Google ‘what is marketing’ and you will find a number of different definitions. Ask people around you what it is and you will hear different ideas. Marketing encompasses the full life cycle of a customer. It starts at the first encounter with a company’s message and continues until either the company closes up shop or the customer’s life has ended.
It all starts with a plan, an outline to help the organization to stay on track, focused, and accountable. A Marketing plan needs to fit into the company’s larger business plan by addressing how it will meet the mission, the goals, and the bottom line. It is a living, dynamic, document that grows with the company and at it’s core respects the concrete values of the organization.
A plan must address the following:
- Purpose, mission, or goal of the plan
- Definitions of important terms, words, and concepts
- Outline budgets and financial targets
- Identify tools, software, partners and venders
- Identify the key indicators of the target market
- Identify how you will reach your customers
- Identify the unique selling proposition of the company
- Identify strategies for both online and offline campaigns
- Identify step by step strategies
- Identify measurable KPIs
- Identify client maintenance strategies
To be effective it should communicate to anyone in the organization what the purpose of the Marketing team is, what they are doing, how they are going to do it, and what the outcome of their efforts needs to be. Regardless of talent acquisition, growth, or turnover the plan works independently as a consistent manual for the department.
In 2005 when the Huffington Post came online, it’s founders Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, Jonah Peretti, and briefly, Andrew Breitbart, understood the future of the Internet was in content. Search Engine Optimization was the buzz word of the time and Marketers started playing games to find short cuts to the top organic search listings. Google responded with new algorithms, which black listed the sites that did not follow Google’s mission, to provide users with the best experience possible.
SEO, or search engine optimization is important to any business to drive traffic to their website through search engine traffic. How it works is at best an educated guesstimate and the search engine companies change their algorithms regularly, which changes the rules of SEO. The main key to SEO success seems to be content and like the movie Field of Dreams, if you create good content, traffic will come.
Google is the most used search engine, however there are other search engines with their own algorithms and missions, each one providing its users organic search results based on web content and activity. What seems to be important is:
Imagine Google is a person standing on a stage in a stadium filled with people. He shouts out a keyword and everyones hands go up. He then starts asking more questions about what you know about that keyword. Then he asks how much content contains that keyword? Some hands go down. How many post about that keyword each week? How many posted that keyword just yesterday? From there he choses the top four to six people with their hands up to join him on the stage.
This is a very simple example of how SEO works because it is a very complex beast. It gives points for and against a page based on policies in place to assess the quality of the page and the site as a whole. No one can tell you exactly how to get to the top, only that by following certain guidelines it is possible.
The amount of organic real estate shrunk when Google placed the adword links at the top of the search list. The growing number of companies focusing on SEO and content marketing has increased the competition for the prime top organic spots. It is harder than ever to get to the top of organic searches, so a plan of action must be diverse.
SEO, though important is only one method of obtaining traffic and leads for businesses. Content is the method which marketers use to tell a story and get the attention of the marketplace. By understanding content, how people interact with it, and which platforms are best suited for each piece of content, a marketing department can develop a successful campaign.
Content is King
Content has become the new buzz word in Marketing and company’s around the world are scrambling to create as much content as possible on their Internet footprint. The theory is that quality content will rise to top, like cream on fresh milk, however this is not always the case due to human nature. The amount of memes and clutz humour that goes viral on social media can attest to this.
A company’s content must always speak to the brand, the mission, the image the company wishes to portray to the market place. Social Media campaigns designed to go viral cannot be gimmicks for the sake of reach only, but must at their core still speak to the company’s brand message.
For example, in 2013 WestJest Airlines created a campaign called Christmas Miracle where they gave travellers their Christmas gift wish upon arriving at their destination. The video of this stunt increased the reach of WestJet over to over fourteen million views in just three days and increased it’s subscribers by 320%. On the surface this campaign could be interpreted as a stunt to get more reach out of their content, however at it’s core it has stayed within the parameters of WestJet’s core belief that “just because you pay less for your flight, doesn’t mean you should get less.” In Canada, WestJet is known for it’s cheaper fares, high level of service, and casual attitude.
When assessing an idea, ask the following questions:
- How does the idea speak to our core message?
- Does the idea fit into our current marketing plan?
- What is the real goal of this idea?
- How will success be measured.
A plan of action for content will start by asking questions of various departments. Ask sales what their top three objections are. Ask Customer Service what their top three problems are. Ask production what the top three products are. Ask the Executive what their top three goals are. Collect data from as many departments and stakeholders as possible.
Once you’ve collected the answers from the organization you will need to prioritize which content takes precedence over the next. Hopefully, a common topic will emerge as a starting point. Once you have an idea of the topics, hopefully you can find the answers to the questions of each department using that topic.
Start with a white paper on a larger general topic and determine how it will meet the goals of the Executive team. Research and collect data to draw from and find the answers the questions the sales and customer service team are asked. In the end the white paper should educated the reader about the topic, meet the goals of the Executive team, and answer the questions customers regularly ask.
From this document pull information to create content that fits the various platforms the organization utilizes to tell its story to the market place. To do this one must understand how audiences of each platform interact with information. Further information about the various methods of telling the story will be outlined below.
Test the content and measure the results. Once content has been developed for each platform a schedule can be created for the campaign to ensure maximum results. Always analyze the data and fine tune the content and the schedule for better overall results.
Graphics are a visual image to catch the readers eye and are necessary in today’s social media world. It isn’t enough to just tweet a few words anymore, unless you are Stephen King or some big name celebrity with a million followers. Most businesses are searching to build their brand, gain followers, and increase engagement of potential clients and therefore need graphics along with their message.
Reading on a screen is hard on the eyes and many do not read a 1/10 of the messages they see on their devices. The average person scrolls through in a daze looking for something to catch their eye and this is where graphics come in. They need to be eye catching, simple, and to the point.
Colour is vital.
As the article on the Psychology of Colour will tell you, there are no concrete one size fits all expectations when it comes to colour and an individuals response to it. It’s a general, western stereotypical response on a macro scale. Marketing has various levels and branding is at the top of the macro generalization scale. It is looking to appeal to the majority of the target market on a larger scale.
As much as individuals want to believe they are different and unique, market research has proven that groups have common traits and characteristics. A marketer can appeal to the generalized traits and characteristics of a group using colour to get their attention and illicit a desired feeling in connection to that colour.
Simplify the graphics.
Use the rule of thirds to make the image visually appealing. It is relatively cheap to get quality images from stock photo sites and graphic design sites. Keep the message simple and use fonts that are easy to read.
This paper is a living document.
It’s purpose is to communicate the marketing philosophy of Shannon Peel and her opinions. It will be added to and updated as time allows.
Shannon Peel is a marketing professional seeking out opportunities in the Vancouver, BC area. She is also the author of three novels, Thirteen, 40 Something, Captive.
For more information check out her website.www.shannonpeel.com