The goal of effective marketing.

Marketing has always been viewed as expense. Sales has always been viewed as revenue. That’s not the case anymore! We hear it every day, people saying that they know what we do. But through further investigation, turns out they don’t. It’s not their fault, no one has experienced your brand or your product the way you have. They don’t know about the demands and choices that went into it. They don’t understand the market pressures or the false starts either. So, let’s set the record straight.

Your business, like many businesses today, is challenged with creating value for numerous points along a complicated, multi-layered buyer’s journey. Your business operates in an industry where buying cycles often are extended. Anyone serious about the task at hand will require a significant amount of time to develop an in-depth understanding of the products and services your company offers to be able to craft content that’s easy for your audiences to grasp.

The goal in effective marketing today is to help you:

Attract new customers and maximize retention rates
Identify new revenue streams and optimize support
Drive collaboration with actionable data
Create value at every stage of the buyer’s journey
Enable your business’s value to be discoverable even when your prospects are not looking for you

Your business development process needs to begin with an analysis and understanding of your business promises and pillars. This includes making use of marketing research to understand the key decision drivers, attitudes to reinforce and attitudes to overcome.

The foundation of your approach is to ensure that your efforts are a research-driven creative process. I use existing information/research and conduct additional research when needed.

Before we start, we need to ask ourselves some questions…

What’s your strategy for being found in today’s globally connected world? Is there a plan for building an audience? How do you plan to build up your digital assets by delivering rich customer experiences?

Or are we are creating more and more content, hoping for more and more activity. What do those efforts get us? Web traffic? Likes? Fans? Those lower-level indicators are fine — if they are helping us build an audience. If they aren’t, then they are most likely just meaningless vanity metrics.

What to do? If you don’t have a solid loyalty-building strategy, you need one. I’m not talking about a lead generation strategy where you spam your leads/contacts based on where you think they are in the buying cycle. I’m talking about building something your customers and employees can subscribe to that is consistently delivered, buying stage-agnostic, and targeted to a market niche that you can position yourself as the go-to authority on.

It’s not all that complex a strategy, but it does require patience and thinking outside of the next campaign. The companies who accept the challenge of employing these kinds of strategies now will win in the long run.

“You can increase the bottom line while, at the same time, help your customers live better lives or get better jobs. Content marketing is the only kind of marketing that provides ongoing value, whether you purchase the product or not.” ‒ Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute

How social media and content marketing impacts goals

Companies that document a strategic content marketing program can have more effective lead generation, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts, internal teams, and processes. And, as the discipline evolves, we have an opportunity to experiment, distinguish ourselves, and help set better practices that your customers will follow for years to come.

Supporting reasons and data: 

Content marketing is leading the pack in lead generation and turning those leads into customers:

Per dollar spent, content marketing generates more than three times the number of leads than paid search does. (Kapost/Eloqua).
Content marketing costs between 31 and 41% less than paid search, depending on the organization’s size. (Kapost/Eloqua).
Website conversion rate is nearly six times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs. 0.5%). (Aberdeen Group).

As search engine algorithms evolve, content marketing is increasingly becoming essential to SEO efforts. Content creation ranks as the single most effective SEO technique. (Marketing Sherpa)

Growth Marketing

Social media and content marketing for your business today is really so many things wrapped into one: marketing, customer service, public relations, crisis management, recruiting and branding. And with today’s consumers always-on, always connected, they expect immediacy. Increasingly, companies need to meet that demand with not just campaigns, but also with relevant and consistent content production, curation and the effectiveness of a newsroom.

My role is to provide time-tested digital media better practices strategies and tactics on how we best execute on your day-to-day activities and anticipated outcomes. We must understand the nuances of these online platforms and build relationships with them.

The product changes of online platforms happen daily. Just to track those changes and newly emerging platforms is a full-time job (see marketing technology map). Hope is not a strategy so you should begin with, and adjust if necessary, duties which will include but not be limited to:

Audit and assess and optimize all of your online profile and activities.
Identify and leverage your owned digital assets (website, email lists, databases).
Evaluate and deepen your current platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram) relationships with influencers.
Identify and prioritize key platform influencers and develop meaningful strategies for your initiatives.
Manage the implementation of new platform relationships and maximize their commercial value.
Foster collaborative relationships wherever it makes sense.
Explore partnership opportunities with identified influencers.
Assess new platforms as they emerge and build relationships accordingly.

Scaling Your Impact

Blogging and content creation/curation Blogs can be short stories of 200 – 300 words. You don’t have to create all the content; there are plenty of opportunities for curation. As an example, more than half of my postings are from other relevant sources. Your goal here is creating lifetime subscribers and motivating them to discuss, share and/or challenge our value propositions. Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links (Content+, Apr 2012)

LinkedIn accounts for nearly two thirds of all visits to corporate websites from social media outlets and is steadily increasing.

You should optimize your LinkedIn profile and your publishing efforts on their new publishing platform. You should search out and invite like-minded professionals to connect. You should post regular updates as well as directly message select connections for recommendations and constructive feedback to showcase on your profile. You should join and contribute to as many audience-engaged groups as possible, i.e. potential publishers, influential writers, relationship experts (100 groups per profile).

“Great marketers have immense empathy for their audience. They can put themselves in their shoes, live their lives, feel what they feel, go where they go, and respond how they’d respond. That empathy comes out in content that resonates with your audience.” ‒ Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz

Facebook

Continue to build on your existing FB page momentum by leveraging the new features that have recently been introduced in order to capture mind share. Facebook announced several new features for Facebook Live that will “give you more ways to discover, share and interact with live video and more ways to personalize your live broadcasts.”

Canvas, a full-screen Ad experience built for bringing brands and products to life on mobile. It’s a new post-click, full-screen, immersive mobile ad experience on Facebook that loads nearly instantaneously—to solve this problem. Canvas was created with input from the creative community at every step and is designed to help businesses like yours tell stories and show products on mobile devices in a beautiful way.

You should join and participate in any Facebook groups where you find your target audiences. This way you avoid the dreaded Facebook algorithm machine that no longer promotes the best content in your news feed, but rather the content they want you to see.

Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram strategies and priorities should also be addressed if that is where you audience is.

Online Groups and Communities

LinkedIn groups and Facebook communities exist to help individuals and companies maximize the value they receive from interested products and services. By way of helping users connect, innovate and share solutions through a variety of member benefits, including educational sessions, face-to-face meetings and events.

You should be able to demonstrate value by coaching them on how they can lead and build a support network even if they’re shy or introverted. This is just another public example of how we value people over sales transactions.

“Your network is a store of distributed intelligence that can enable you.” Reid Hoffman – Founder of LinkedIn

Group/Community engagement priorities include:

Listening & Analyzing
Response & Escalation
Moderation & Conflict
Facilitation
Promoting Productive Behaviors
Empathy & Member Support
Facilitating Connections
New Member Recruitment
New Member Welcoming
Member Advocacy

Winners Must Be Present

Today your target audience can use social channels to identify decision makers and influencers and develop relationships with them. They are talking on social media; asking questions, posting information and looking for answers. You can use this dialogue to learn about your audience before engaging with them. Gaining intelligence allows us to turn what would be a cold call into a warm(er) outreach.

“People don’t find content by mistake, or by accident. Every content plan needs a complementary promotion plan that combines paid, owned, and earned media.” –Matthew Gratt, Digital Marketing Manager, Continuum Analytics

There are no more competitors, only potential collaborators. You should find and connect with similar influencers and their followers. The benefit is that you can jump into their established online conversations and draw their audiences back to your website.

Great marketing reaches audiences where they are, across targeted channels and devices. By way of a blog post, a 140-character tweet, a newsletter, or other effective forms of marketing. Creating good content is hard, managing content is hard and distributing content is time-consuming. However, there is no question that the market pull is real and sustainable.

“We aren’t focused on the numbers. We’re focused on the things that produce the numbers.” –Apple CEO Tim Cook

Measurements and Analysis

You will take the guesswork out of knowing how and why your prospects discover you. Google Analytics should be installed and activated on your website. You can monitor and translate vital data such as;

Marketing Reach by Channel
Website Visits by Source
Leads Generated by Source
New Customers by Source
Top Marketing Campaigns

Online Listening Tools do more than listen. They provide us with valuable insights into how our online audiences are thinking, acting and responding. There are many social measurements tools available that add value to our efforts. Some of these tools are free (or trial versions) and others are part of the platform offering. I use several different tools to scan for mentions of a person or brand on blogs, bookmarks, social networking sites, news, video, and more. These tools rate the mentions on strength, sentiment and reach.

What You Won’t Do

Trying to Be Everywhere at Once. We will allocate the appropriate amount of effort to each network and make sure it’s worth it.

Agonize Over Follower Count. We recognize that follower count is important, but when you’re just starting out, follower count is not the best metric to measure your progress, its quality over quantity – always. There are other metrics we should be paying attention to that will illustrate how effective our efforts are – engagement, engagement as % of followers, reach, impressions, etc. Creating a healthy community comes first.

Lose Focus. Remember, you are creating demand for your business, not just buzz. The reality of this new world order of viral marketing is that you’re not going to get it right every time. Sometimes certain pieces of content or campaigns just don’t resonate with our audience – it happens. If a piece of content isn’t performing, despite all your best efforts, don’t continue to pump it – let it go.

Try to Please Everybody. People are always going to have issues on social – some of them warranted some of them not. If you see or hear of any issues, you should always address them immediately. Don’t try and please everyone – it won’t work. Dealing with unreasonable people or trolls online will waste your time. Do your best to fix the problem, apologize, learn, and then move along.

Avoid asking for help. When I first started out I was hesitant to ask for help. I would promote my content, people would engage with it, click-through, and download. That’s what I’m supposed to do – right? Well, what I didn’t realize was that I was wasting time hitting the same people repeatedly. Once I started working with influencers, they would give my pieces of content sometimes 2x, 5x, 10x the reach. Not only that, but it also attracted new followers and people who were previously unfamiliar with my brand. When it comes to circulating content, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This will not only get your brand’s name out there – it will also save you a ton of time you would’ve spent trying to hit that kind of reach.

About the Author:

Richard Sink is the Founder/Owner of Critical Connections. He is in the Top 1% Worldwide Profiles on LinkedIn and SlideShare and ranked 18th for Social Business on Twitter. He has more than 14 years of Social Business Integration Expertise. Learn more and book a free 30-minute session here.