Your 2015 Marketing Strategy should be a judicious mix of campaigns and content, website, social media, direct mail and paid advertising. If you want content marketing to fuel your new customer acquisition in 2015 you need to have a plan, and then you need to implement that plan systematically! That plan begins with your big picture for the year ahead.
Content marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways for SMBs to market their business in conjunction with other marketing methods – especially in service industries where there is a lot of competition, and it is hard to stand our from your competitors. Sadly, most SMBs are guilty of neglecting this simple method of attracting new clients, and consolidating the loyalty of existing ones. Even giant businesses like American Express and Coca Cola acknowledge the power of ‘story’ to drive business, but for SMBs it’s role is critical. If you don’t tell your story, someone else will capture the hearts and minds of your prospects (and even your clients) with theirs.
Sometimes we neglect content marketing because we are too busy, but the real reason is because we fail to plan and we underestimate the power of content marketing in building our business.
January is a time when many businesses experience a lull (especially in Australia where half the country is on holiday, and the other half would like to be), so it’s a perfect time to look over your Marketing Strategy for 2015 and plan out your marketing campaigns, promotions, advertising, and product releases and think about the copy you’ll need for each. Next week I’ll talk about the details of your content marketing and publishing strategy, but for now we’ll focus on the big picture.
I like to start with 12 boxes – one for each month of the year. Depending on the size and complexity of your marketing you may need a sheet of paper for each month, but if you’ve never done this before, I suggest that you start with a single sheet of paper and draw 12 boxes on it, then label one for each month of the year.
What goes in the boxes?
- Did you run any campaigns last year? If so, which month did you run them in? Were they successful?
Add that to the appropriate month.
- Brainstorm: What have your competitors done that you could imitate? Eg. Valentine’s Day Campaign, Easter Campaign, EOFY Campaign; Seasonal Campaigns …
What have you seen other businesses do and said, “That is cool! I could try something like that”? (If you didn’t notice anything, keep your eyes open this year!)
Make a list of ideas.
- Put one idea in the box for each month. Think about suitable timing. You want to execute your campaigns so they are not taking up your time and energy during busy periods for your business, and so that they generate work for the slower periods.
You can run the same campaign more than once per year if you’d like to.
- How much time will it take to plan and execute each campaign? Map that out too.
Nothing is worse than trying to throw together a campaign in a hurry, especially if you don’t have the tools to do it well.
- What tools, resources and budget will you need to run each campaign?
You can be better off scaling down you campaigns to fit this, than trying to run a campaign without measuring your results. Every campaign cost either money, time, or attention and you need to balance these out. Nothing is free (not even email) and you are better off sending out fewer emails, letters, or ads than doing more without measuring your results.
- What is the goal of each campaign? – You need to know what you are hoping to achieve, and you also want to be strategic here. For example I like to alternate list building and sales campaigns. Sometimes I’ll do a list building campaign followed by two sales campaigns if the list is healthy and responsive because that generates fast revenue, but if a client’s list is small or unresponsive I will probably alternate campaigns so we can generate more revenue in the medium term.
Each of these boxes represents the focus of one month of content that you can put out on your website, on social media, via direct mail, and even paid advertising. If you target it properly and set it up intelligently then you will know exactly what to talk about every week.
Once this is done you have the skeleton of your 2015 Marketing Strategy. There’s more work to do on the details, but you won’t have to re-think everything each month and you’ll be in a great position to smooth out any slumps in cash or client flow.
If all this sounds overwhelming, come back over the next few weeks for more details on how to re-use content without getting penalised by Google, and how to automate the process of creating content and setting up campaigns so that it becomes a ‘set-and-forget’ marketing powerhouse!