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Posted by: Jennifer Woodard | on January 2, 2013
Content marketing is about creating content that covers all levels of your marketing funnel from prospect to customer evangelist. Content is created to educate, inform, entertain and engage your prospects and turn them into future clients.
Six steps to begin creating a content marketing strategy:
What niche will you be covering?
- Financial Planning
- Business Coaching
2. What challenges to your prospects face?
- Lowering taxes
- Planning for retirement
- Advancing their career
3. What type of content do they like to consume?
- Articles/Blog posts
4. How will you create interesting content to attract prospects?
5. What do you want to achieve with my content marketing?
- Increase traffic
- Increase leads
- Increase sales
6. How will I know if my content marketing strategy is working?
- Monitoring your website/blog traffic weekly/monthly
- Monitoring new leads to your business from online sources
- Monitoring increase of sales from online sources
Communicating directly with your prospects
Businesses now have the luxury of communication directly with the prospects that they are trying to reach. The hard part is knowing where and how to reach them.
Five Steps to communicating with your prospects online:
1. Search out where your prospects are located online, what communities they join and join those communities.
2. Set up listening systems to understand what your prospects are talking about and who is doing the talking. You can set up Google alerts, twitter searches, check Q&A sites, Etc.
3. Create places to engage with prospects with Facebook Pages, Pages, LinkedIn Profiles, Twitter, Etc. and ask questions about their challenges
4. Comment on blogs that are relevant to your audience
5. Answer questions in Q & A forums
The combination of content marketing and social media marketing allows you the opportunity to highlight your expertise, create brand awareness, build an audience, engage prospects, and retain the attention of your audience.
Are you using content marketing as part of your marketing strategy?
Have you created a content marketing plan?
Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service Firms
Image Credit: Mark Smiciklas
Posted by: Jennifer Woodard | on December 12, 2012
The current economic downturn is causing stress among small businesses owners. Yet, this is not the time to cut back on marketing, but it is a time to get your marketing plan of attack into gear. You must first decide what your goals are, who your target market is, how you will reach your targets and set up a long-term plan to reach your target market.
What are your goals and who is your target?
Before you can begin a marketing campaign, you need to know what your goals are and who your ideal client is. How many ideal clients would you like to add to your client base?
We will follow Michelle Davis as she creates a marketing plan of attack for her financial planning firm. Michelle started her business two years ago and currently has 55 clients. She wants to add to add 25 new clients to her roster over the next twelve months, an average of two clients per month.
She has decided that her ideal client has a yearly income of $100,000 and $500,000 in investable assets. Beginning with a broad look at the type of client’s she wants to attract now, she need to add more details.
What other traits can she add to help decide who her ideal prospects are? Does she want prospects that she will have to spend a great deal of time educating on benefits of financial planning? Does she want clients who want full details of their financials on a quarterly basis, or someone who just wants to know if they are on target to meet their financial goals?
At this point, Michelle has decided that her ideal client is someone who has a household income of $100,000 per year. The client has investable assets of at least $500,000, married, planning for college education of two or three kids, and planning for the retirement of both partners.
They have an understanding of the need for financial planning, implementing the plan and desires to be informed but not educated. They also do not need a detailed report on their finances, but an overview of how their investments and whether or not they are on target to reach their goals.
Deciding where your market is and how to reach your market:
Michelle knows that the type of clients she is prospecting for live in affluent neighborhoods, children attend prestigious private schools and belong to certain country clubs and civic organizations. She quickly decides that cold calling will not reach this group of prospects. She sits down and thinks about the type of marketing activities that will reach her prospective clients, the type of marketing activities she likes to do and is most likely to complete.
Through careful thought and research, she have decided to use a combination of networking, referral partners, writing articles, writing reports, newsletters, postcards,blog, podcasts, slideshare presentations, radio interviews, videos, webinars, online groups, public relations and community involvement.
Now that she has decided on what kinds of marketing activities, she wants to pursue. She decides to do a breakdown of how often she will do each activity for the year, estimating that she is able to spend 10 hours a week on her marketing activities.
Michelle’s breakdown looks like this:
- Networking events: Attend one per a week.
- Cultivating Referral Partners: Host a breakfast or lunch meeting once a month.
- Online Groups: Join 3-4 online groups that her target audience participates in and actively participate.
- Writing Reports: Write an in-depth report once per month.
- Newsletter: Create a monthly newsletter.
- Postcards: Send out postcards every six weeks.
- Podcasts: Create a short podcast once a week and post to blog.
- Slideshare: Create a slideshare presentation four times a year.
- Radio Interviews: Become guest on radio talk shows twice a month.
- Video: Create one short video a month and add to blog
- Webinars: Create four webinars per year.
- Community Involvement: Become a sponsor in two large events per year.
- Press Releases: Sending out press releases telling of news concerning her business or for a free offer.
- Blog: Create a blog educating her clients and prospects on financial planning and keeping readers updated on financial news, adding posts at least twice a week
Creating her long-term plan to reach your market:
Michelle has figured out who her target market is, how she will try to reach her target market. Now that she has a plan on ways to reach her market, she has to decide on a schedule to implement the plan. Michelle starts by creating a spreadsheet with each month listed. Then she breaks the month down by weeks and starts placing events into each month, trying to place at least four events in each month.
Weekly: Two blog posts per week and podcast
Week 1- Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Go to a networking event.
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 – Send Press release offering a free booklet geared toward my ideal prospects and add booklet to website
Week 5 – Create SlideShare Presenation
Week 1 – Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Host a lunch to cultivate referrals from current clients
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 -.Send out a postcard to prospects reminding prospects of the services she offers that are helpful to them and referring them to her website and blog
She lays out her marketing plan for the rest of the year, outlining her activities.
She knows that the plan should be flexible and is a guideline for her marketing activities, not set in stone. It will help her know what she should be doing at any given time, but she will not hesitate to change the plan when activities are not meeting her desired goals, but allowing the activities to have time to work and not change things too quickly. Give the plan time to work, making sure you have an idea of how the activities are really working before you change things.
Tracking results and hitting her goals:
Michelle revises her spreadsheet adding columns to keep track of her costs, what marketing activities are generating inquiries and clients gained per month, helping her to keep on target.
She knows it is important for to track her results. If she writes a press release and offers a free booklet, she tracks how many people call and request the booklet, and finds out how they found out about the booklet. She also tracks how many invites she sends out for her seminars, how many people sign-up and how many people actually attend.
Along with tracking her marketing activities, she tracks how many prospects that contacted her throughout the year that actually became clients. How long it took the prospect to move through her sales pipeline before they became a client. What was the deciding factor that made them decide to become a client? She tracks how many people visit her website. How many people download her reports, and sign up for her newsletter. Constantly tracking her results lets her know what activities are bringing her business and what activities are wasting her time. When it comes time to do next year’s marketing plan, she will know what activities to continue and discontinue.
Marketing is a cycle. You must first understand what you marketing activities need to do for you. Are you trying to increase your prospect base, follow up with prospects, get a meeting, or close a sale? Gear your activities to what you are trying to do and focus on those things. When you increase your prospect base, move on to following up, getting the meeting, and closing the sale, then start all over. NEVER stop marketing, if you want to keep doing business.
Creating a marketing plan does not have to be a daunting task, it can easily be broken down into small bites of manageable projects that can be tracked and repeated. Just remember the old saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Have your created your marketing plan for 2013?
Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service Firms