Marketing is, unfortunately, an area of business that has trust issues. More specifically, people don’t trust marketers. 

There are three reasons business owners distrust marketers. The first reason rests squarely on the shoulders of marketers. The second is a consequence of the explosion of technology, and the third culprit is a human psychological quirk that just about everyone falls prey to. 

Advertisers Have Historically Been Shady

First, marketing is associated with advertising, which has a reputation for being pretty dodgy. Here are the top lies advertisers thrust on the public in the last hundred years. (My personal favorite: Rice Crispies will save your children from swine flu.) It’s a checkered history that has resulted in a well-earned distrust of advertisers. Unfortunately, marketers are deemed guilty by association. 

 

Marketing & Communications Technology Has Exploded

Second, marketing is confusing. Consider that there are over 7,000 marketing technology platforms, and thousands of social media, TV, audio channels, and other digital publishing sites available. Thirty years ago, there were three broadcast channels–print, radio, and TV. It was so much easier for a business owner to make marketing decisions then. 

 

Today, the average business owner doesn’t have time to sort through all the options and typically, their understanding of all the fragments is limited so they have to hope that whatever a marketing vendor is telling them is true. Having less knowledge of all the marketing technology available creates more avenues for distrust of the industry as a whole. 

 

Humans Want The Quickest Route to Comfort

Third, our brains are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. A business with anemic sales is painful. So, understandably, when a myopic marketing vendor tells a business owner that their whozeewhat’s marketing program is going to be the solution to their pain, the business owner will often jump on it despite fully understanding why they are in this situation in the first place. Their desire to avoid pain assures them that this shiny object will make the company’s profits soar, their leads multiply, and their sales pipeline overflow with prospects. It’s easy to understand why business owners are taken in by this. If you’re in pain, you want the quickest, easiest solution. 

 

 

We want things to be easy. We want to believe we’ll win the lottery, that lightning never strikes the same place twice, and that if you build it, they will come. In her book, LieSpotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, Pamela Meyer asserts that lying takes two people. The liar must have someone who will believe their lie for it to work. Often, even when evidence contradicts the lie, the recipient will still choose to believe it. Why? Because overworked business owners are human, underinformed about marketing, and want the quickest means to stop the pain.

 

Any business owner who has bought the quick marketing solution and learned later that it didn’t live up to its claims feels the sting of lost time and money. If you have, you’re ready for the truth about marketing. Great marketing is not quick, easy or cheap. Our white paper, What Every CEO Needs To Know About Marketing distills the truth about marketing your business into six easy-to-understand tenants. Read it, and you will have the knowledge to never be taken in by a marketer’s glossy promises again.  

 

Last month, I wrote about corporate content marketing solutions and the history of content marketing. Hopefully, you now understand why companies that use content marketing are more successful than companies that don’t. But good content marketing doesn’t just happen because you write some white papers and make an infographic. There is more to it than that. To win raving fans who evangelize your brand, you have to start with a content marketing strategy.

The Six Steps Of A Content Marketing Strategy

1. Formulate Your Goals

Let’s say you want to get more customers to buy your music software, so you decide you need a great content strategy. You calculate that you want at least 10 new people (unique visitors) to download your content every week and at least 10 unique visitors to read your blog and stay on the page for at least 2 minutes. Now you have measurable goals.

 

2. Examine Your Audience

Next, learn everything you can about your audience. They are professional musicians and amateurs. They are weekend wedding band warriors and music teachers, accountants, and college students. They all use your music software in different ways. And they all love it for different reasons. Survey them. Interview them. Host focus groups with them. Learn about their goals and dreams, the ways in which they interact with your software, and why they love music in the first place. The more you know your audience, the more you can create content that they will really care about.

 

3. Cater To Niches

In getting to know your audience, you will examine their beliefs, values, fears, and desires. It’s likely that you also identify some common themes among your audience’s thoughts about your product. In the case of our hypothetical music software, let’s imagine that you discovered that some of your customers have been letting their pets plink out tunes on a piano or keyboard, only to create loops of the melodies. Others have been playing live to scenes from hit series like “Game of Thrones” and record their orchestrations for playback later.

Discovering these unexpected commonalities (niches) are where the gold is. If you use this knowledge to create consistent, compelling content, you will tell your audience “we get you, we really get you,” without actually having to say it. And people will form an emotional connection to your brand because of it. (Think Starbucks and how cultish people are about the place.)

Now you know you need to write a “pet music: blog post, as well as establish a “Game of Thrones” blog where people can upload their music clips and chat with other musicians about them. Essentially, you can make your content marketing platform the go-to place for musicians interested in these niches.

 

 

4. Measure The Outcome

As you progress and more people visit, upload, and chat on your platform, you can look at the analytics of the engagement. How many views, downloads, shares, mentions, tweets, or other relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) does your content receive? Use this as feedback to strategically optimize your efforts.

 

5. Adjust & Augment

Perhaps as you measure the chatter and listen, you discover some common questions the audience has about your music software. In response, you create a how-to video with step-by-step instructions that address all their questions. You can monitor their conversations and discover other shows they are creating music for, or learn that songs by parakeets get four times the engagement as dog or cat composers. You make changes and optimizations to your content based on what you learn. This takes your content marketing solution to the next level where you can engage in an ongoing conversation and feedback loop with your customers.

 

6. Promote Your Content

The first five steps have given you a relationship and emotional connection to your audience. Now do the digital equivalent of shouting it from the rooftops. Let people know about your awesome “Game of Thrones” and pet song blogs and how-to videos. Post it on social media. Guest blog in music mags about it. Invite famous and not-yet-famous musicians to take over the blog with their songs for a day. (Instagram-famous Jiffpom and Nala the Cat might be prolific songwriters.) Find every avenue available to let musicians know about your song blog.

With those six steps, you have completed a content marketing strategy and are on your way to content marketing solutions that will bring you more customers and raving fans.

 

Contact Content Marketing Pros

Don’t want to go this alone? Inciting Marketing Solutions creates content marketing strategies for some of the most successful companies in Colorado. Contact us to discuss your goals and content marketing needs.

Corporate content marketing solutions may sound very fancy, but it is nothing more than telling customers your story and giving them the information they need, when they need it. And, hooray! In our digital age, there is no shortage of ways to tell customers your story. From videos to infographics to white papers to skywriting, there are many formats available for narrating your brand story. Regardless of the technology available, corporate content marketing is, at its heart, good storytelling (and it’s been around for a long, long time).

 

The First Content Marketer, Circa 53–54 CE

Though content marketing is a relatively new catchphrase, I’ll argue that you can see evidence of the practice as far back as St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, written somewhere between 53 and 54 of the Common Era. After all, the letters reiterated the words of Jesus, answered the Corinthians’ common questions about immorality, marriage, celibacy, etc., and included strong calls to action. (Paul asked the Corinthians for contributions to assist the poor of Jerusalem.) Inspiration, information, and calls to action. Sounds like content marketing to me.

 

If you think about how those letters became part of the New Testament canon that has been read for thousands of years by billions of people, you can begin to see just how persuasive, pervasive, and amazing content marketing can be.

 

The History of Corporate Content Marketing Solutions

There are thousands of companies that use content marketing to sell their ideas, products, and services. This infographic, from the Content Marketing Institute, shows the surprising history of content marketing.

 

Image source: Content Marketing Institute

 

Content marketing solutions garner pretty impressive results, right? The Michelin Guide was initiated in 1900 by Andre and Edouard Michelin for the 300 motorists that were in France at the time. The guide itself was printed to boost demand for cars and, in turn, their tires.

 

Today, the Michelin star rating system has become the standard by which the best restaurants around the globe are rated. Wouldn’t you like your corporate content marketing solution to gain that kind of notoriety and acclaim?

 

How To Harness The Awesome Power of Corporate Content Marketing Solutions

 

 

Use content marketing to make yourself indispensable to your audience. Use it to snag people who are searching for answers to questions your product or service can answer. Use it to differentiate yourself from your competitors. But, most importantly, and whenever possible, use content marketing to become the industry standard against which all other competitors are compared.


Next month, I will explain the mechanics of content marketing and creating a content marketing strategy.

 

Contact Us

Looking for a corporate content marketing solution for your organization? Contact us. We are one of the best content marketing companies in the West.

 

Five Things To Consider

Small and mid-sized businesses often struggle to determine whether they should hire an outsourced marketing firm or if they should hire employees to perform it all in-house. Here are five things to consider before deciding the best route for you.

1. Do You Have a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy?

You need a marketing strategy that is tied to your sales goals. Without one, you are guessing and hoping your marketing efforts will work. You are also guaranteeing that whomever you hire is going to be handicapped in delivering the results you need because, without a strategy, they will be making decisions that will likely have little to do with your sales goals. They will be performing their duties in the dark and hoping something works.

What is a marketing strategy?

A marketing strategy is a written plan, informed by your business’s current situation. It will help you invest your budget properly, to communicate your value to the right audience, at the right time and in the right place.

If you do have a marketing strategy that is based on a well-researched situation analysis, then it’s likely that all you need to do is some cost comparisons of contracting outsourced marketing solutions versus hiring employees.

If you don’t have a marketing strategy, then you should probably hire a marketing agency to help you formulate one, or hire a Chief Marketing Officer who can research and create a strategy for you.

2. Do You Have A Tactical Marketing Plan?

What follows a marketing strategy is a tactical plan. (Tactics are things like email marketing, websites, social media, SEO, digital advertising, etc.) The tactical plan puts your strategy into action by taking into account your audience, message, and budget. This plan outlines exactly how you will allocate your budget, by tactic, to obtain your goals.

If you have a detailed tactical plan, then you may decide that some pieces of that plan are better handled in-house. Social media can be more efficiently handled by employees, especially when it is used as a customer service channel. Employees should know your customers and be able to deliver engaging social media content to them. Conversely, updating your website may require a full-time web developer. That role might be better suited for agency outsourcing.

The good news is, with a written tactical plan in hand, you have more control over how you spend your budget. You can hire specialists to execute on tactics or you can outsource marketing activities to a marketing agency or you can choose a hybrid approach as noted above.

If you don’t have a tactical plan, then you need to hire an agency to build one for you or hire a marketing director to create one for you.

3. Can You Evaluate Marketing Skills?

With a marketing strategy and tactical plan in place, your next challenge is to find the right people to execute the marketing efforts you have planned. Doing so requires that you can effectively evaluate an agency’s or a candidate’s ability to deliver on your plan.

outsourced marketing

Assessing an agency is a bit easier. You can look at its portfolio and case studies, and talk to current clients. For potential employees, you have to know how to write job descriptions that will fulfill your plan. The candidates should provide work samples that demonstrate the specific tasks you require of them, but they should also be a fit for your company culture.

4. How Will You Measure Marketing Results?

With a marketing strategy, marketing plan, and the right people in place, you are halfway to your goals. Now you have to determine the key performance indicators (KPI’s) of your tactical plan. How will you measure the success of each tactic? Using a written measurement plan, you can assign people to be responsible for measuring and reporting on each tactic.

For example, if one of your tactics is a weekly email newsletter, someone has to be responsible for tracking how many are sent, how many are opened and how many clicks each newsletter receives, among other key performance indicators.

Your employees and future hires should have analytic skills to measure campaigns correctly. If you have opted for outsourced marketing (hiring an agency), they must have data reporting built into their procedures so you know they are delivering on their contract.

5. How Much Involvement In Marketing Do You Want?

The last thing to consider is: how much do you want to be involved in the day-to-day management of your marketing campaigns? If you are a business owner who wants to “set it and forget it,” an agency may be the right choice for you. If you are someone who loves to look at the minutia of the day-to-day delivery of marketing campaigns, then hiring specialists to work for you is probably the right solution.

Contact A Great Marketing Agency

Inciting Marketing Solutions are experts at outsourced marketing. We can help you research and build a marketing strategy, tactical plan, and measurement plan. Contact us, if you think hiring an agency is the right move for you.

What does focus mean in this world, where functioning with an attention-deficit is normal? Where every minute we are fighting both electronic and in-person attention-stealers? I think it means evaluating every endeavor, interaction, meeting, conversation, and communication in the context of your goals. It means maintaining a continuous awareness and examination of where your attention is.

Evaluate Your Marketing Efforts Against Your Business Goals

In terms of marketing, this level of focus means evaluating every tweet, email, ad, and blog in the context of your business goals. (Notice, I didn’t say marketing goals, as all these efforts should already be aligned with those or why are you doing them?) Now is the time to re-evaluate all your marketing efforts. Are they getting you closer to your business goals? (Last January I wrote about turning your business objectives into marketing goals. )

Drill into those key performance indicators (KPIs) and examine if your marketing efforts are performing the way you had hoped. Then look at how the efforts are or are not reaching your business goals.

Business Goal: Grow Revenue by 3 Percent

Let’s say your business goal is to increase your revenue by 3 percent. Look at your social media posts. Are they engaging your audience? Are they informing, inspiring, and educating them to buy or recommend your product or service? Are your email newsletters adding value to your audience’s inbox? Are these marketing efforts contributing or detracting from your revenue goals?

Look Carefully at Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Before you started any marketing effort, you should have mapped out what success would look like. Your KPIs should be the metrics that show if your marketing campaign is delivering. (Those KPIs should also be tied to your business goals.) Look at those KPIs again. Are they still the indicators of whether your marketing is working?

Going back to our example, let’s say you discover that your social media KPI is the number of likes or shares each post gets. However, your posts aren’t getting these, but every time you visit with a client they mention that they really like your posts. What then? Do you dump your social media posts based on the KPI or do you keep them because of the positive verbal feedback? The answer is two-fold. First, revisit your KPIs. Perhaps you need to adjust them. Second, you may need to prioritize your marketing budget differently.

Prioritize Your Marketing Spend

Keeping with our example, look at your social media efforts against your other channels (like email, SEO, Adwords, etc.). If your search engine optimization (SEO) is bringing people to your website who are buying, then maybe you increase your SEO budget and pull back on social media. Find out which posts your clients like and create more just like them.

Make Time for Marketing KPIs

If you think you don’t have the time to go through all your marketing KPIs and re-evaluate them in terms of your business goals, think again. If your marketing budget was on fire, would you throw water on it, or give it more oxygen? Not evaluating (or even having) KPIs is equivalent to throwing kerosene on your money and lighting a match. And if you really don’t have time to drill into KPIs, then contact us. We can help.

Keep Your Marketing Focus

In marketing as in life, evaluate what you are doing every day in the context of your goals. Do more of what is getting you closer to those goals and less of what isn’t.