scope is flexible. You develop in short 2 week periods called “sprints” and then review and adjust the scope after each sprint.
The benefit of this model is that you can truly develop something meant for the user. You can develop as you test. You do more releases and then track the results. With these mini releases, you are able to instantly see what works, what doesn’t and adjust accordingly.
Imagine doing this with your marketing plan. Instead of grand 6 month marketing initiatives, you break things into 2 week sprints. You can have an overall set of marketing goals and then implement short term marketing initiatives to get you closer to these goals.
Instead of taking 6 months to a year to roll-out a large and involved marketing plan, you roll out smaller initiatives. Just like with development, you will be able to quickly see what works, what doesn’t and adjust accordingly.
This is going to take the entire team to pull off. Everyone needs to be on board and everyone needs to have a voice. Each week have a quick meeting to discuss what is happening during the current sprint. Do not discuss anything else during this meeting. Keep it brief and on topic. The ideas will be hyper focused and based on real data.
With this approach you will no longer need those all day planning sessions. Instead break these up into quarterly review meetings to track overall results and adjust your budget if necessary.
These meetings can be a review of the successes and failures of the previous sprints as well as what might be coming in future sprints.
8 – Break down silos
Marketing is no longer a department. Marketing should be a part of every department. In their book, Marketing in the Round, Geoff Livingston and Gini Dietrich discuss this very concept.
Because marketing relies on social, content and engagement, you need your entire team to be fully committed to your marketing efforts if you want to see success.
Sales works directly with the clients. They are the front line and talk with clients every day. Shouldn’t they have a say in your marketing efforts?
Your customer service department handles your problems – real problems from real clients. Shouldn’t they have a say in your marketing efforts?
Marketing is a team sport and requires contributions from everyone. There are no more Mad Men. Now, especially with social, everyone is on the front lines. Keep everyone in the loop and aware of the plan.
Read Geoff and Gini’s book to find out more about Marketing in the Round and breaking down silos.
9 – Empower your team
To break down silos, you must to be willing to give up a little control. Remember, your employees have Facebook accounts, Linked accounts, Twitter feeds. They are already out there.
Turn employees into brand ambassadors. Get them excited about what you’re doing. And bring them into the loop. You might just be surprised at the value they bring. The ideas they have will often wow you.
Remember, you don’t know everything nor can you control everything. Embrace openness and allow your team to get involved. The employee you never noticed could become one of your best brand advocates online.
Want a great example of this? Look at companies like Zappos. Everyone on their team is a stakeholder and brand ambassador.
10 – Get rid of dead weight
Are you still using outdated or ineffective marketing techniques because it’s “the norm?” Stop it! Now is the time to take charge. When is the last time you got a lead from your ad in the yellow pages? (yes, people still do this)
Take a look at your overall marketing expenditures. Anything really jump out at you as possible waste? Maybe you are running the same old ad in a local magazine. Is it working? Are you getting leads? How does it tie in with your other marketing efforts?
Now of course, there is still the quote from an old marketing exec, “half of my marketing dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half.” But, here’s the thing. Now, with analytics, you should know. If you don’t know, you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t be afraid to lose what isn’t working. Remember to be agile. Look at what works, identify what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly.
If you find yourself saying “but we’ve always done that,” you know it needs of examination. Could be that it still makes sense. If it’s not effective… kill it!
11 – Redefine Social
It’s time to rethink social media. Companies that “do” social right are the ones integrating social into the larger plan. They aren’t simply promoting themselves via their Facebook page. They are interacting and engaging their audience directly on multiple social channels.
Who buys from you? People who trust you. Who trusts you? People who know you or know someone they trust who recommends you. People don’t trust a logo, they trust their friends.
Social media is where you interact with your clients and fans and colleagues It’s where you connect on a deeper level. You make a connection based on shared interests and mutual benefit instead of a simple exchange of goods and services for money.
You can also use these channels to better understand your buyer personas. Find out what your target client thinks and feels. Back before the web and social media, marketers would have killed for the kind of data we have available. It’s right there for the taking!
Yet, so many companies insist on continuing to promote or “advertise” on these channels, completely ignoring a bigger opportunity in order to focus on the bottom line.
Social is a longer game. It takes time to build quality connections with influencers and with your client base – real connections that last and produce over a long period of time in a much more substantial way.
12 – Read more
There are many great books, blogs and other sources of content out there. I find that with my eReader, I can power through books much more easily than with a printed version. To each their own. Do whatever works and continue to read books on marketing, on business, on your industry, whatever.
And read more blogs. Set up a Google alert for terms related to your industry. After a while you will start to recognize which blogs are good and which are junk. Subscribe to the good ones. Stay plugged in to your industry.
Pay attention to what your experts read and recommend. Read those books and blogs. The benefits are many but mainly for marketing you will…
- stay in touch with what’s happening in your industry
- be aware of what your competition is doing as well as the industry leaders
- be supplied with ideas for your own blog posts, eBooks, and other content
- Marketing in the Round
- The Impact Equation
- The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing
- Spin Sucks
- Geoff Livingston’s Blog
- Six Pixels of Separation
- Christopher Penn – Awaken Your Superhero
- Ducttape Marketing
13 – Write more
The best way to get better at writing is to write more. It’s as simple as that. Just take some time each day and do some writing. You don’t need to write everything with the intention of publishing it.
It helps to keep some notes or to journal a bit. Make sure you can find these notes later so keep a repository of all your writings.
Tools like Google Drive or Evernote can be very helpful. You can access and add to your repository from anywhere.
Get in the habit of writing everyday, even if it’s just a little bit here and there. Don’t be afraid to share your work. Let people whose opinion you value critique your work. It helps so much because they will see the mistakes you might miss. They’ll also help you to eliminate your bad habits. I know this from lots of experience. My editor is brutal!
This list is by no means a complete guide for all of your marketing efforts. Map this out on your own. But, if you follow these suggestions, you’ll stop guessing and start marketing effectively.
Have I missed anything? Any “musts” you wish to add? Let me know in the comments section below…