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Planning for the unexpected

If recent years have shown anything, it’s that we can’t guarantee that tomorrow will continue to look the same as today. Unexpected change can come from any angle, and like with any section of a business, your marketing needs to be able to adapt to the changes that might come along. In today’s article, I look at four ways that you can prepare yourself and your marketing to deal with unexpected change.

1) Leave room in your plans for change

A marketing calendar gives you the opportunity to lay out the content that you will be using ahead of time. This is a great tool for any marketer, helping to ensure that you have material on hand at all times, and that you are prepared for predictable events such as holidays, sales and your businesses regular sales shifts. However, a good marketing calendar should not be so packed with content that it leaves you with no room to manoeuvre. A good rule of thumb to follow is to break your content down into three main categories; one third of the material is new content, one third is repurposing that content for other formats, and one third is left open, allowing you to create material that is relevant to your needs at the time it goes live.

2) Plan for possibilities

While you can’t predict everything that might come up to disrupt your usual marketing plan, there are some things that you can assume will happen even if you are not sure when. Things like a disruption in foot traffic, a very visible customer complaint or an increase in demand for one of your products can all impact on what you might need from your marketing. Take the time to think through some of the events that you might encounter and come up with contingency plans you might use to offset any issues or take advantage of any opportunities.

3) Have a growth strategy

It’s surprising, but many businesses don’t have a plan in place for the one thing that they most want to happen – the growth of their business. This is a more specific version of point two, but it covers something that every business should be able to expect, even if you don’t know exactly when and where it will happen. Be sure that you have a plan in place for what will happen as your business grows, and how you will orient your marketing to best handle and manage the opportunities that growth will give you.

4) Take advantage of evergreen content

Sometimes, no amount of planning will prepare you for what has come up. Sometimes, nothing you have planned will fit with current events, and there isn’t much your marketing can do to take advantage of the situation. At those points, don’t be afraid to run some of your evergreen content, such as general advice or guides, to at least keep your content fresh and updated.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you build a marketing strategy that works for your business. If you would like to find out more about what we can do for you, visit us online at jrdm.com.au today.

Are you working too hard on your content marketing?

Content marketing is a lot of work. Creating enough material to ‘feed the beast’ and keep your content channels lively can demand a lot of any marketing team, but like any other aspect of business, simply working harder isn’t always the right answer. Pouring too much effort into the wrong aspects of content marketing can severely hurt your success and waste energy that you could better spend elsewhere. In today’s article, I look at signs that you might be working too hard on your content marketing, and how to better focus your energy to get the results you want.

1) You’re over-thinking your content

As marketers, we have a range of data and information on our customers, our products and our campaigns, and we spend a lot of time and effort to make sure that we incorporate that data into what we produce – and that’s not a bad thing. But that can turn sour when we find ourselves relying only on data and forgetting the passion and drive that we have for the product we are selling. Content marketing goes out to an audience that cares about your products, or that cares about the problems your product solves. They live that experience, meaning they have a genuine connection to what you offer… and they’ll be able to tell if you don’t. If you find that your content is more about numbers and data than it is about a belief in your product, then you’re likely creating content that won’t resonate with your market. Always remember to put the passion you have for what you do into the content you create, and you’ll create content that will resonate with your audience.

2) You’re focusing on the hard-sell

There are a lot of marketing mediums where a hard sell can work, provided that it goes out to the right customer. Content marketing isn’t one of them. While you might be passionate and excited about having a new product and eager to tell your customer every feature that it has (and good for you if you are – see point 1!), no customer comes to content marketing to be sold to. Content marketing is about showing your customers that you understand them and their needs, providing content that is entertaining or helpful, and then introducing a connection between those needs and your products. If your content is falling anywhere outside the 80:20 ratio – 80% content, 20% sales, then you’re focusing too much on the hard sell, and you’re going to lose your audiences’ attention.

3) You’re not using internal resources

No marketer is an island. If you find that you’re struggling to come up with ideas that will connect with your customers, remember that other parts of the business have access to information on what your customers think and feel on a daily basis. Whether you’re a one-person operation or a part of a larger business, consider the information you can take from the customer-facing parts of the business – sales and services. Salespeople know exactly what your customers want and need, because they talk to them every day about those needs, and they know what aspects of your products are most important to those customers. Service staff know the issues that customers encounter with your product and the problems they most often need solutions to. If you are a sole trader, then consider the things your customers tell you and incorporate them into your content marketing. If you’re a part of a larger organisation, then take the time to talk with your customer-facing colleagues and find out what they know about your customers, and you’ll likely come up with dozens of new ideas for content that you can be sure will be relevant to your audience.

4) You’ve lots of content, but none of it is performing well

This can be one of the most insidious issues that you can face in content marketing. In the rush to fill the void, you’ve created page after page of content, but none of it is seeing the type of results you would like. While it’s important to create content on a regular basis to keep your business visible, it’s also important to make sure that content is relevant, and that it is targeted to the right parts of your audience. In many ways, this is the other side of the coin to my first point; don’t ignore the data that you have on your customers either. Make sure that you have built a strategy for your content marketing, and that everything you create is speaking to the customers you want to reach. Always know who you are trying to reach, what you are trying to say to them and why you are using the content platforms you are. Use the right platforms, the right formats, and talk about the right issues to reach your customers, and you’re more likely to create content that will perform the way you want it to.

Want to go further? John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you to develop content that will connect with your customers. To get started with your new content strategy, visit jrdm.com.au today.

Four surprising content marketing facts

Content marketing is an ever-changing field, and what was true yesterday might not be true tomorrow. On top of that, even for a field as new as content marketing, common wisdom doesn’t always match up with reality. In today’s article, I look at four facts that might change what you think about content marketing.

1) Content marketing builds brand loyalty

As anyone who has ever looked with jealousy at Apple’s dedicated customer base knows, brand loyalty is a hugely valuable resource. Loyal customers aren’t just people who will regularly return to you, they are also frequently evangelists for your business, letting their friends and family know just why they should come to you. Word of mouth is some of the most powerful marketing available; people may be sceptical of your advertising, but they’ll almost always believe a trusted friend.

Good content marketing helps to create brand loyalty by showing your customers that you understand them and their needs, and by providing them with a reason to get excited about your business. If you can create content that forms bonds between you and your customers, you’ll go a long way towards building a relationship that will have a massive potential payoff.

2) Repurposed content can often beat original content

Not every piece of content marketing needs to be completely original. Over half of all content marketers will utilise content they have culled from other sources and repurpose it rather than relying entirely on original material. Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from other articles or pieces of content that you have seen. Provided that the content is re-worked to suit your audience and your needs, and provided that you are taking elements you have seen and not lifting content wholesale from other creators, a repurposed piece of content will perform as well as, or better than, a wholly original piece.

3) Email is still the leading form of content marketing

Despite the growth of other platforms, from social media to video to blogs and beyond, email marketing is still the most popular form of content. Remember that email has several benefits – it will be delivered directly to your customers in a place that they regularly check, it can combine the best elements of social media and blogging, and if you are doing it correctly it will only be delivered to people who have specifically opted in to communication from you. By communicating to an audience that already has an interest in your business, you are putting your message in front of people who are the most likely to act on it, meaning a higher chance of them making a purchase. Though it may seem outmoded, email should always be a key part of any content marketing strategy.

4) There’s no one right way to handle content marketing

If the world were a simpler place, marketers would be able to rely on one simple method for their content marketing – one correct strategy, one best platform, one best message. Unfortunately, life is never that simple. Your content marketing strategy will always be as unique as your business is. The platforms that work best, the messages that most resonate and the types of content that will be most effective will always be different for every business. In practice, like with everything in your marketing plan, this means never assuming anything will be a success. Test everything, find out what works best, use that to shape your content, and then test again. Even a successful strategy will shift and change over time, so keeping on top of your data and tracking your content’s performance is a constant priority.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you to build a content marketing strategy that works for your business. If you’d like to take your content marketing further, visit us online at jrdm.com.au today.

Five (more) elements of great landing pages

A strong landing page is an essential part of any marketing campaign, letting you get your message to your customers, capture their attention and generate leads that will help you to grow your business. In a previous article I listed five things you can do to build effective and successful landing pages, but like any part of marketing there is always more that you can do to enhance and optimise your output! In today’s article, I look at five more things you can do to improve your landing pages and get better results.

1) Keep your goals in mind

Maybe the most important thing to bear in mind when creating a landing page is that it should be focussed on one specific goal. Don’t make the mistake of treating your landing pages the way you would treat your company’s website; a landing page needs to have one clear, specific call to action, one offer or solution that will engage your customer’s interest. By focussing on that one aspect, you keep your customers attention and ensure that they remain engaged with your conversion goal.

2) Know your audience

As with any part of your marketing mix, it’s important to bear in mind who it is that you are trying to reach with your landing page. You should already have a clear idea of who your customers are, how they think and what their path to a purchase looks like, so make sure that your landing page reflects that. Make sure that you are using the right language, the right imagery, and including the right information to speak to the specific customers that you are trying to reach. One of the best things about landing pages is that you have a high level of control over which parts of your audience will see which page, which means you can and should be taking the opportunity to customise your landing page to the sections of your customer base that will be using it.

3) Use the right images

Images engage the emotions of your customers, and the right images will draw them in and keep them engaging with your content. You should include a ‘hero image’ that showcases the product or service that you are using, ideally one that shows the benefits of what you are offering. Also, be sure that your images and your copy compliment each other. If your headline and your copy reflect the same mood and context as your images, they’ll go a long way to retaining your audience’s interest.

4) Put what matters above the fold

Anything that falls ‘below the fold’ – in digital terms, anything that your users will have to scroll the screen to see – is less likely to be seen and less likely to be acted on. It’s important that you keep the most important elements of your landing page above the fold. Your headline, your key paragraphs of information, your hero image, your social proof, your call to action and your capture form should all be visible without the user having to scroll. Keep those elements visible to your users, and you’ll significantly increase your conversions.

5) Use social proof

Social proof is an incredibly powerful tool. If you can demonstrate to your customers that your product or service is already solving the problems that your user has, for people like them, then you’ve given them a reason to believe that it will work for them too. Customer reviews and testimonials are one of the best tools you have at your disposal to prove the effectiveness of what you are selling. It’s important to make sure that your testimonials are believable. Anyone can easily write a fake testimonial, but making sure that you have the full name of your customer, their position within a company, a picture of the customer or even a full video testimonial from them all make it easier for your customer to see that a testimonial is real and reliable.

From individual pages to complete campaigns, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you take control of every aspect of your marketing. If you would like to find out what we can do for you, visit us at jrdm.com.au today.

4 ways to refresh your marketing

Once you have set a strategy for your marketing and built out your campaigns, it can be very tempting to leave things untouched – after all, if it worked yesterday, it should work tomorrow, right? If that sounds like you, then there’s every chance that your failing to take advantage of opportunities that could lift your marketing campaigns and see them operating more effectively. In today’s article, I look at four ways to refresh your marketing and make sure you’re getting the best results.

1) Check your look

The look and feel of your marketing, from your website to your logo to the layout of your fliers, is probably one of the first things that you developed when you created your marketing strategy. It’s also the thing that most companies leave unchanged. That might be fine, but the older your design is, the more likely it is that design trends have moved on. Take a look at your brand and design, and ask yourself how they compare to the look and feel of other companies in your sector. Consider whether your image still expresses the way that you want to be seen, and ask whether it appeals to the people who make up the majority of your customer base. If you don’t like the answer to any of those questions, then it’s probably time to change your look.

2) Audit your marketing material

It’s a good idea to regularly check to make sure that your marketing material is performing the way you want it to. The best way to do this, as always, is to track real results and monitor how customers are reaching your business, and what steps they’ve taken to get there. Being able to identify which parts of your marketing mix are performing best means you will have a clear idea of what is and isn’t working. If your social media campaigns are bringing in huge numbers, but your website is leaving customers cold, that’s a good indicator of where you need to focus your attention to improve your marketing message.

3) Optimise content

If something is working well, take advantage of it. If you notice that a particular piece of content or a particular marketing campaign is seeing excellent results, that’s a sign that your customers would like to see more like it. If a blog post has gotten a lot of attention, consider exploring similar topics. Also, think of how successful content can be repurposed on other platforms. A high performing blog post could be converted into an infographic, a video, or a podcast. Similarly, if certain topics see little interest, your customers likely don’t consider the subject relevant to them or their needs, and you most likely do not need to address the topic in your marketing.

4) Consider your product

You can have the best marketing in the world, but if your business isn’t meeting your customer’s needs you still won’t be a success. As you consider your marketing, it is also worth checking to see that your products and services match what the market wants. Talk to your customers, identify their pain points and see if there are ways you can better meet their needs – whether it’s in the form of better pricing, more convenient service, a wider product range, or simply stocking a particular item. You may only have to make a small change to what you offer, but if that change helps better serve your customers the results will be significant.

If you want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of every possible opportunity, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you build marketing that works for your business – visit jrdm.com.au to find out how we can help you.

Taking every advantage

When building a marketing campaign, it’s important to make sure that you stand out from your competition and take advantage of every opportunity you have to set yourself apart. In todays article, I look at how to identify and utilise your competitive advantage to build stronger and more effective campaigns.

What is your competitive advantage

Every business is different, and every business has something that sets it apart from its competitors. Correctly identifying what points of difference exist between you and your competition mean that you can focus your business and marketing efforts in highlighting that difference, giving your customers a reason to chose you over your competitors.

You might differentiate yourself based on your price, your location, the expertise of your staff, your hours, the range of products you stock, the service you provide or any of a multitude of other options. Identifying what specific advantages you have means investigating your business and comparing it to your competitors.

Perform a competitive audit

To identify what makes you different from your competitors, you need to understand what they offer as well as what you offer. Take a look at your competitors and at their marketing and identify what they offer to their customers. Contrast them against your own business and see what they do differently. Evaluate the differences between your business and theirs and try to understand the business reasons behind their differences, what problems their products and services solve for their customers, and how they do so. Once you know the key differences between business and your competitors, you can more clearly see which aspects of your business offer benefits to your customers that they can’t get elsewhere.

Talk to your customers

Nobody knows more about what your customers want than they do. Talk to the people who use your business and find out why they come to you. Find out what needs they have that aren’t being served by other businesses, and what they would look for in an ‘ideal’ business. This is also a great time to make sure that your marketing is reaching the right people in the right way; talk to your customers about your marketing and see if it is discussing the things that matter to them.

Showcase your advantages

Once you know what sets you apart from your competitors in a way that matters to your customers, focus on those points. Make sure every piece of marketing you create clearly communicates the things that your company excels in. Focusing on the competitive advantages you have, in a way that solves your customers problems, will lead customers to you faster than anything else.

If you want to build campaigns that showcase the best of your company, JRDM can help. To find out more, visit us at jrdm.com.au today.

Marketing Tips: Using a Marketing Calendar

If you’re like most small businesses, it’s likely that your marketing is working on an ad-hoc basis; you do a little of it, whenever you feel you might need a lift, but it’s not at the front of your mind. But if you’re marketing without focus, then you’re more than likely wasting a lot of effort and not getting the results you should be. A Marketing Calendar helps you to organise your marketing efforts and make sure that you have the right content at the right time to get the most out of the work you put into marketing. In today’s post, I go through some tips for setting up and using a marketing calendar.

Set your strategy

Like any other part of a business, marketing works best when it is planned. I’ve discussed some of the elements of setting up a marketing plan before, but before you can put together as marketing calendar, you should at the very least know the basics of what you want to achieve with your marketing, who your audience is, what your budget is, and what platforms you will be targeting with your marketing. With an understanding of how you will be promoting your business, you can then use your marketing calendar to identify exactly when and where you will focus your marketing activity.

Look at your business throughout the year

Consider how, and if, demand for your business changes throughout the year. Some industries will fluctuate through the year, while others will remain mostly consistent. Take an honest look at which seasons are your busiest and when you see a downturn and plan your marketing accordingly. This means making sure that you have content and advertising ready to run in the lead up to your busy periods, to ensure that you stand out against your competitors. If you have seasonal downtime, take advantage of that too – the off season is an ideal time to engage customers with meaningful content marketing to keep your company at the top of their minds.

Ask when your customers make decisions

Some decisions are made far in advance of the customer’s purchase. For big ticket items – especially ones that are seasonally linked such as holiday gifts – it is likely that your customers will be considering their purchases ahead of time. Think about the lead time you might need to build into your marketing to ensure that your message reaches the customer at the right time to begin influencing their decision.

Plan it out

There are numerous content calendar templates available for use online. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of detail that some go into – to begin with, you just need to be able to note down what marketing you plan do throughout the year, and when. You can always expand your calendar into more detail when you identify what information will be of use to you.

Build a library

Once you know when you should be delivering your marketing, you can start to build a library of content. Having the material you will need ready to go ahead of time takes the pressure off you as a marketer, letting you focus more effort on producing the best material you can. A content calendar also means knowing in advance what seasonal opportunities you can take advantage of, meaning that when a holiday or an important date for your customers arrives, you already have material on-hand and ready to take advantage of it. If you want to build a marketing plan that will drive success, JRDM can help. To find out what we can do for you, visit jrdm.com.au today.

Break your content marketing routine

Content marketing requires a constant stream of new material to maintain your organisation’s visibility online. It can be tempting to fall into routines and rely on the same form of content, but varying what you create, how you create it and the types of stories you tell can help raise your profile with fresh and exciting material. In this article, I look at five ways to vary the type of content you create and get better results from your content marketing.

1) Guest blog

Don’t just restrict your content marketing to your own channels. Guest blogging gives you an opportunity to reach out to your customers on other platforms, showing your connection with other brands and organisations that they trust. This increases the reach of your content marketing, bringing in new customers who might not have encountered you on your other content platforms, and raises your profile as a source of trusted information and expertise. Consider reaching out to other content providers that align with your organisation and see if they would be interested in collaboration.

2) Share customer stories

The one thing that you can be certain your customers are interested in is their own experiences, so it’s a fairly safe bet that an experience that is meaningful to one of your customers will be meaningful to more of them. Sharing the stories your customers share with you about how they use your products and services, and how they have used them to overcome a problem they have faced, will always be a great way to connect with your audience.

3) Create a message for change

If recent years have demonstrated one thing, it’s that there is a need and an appetite for social change. While approaching the topics around complicated social issues like mental health, social equality or systemic racism can be difficult, being willing to discuss those issues and work for genuine change is something that is especially important to younger consumers, who increasingly look for brands and organisations that share their social values. If you want to make a difference with what your company does, be willing to share those values.

4) Add interactivity

Consider adding interactive content as a part of your content mix. Interactive content lets your users explore what you have created in their own way, and has a level of engagement that traditional content lacks. This could be an interactive infographic, a service that delivers a customised solution to a user’s problem, or even something as simple as an online poll. Interactive content grabs the user’s attention and keeps it in a way that traditional content marketing simply cannot match.

5) Take advantage of new technology

Technology doesn’t slow down. There is always a new development, or a new app, or an entirely new medium. Creating content that takes advantage of new technology shows that your company is connected to the changing world, and positions you as relevant, up-to-date and flexible.

If you want to master your content marketing, JRDM can help. Visit us online at jrdm.com.au today to find out more.

Guidelines for marketing during Coronavirus

Without question, Covid-19 has completely overturned normal life for billions of people around the globe. Your business is facing challenges that none of us had expected we would have to face. Moving ahead and marketing your business in these times is complicated, but there are still sound principles that can be followed to make sure that you can continue to operate and function. In this article, I discuss five key points to follow to put together campaigns that will work in a business landscape that has been changed by Covid-19.

1) Be empathetic

Covid has changed the world for everyone, including your customers. Your customers are exposed to new pressures that have changed the ways they interact with the world, including your marketing. More than ever, its important right now to consider the tone and the messaging of your advertising. Be considerate of your audience, and of the stresses that you know they are experiencing. Avoid high pressure sales or fear tactics, and instead focus on providing a simple and straightforward explanation of how you can help to make your customers’ lives easier.

2) Be generous

In times of crisis, people come together. For reasons that go far beyond just marketing, now is the time that you should be thinking of how your company can help others around you. If there is a service that you can give, a product you can afford to provide or a message that you can share that can help your community, then you should consider doing so. Even using the voice that you have on social media, in your stores or on your website can help to promote the advice and information on dealing with the coronavirus, and help your community remain safe.

3) Consider your market

Even just across one country, communities have been affected by the coronavirus in different ways. While geographic considerations are always a part of marketing, Covid has made them more important than ever. Be aware of the issues that your customers in different areas might be having. Whether they are in a period of lockdown, what businesses are in operation and what restrictions are in place will all affect what is reasonable in terms of your advertising and what your customers can be expected to respond to. Keep up to date with the changing details, and structure your marketing plans accordingly.

4) Take advantage of your opportunities

Changing situations worldwide don’t just present new challenges, but also new opportunities. The changed business environment has meant less ad spending from large and small companies alike, which has lead to lower prices for paid advertising. At the same time, news sites and social media have seen increased traffic from people wanting to find out what is happening day to day. Consider looking into paid advertising, as current rates have made it more affordable than ever.

5) Don’t panic

The coronavirus is not the end of everything. You, and your business, need to continue operating, through this crisis and after it. Your marketing, like the rest of your business operations, will need to change throughout the crisis, but it doesn’t have to stop.

I hope that this article has offered some useful advice regarding marketing during the ongoing Covid situation. John Rowbottom Design and Marketing remains open, to help assist our clients with their campaigns and to provide ongoing support. To get in touch, please visit us at jrdm.com.au

Build better marketing plans with SMART goals

Before you can create a plan, you first need to have clear goals for what you are trying to accomplish. These are the metrics that will measure the success of your campaigns, and they should align to the goals that you currently have for your business.

Since these are goals you will use to track the performance of your campaign, we will need to use SMART goals; they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed.

Specific:

While your basic goal might be as general as ‘attract more customers to my business’, a planned goal should be more specific. When determining a goal for the campaign, think about exactly what outcome you want from the campaign.

Examples:

  • Increase sales of a specific product or service
  • Increase top-of-funnel sales leads
  • Get customer email addresses
  • Reduce sales cart abandonments

Having specific outcomes for the campaign means you are more easily able to identify the exact elements that your campaign will need to use to reach those goals, helping you determine what parts of your audience you will need to reach, what marketing platforms you will use to reach them, and so on.

Measurable:

In order to track the performance of your campaigns, you will need to be able to measure their outcomes. This means having clear and trackable goals that the campaign is trying to achieve. Make sure that each goal you have set has a visible outcome that can be clearly measured.

Examples:

  • Increase sales of a specific product or service by 125
  • Get 500 new top of funnel sales leads
  • Get 1000 customer email addresses
  • Reduce sales cart abandonments by 20%

Tracking the performance of your campaigns allows you to see what is and isn’t working and adjust accordingly, which leads to higher-performing campaigns over time.

Achievable:

Everyone would like to grow their business by 300% overnight, but that’s a goal that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to achieve. Remember that the performance of your campaigns against your goals is what you will be using to help you refine them over time. Setting goals that are unrealistically high won’t give you useful feedback and will only set you up for failure. Look at your current performance figures and consider an achievable level of improvement. Remember that there is also room to adjust this over time – if the goals you have set are too low or too high, they can be adjusted as you update your marketing plan.

Relevant:

Make sure that the outcomes of your goals are relevant to the performance of your business. In particular, be careful to avoid the trap of ‘vanity metrics’. While getting more clicks to your website or views of an online campaign is nice to see, they don’t necessarily mean anything to your business. Try to set goals that specifically affect your bottom line, such as sales, leads and income growth, rather than clicks and likes.

Timed:

Since you will be tracking the performance of your campaigns, you need to set a specific point in time where the performance will be measured. For each goal you have, specify the deadline to achieve that goal, or the timeframe over which the goal will be tracked.

Examples:

  • Increase sales of a specific product or service by 125 per quarter.
  • Get 500 new top of funnel sales leads each month.
  • Get 1000 customer email addresses by the end of June.
  • Reduce monthly sales cart abandonments by 20%.

With a set of well-defined goals, you now have a solid basis for your plan. These goals will help to inform the development of the rest of the marketing plan and will determine the overall structure of your campaigns.

Whatever goals you have for your campaigns, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help make them happen. To find out more, visit jrdm.com.au today and see what we can do for you.