If you were going to build a building you would start with the groundwork. The same is true for your marketing plan. Whether you are a relatively new business or a company with a long history, it is good to stop and check your foundation as the new year begins. Here’s a list of what your marketing groundwork should include:
It doesn’t have to be a huge document, but you should have a plan for your marketing which includes the following:
- Well defined customer – Who is your ideal customer? You don’t always get to pick and choose, but if you did, what would that customer look like? The clearer the picture, the easier it will be to create marketing messages and decide where to spend your resources to fill your pipeline with the kind of people or companies you want to work with.
- Annual marketing budget – How much will you spend on marketing this year? This number shouldn’t just be pulled out of thin air. It should be tied to the lifetime value of a customer, your annual sales goal and the competitiveness of your market place.
- Monthly activity calendar – I like to use a spreadsheet, but a white board, flip chart or traditional calendar will work. Make notes about special events, when you want to run promotions or contests, when you will be attending trade shows or conferences. Once you have key dates you can begin planning out activities. Use this all year long to capture results and comment on how different programs worked so you can do a better job planning next year.
Your website is the center of your inbound marketing. So how does it measure up?
- Current design – If your site is more than two years old it is probably out of date. With so many changes in the devices your customers are using to access the internet is your site keeping up?
- Tracking results – Do you have an analytic tool installed in your site? There is so much information available to you about who is coming to your website, how often and what they are interested in when they arrive. Using this information will help you improve the user experience and increase your leads.
Content is the new SEO driving people to your website and keeping them interested when they arrive. Content is a broad term which might include: blog articles, white papers, quizzes surveys, tip sheets, case studies, video, podcasts and infographics.
- The blog: It is no longer optional. Every business website needs to have a blog which is updated at least once a week. Frequently asked questions, employee highlights, letters from customers, case studies, industry trends and new product information are just some of the topics you might write about. The content doesn’t need to be very long, about 500 words will do.
- Key words: 5-7 words or phrases your customers are likely to use when they are looking for you. These words and their synonyms should be used regularly throughout your website, blog, page titles and descriptions. Just because you use them, you won’t automatically jump to the top of page one on Google, but you will never be in the game without them.
- The extras: Once you have the basics, flesh out your program with white papers, ebooks, and tip sheets.
With social media it is easy to get distracted and measure the wrong thing. The goal is not to be on as many platforms as possible, but to have a solid social presence where your customers are likely to be. Don’t be blinded by how many fans and followers you have, but how engaged your community is.
- Pick one key platform – Create a company page and commit to updating it on a regular basis. Once a day for Facebook, three times a week for LinkedIn.
Sales Process and Lead Nurturing
Leads are great, but sales are better. The last part of your groundwork is creating a standardized process and the resources you need to move potential clients along your pipeline from prospect to client.
- Document your process – Think about what should happen when a customer calls. Have a list of follow up emails and resources ready to send after a conversation. Even if every project is different, having a basic proposal template will streamline the process and impress your clients. We rely on Tinderbox to build professional, comprehensive quotes quickly and ConstantContact to send drip campaigns after downloads or quotes and a regular informative newsletter to stay top of mind.
- Track referral sources – This is the last step in the marketing process. If you want to get better, you need to know what is working now. And don’t just track how many leads, pay attention to which sources send the best leads. Just like social media, leads should be judged on quality, not quantity.
So do you have your groundwork in place?