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Every marketing strategy is unique. However there are universal philosophies and guidelines that apply to all aspects of marketing regardless of the audience or product.
These universal marketing truths apply to marketers, entrepreneurs, professionals working on their personal brands, and even students looking to expand their networks. Reference the 5 marketing mottos below the next time you are starting a new marketing campaign, creating content, or want to refresh your current strategy.
1. When it comes to copy, less is more
If you can say it in fewer words, do it. Our attention spans on the internet are short, and if you want your marketing messaging to land, your copy should be, too. This rule of thumb is good to apply to social media content and captions, product descriptions, taglines, and calls to action.
This doesn’t mean cut out key details like product features or valuable information that you feel your audience will care about. It means be as concise as you can in your copy, and get to the key points as soon as possible.
Another related rule to keep in mind when it comes to copywriting for marketing materials is “don’t bury the lead.” This phrase comes from PR, and it means when you are telling a story (or in that case, writing a press release), don’t write a long build up before getting to your main point. It’s better to start a web page, sales pitch deck, or blog post with your most important idea upfront. That way, if someone were only to spend a few seconds looking at your content or just read the first few lines, they at least walk away with the most critical piece of information. Then you can fill in supporting details after, like more value propositions for your product, use cases, features, etc.
Try following this narrative format in marketing content like landing pages, sales sheets/flyers, and graphics to ensure you are leading with value upfront for your audience:
Why: Leading with the “why” behind what you are offering and selling the “why” cuts right to the chase for your audience and explains why they should care about what you are doing. When reading your problem section, your target audience should be able to see themselves in the problem, and feel a sense of urgency to solve the problem. Articulate the problem you solve for them, and use the latter sections of your content to explain in detail how your product/service/solution solves that problem. Read HubSpot’s article “How to Write Compelling Copy: 7 Tips for Writing Content That Converts” to learn how to write content that creates a sense of urgency
Benefits: After you’ve established a sense of urgency by discussing the problem, next present the benefits of your offering and how it solves the problem(s). For example, you were selling marketing automation/ social media scheduling software, explain the challenges of creating and managing content across multiple channels in your problem section, then align the benefits of your platform to that problem. Ex. the social media post scheduling feature saves time by making it possible to publish across several channels simultaneously vs. individually
Features: Next up is getting into the detail of the offering after you’ve established the issue at hand, and explained how your offering can be beneficial in solving it. A mistake you will often see in marketing materials is selling the “what” (i.e. features) vs. the why (problem you solve). In this section, list the features of your offering to provide tangible information about how a customer would utilize it. This is an opportunity to uncover nuanced benefits to further sell your customer
Call to Action (CTA): And finally, the last step is to make sure you include a call to action with clear steps a reader can take to take whatever action you would like them to (ex. Purchase something via an online store, sign up for a newsletter, etc.). Having a CTA at the bottom of your content is standard, but you can also add an additional CTA toward the top of your content at your own discretion. It is not uncommon to see a “submit” or “sign up” button both in the header and footer of a website landing page, for example
2. Go to your audience. Don’t make them come to you
This tip is something marketers and business owners should constantly keep in mind and revisit to ensure their strategy is reaching target customers. Doing research on your audience, and understanding where they spend time and what they pay attention to (both digitally and physically) can mean the difference between a successful marketing strategy, and one that doesn’t deliver ROI.
Finding the social media platforms, websites, and other channels where your target audience lives helps you to identify content distribution opportunities and where you should be sharing your marketing content. You can have the best marketing blog posts, infographics, webpages, etc., but if no one ever finds them because you aren’t sharing them on the right channels, their value is negated.
Here are two examples from different industries:
B2C fashion industry: Instagram is a highly visual platform that has an established community of fashion bloggers, influencers, and companies. For a brand looking to break into the fashion industry, putting time into growing your presence on this channel by posting images of fashion products and fashion related content will have ROI. This will likely be more beneficial than trying the same strategy on a platform like LinkedIn where the audience is more B2B focused and content tends to be less visual and more about written thought leadership
B2B software industry: For a software company looking to sell its platform to other business owners, it is the exact opposite. Posting thought leadership content about the software industry and sharing information about the benefits and features of the software platform will likely resonate more on LinkedIn and reach target buyers at other companies. Whereas posting that same content on Instagram is likely to miss the mark
Tips for finding the best channels for reaching your niche audience:
Hashtag research and social listening: Conduct hashtag research to see how often hashtags relevant to your industry and products get used on a particular platform. This will be a good indication of the types of conversations taking place on that topic, and will help you judge whether your target audience uses the platform in volume. This same strategy can be applied to searching phrases by typing them in on the search bar on platforms like Twitter, and seeing what conversations are taking place around a particular topic for you to join in on. Check out Sprout Social’s Hashtag Analytics 101 article to learn how to conduct your own hashtag research
Following influencers from your industry and see where their most popular channels are. Ex. If you do research on fashion influencers, chances are you will likely be led to their Instagram account, which is a popular platform for that industry, and indicates Instagram is a fit for fashion content. Use these tools highlighted by Influencer MarketingHub to find influencers in your own industry “19 Free Influencer Marketing Tools to Find Influencers”
Look up leading brands in your space and see what their most popular channels are. For example, if you own a restaurant, check out what social channels other restaurants have and see what success they are having. If you find those other businesses are doing well on Instagram and Twitter, you can mimic that channel strategy and bring your own unique content to the conversation. Sprout Social lists 13 Competitive Analysis Tools you can use to see where other brands in your industry are finding success
Once you find the channels where your audience is most prominent, it’s time to prioritize those channels and to determine how much time and money to put into developing them.
One of the main challenges marketers face is finding enough time to create content across the multiple marketing channels they have available to them, like social media, email marketing, blogging, web content creation, video content creation, etc. And one of the biggest mistakes marketers make is spreading themselves too thin across several channels, vs. growing strong engagement on one channel first.
Rather than trying to be everywhere at once and risking falling behind in your posting schedule, or posting a high volume of low quality content that your audience won’t engage with, it’s better to focus on establishing one high quality channel first.
Follow these steps for finding your target audience and establishing a marketing channel strategy to reach them:
Find a target channel where your audience frequently spends time and engages in conversation. Conduct research on your target audience using the tips outlined in marketing motto #2 above
Create a content strategy for this channel that provides your audience with some kind of value (ex. how-to content, sharing thought leadership and industry insights, etc.). See SEMrush’s list of the 40 Best Content Creation Tools and Resources to help build out your content marketing strategy
Build a content calendar with a consistent posting schedule so your audience knows what to expect from you. Check out Buffer’s free social media scheduling plan to automate your posting schedule, and store your content calendar
Use analytics to ensure engagement and the effectiveness of your content. Based on that, do more of what works. Use Google Analytics to measure engagement on your website, and social media marketing tools like Buffer and Sprout Social that offer analytics for tracking social media engagement
Once this channel is established and has a good cadence you’re able to maintain, then it is time to explore additional channels and apply the same content marketing framework to establish a presence there and expand your marketing mix (repeat steps 1-4)
4. Repurpose content > sharing content on one channel
Cross promoting your content and maximizing the value you can derive from it is a frugal marketing strategy that can drive real engagement. A solid piece of marketing content like a video, blog post, or graphic takes time and resources to create. That is why to maximize the value you get from that opportunity cost, “turkey slicing” is a winning content marketing strategy. Just like when you bake a turkey for a family dinner, it’s then to get creative with those leftovers and make turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, etc. to utilize all of it. The same goes for content marketing.
Once you have an asset like an infographic, you should repurpose it strategically to create value across your other materials. Embed it in a blog post, share it on social media, include it in an email newsletter, etc. Regardless of what kind of content you create, there is a way to get creative and reuse it on an additional marketing channel.
Ideas for cross promoting marketing content:
Blog post: Blog posts are one of the most versatile pieces of content you can create. One of their key strengths is that they’re close to the point of sale on your website, and draw visitors in. To leverage this strength, share blog posts across your social channels, feature them in email newsletters, cross link them in other blog posts to improve SEO, and link them just about anywhere else you think might be relevant and drive traffic.
Infographic: Infographics are a visually engaging piece of content that can be created for different stages of your marketing funnel to educate your audience about your industry, company, and products. Once you’ve created a quality infographic, ensure you leverage it as much as possible by finding opportunities to share it across your marketing channels. Share it on social media, embed it in blog posts, feature it in email newsletters, and embed it on your website landing pages. Buffer highlights 12 infographic creation tools that you can use to add infographics to your content marketing strategy
Video: Video is one of the top performing types of marketing content on social media channels. Once you’ve produced a video, upload it to each of your social channels to get organic engagement, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can then embed one of these links to your video (like the YouTube link) into your blog posts, landing pages, and email newsletters. HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing is full of great tips and resources for learning to leverage video content in your marketing efforts
Email Newsletter: Email marketing is a great distribution platform for other content. Include a section in your newsletter to feature links to new content like videos, blogs, and webpages. You can also repurpose graphics you’ve created to brand your newsletters and make them visually engaging. Search Engine Journal offers 11 email marketing tips to consider when writing email newsletters
Whitepaper: Whitepapers are a top of funnel and mid funnel piece of marketing collateral that gives you the opportunity to provide your audience with valuable insights, and position your brand as an industry thought leader. Like the other marketing content on this list, whitepapers take time to create, and should be shared widely to maximize the ROI on that investment. Whitepapers can be shared by housing them on your website and sharing the link on social media, linking them in email newsletters, included in emails as an attachment, and featured just about anywhere else you are sharing content with your audience.Get tips for writing strong whitepapers from Neil Patel’s article “How to Write a White Paper That Generates Sales”
5. 80% value / 20% self promotion
The 80/20 rule is a good guide to follow in your content marketing strategy where 80% of the content you create and share is designed to purely bring your audience value (ex. education and entertainment), and the other 20% is self serving (ex. ads and promotion for products and services).
Following this ratio has several benefits:
It increases people’s loyalty to your brand and gives it a positive reputation
It gets people in the habit of coming to you as a thought leader and a source of value
It will lead to higher content engagement as people share your helpful / valuable content, leading to a bigger audience for you, and larger potential customer base
It will translate to people being more willing to seek out your products to derive further value from their new trusted source (your brand)
Here are examples of marketing content you can create that falls into the 80% value creating category for your audience:
How-to content that teaches someone something. Ex. a blog post that explains how to assemble something or complete a multi-step task
Content that shares tips or insights based on your industry experience. Ex. A food blog sharing recipes
Social content, blogs, or newsletters that share news and updates about your industry to help keep your audience informed
The other 20% of your strategy should be content intended to convert your audience based on your goals. Here are some examples:
Social media posts that link to product pages on your website highlighting a product
Digital ads that promote a product
Blog posts and white papers that focus on explaining a product, it’s benefits, and it’s features
A newsletter, social post, or digital ad that offers a promotion (ex. a % off sale)
This sales oriented content is obviously critical, and the pillar of your lead generation efforts. However, the 20% guideline for limiting how often you publish such content is there because continually selling to your audience will wear them out, and turn them off to your brand. No one likes to feel like they’re getting sold to constantly, hence why people tend to dislike telemarketing phone calls, or when their mailbox is stuffed full of ads. That is why being strategic with this content and combining it with value oriented content is key.
Balancing these two types of content appropriately with a proper ratio will create a marketing content system that delivers value to your audience, and value to you.