six steps marketing plan

Six Simple Steps to Create a REAL, Working Marketing Plan

Are you frustrated with your marketing?

Do you feel like you’re always chasing “shiny things” that promise to make your marketing (better, faster, easier, cheaper)? Do you feel like creating a marketing plan is too hard and too complicated?

You’re not alone.

This is one of the questions I get asked about the most. So how can a small business or an entrepreneur do the things they SHOULD do around their marketing without spending ALL their time on marketing?

I have a solution.

I have developed a simple, six-step process that should take you no more than a single day to set up and then about three hours a week to maintain. And this includes a blog, social, and email.

Here is how I approach marketing:

–Marketing is a multi-platform effort. No one thing is going to be 100%.

–Your website, social platforms, emails, and brick-and-mortar all need to be aligned around a very clear, single message.

–You have to spend time, money, or some of both. Nothing is free.

–Unless you are willing to spend big, it will take months not weeks to get traction.

–Be a big fish in a couple of ponds – focus your efforts to get in front of ideal audiences rather than being everywhere. Your message and your business is not a great fit for “everyone.”

–Have a plan – and be willing to execute and stay on track even when it feels like nothing is happening.

Ready to finally get your marketing working for you?

–Set aside one full day or two half days to get this done

–Don’t try to get this done a few minutes at time – you need to get in the “marketing mindset” to be most productive.

–Be ready to toss out what isn’t working – or what is not aligned with your goals and mission. Even though you spent time on them, if they are not pulling you forward, they are not contributing and may be distracting both you and your ideal customer.

Ok…let’s GO!

Step One: What is your goal?

Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time-based

–What do you want to achieve? More in-store sales? Foot traffic? Publicity? E-commerce? Greater number of clients served? Be very specific.

–If you have more than one goal, put them in a priority order. It’s much easier to focus and be clear when you are working on a single goal.

–What does success look like? 20% increase in foot traffic? Two more classes monthly? New product line launch? Be very specific.

–How fast do you want/need to achieve your goal? Want versus need are two different things – and can mean different things to your time/money budget. Set out a timeline for achieving your goal.

–Do you have a deadline looming? Is there a new product launch? An annual meeting? How does this effect your goal and timeline?

–Here is a link to more about SMART planning.

Step Two: Mission statement

Craft a mission statement aimed at your ideal client

–Here is a starting point:

I/We are a (describe company) who helps (audience) to (your core business). Our (unique business proposition) allows us to (deliverable).

You might need to tweak the format a bit, but you can see where I am going.

Using that template, here is what my mission statement could look like:

I am a sales funnel marketing company who helps small- to mid-sized businesses to get more customers. My “Turn Leads into Sales” focus allows me to help customers drive more traffic, convert that traffic into leads, and then sell their product or service.

–Write this and then read it out loud (really…use your voice). Keep rewriting and reading until it flows and you really could say this to someone in the time it takes for you to get from the ground floor to the fifth floor. This is called an elevator pitch. 

Refining my pitch from awkward, fill in the blank, to a smooth elevator pitch that I can say out loud:

I help small- to mid-sized companies get more customers by building sales funnels  using email, social, and chat bots that build traffic and turn leads into sales.

Better… but is it too technical?

I help businesses Turn Leads Into Sales with my exclusive marketing system that leverages email and social marketing to get more customers.

This hits all the notes I want: describes my business, adds in why they should be interested, and gives a little information about how we accomplish this.

Put your mission statement front and center.

–Distill it down and use it as your tag line on ALL your social accounts.

–Write it as a mission statement on your website.

–Use it on your email signature (along with links to your social accounts and website).

–Print it out and post it on the wall where customers and employees can see it. Make it poster sized so it’s easy for everyone to see.

–EVERY employee should know it AND understand your mission statement.

–Add it to invoices, letterhead, anything you send out.

Step Three: Update Your Website

I assume you have a website. If you don’t spend a day and get one set up. Here is a post I created about setting one up. It’s not hard and only a little scary.

And before you ask: YES you do need one. Social platforms are not enough.

–Set up an FAQ page on your website that is not only about your business but about your industry. Add to it frequently. Create categories and headings for easy scanning.

–Add a “start here” page to your site. Orient your new users, give them a map and guide them to content that introduces new arrivals to your business. Mission statement is front and center on this page.

–Add a “success story” page where you highlight your successes, customer profiles (get SIGNED WRITTEN permission from any customers that you feature that allows you to use it on your website, publicity, and social accounts and keep it on file). Nothing like social proof.

–Put your mission statement front and center on your website. Visitors should know instantly who you are, who you serve, and what you do.

Step Four: Social

–Pick one or two social platforms – not all. Keep repeating to yourself “big fish, small pond.”

–Select based on where your ideal client hangs out – not where you or your peers hang out.

–Fill out the profiles completely. Add user photos, bios, profiles, links – whatever they will let you add to beef up your presence.

–EVERYTHING on any social presence links back to your website “start here” page.

–Create a business page and/or group and cross-post content from your website to your social accounts to seed the page with content.

–Join 2-3 groups where your ideal customers hang out and you can be helpful. Post content, answer questions, and be helpful. Always include a link back to your “start here” page.

–Add a tab/form to sign up for your email list (see Step Five – Email Marketing).

–Here are some social media templates and cheat sheets to get you started,

Step Five: Email

Daily emails/inquiries

— Create email signatures that include your mission statement, links to social, and (if appropriate) a photo. A face really does ramp up the engagement and remind the recipient that there are real people behind your business.

–Hubspot has a great free signature template

–Outlook builds this into their software. (Create new email > Message > Include > Signature)

–You can add a signature to Gmail using a simple table in Word.

–Every business email you send out should have this signature.

Email marketing

–Sign up for an autoresponder account. An autoresponder email account lets you send out emails to your list on a schedule that you set. Mailchimp lets you have up to 2000 subscribers on a free tier.

–DO NOT try to use your personal or business email account to send out bulk email or manage email marketing. You may end up getting your account suspended.

–Start collecting email addresses so you have a list. An email list simplifies business announcements and connects people.

–Create a simple opt-in form and put it on the front page of your website, and on other pages.

–Ask people on social posts to subscribe to your list. Provide links to make it easy to sign up.

–Most social accounts give you some way to collect email addresses via a tab or form. Your autoresponder may have pre-built forms that you can plug in to your social account.

Email sales funnels

–If you want to use your list for sales, you need to create a plan around the marketing and sales process.

–You will need an autoresponder (such as Mailchimp) to automatically deliver emails on a schedule.

–Write a welcome email for new subscribers telling them about your business, restating your mission, restating your respect for their privacy, and telling them what to expect going forward.

–BONUS: Write 6-10 emails that welcome new subscribers and then lead them down the conversion path to buying your service or product.

Step Six: Create a plan – and execute

Goal:

–Keep your goal from Step One in mind. What do you want to achieve and when do you want to achieve it?

–Constantly reinforce your mission statement. EVERY post, comment, answer, press release should be written through the lens of your VERY SPECIFIC message. Don’t waste time or money with anything off-message.

–Keep your time spent to 3 hours per week.

Website: Once a week – 30 minutes

–Write/post once a week. It does not have to be long. Answer a question once a week and then add the question to your FAQ page. Write about a trend. Talk about the challenges that you face.

–Reference you mission statement in your posts where possible.

Social: Once a week – 15 minutes

–Log in to your one or two social accounts, write a short intro, and post a link to your website post on your social accounts.

–Once a week post something helpful. Post about a question that frequently gets asked, write a short answer, and then ask for input from the community. Dispel a myth about your business. Write about trends or things-you-should-know. Highlight a customer or business success story (with WRITTEN permission). Write a post that you can add to your FAQ page. Write about what is going on this week in your business.

–If possible, commit to a once-weekly FB Live, YouTube channel video, or other video event where you demonstrate something or answer a question on camera. Just 5-10 minutes can convey a lot of information and put a face on your business. Not everyone is comfortable with on-camera, but this builds a lot of traction fast. Casual video is okay – it builds a better, more authentic connection.

Social: 20-30 minutes a day

–Commit to spending about 20-30 minutes daily (really…don’t go down the rabbit hole – 20-30 minutes is plenty) being helpful and answering questions. Set a timer so you don’t look up and two hours have gone by!

–Help people. Seek out questions, write a short answer and then send people back to a longer answer on your FAQ, start here, success story, or a post on your website that references the question/answer.

–Check on posts that you have written and respond back.

–Post lots of images. Images get MUCH higher engagement. Video is even better. Your social activity for the day might simply be a photo and caption of what you’re doing that day. Get signed, written releases from any customers in the photos.

Email: Once a week – 15 minutes

–Send out an email to your list.

–Don’t overcomplicate this. Post updates, answer a question that got asked in the shop or online, a write story about what happened this week. A few paragraphs and an occasional photo (If there are customers, get a signed, written release).

–Repurpose content. If you write a post for social or your website this week, use it for your email.

–Pass along an interested article you read or video you watched that relates to your business. Link back and attribute the original source. Write a few lines about why you’re passing this along.

Old-school media: Once a month – 15 minutes

–For brick and mortar businesses that rely on local traffic, building local buzz is just as important as social (and often overlooked).

–For small digital businesses, your job is to get on the radar as a local expert in your field.

–Send out press releases alerting print and television editors about interesting, local stories. Here is a great resource from Hubspot on writing press releases.

–Make it easy for an editor to say yes. Make your pitch timely, include contact info, write a compelling reason that this merits the attention of their viewers/readers. Winning press releases are written from the point of view of what’s in it for the editor.

–Editors get dozens or hundreds of pitches a week. Don’t get mad or set your expectations around your pitch being picked up. You’re getting on their radar so when they have a story or need an expert, you’re the person they think of.

Spend some money, save some time: Achieve your Step One goal faster.

If you have even a small budget ($50-$100/month) you can invest in advertising.

If you are brick-and-mortar and want to raise your local profile, consider advertising locally. What your ideal customer read and view? Local advertisers can give you detailed demographic information. Newspapers will give you bang for a (smallish) buck if your audience is very local. If you can up your ad spend, consider a local or regional magazine or even TV.

For many businesses, their customers come from all over the world – so they need to expand their audience base beyond local marketing. The two biggest online ad platforms Google AdWords and Facebook Ads cover the broadest audience options.

There are lots of places to spend your advertising dollars including Pinterest, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook and shares an ad platform), Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. Depending on your audience and goals, one of these other platforms might make more sense.

Another creative approach is YouTube ads. If you are not competing in a high-cost keyword market (diet, exercise, making money) you may be able to find cost-effective ads that run on videos that attract your target audience. Here is an article by Hubspot that details the different types of ads and the pros and cons.

Google AdWords

Here is a great how-to post from Kissmetrics about Google AdWords

Pros:

–Great for local businesses as you can dial down the geographic reach

–If you are non-profit, you may be eligible for free AdWords

Cons:

–It can be tough to get the right balance of messaging, audience, and budget.

–It can be intimidating to navigate the AdWords account settings and find the right keywords to target.

–If you are in a competitive keyword business (fitness, diet, relationships, finance, personal improvement, etc.) it can be hard to find a keyword that you can afford AND that reflects your business. Use the Google Keywords Planner to understand trends and get ideas.

Facebook Ads

Here is a great post from Facebook about getting started with Facebook Ads

Pros:

–Great for wide audience reach.

–You can target audiences fairly precisely

–You select your goal and Facebook presents the ad to audiences most likely to take the action you want

Cons:

–You are still part of the firehose that is the average Facebook feed. It is easy to overlook your ad.

–Getting the right balance of messaging, audience, and budget can take time (and money).

–It can be intimidating to navigate the Facebook Ad dashboard.

–While you can be fairly specific about geography, it is not as flexible as you may need it to be and may present ads to people who are not your customers.

Summary:

Understand your SMART goal.

Write a mission statement that defines who you are, who you serve, and what you do.

Update your website so the mission statement is a prominent part. Add Start Here, FAQ, and Success Stories pages.

Select one or two social accounts where your audience hangs out – not your peers.

Start an email list with an autoresponder account and create a short email welcome sequence.

Create – and execute – your three hour a plan

–Post on your website every week.

–Cross-post on your social accounts every week.

–Send an email to your list every week.

–Spend 20-30 minutes a day on your social accounts being visible and helpful answering questions. Point back to content on your site if it is directly relevant. Link back to your “start here” page on your website if you are just making general posts.

–Bonus points if you can do a Facebook Live or add a short video to your YouTube channel.

–Build a relationship with local media by sending out monthly press releases.

Spend money to save time. If you have the budget, a hyper-targeted AdWords or Facebook Ad can drive traffic to your site and help build engagement.

What is your biggest struggle around your marketing?

Comment below – or even better – send me an email and perhaps I can help.

six simple steps marketing plan Pintersest

desk with keyboard, phone, notebook and pens

24 FREE Tools I Use Every Day

I get this question all the time… what tools do you use to make marketing (easier, faster, better).

Here is a list of 24 tools I use for everything from creating graphics to competitive analysis.

PSSST>>>If you want even more tools (and a handy print out), check out the free printable guide at the end of the article with 30 FREE Tools.

Social Media Scheduling

Buffer. Easy to use. Integrates via plugin with Chrome so it’s really easy to add content to your social accounts. Up to 5 social media accounts are free. Hootsuite offers a free tier that I also use – but Buffer wins because of the simplicity of the Chrome extension. https://buffer.com

HootSuite. I use the free level of the package – three social profiles, basic analytics, scheduling – but will probably have to upgrade to a paid plan at some point. I like the card setup of the dashboard. Pinterest not available without a third-party app. https://hootsuite.com/plans/free

Hubspot Social Media Scheduling Template. Easy to use and forces you to write and plan your social media posts. Excel spreadsheet with tabs for each platform. https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33415/The-Social-Media-Publishing-Schedule-Every-Marketer-Needs-Template.aspx

Graphics creation:

Canva. Quick, intuitive, and flexible. Dead simple to download. Tons of built-in templates for social, eBooks, graphics, and general publishing. https://www.canva.com/

PicMonkey. Need more of a Photoshop-type app? PicMonkey lets you edit, add text, filter, crop, and more. A bit of a learning curve, but reasonably intuitive.  https://www.picmonkey.com/

Adobe Spark. A little like Canva with its pre-made templates. Editing an image with their “style suggestion” wheel takes a little getting used to. I find it a little harder to use than Canva, but MUCH more flexible about changes. https://spark.adobe.com

Free Stock Photos:

Pixabay Images that you can use anywhere – even for business – and no copyright issues. https://pixabay.com/

Pexels  I have to admit that this is my favorite site. Seems to be less “stock image” than other sites.  You can sort by “trending” or “new” https://www.pexels.com/

Stocksnap.io I like their search function and their “trending” sort. I try to find images that aren’t trending – who wants to use what everyone else is using?  https://stocksnap.io/

Unsplash seems to have a little different selection than other sites – heavier on the landscape and architecture. Great if you are creating quote of the day images for Pinterest or Instagram. https://unsplash.com/

Burst sorts into categories like Fitness, Fashion, Business, Music that make is easier to quickly find what you are looking for – and discover related images. Hosted by Shopify. https://burst.shopify.com/

Freestocks also sorts by category and tags. Nice selection of food and animals but they have a broad collection in general. http://freestocks.org/

FoodiesFeed is perfect for food-based blogs. Not as large in absolute numbers – but very well curated. https://www.foodiesfeed.com/

New Old Stock are public archive historic photos. Scroll and discover or search (not intuitive – little magnifying glass in upper right). I like stumbling across random photos of people to spice up my blog posts. http://nos.twnsnd.co/

Kaboompics seems to emphasize interiors, architecture, and abstract work. Nice selection of out of the ordinary photos. http://kaboompics.com/

PikWizard has lots of gorgeous food and landscape shots as well as some not-run-of-the-mill people shots doing things besides sitting around tables looking at charts. http://pikwizard.com

Monitoring and Checking the Competition:

Google Alerts: Yup. Google is great at monitoring. Set up the alert on your name, website, social accounts – whatever you want. Fine tune it to hear the news you need to hear. https://www.google.com/alerts

SimilarWeb lets you deep dive into any website and see where they get their traffic, rank, competitors, and more. https://www.similarweb.com/

Google AdWords. Want to find keywords around your product or service? Google AdWords has a Keyword Planner that lets you search for words and key phrases. https://Adwords.Google.com

Google Trends: Find trending topics from Google search. View trends in various industries, by country, or search for the topic of your choice.  https://trends.google.com/trends/

Social Mention: A simple search box does a deep dive into whatever you’re searching for in blogs, microblogs, bookmarks, images, videos, and questions. Your search results show Sentiment (positive, neutral, negative), keywords, top users, hashtags, and users. You can sort by date or source and choose the timeframe to search. http://www.socialmention.com/

Follow A Chrome and Firefox extension as well as a stand-alone app. Follow lets you see the traffic, visitors, marketing and more of any website. Great learning tool to understand how great companies are using the internet to manage and expand their brand.  https://follow.net/

Semrush. Want to see the keywords your competition is ranking for? Links? Ads? Semrush will let you peek under the hood. The free version limits some of your options and number of searches, but for most casual users, the free tier is plenty. https://www.semrush.com/

SpyFu has a lot of the same info as Semrush. The free search bar on the main page gives you the “big picture” results. You need a paid account to dig down. https://www.spyfu.com/

Alexa lets you get a global view of site traffic and reach as well as the “Alexa Rank” of the sites worldwide. No free tier, but you can get a 7-day free trial. https://www.alexa.com/

virtual elevator pitch

(Virtual) Elevator Pitch Your Way to Anyone Using email or social media

Just read a great article about successful entrepreneurs who bootstrapped their way to success using email outreach. This got me thinking about how you could apply these tips more broadly – and recreate a virtual elevator pitch only via email but through social media.

If you had 30 seconds in an elevator with your dream ask, how would you approach them?

Tip 1: Use a compelling, irresistible, gotta-read-this subject line or headline that your intended reader simply can’t ignore.

Get to the point – you really do have limited real estate and time to connect – but make it something that your audience can’t resist.

My additional tip: Segment, segment, segment! What’s important to one reader or group of readers may be vastly different than another. Make your virtual elevator pitch directly to your specific audience.

Example: you are a real estate agent.

A buyer has different needs than a seller. An investment buyer has different criteria than a home buyer. A commercial leasing company has different markets than a residential leasing company. Segment and micro-target your subject line to appeal to that reader.

Understand that a successful virtual elevator pitch will intrigue your prospect – and demonstrate that you understand them.

Tip 2: Ask for advice – who doesn’t want to feel like an expert?

Make it very specific, and targeted exactly to their experience and market.

My additional tip: Understand that you DON’T know it all – but you can find someone else does. Make your virtual elevator pitch to their particular experience.

The more you can niche down the ask for advice to the particular area that the person is known for, the better your chance at success.

If you’re looking for help with a funding decision, ask advice from someone know for putting together or advising on these types of deals. And make the ask specific: don’t ask a VC a general question that you could Google, instead ask them why they chose A over B and whether that makes sense in this situation. This flatters them in two ways: first, you are showing that you understand their very special area of knowledge; second, you did enough research to ask a very specific question.

People LIKE being flattered and asked for advice, but only when it feels like you did the legwork to understand their particular expertise – and your ask is for help they can quickly deliver.

 

Tip 3: Ask for something it’s hard to say no to – get them saying yes to small things.

Sell people on the idea of helping before they actually have to do something.

My additional tip: Understand the magnitude of what you’re asking – and get small wins. Make your virtual elevator pitch easy to say yes to.

Let’s say you are trying to understand the feasibility of a new product. Asking people to take a 2-3 question survey that takes one minute or less AND gives them something (access to results, a report based on the results, early view of a solution) is an easier ask than a 10-minute commitment.

If your pitch is for a survey is to fix a common pain or uncover a better way to do something, you have a better chance. (This assumes that you ALSO followed Tip 1 and Tip 2 and precisely targeted your ask,)

Tip 4: Follow up – no one buys on the first ask.

If you followed Tip 1 – 3, now it’s time to REALLY make things happen: follow up.

My additional tip: Keep making your virtual elevator pitch – but don’t be a pest. 

It’s likely that your subject receives dozens or even hundreds of emails a day. Seeing your name, your well-crafted subject line (which is hard to say no to) DRAMATICALLY increases your chance of them responding.

Check this before you hit send (again):

  • You micro-targeted your audience and have an irresistible subject line
  • You’re writing very specifically
  • You asked for something that’s hard to say no to

Now it’s time for the magic: Follow. Up.

While the money may be in the list, you don’t build the list without persistence. Your pitch should focus on a small win and then build the relationship.

Tip 5: Make the email what you promised in the subject line or headline

My additional tip: (Over)deliver what you promised in the subject line. Once they open your virtual elevator pitch, make it more than worth their time.

Make it:

  • Short: better chance of a response until you’ve built an actual relationship
  • Targeted: specific ask that fits who they are and their expertise
  • Easy to say yes: don’t expect them to do your work – make it a no-brainer for them to help with
  • Amazing: it should be something that appeals directly to why you reached out to them in the first place

Now go write THAT email or social media post and let me know your successful virtual elevator pitch.

 

 

11 overlooked ways to turn leads into sales

11 Overlooked Ways to Turn Leads Into Sales

People buy from people…people they know, like and trust.

Smart entrepreneurs know that customers want to know more about YOU before they buy from you.

To stand out as an authority, a resume or LinkedIn profile is simply not enough. You need a cross-platform marketing approach to demonstrate to your customers your knowledge, your trustworthiness, and how you conduct business. You need to build your personal, professional brand.

And you need to do this while still running your business

Learn more about work-smarter methods to build and cultivate your brand – your “know, like, and trust factor” – without turning marketing into a full-time job.
TURN LEADS INTO SALES.

Tip #1: Use consistent visuals, graphics, and head shots

Visuals register with the brain first – so the first thing a consumer should see is a consistent brand look.

Brand EVERYTHING the same way. Think of Coca Cola or Apple. They look very different – Coke’s red, swoopy logo versus Apple’s Zen bluish silver website. Both are successful. Both send a consistent visual message that goes on all their content. You would never confuse one for the other.

Take a lesson from the big dogs: there should be no confusion about who created the content. Your business name, logo, tagline, and colors should register quickly with the user. Have a GREAT head shot taken – it’s worth hiring a pro for this – and use is EVERYWHERE.

Super-bonus tip: make sure that your logo and name are clickable – and check it on a mobile site to make sure that it does not scale down to the unreadable.

Extra Super-bonus tip: Your logo can simply be your name. Text logos are simple to create with any graphics program. Look at my logo shown at the top of the page. Just text.

Tip #2: Go big in 2 or 3 social marketing channels

Choose your marketing channels based on where most of your customers are already hanging out.

There are lots of demographic studies about age, sex, ethnicity, income, and even intent around marketing channels. What is a marketing channel? Facebook, your blog, LinkedIn, Instagram, guest posting on industry blogs, Snap, Periscope, Pinterest, and YouTube are all examples.

Don’t forget traditional marketing channels

TV, radio, print, and industry publications are an overlooked way to attention and authority. Well-written articles on a closely related topic are often welcomed – and get you in front of your target audience without the pressure of a sales call.

Once you have a track record (and maybe some help), add more channels – one at a time. But make a splash in your chosen ponds first.

Tip #3: Half of all internet traffic is now mobile – is your content?

You spend time (and maybe money) getting people interested in you and what you’re selling. Make sure that whatever content you create is frustration-free across all
devices.

You only have a couple of seconds before a visitor decides to stay and view or bounce away from your content – maybe forever. You got them to your content, don’t chase them off because they have to pinch and scroll.

Mobile accounts for 50%+ of all Internet traffic. Try Google’s free Mobile-Friendly test site to make sure that your content, including all graphics, are easily viewable.

Super-bonus tip: use buttons for important clickable links in your mobile content. It can be frustrating to tap-tap-tap on a text link that just won’t connect with your
fingertip.

Tip #4:  Be the (wo)man with the SMART plan

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

A marketing and sales plan does not have to be complicated – but it does need to be written – and it needs to be SMART.

Specific – define the goal (new leads, increase in sales)
Measurable – define the quantity (65 leads, 8% sales increase)
Assignable – define who is responsible for exact tasks
Realistic – is the plan realistic? 8% yes – 800% no
Time – set out t timeline for completion – with milestones

Once a week: Review your progress and pick out the ONE THING you want to accomplish next week.

Once a month: Review your progress on weekly goals. Pick out the FOUR WEEKLY THINGS you will do next month.

Once a quarter: Review your progress on monthly goals. Pick out the THREE MONTHLY THINGS you will do next quarter.

Once a year: Review your progress on quarterly goals. Pick out the FOUR QUARTERLY THINGS you will do next quarter.

Tip #5: Ask your audience what they want to know

As Homer Simpson would say “D’oh!”

What better way to deliver EXACTLY what your customers want, and build your “know, like, and trust: factor than by answering the questions that your customers are asking?

Spend your time in your chosen social marketing channels reading what your clients are talking about, answer the question, and refer back to your site.

Ask yourself the following: What posts get the greatest response? Are people confused, opinionated, passionate? That is a sign that you should be creating content around this.

Super-bonus tip: pose questions on social media. “If you were buying (your product), what is the one thing it must have?” “What is the one thing that would keep you from buying (your product)?”

You will get a lot of nonsense answers, but you will also glean some insight into how your customers think.

Tip #6: Promote your content

If you are creating content around your customers questions and needs, it’s time to go back to these same places and talk about solutions to their problems.

Find discussions around your topic, answer the question, and post a response with a link back to your content, telling readers that you have even more on the topic.

Super-bonus tip: add (new) visuals. Graphics or videos increase engagement but up to 200%. There are lots of tools and free websites sites that let you create fast graphics that will make your content stand out.

Extra Super-bonus tip: Participate in the conversation. When someone posts an answer, respond. Comment, ask a follow up question, post a resource. Be engaged.

This does two things: keeps the conversation at the top of the flow (recent active posts generally stay near the top of most social media feeds) and increases your social engagement –which Google rewards.

Tip #7: Content does not have to be original – but it has to be good and relevant

Curated content (content that you have found and passed along) can be just as powerful as original content – with a couple of rules.

First – only use curated content that is really good, reflects your personal and business standards, and adds to the conversation you are having with your customers.

Second – add your commentary or review. Read the content and glean out the relevant facts for your readers. As an expert, tell them why it’s important. Highlight key parts for the skimmers in your audience.

Third – attribute the content to its original creator. No stealing or plagiarizing. Email the original creator to let them know that you are sharing their content. You might get a shout-out from them and access to a whole new audience.

Super-bonus tip: automate your content curation by setting up Google Alerts and Feedly.

Tip #8: Make sure your digital footprints all lead home

Any time you create content, your readers should have an immediate way to click back to your site.

Guest posting? Add a bio section to the post with an invitation to learn more about whatever you just posted about – preferably a link to another specific, related piece of content. (AND add a great head shot – one that you use across all channels)

Should you have a website? While not absolutely necessary, a website gives you a place where YOU control how content is presented AND gives you a place where
you can be intentional about building your audience and your marketing plan. READ MORE IN THIS POST

Super-bonus tip: Create a custom bio for your social media – and refresh it at least twice a year (quarterly is better). Even better, have a couple of custom bios precisely tailored to different audiences.

Tip #9: Create a gotta-have-it-now reason to click over to your site in the form of a
lead magnet.

Lead magnets don’t have to be long or difficult to create.

The best lead magnets solve a specific problem that your business solves for them. The upside? People who click on the lead magnet are self-selecting as your target market. Win-win.

Super-bonus tip: Try different lead magnets for different audiences. Test your results.

Extra-super-bonus tip: Repackage your most popular content. Take three blog posts and make a short eBook. Distill the points in a post down to a cheat sheet. Add visuals and your branding. Eureka! You have a (nearly) ready-made lead magnet.

Tip #10: Create a landing page – or six.

If all your visitors arrive at your home page, you are asking them to figure out what you want them to do next.

Yeah…how is that working out for you – and your customers?

Now imagine you can custom-tailor the experience for your visitors and deliver tailored content rather than a bewildering set of options?

You can when you send them to a landing pages.

While you won’t create a landing page for every piece of brand content, you probably have themes or client audiences that are distinct enough that you can build landing pages around their visit.

Super-bonus tip: Track where your visitors are coming from – and how they engage. Double down on what works.

Tip #11: Take names (and email addresses)

You’re in business to make money, right?

And having a bunch of potential customers to contact who have already expressed interest in you would be fabulous, right?

If you’re nodding along and saying yeah to those questions, then it’s time to step into the wonderful world of email marketing.

Email isn’t scary. I have a Jumpstart Email video series coming up that explains the setup and tips using a free version of Mailchimp and a guide that helps you get started. Sign up on my email list. Seats for the training will be limited; my subscribers get first chance to register!

Super-bonus tip: Tip #9 suggests creating a landing page.
Add an opt-in box and gather email addresses. And watch
your customer lead list grow.

 

computer, keyboard, phone, meeting

Think you don’t need a written marketing strategy? Think again.

The Content Marketing Institute puts out an annual study, revealing that only 32% of companies surveyed actually have a written content marketing strategy. 20% have either no written marketing document or are not sure if one exists. (Note: If you don’t know if you have a marketing strategy, you probably don’t.)

What I found most surprising is that 48% of the survey pool claimed that they have a marketing strategy, but it’s “not documented.” This number is unchanged since last year.

So, I guess that one of two things is happening:

ONE:

Chris from marketing has this great memory for what worked in the past and continues to keep all the plates spinning in the air.

Plan? She don’t need no stinkin’ plan. (Bonus points if you know I sort of cadged this line from Treasure of the Sierra Madre…but I digress).

Better hope that Chris doesn’t leave (or get hit by a bus) because your entire marketing plan is locked in her head.

TWO:

Chris from marketing responds to all the requests from whatever departments want her attention and she just throws out random blog posts, Tweets, LinkedIn posts, and whatever else comes her way.

This means that Chris is in perpetual motion.

But this also means that the business is probably not moving forward.

Neither way makes much sense.

Sure – some people who think Chris is a genius and you shouldn’t interfere with a system that “works.” Keep Chris safe and happy.

If she walks out the door, your marketing goes with her.

And people who don’t like plans say that not having a plan leaves Chris free to react to the market and hit on hot, trending topics and new apps without all that planning getting in the way.

Sometimes she hits, and sometimes she misses…but who would know because no one is keeping track.

Why should I have a plan? Our marketing is working.

Is it? How would you know?

Guessing that your audience is on Facebook rather than Pinterest isn’t a solid strategy. Thinking that you want to drive traffic to your blog with posts…is that the best way to reach your audience?

 

Ready to create a plan?

Let’s look at a broad plan that will get you started.

You can iterate and refine as you understand better what works.

A marketing plan is not supposed to be a static document, but rather something that is constantly being improved and tweaked as your product changes, your market changes, and your clients change.

Let's go...

Step One: Where are you now?

Your first stop on the way to a marketing plan is to do a full overview of where you are right now. Write a short analysis with your focus on what is working – and what is not working.

  • What are your company strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is opportunities are coming up?
  • What does your company do best?
  • Who are your customers? Why do they buy?
  • Is your product marketing expanding or stable?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Are there threats to your company, industry, or product?

Step Two: Define your audience

Next step is to understand your customer.

  • Who is your current buyer?
  • Why do they buy from you?
  • What do they buy from you?
  • How do they buy from you? Seasonally, monthly, one-time?
  • Who is NOT buying from you? Why?

Step Three: What are your goals?

  • What are your 30-day, 90-day, 6 month, and 1 year goals?
  • How will you measure if you meet the goals?
  • Are all departments on board with how the plan will be implemented?
  • Have clear roles been assigned so that everyone knows what their marketing role is?

Step Four: What is your budget?

  • What can you handle internally and what will you need to hire out?
  • Can you allocate a percent of sales to marketing?
  • If you don’t have much of a budget. what are some low-cost alternatives?

Step Five: How will you implement this plan?

  • Who is responsible for what?
  • Do you need to focus on customer acquisition or general marketing awareness?
  • What is the timeline?
  • How are you handling cold and warm prospects?

Step Six: Are all your assets ready to go?

  • What is your social media plan? What platforms reach your ideal customer? Go deep into a couple of platforms rather than scatter your efforts everywhere.
  • What is your email plan? Do you have a email sales funnel to warm up leads? Are you segmenting your list to deliver relevant messages?
  • Is your website up to date? Is it mobile-friendly? About 1/3 of all traffic is coming from mobile – and that number is increasing every year.
  • Are your marketing materials – both physical and digital – updated? Do they match the look and feel of all your other assets?

Step Seven: Automation

  • Here is where the magic happens. By employing smart email funnels and social bots, you can ramp up the engagement cycle.
  • Does your email funnel segment your list so you are delivering the right content to the right audience? Are you moving them along the sales cycle?
  • Are you using social messaging bots to engage clients immediately? Have you set up effective logic so that the audience self-segments?
  • Are you testing and tweaking the funnels and sequences?
  • Are you using auto-scheduling programs (such as HootSuite or Buffer) to automate social posting?
  • Do you have an editorial calendar in place to create consistency in both posting schedules and content?

Creating a plan is the foundation for your marketing.

It’s not simple. 
It’s not fast.

But it is the one thing that can make the biggest difference between a wildly successful business and a failing business.

Without a plan, Chris is still spinning those plates and putting out fires instead of aligning your marketing with your sales goals. Take the time to plan, enlist the help of not only your sales department, but other customer-forward departments.

In the end, understand that EVERYONE who works at the company needs to be invested in marketing.

If you need help getting your marketing planned and executed, let’s chat.
I offer a free, no obligation 15-minute phone call to see if we are a good fit.
NO selling, no high pressure. Just good advice.
So grab a cup of coffee (or tea, as I prefer) and let’s talk about how to best solve your marketing problems.