A recurring theme in the marketing world is a business grows to a certain point, then decides that they require expertise in certain areas in order to evolve further. This might be PR, SEO, events management, content, PPC, the list is endless. Businesses identify these issues and approach them separately, but what they’re really trying to do is build their brand and grow their business overall. A multitude of issues can be addressed by scaling from the top down, and this would result in the business generating more PR, as well as having the resources to host more events. Instead, there is a tendency to appoint one PR agency, one SEO agency, one social agency and so on, which can often result in a splintered approach and a failure to work towards the same business goal.
The Marketing Plan
Integration is presently a key issue for businesses and marketers, and it is my belief that businesses need to take a step back, consider their overall marketing plan and make the effort to understand each separate element. With this understanding, it becomes a question of how you can make the elements work together, not whether it is possible to do so.
There is so much marketing jargon, and as a result, there is presently much miscommunication as to what is happening across various marketing channels. Small wonder, then, that many marketing managers are unsure of what they should be focusing on.
Blogging, social media, PR, online PR, and blogger outreach should all be part of an overall content plan. Within this plan, each area should be working together, using similar topics that will provide your business with the means to grow.
The marketing plan should take a top-level look at your planned activity over the next few years, but the content plan should focus on a much smaller timeframe. It needs to be based on what your company is looking to achieve within this time frame but should still reflect what your business is looking to achieve in the long term.
The Content Plan
A great deal of thought and detail needs to go into your content plan. There are many different types of content that you can choose from, and you should ensure that your plan includes a diverse range. Your marketing department will be able to identity news and issues relevant to your industry, as well as topics that will encourage your audience to engage with you. This will give your content producers an ideal starting point, and your plan should also include deadlines for when the content is to be completed.
As it was in 2012, the keyword for 2013 is “integration”. It has, however, evolved from merely ensuring that all your marketing channels are aligned. Now, there is great emphasis on integration within the content itself; the content within your marketing plan must be sewn together by the same theme and focused towards achieving the same objective. There is no point in generating content for the sake of it, nor is there any point in requesting your team to host an event with no real reason behind it, other than to spend the marketing budget. They will find it more difficult to attract attendees if they’re not able to communicate the benefit to the potential attendees and, ultimately, the event will be wasted money.
Educating each department so that they are all working in tandem will mean that your business will be more streamlined, more efficient and will generate more results. If each department understands the overall business objective and works towards it instead of pursuing isolated objectives, it will really help your business to grow and make you much more attractive to your target audience.
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, your marketing activity should focus on developing long term relationships through engaging content. Whatever form of content you decide to create for your audience, it should encourage them to engage with you in some way. This might be a face to face meeting opportunity or a chance to gain insight into your company. Perhaps the most valuable form of engagement is for them to develop a responsive feeling, the feeling that they will need to return to you when they require insight into similar topics, products or services.
Once everyone involved in the process has a clear understanding of the content plan, the content distribution activities should then be discussed. This is when the more traditional marketing activities should be incorporated into the plan. Email marketing is an activity now considered spam unless you are offering the recipient an obvious benefit, so it should be used to educate your audience on how your content will be of use to them. This same content can then be distributed using the relevant Social Media channels for your business. A blogger outreach program can also help in distribution, as can PR.
Benefitting Your Audience
In conclusion, the way I see the evolution of marketing is that you shouldn’t just be telling your audience what your business is about, you should be educating your company and your audience as to how your business, services and products can be of benefit. This is done by creating the marketing plan, crafting engaging content that will benefit your audience, and then using the relevant marketing channels to distribute it.
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