Blueprint for a successful content marketing strategy

Blueprint Content Strategy

Who in their right mind would build a house without a blueprint?

You need a detailed blueprint to convert the piles of building materials on your empty lot into a beautiful, finished home. If you try to build it on your own, without a blueprint, you’ll end up with a haphazard structure that will probably get knocked over by the first strong storm.

Spending money with an agency or outside advisor to produce content without a strategy is quite similar to building a house without a blueprint: it’s haphazard, random and ultimately won’t help you achieve your objectives. In fact, let’s be honest… it’s a waste of your time and money.

To help you design a solid blueprint for your content marketing strategy, here are the steps you need to follow for your content marketing strategy to be successful. So grab your tool belt and hard hat… let’s go!

1. Align with a key business impact or goal

Every successful content marketing program starts with a business impact or goal. What do you want to accomplish? What impact do you want to make on your target audience? Make sure your goal is tied to one or more of your organization’s goals, or it won’t survive long in your bottom-line oriented corporate environment.

2. Build your knowledge of your target audience

A critical step in creating a content marketing strategy is to create a detailed profile of the target audience you want to influence. The detailed profile includes a description of who they are as a person, what motivates them and what challenges they face in their work. What keeps them awake at night? Create an imaginary person and give this persona a name like Bob or Judy – and write a “day in the life” description of them. Our goal is to make them as real as possible, to understand their needs at a very deep level. We call this exercise creating a persona.

3. Define your content marketing strategy

Based on your company’s business objectives and the customer personas you’ve created, it’s time to create a content marketing strategy. Ultimately, you need to deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time. Here are the key pieces to analyze that will help you define the who, what, where and when within your content marketing strategy:

Buyer’s journey: It is vital to understand your target audience’s buying process (their journey). In other words, the steps they take from the time they first realize they have a need until they are ready to buy. We call that process the “buyer’s journey.” Understanding who is involved in the purchasing process, their roles and their information needs throughout the buyer’s journey helps us write content that will help them decide to buy from you.

Content to be produced: Focus on your customers’ needs that you have identified while creating personas and documenting the buyer’s journey. Your content should arm your audience with the knowledge and insights they need to move through the buying process quickly and efficiently. In addition to educational content, consider creating content that can be used to gently nudge or “nurture” prospects to where they are ready to buy.

Also, be mindful of the formats that your target audience prefers to consume. If they favor video, then your content should be prominent on video channels where they are already gathered. For most B2B audiences, LinkedIn is a natural gathering point.

Timing: Create a content calendar to outline what topics and customer pain points will be addressed each month. A documented and shared content calendar helps keep your team focused on your content strategy, and helps you take a more cohesive approach to creating and publishing your content. When you’re planning your content calendar, keep in mind any potential seasonal topics and times of year where there may be pent up demand.

Delivery: 

  • Create a monthly email program where you email brief teasers of your content that click thru to your website to read more.
  • Inspire your team to share your new content on their social media channels, where it can reach a larger audience of people – and even more people who match the characteristics of your buyer personas via paid promotions.
  • Develop your content using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices to increase visibility within search engines results. This way when your customers will find you when they use google and bing to find information about your products.

Conclusion

Designing a solid blueprint for your content marketing strategy leads to success. At Cultivate, we offer a free 30-minute consultation, where you will walk away with a concise understanding of how to develop a solid blueprint for your content marketing strategy. Call or email me directly for details.

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Bob Wendt

262-373-4001

Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?

Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?I’ll be honest, generally as a CEO I’d say leave Google algorithm changes and website worries in the hands of your marketing specialists. However, Google’s upcoming changes are so big that they  have  done something completely out of character… they’ve warned us that it is coming.

Google has given your business a serious ultimatum: be mobile-friendly or be irrelevant. The SEO giant has officially warned the online world that:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results”. [source]

The question is, will this huge change affect your business’ website?

The first thing you need to do is check to see if Google is classifying your site as mobile-friendly. Test a few of your website’s pages with this free online tool.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?

If you’ve got a green light from Google. You’re set.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?

If Google has currently labeled your site pages ‘not mobile-friendly’, move forward with these three steps:

Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?

Know your options. Go into this critical conversation with your marketing or IT department knowing today’s current website options, as well as a few key terms. Here are some helpful articles to get your research started:

Talk to your team. Get insights from staff or colleagues you trust, then evaluate their feedback. If you don’t have someone to breakdown this conversation with, let’s connect on LinkedIn. I’m happy to set-up a meeting to review what this algorithm change means to your business and marketing strategy.

Start taking active steps now. Your website redesign just went from optional to critical. Start requesting website design proposals now to ensure you are not rushed when picking the optimum solution for your business’ needs.

'The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.' — Socrates We recommend you demand — yes, DEMAND — a dynamic website that expands, changes and grows with your business. If the agencies you’re considering working with don’t bring up these three topics as you discuss your website estimate, they might not be a reliable resource.

Having a mobile-friendly site is no longer a suggested best practice, as of April 21st it is a requirement. The process of redesigning a website can feel like an overwhelming hassle. The  Cultivate team is here to help turn this required change into a positive opportunity.

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Learn more about our web design services.
Connect with Cultivate on LinkedIn.
Schedule an appointment for a site review today: 262-373-4000

Looking for Social Networking Value? CEOs Link In To LinkedIn Groups

Of all the social networks that have edged to the forefront of the Web, LinkedIn has proven to be of immense value to folks in the business world.

Besides offering professionals a personal profile, options to showcase one’s portfolio or the prospect of drumming up new business, the social network provides a myriad of tools to connect with peers.

One of the most popular ways to do so includes the relationship-building opportunities formed through LinkedIn Groups, the name given to the user-generated forums within the site. Currently, there are more than 2 million groups currently with more than 8,000 being added every day, according to LinkedIn.

And with an average of 200 conversations taking place every minute,
that’s a lot of dialogue and insight an active CEO could be missing out on.

Though these groups span the gamut — ranging anywhere from peer-to-peer forums, to regional business groups and industry-specific boards — they provide a great way to take a pulse on your business community.

The best part of LinkedIn Groups is that you get to be a part of the conversation. As a CEO, it’s a superb opportunity to show off your subject matter expertise and keep your company fresh, relevant and conscientious of the rhythm of the marketplace.

linkedin groupsI like to think of LinkedIn Groups as an extension of our marketing strategy, so we always make sure to craft a great impression. While it’s easy to join groups to look like you’re an active participant, it’s a waste of time not to take advantage of the groups’ many benefits. LinkedIn Groups can provide a boon to your business if you can simply make use of their tools.

Here are a few tips to help CEOs get the most value out of LinkedIn Groups:

1.   Select the right group for you. Do you want to leverage your business? Build your brand? Network with like-minded professionals? Or provide solutions to your peers? The first step to joining LinkedIn Groups is knowing what you want to use them for. There is no limit to how many groups you can join, but there is a limit to how much time you can actually dedicate to each group. Find out which one brings the most value to the table for you. Look for groups that attract companies or customers that spark your interest, or broaden your reach by connecting to people outside of your circle.

LinkedIn Groups: How to get started...

2.  Be a resource. Recently, LinkedIn expanded publishing authority across the network. That means CEOs like you can create and publish informational blogs and articles directly to the site. You can also post status updates within a group, or comment on those of your peers. The more you participate in the discussions taking place within a group, the higher your “influence” becomes. You can also extend your influence by sharing your posts through other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn Groups: Participation is key!

3. Discover new connections. It’s also important to take note of other influencers within the group; they might be a good person to connect with, either on the network or, if possible, vis-à-vis. And they might reach out to you to do the same. Connecting with these individuals not only broadens your influence but also opens your network to other thought leaders, which may lead to new ideas or ways of improving your business.

linkedin-contributors

4.  Measure participation. Besides tools like bitly, that allow users to see how many people click on or engage with their links, LinkedIn specifically offers its members Group Statistics. This dashboard, which is accessible on the right-hand side of every Groups page, highlights demographics, growth and activity.

LinkedIn Group Stats: Review the groups you join to ensure they are a good fit for your business goals

As a CEO, this tool is especially helpful when deciding
what group to spend the most time participating in.

For example, click here to check out the statistics for the FUEL Milwaukee Group.

LinkedIn Group Stats: Review the groups you join to ensure they are a good fit for your business goals

5. Generate leads. LinkedIn Groups offers a tricky, yet plausible purpose, which includes generating leads. However, it is important not to appear “spammy,” or overly promotional. Instead, use LinkedIn Groups to build relationships, and then leverage these relationships into new business. You can also use Groups to recruit new talent. After all, an individual who participates on these boards is likely to be passionate about their career, industry or business community, which is what most CEOs are after in a new hire.

If there is one thing CEOs can agree on, it’s that we’re a busy, busy bunch. So it makes good business sense to focus on the social network that brings us the most value for our time.



P.S. To help you get started, here are a few of my favorite LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn Groups: Get started with a few of these local Milwaukee groups...

Want more LinkedIn tips? Check out a few other previous LinkedIn posts or read through FAQs here.

Do You Make This Mistake With Your Marketing?

If, as a business owner or CEO, you can’t measure how people are finding and buying your products and services, then you’re at a competitive disadvantage. That’s the plain, stark truth.

In today’s business environment, where every dollar matters, you need to KNOW (not guess at) what results you’re getting from your key business initiatives. You need someone — or something— that can clearly show you if you’re getting your desired results from the investments you’ve made.

This need is even greater for your marketing investments. In fact, ALL of your marketing should be measured and analyzed so you can refine your efforts to include only those that PROVE they are generating your intended results.

Traditional marketing approaches push product/service information at clients in the hopes of generating a response. The intent is to create awareness so businesses will flood the channels that they think are relevant to their target audience. They use web hits or email open rates to gauge the success of their marketing campaigns and never really know what the true impact is in generating a new client or sale.

So, what can you do on top of PUSHING information OUT?

You need to leverage today’s digital marketing capabilities to also PULL customers IN to your product or service.

Let’s face it — these days, our marketing universe revolves around the Web. This is a quantum change in how people interact with your business. The great thing about today’s digital marketing arena is that nearly ALL client engagements are measurable.

Marketing automation allows your business to DRAW customers to your business, ENGAGE them through the buying cycle, and then IDENTIFY if you achieved the intended result — a sale.

In order do this effectively, you’ll need to:

  1. Clearly define the objectives of your marketing efforts. What is your intended result? Do you want a direct sale, an inquiry, or a request for proposal? Be sure each message you put out has a desired action you want the reader to take.
  2. Focus your marketing to ensure that you’re ready to engage a customer when they’re ready to buy. This means shifting away from a pushy “campaign” strategy to an invitational “conversation” strategy that invites the customer to consider your product or service.
  3. Use marketing automation to continue the interaction with the customer once they’ve expressed interest. Today’s customers will let you know when they’ve given you “permission” to keep the conversation going. Take them up on this invitation and be ready to talk when they show you they’re listening!
  4. Measure ALL your interactions. You need to understand how effectively you’re moving people to your intended result. Do you know the reason and the precise time or place that prospects disengage? You should. Measurable marketing makes that possible. Use your data to refine and improve your communication process with your customers and prospects.

As a business owner or CEO, you need to change your marketing expectations of yesterday. It’s time to use today’s technological tools to measure and analyze your marketing so you can achieve the competitive advantage you need to GROW your business.

P.S. If you need some help getting started, read “Why CEOs Need To See Their Marketing Metrics” or check out our online learning resources, including FREE eBooks, articles, and other tips to help get you measuring your marketing results and creating better, more strategic marketing campaigns — from the get-go.


Why CEOs Need to See Their Marketing Metrics

Why CEOs Need to See Their Marketing MetricsI am sure you have financial metrics, operating metrics, and sales metrics. But does your company have marketing metrics?

Good marketing metrics need to make it onto your CEO dashboard. Marketing done WELL can generate fantastic results, brand awareness, and targeted communications via customized channels. Marketing done poorly will simply be a financial drain on your business. As a CEO, you need to know how your company’s marketing efforts measure up.

Most businesses spend the majority of their marketing budget on creating awareness of their product or service. Digital marketing, broadcast marketing, and trade shows all generate awareness, but they come at a cost. Good metrics, at this very first stage in the marketing process, should focus on cost per engagementHow many people received your message and at what cost? In the awareness stage, cost analysis is essential to get the greatest exposure for your business at the right price.

If your awareness campaigns are working, you should be able to determine (and score) your leads — that includes all people even considering your product or service.

It’s important for CEOs to not only understand how many active leads your marketing department has, but also where they came from and why. Knowing what problems your product or service addresses and where people are looking for solutions to these problems will also help your marketing department deliver greater results in converting leads to sales.

Your actual sales numbers for a product are an easy metric to get your hands on. But determining your conversion rate from leads to sales is a little more challenging. Still, such data are needed to effectively evaluate your sales pipeline, as conversion rates tell you a lot about the effectiveness of both your marketing and your sales departments. If there is not a cohesive, team effort here, the results will have a negative impact on sales and can be the difference between achieving financial success — or not.

Remember: It’s much more efficient to keep an existing customer than to find a new one. In this awareness stage, marketing metrics will help you understand customer churn. Retention programs should be evaluated on their ability to keep and grow a customer. Measuring customer growth and turnover provides metrics that help you understand the customer experience and develop customer loyalty.

Let’s face facts — Customer advocacy is the “holy grail” of any marketing effort. { Tweet this! }

Side Door Thinking *Open your mind to content marketingGetting your customers to bring you other customers is what every business strives for. Referral programs and user groups create opportunities for customers to evangelize your business. (Download our FREE eBook “Side Door Thinking” to see how three industry GIANTS — Dove, Melissa & Doug, and Harley-Davidson — connected with their customers to build loyalty and reap BIG REWARDS.)

Understanding the effectiveness of loyalty/referral programs and monitoring your company’s marketing metrics gives CEOs the best indication of the health of their entire organization.

If you want to discuss marketing metrics — or learn how to measure not only the first stage of customer engagement (awareness), but also the other four (to be revealed) — leave a comment below and keep an eye on our Cultivate blog. We’ll be covering the topic of using Growth Cycle Marketing to attract your ideal customers in the coming weeks.

Got a question in the meantime? Connect with me on LinkedIn.