You won’t forgive me if I said I didn’t have a marketing strategy. And your grudge would be fair. After all, I’m a marketing consultant. My 2018 marketing strategy exists and it makes a lot of sense i.e. I’ll do more of what worked and less of what didn’t. That’s all, right? Well, no. This year, I’ve taken a brutal approach to my traditional planning. Everything I do has to link back to clear KPIs, in particular, MONEY. Yes, the dirty word that few people can discuss.
As a business owner, you probably know how much you want to make this year. It’ll be a percentage increase from last year. Or you might want to generate similar revenues but improve your profit margins. If your marketing strategy doesn’t help you make the money and margins, don’t bother. I mean it. What you have is another to-do list that you will soon forget.
Ask these questions as you develop your marketing strategy
- Is your mission for this year the same as last? Why?
- Are you planning to serve a different kind of customer? If you are targeting larger companies, do you have the credibility, resources and competencies? If not, how will you get it?
- Do you have a different value proposition for each customer group? Have you understood what each care about so that your product resonates?
- What is your overall business promise to your customers? To be the best or the cheapest or the most reliable?
- How much of your revenue will come from marketing efforts?
- How much will you spend on marketing to get this revenue?
- What proportion of your revenue will come from repeat customers?
- Can you get referrals to new customers from existing or previous customers? How will you ask for these referrals?
- How much of your business will come from referrals e.g. 40%?
- Which marketing activities will help you achieve these goals e.g. ads, events, SEO, networking etc?
- How much will you spend on each activity?
- How will you know that it is working?
- What kind of content do you need to create to attract and engage new and existing customers?
- Will you create these materials internally or will you engage an external company?
- What changes do you need to make to your processes and systems to allow you effectively track and maintain a healthy sales pipeline e.g. CRM, email marketing?
- What are your non-financial goals e.g. award to win, public speaking engagements, adopting a charity?
These questions will really focus your strategy. If you don’t ever look at your strategy again then it’s unlikely that you are meeting your goals.
To help you keep focused, consider hiring a marketing consultant who understands your industry, not just marketing. An hour or two a month with the consultant can be invaluable in reviewing your marketing efforts against business goals, and making changes if necessary. You are running your business on limited time, resources and budget. Can you afford to spend time on strategies that don’t take you forward?
This blog post is by Annika Rautakoura, Content Manager at Smarp. Smarp provides an employee communication, advocacy and engagement tool for building influence and engaging employees through content.
With digital and social media mowing the content landscape, content marketing has become the core of building up brand awareness and an online presence that drives business. The importance of content marketing has not gone unnoticed. Currently, 73% of B2B marketers include a plan to operate content marketing as an ongoing business process. It is not simply a campaign (Content Marketing Institute). The focus of content marketing investments have shifted from just content production to content promotion. It’s a combination of these both that ultimately determines the success of content efforts.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a long-term strategy based on building a strong relationship with your target audience by giving them high quality content relevant to them on a consistent basis. “Eventually, when customers make a purchase decision, their loyalty already lies with you. And they will purchase your product and prefer it over competitors’ products”, says Neil Patel. Why is this? Let’s look at some of the reasons.
Content is a way to increase brand awareness by building a voice and authority online. It’s about creating an image of honesty and expertise in your respective field. How does this happen? Certainly not overnight. It takes consistency; being accurate and not misleading your audience. Posting on a regular basis keeps you visible to your audience, and posting consistently helps your audience form habits around the consumption of your content. In other words, audiences can expect you to provide certain types of content in a timely fashion. Trust also calls for grabbing the attention of your audience in the right way. You can do this by encouraging employees to participate in content production, connecting with the right influencers and giving shout-outs to brands and people with engaged audiences. When audiences spot your content through familiar or influential people, they are more likely to take that next step towards purchasing.
Content marketing is a way to start discussions around topics that are important for your business and attract the interest of people and organisations tackling with issues your services can provide solutions to. Researching your audience and targeting this audience based on what they’re looking for is the key to get leads. By having the right lead qualification processes in place and having different types of content to provide for leads at different stages of the purchase funnel, you can turn your leads into business. A well-established content strategy means that you need to work less to find leads, when leads will find you through the content path that you have laid out.
You can measure and adjust
Not investing in the right technology and tracking system for managing and measuring the performance of your content marketing efforts is like trying to hit a moving target in the dark. There is little point in producing or sharing content with no means to adjust any setbacks or build on successes. Here are some tips on with content. Tip: focusing on conversions is valuable for witnessing the actual effects of your content, i.e. action taken after consuming it, whether this means subscribing to a newsletter or downloading an e-book.
Boosting thought leadership through content marketing
Investing in content marketing supports your efforts to get messages across to your target audience. You can also build up a brand image through stories that provide readers with something they can relate to. Content that showcases the company’s achievements. For instance, case studies and user testimonials focused on the client are valuable for highlighting the results of your business. Content that brands the company as an employer allows for more personal material, such as behind-the-scenes articles. If you’re not yet convinced on the importance of employer branding, remember that your current or former employees have as much power in sharing the word about your brand.
What type of content works?
Blogging – B2B marketers with using blogs generate 67% more leads (TechClient). The amount and intensity of blog posts is dependent on resources and strategy. More is more, but quality should always be kept in mind.
Social media – A foolproof way to drive traffic to your site and the content you produce. It’s also an easy way to showcase your industry by linking to relevant third-party content that you consider to be of value to your followers. Social media efforts should always be tied to your overall content strategy, so that they have a maximum impact for your marketing goals.
Visual content is gaining in importance. The use of visual content in articles published by marketers increased by 130% between 2015 and 2016. Social media tools like Instagram and Snapchat are alive and well, and increasingly investing in features for companies. Especially in the B2B industry, people wish to see products in practice.
What’s it all about?
Everything boils down to having a strategy and executing efforts with the goals in mind that they contribute to. It’s about experimenting and learning from your efforts, doing your best to educate and attract readers, and raising their interest with your expertise.
Welcome to our sign up page for our free email course!
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The free email course runs from 1 Dec for six weeks. During this course, you will learn:
1. What to consider when creating your strategy
2. How to research your market
3. How to create (and automate) your content strategy
4. What the different forms of content are (and which ones work for you)
5. Pulling together a marketing strategy that aligns with your objective
and much more… See you there!
Why We Are Here
Five years ago, I couldn’t imagine YO! Marketing ®. I had a few clues about how I might make a difference to the market performance of engineering ideas. I was surrounded by great ideas that needed a little something more to translate to sustainable revenue streams.
One clue was my ability to translate complex ideas into simpler terms, drawing out deeper insights. I was an engineer with a desire to go out and meet customers. I research what the market needs and successfully position market solutions. The translation of ideas into marketable terms is my passion. I am not your typical engineer. Neither am I your typical marketer. Hence, YO! Marketing ®.
Where We Add Value
At YO! Marketing ®, I’m particularly interested in business-to-business marketing of complex solutions (products and services) in a global market heavily influenced by technology drivers. Within these markets, it is crucial to:
(1) Monitor and keep ahead of industry peers
(2) Understand (and anticipate) the needs of customers
(3) Involve customers in product development
(4) Ensure that you have the technological capabilities to provide future products. Such capabilities are not built in a day or even a year.
For instance, the ability to provide a subsea pipeline that can operate in 3,000m of water, under high pressure and high temperature could take several years. You’d need to build, test, get qualified and bring to market. If your customers will need this in three years, you need to have already started the R&D work! Similarly, gaining insight into your competitors’ commercial situation and factory loading outlook could mean a competitive advantage for you when bidding time comes. Hence, YO! Marketing ® strives to operate at the intersection of marketing, product management and commercial strategy, our sweet spot.
What We Do
There are a number of tools for analysing the market. But at the forefront, you will find product or market positioning. What problem does your solution solve for your customers? And then there is market intelligence, which should be a constant stream of monitoring and updating. Ideally, delivered to your management team on a regular basis. This is a great way to keep abreast with movements in the market. And also how your solution (product or service) captures the market. The lack of such intelligence, and more importantly, not taking action on vital market movements could be tragic for business.
Think Nokia. Great product (I still have 2 Nokia phones, solid). But the company ignored market movements and customer behaviours, thus losing market share that was once 40% globally.
Once you have a product position and market intelligence, other activities follow such as a commercial strategy, branding and tactics for spreading your relevant messages e.g on social media. I’m a fan of employee social media advocacy. It’s not easy to relinquish power to employees to share content online. But with the right training, content and trust, a company can amplify brand reach a hundred fold. Furthermore, recent research shows that 78% of companies achieve increased brand visibility through employee advocacy. Another survey of 875 engineers reveals that 42% of engineers get information from social media, second only to a company’s website where 57% get information.
Who We Collaborate With
I often hear marketing criticised for being vague and wishy-washy. Sometimes, it can appear so. Marketing can be a parallel universe, failing to impact on the real business issues on the ground. At YO! Marketing®, we are all about collaboration for smarter marketing management. Product positioning needs to be aligned with R&D, Commercial, Business Development and Sales.
Employee Advocacy has to involve Communications, Social Media and even HR functions in order to ensure an effective onboarding process, ongoing content production and employee engagement.
© All illustrations are the creation of Yekemi Otaru of YO! Marketing ® and must not be copied or distributed without prior permission from the creator
Yekemi Otaru is Managing Director of YO! Marketing Limited, a B2B marketing agency with combined experience in engineering and marketing roles. Recently named as one of 40 Under 40 by Scottish Business News, she is a published author and has contributed to business innovation in Scotland in roles at Schlumberger, GE Oil & Gas and Lloyd’s Register. She particularly adds value when there’s a blank sheet of paper so she’s the one to call when you’re not sure where to start.
This post was initially published on LinkedIn on 17th September 2016