If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that we’re being bombarded with marketing, advertising and promotions. If you’re like me — and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this — your email inbox resembles Times Square. Just overloaded with the email equivalent of glaringly bright, flashy lights.
What’s concerning from a marketing professional’s perspective is that 40 percent of US consumers say most marketing promotions do not deliver anything of interest.
How is that possible, given that there’s so much data being collected on consumers? Big data, if collected and analyzed correctly, “allows companies to make meaningful, strategic adjustments that minimize costs and maximize results,” according to Forbes. And who doesn’t want that?
That’s the magic behind incredible content: a rock-solid marketing strategy that leverages that data so that you’re ahead of the curve. Your content — from newsletters to social media to mailers if you’re still doing that — needs to be relevant, interesting and compelling.
Yeah, I Have a Marketing Strategy
Do you? Or do you have a hodge podge of old content, inconsistently managed social media accounts and random email newsletters? Because those are two different things.
Another question to ask is: do you have a content and growth strategy? Or just one or the other?
And I wholeheartedly agree: Time and time again, I’ve seen businesses brush-off or undervalue the power of a robust, thoughtful, marketing strategy that includes specific goals, timelines, demographics and methods of getting to those goals.
Do I Really Need to Spend Hours Looking at a Word Doc/PowerPoint/White Board?
For marketing tactics to be effective: yes, you must invest time, energy and resources into your marketing strategy. Let me break it down for you.
A marketing strategy is a lot like wearing pants: Sure, you could walk around with no pants all day, but people are going to notice that something’s missing.
So, without it, you’re kind of embarrassing yourself and chances are, you’re probably slightly uncomfortable too.
This has been proven. According to the Content Marketing Institute, having a documented content marketing strategy makes organizations more effective. Plus, it makes it easier to document ROI for marketing efforts.
Content Marketing Strategy
Alright, where to start. Let’s start with the content marketing strategy. It should include the:
Themes - What does your ideal customer need? How can you help them? What will they find relevant so you’re not being ignored or deleted? Go for a mix of evergreen (i.e. relevant and interesting for long periods of time like months or even years) and time-sensitive content (i.e. centered on holidays, seasons, special events).
Type - What kind of content will you create? Options vary depending on your goals and target audience and there are oodles out there: blogs, videos, photos, infographics, newsletters, surveys, contests, coupons, how to guides. Here’s a big, big list to help you get some ideas.
Timing - When will you post your content? Begin to layout what themes you’ll cover during large periods of time — by month or even quarter. This is a bird’s eye view of your content marketing strategy for the year, which can be used later to develop a more detailed tactical calendar.
Sample Marketing Content Calendar for one of the fastest growing freelance sectors, auto repair shops
Marketing Growth Strategy
So, you have good content. Even great content. Now you need channels to distribute it -- and strong ones.
That’s where the growth strategy comes in. Depending on your target customer’s demographics, choose channels that will help you reach them. The general theory is: the more likely your target demographic is to be on a channel, the more likely they are to hear your message about how your product/service is going to change their life.
Here are some examples:
Do the research to identify the best channels for your business goals.
Do not set up a Pinterest account just for the hell of it.
Do not gather email addresses and wait a year to send your first newsletter.
Take the time to understand who’s on what channel, what your target demographic is and then move on to setting up those accounts.
Then — you guessed it — track the data to measure success. Maybe your Pinterest boards need to be adjusted; maybe your Tweets need prettier images; maybe your direct mailers look like every other mailer a customer receives. Your growth strategy should be developed and adjusted on an ongoing basis, and it should be used to pivot that content marketing strategy as needed.
What do you think the magic behind incredible content is? Let me know in the comments or find me on Twitter.