3 Easy and Efficient Ways to Plan Marketing Promos that Ensure Team Alignment

marketing-101

It may seem simple, but choosing how to manage your marketing promotions is extremely important. Not only to keep you organized but because as you start layering more promotions into the schedule you’ll need to be able to easily share what you’ve got planned. This not only keeps your team aligned as you grow, but also gives you the ability to be transparent across other departments. “Want to know what marketing has going on this week? Just check this link!”. Two of the tools I mention below also have the ability to sync with calendars which is super handy.

Trello

Trello is an easy way to schedule out your promotions and get a quick view into how balanced your marketing pushes are for the month. Here is a sample trello board for a Marketing Calendar.

marketing planning with Trello

And here is what that might look like if you use the Calendar Power Up so you can get a bigger picture view of how your marketing is balanced out for the month.

marketing calendar in Trello

You can also look at the view by week which is great for weekly or daily meetings, it’s also very shareable as I mentioned earlier. 

 

Airtable

Another tool to consider is Airtable. Airtable, like Trello, has a number of different templates that you can choose from. I modified the Content Calendar template in Airtable to quick mock up the promotional schedule below. 

 

The Airtable calendar view is pretty similar to Trello, I find the interface in Trello a bit more intuitive but Airtable is more robust if you want to build out additional functionality within the ‘base’. It’s a good exercise to try them both first before selecting which is the best for you and your team. 

Airtable promo calendar

Google Sheets

Another easy way to plan out your calendar is with Google Sheets. It can be a bit more clunky but if you don’t know Trello or Airtable and don’t want to use a new tool it’s a quick and dirty way to set something up quickly. It’s just not as scalable imo.

Here’s what a calendar might look like in Sheets (or Excel).

Google Sheets Marketing Calendar

The pitfalls of spreadsheets for planning marketing promotions are many, including not being able to assign promotions to people or easily move things around without messing up formatting. It also becomes a bit unwieldy once everything is populated.

 

Final Thoughts

There you have it. Three different planning tools to consider as you start to build out your marketing promotions. These three are certainly not the only ones out there, there are a slew of others that you might want to check out too, but if you just want to get going, the first two I mentioned take about 5 minutes to set up. Good luck with whatever you choose!

Getting Started with Buyer Personas

How to pull together the critical elements of a buyer persona.

If you are selling anything to anyone, one of the most important things you can do is to create detailed buyer personas. This exercise accomplishes many things:

  • Provides information about your buyer to any other stakeholders who might need it – for example your employees, and external stakeholders like agencies or freelancers
  • Acts as a touchstone for every marketing promotion you execute so you can always answer the question “what will this do for my customer”
  • Helps you better understand your buyer, their motivations to improve the quality and return on the marketing programs that you execute

It’s important to note that while it might be tempting to take shortcuts, it won’t be nearly as useful if you do. Many people thing that they know their buyers and will just start writing out what they *think* is representative of their typical customer. The thing to remember is everyone is different. Even if YOU are your target buyer, there are people who think, feel and are motivated by different things than you are.

So where do you start? There are a number of different ways you can start accumulating the data you’ll need to develop your personas. Here are just a few:

  1. Current customers – the best place to start is with current customers. Ask them about what keeps them up at night, where they get their information, what motivates them, and what frustrates them.
  2. Google analytics – check your website statistics, which blogs, content and pages get the most traffic, and have the highest time on page so you get a sense of the most burning topics.
  3. Industry websites – check the websites that your prospects / customers frequent. Check out the articles and other content that is being published. Who are the industry experts and what are they talking about.
  4. Recorded webinars – check out some of the hot webinars that people have attended.
  5. Communities – check out the communities that your prospects and customers frequent. What are the topics with the most comments.

However you decide to start gathering this data, the important thing is that you have a way to distill it and that you are including a large enough sample size to be representative of your target market. Making decisions on too few data points can lead you down the wrong path so make sure that you invest the time that is needed to get a significant sample.

Getting Your Message Out

There is arguably nothing more important than figuring out the best way to reach your customers. Figuring out the most effective platform / method to communicate takes time, patience and a lot of testing (that’s the fun part!). Here’s a quick snapshot of a few, keeping in mind my personal context comes mostly from B2B marketing.

  • Social media platforms – Facebook and Linkedin in particular for B2B
  • Review sites / Software Directories – Capterra, G2, TrustRadius
  • Search – GoogleAds, BingAds
  • Industry Associations – associations often offer compelling ad packages
  • Email marketing – either through your own opt-in list or leveraging lists from others – the best performing 3rd party lists I’ve found have been opt-in association lists
  • Live events – nothing beats a live event for being able to qualify potential buyers
  • Virtual events – webinars or fireside chat type events can work quite well
  • Community – either creating your own or participating actively in one where your buyers participate

Regardless of where you start the important thing is to remember that choosing the channel is just the first step. The next steps are making sure the message is compelling and the offer has incredible value. Let’s dive a bit deeper into some of the channels you might select.

Social Media

There are a lot of different options when it comes to social platforms. It’s important to make sure that your company account is set up and that’ve fleshed out your profile so it’s exactly the way you want to present your brand and messaging. Also start posting organically at a regular cadence so potential customers can get to know you better once they start on the path of discovering more about what you do.

As an example, have a look at Hubspot’s profile on Linkedin. It’s completely fleshed-out with most of the information you’d find on their website, but enables the Linkedin user to learn more without having to navigate away from Linkedin.

Once you’ve set up your presence, then diving into paid advertising will let you hone in on your audience and ensure you broaden your reach. If you have a limited number of followers you can also use the platform to grow your follower list.

Review Sites / Directory Listings

Platforms like G2 and Capterra can be great for getting in front of customers who are researching ways to solve their problems. What’s happened over the years with these platforms is that they’ve become highly competitive. Both price their offerings quite differently, G2 is expensive for a small business right out of the gate and Capterra, while you can spend whatever you want, is so flooded with vendors you can be paying exorbitant amounts of money just to get a click.

The thing that is a bit funny about these platforms too is that they work off of placement in a category. You can be placed in multiple categories but if you have product that doesn’t fit neatly into their categorization, it’ll be tough to get the return you’re looking for on those platforms.

Search

Search is a huge topic, so I’ll just touch on it here. One of the things that is great about search is that whether you are trying to rank organically or you are placing paid ads, the search engines reward you for doing your job well. They want to provide the most relevant results for their searchers so if your landing page and ad closely match what their users are typing into the search bar, and you’ve constructed your assets well, you can gain real traction.

To go a bit deeper on constructing your assets well, make sure you’ve done the following:

  • Landing page: Ensure the meta data is bang on:
    • Title tag – tells the search engines what your page is about
    • Meta description – this is what will show up in your organic search result
    • Meta keywords – most people don’t think this plays into search results any longer but it’s a good reminder to you of what you’re trying to rank for on this page
    • H1 and H2 tags – these tell the search engines which headings are important with regards to what the page is about
    • Keyword density – if you’re trying to rank for a certain keyword, it has to appear a number of times on the page in a natural way (don’t try and scam) for the search engines to understand how relevant the page is
    • Alt image tags – this let’s search engines know what the images are of and why they are relevant to the page
  • Ad Copy: If it’s a paid ad, ensure the copy in the ad matches the keyword your bidding on and the landing page that you’re sending people to
  • Offer: The offer you make in the ad (download free, get a demo, buy now), should match the offer on the landing page and it should be easy for users to understand how to get the offer (fill in form, call, email etc)

Industry Associations

Associations are great to tap into for a number of different reasons:

  • You know you target audience is present
  • They often offer marketing opportunities like dedicated email blasts, listings in newsletters, democasts, webinar sponsorships, article writing and website presence with several options for targeting
  • They typically have an annual conference where, if you’ve taken advantage of the other marketing activities, you’ll have a sense of familiarity with the market

Email Marketing

Whether you use your own internal list or go through industry associations for email marketing, this remains one of the best ways to communicate directly with your audience. It’s a particularly strong channel for content distribution and positioning yourself as a though leader (as long as you’re producing amazing content, that is). This is also a great way to test the topics, pain points and value messages that resonate with our customers.

Live Events

A lot of marketers have a love / hate relationship with live events. I lean towards the love side, surprisingly. Mostly because you can get a ton of information in a short amount of time. The other thing that you get from a live event that you don’t get from digital channels is being able to see a response. Sure there are digital signals with your online programs, but at a tradeshow you can see people slow down, and read the messaging at your booth. You can intervene if it seems like they’ll walk on past, and figure out what was missing in your messaging (because obviously they need what you have!).

Live events also give you the opportunity to suss out the competition or adjacent offerings so you have a better understanding of what you are up against. It may also inspire ideas for partnerships and provide a forum to move those partnerships foward.

One of the other huge benefits is being able to see your existing customers live. And if all goes well, they can evangelize your product to your prospects while you are at the event.

Virtual Events

Virtual events hosted by another company (say an industry association), can be tough to get value from. Virtual participants aren’t as invested in the programming and rarely take a day off work to participate in all the session and interact with vendors. Where virtual events can be powerful is more on the hosted, interactive fireside chats – where attendees can actually participate and live webinars. Sponsored webinars can work very well if you are careful about selecting your topic and speaker.

Community

Participation or creation of a community for your potential customers is another great way to provide value to the market and help your audience get to know you better. There are a few different ways to get involved in the community.

  • Participating in or leading workshops and webinars hosted by community owners
  • Being a subject matter expert in existing communities that your audience is participating in
  • Creating your own community – make no mistake, this takes time and effort, the last thing you want to do is invite a bunch of people into a slack community that you don’t have a plan for and they leave and don’t come back
  • Starting with a small community of existing customers who want to interact with one another

These are just a few different ways you might decide to get your message out. I’ll dive a bit deeper into them in future blogs given most of my comments in this post just barely scratch the surface!