No matter what your marketing strategies revolve around, there is certainly one common thread – build better brand awareness that drives outcome. To further promote your brand, the ability to tell a compelling story will be a “must have.” Whether that is delivered through a blog series, some new paid campaigns or even reaching out to influencers to help amplify your value with your content. Your company’s potential real estate in this area comes down to a few fundamentals that can either make or break how far you will actually get in 2017: Are you addressing the buyers’ need with benefits, and are the customers consuming the content that delivers value through engagement?
Marketers have always been great storytellers, but now with developments in the digital age we can become great storymakers. Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at MasterCard, recently outlined that it all comes down to a customer’s experience and how emotions combined with putting the customer center stage overpowers anything else. In today’s modern world you must have a truly integrated message and strategy to really capture the connected customer’s attention. So, how do you know if your strategies and marketing campaigns are set up to succeed in this fashion? Start by circling back and discovering what resonated with your core audience last year.
Now that you have assessed where you’ve been, it’s time to look at where you’re headed. Specific pain points such as audience insight, activation of marketing programs, measurement and analytics all come into play as you shape your program for future success.
How well do you know your audience? You might have drafted a few buyer personas last year, done some key research and experimented with surveys. While this is a strong start to any marketing program, it’s only the first step in getting to know who really cares about your product or service and has the potential to become a true brand advocate. We recently sat down with social media strategist Ted Rubin and learned some valuable lessons about listening and engaging with your customers. He states:
“I will invariably ask a room of a few thousand attendees – all brand marketers – ‘How many people in this room, either themselves or the people on their teams, go to the pages of their fans, followers or consumers to see what they’re posting and what they’re talking about?’ And I’ll tell you that maybe a handful of hands go up. Maybe.
And my advice to them is that every single person in this room, and everybody on their teams, should be going to the pages of people that follow them instead of worrying so much about bringing them to their pages.”
There’s plenty of information about your customers and target audience; it comes down to taking the time to make listening and engagement a priority. From these practices, you will learn and continue to learn about your audience, what their pain points are and the best ways to keep the conversation moving in the right direction. Work closely with your teams (both in-house and agency partners) to set up the right framework that provides a foundation of insight gathering to align with your audience behaviors.
You may be overwhelmed with the different strategy and channel options available. For this reason, it’s important to break marketing initiatives down within a tracker or calendar. Have you thought of key themes that will resonate with your audience? Does your SEO playbook need to be refreshed so that organic plays a factor with your customer’s search queries? Are you stretched too thin as a team between your owned, earned, shared and paid efforts?
What’s truly essential to a powerful marketing program is the team that you have behind it. Assess skill sets, knowledge and expertise. Once you have evaluated your team and identified where team members’ strengths are, it will become more obvious where the gaps fall.
Is your team strapped for time and can’t handle the content generation? You might consider external options such as freelancers or more responsibility placed on your integrated marketing and PR agency. Be sure that you capitalize on opportunities as a team. This is especially true when it comes to building relationships with media and influencers. Start cultivating those relationships early on, as they tend to pay off in dividends down the road.
Once you have mastered a steady rhythm with your team, it’s time to start thinking about your customer’s omni-channel experience. Once you’ve gathered behavioral insight and recognize the platforms that your customers are using, take that information and activate a campaign that reaches the desired consumption of your audience. If you have a compelling story, make sure that it gets executed via inbound efforts such as blog posts and premium content, repurposed for earned media efforts and then aligned with an industry tradeshow or a webinar series for maximum exposure. Pace, style and distribution of a story is truly where the magic happens. Take the time to dissect your content efforts so that they flow in an integrated and organic fashion.
Today’s “always on” customers are demanding. They are expecting thought leaders to deliver a vision not only for today but for future investments. They love industry disruptors and marketing campaigns that make them re-evaluate, think, feel and ultimately change their behavior. As a team, you should always be putting your customer first and thinking of ways to get ahead of their expectations.
What’s the point of a marketing campaign if you’re not setting goals, measuring and analyzing your results? Every marketing campaign needs to be treated as a learning experience. As modern marketers, we are well aware of the numerous uncertainties whilst marketing and communicating to our customers throughout their pathway to purchase. This is exactly why measuring is key to success. We can eliminate some of this uncertainty by testing audience types, messaging, images, placements, etc. The more we test, the more we understand what is truly resonating with our audience.
Through consistent efforts of measuring, testing and analyzing, we can narrow this gap of uncertainty, resulting in optimized campaigns for the highest ROI and best results. Remember – connecting your content with the behaviors of your audience is your brand’s number one goal. Be targeted in your message and your approach rather than generalizing your entire audience. This cycles back to really knowing your buyer personas. As you collect these types of insights you can continuously update your personas and deliver content that works for each stage of the buyer journey.
While you can’t expect these results right away, start with SMART goals within your team: Delegate accountability for end-of-month or end-of-quarter results and align KPI’s with business expectations. Focus on results that matter instead of vanity metrics. Number of visits to your website, leads generated, social proof, shareability, inbound links and content performance by format or author are all great places to start. If you took these steps last year, then you are on target to start reusing what worked (the “unicorns” of the batch) and nix or re-work those campaigns that were duds.
Your next step is to start thinking about your “Share of Voice” and “Share of Influence,” and thoroughly investigate how you stack up against your competitors. Use tools like TrendKite that can assist with these types of dashboards. If you are low in these respective categories, then it’s time to prioritize. Start pitching to credible outlets, develop bylines and participate in relevant industry conversations.
As we look into our activities tracker, we see lots of moving parts occurring within our PR, marketing and social media teams. While planning, make sure that you are integrating these efforts. You cannot have one efficient team with multiple goals. Integration is key to success, but be sure that you take the time to slow down so that these moving parts have the opportunity to complement each other. Anne Handley recently wrote a series about “slow marketing” as a concept, stating that “the key to success is slowing down at the right moments.” Uncovering “the why” in all things marketing still reigns true, but is often forgotten.