Wolf Paving, an asphalt paving and manufacturing company located in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, has seen the real benefits of committing to an inbound marketing plan. What has success looked like for Wolf Paving? Here's a quick overview:
- 44% increase in the number of calls for quotes compared to the same time last year
- 92% increase in online quote requests compared to the same time last year
- Improved search rankings for terms - “Milwaukee Paving Companies” & “Madison Paving Companies”
- Increased media coverage
- Recognition from peers and industry trade publications
With the help of Stream Creative, Wolf Paving has been successfully practicing inbound marketing for over 2 years - blogging weekly, developing case studies, creating eBooks, landing pages, calls-to-action, etc.
If you take a look at the graphs below, you'll see the consistent growth that Wolf Paving has had. Organic traffic has increased by 172% since 2011 and online requests for quotes has increased by 140%.
Looking to make an even bigger impact this year during "quoting season", Stream Creative and Wolf Paving decided to add some traditional and paid media to the marketing plan.
Mary Jo Preston, Stream Creative's Senior Marketing Consultant and Media Planner/Buyer, worked with Wolf Paving and local and national media outlets to put together a very strategic plan that not only supported the existing inbound marketing plan but was also VERY targeted at Wolf Paving's market.
The results of these efforts, as outlined in the graph below, were a 44% increase in the number of phone calls received (compared to the same time frame the year before), as well as a 92% increase in the number of visitors requesting a quote online.
In addition to the increased lead volume, Wolf Paving has also been recognized as a thought leader by industry trade publications and has received media coverage from local TV stations, most recently being featured for a story on pothole repair.
When asked why the TV Station chose Wolf Paving, the station admitted that they found them via online search. When arriving at Wolf Paving's website, it looked like Wolf Paving was the right company to talk to.
Wolf Paving has received similar inquiries regarding other services, such as porous asphalt paving. A contractor contacted Wolf because, in his words, "Wolf Paving is clearly the expert on this topic."
When is outbound marketing effective?
When it's part of a bigger inbound marketing plan. The boost in visibility is most effective when you have the credibility and foundational elements in place that help convert new website visitors into potential new customers.
What outbound or paid media techniques have you found to be successful? Do you think they'd be as effective without an inbound marketing plan already in place?
About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director at Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.
The other day, I posted about how I've stayed true to a helpful sales philosophy. It's not about me selling something. It's about me figuring out whether I can help someone or not. Sometimes, helping them involves them buying my solution. Sometimes, it doesn't.
Here's a bit more about my sales philosophy that I wrote in email to one of my sales reps:
I imagine you know this, but I am a hard ass about qualifying (and disqualifying) prospects. The way I see it is that I think sales is all about helping people... who want and need my help. Therefore, I don't want to waste time trying to sell someone who I don't think I can help, or who doesn't want my help. I would rather spend that time helping someone else who wants and needs my help. So, I'm particular about who I spend time with. I would much rather rule someone out (respectfully) so that I can spend more time putting someone else in my funnel.
The only thing that a salesperson truly controls is whether they've put enough opportunities into their funnel. Best way to ensure they do that is to spend as much time doing that, and be careful to avoid wasting time with people who don't want or need their help.
Therefore, whenever I approach a sale, my goal is to answer the question, "Can I actually help this person/company or not?" I'm trying to make my own conclusion. I don't care if the answer is yes or no. It just has to be one or the other and I want to answer the question as soon as possible.
Some prospects think they can figure out whether I can help them better than I can figure it out. They're wrong. They have no clue how I help people no matter how much they've read about me, my company or my product. I am much better at quickly figuring out if I can help someone because I've done this 1,000s of times. I've diagnosed company's sales and marketing practices 1,000s of times. I've seen it all. I can diagnose it quickly with a series of questions.
This philosophy can be really hard for a salesperson to embrace. Salespeople are afraid of disqualifying prospects. Salespeople are afraid to ask tough questions to figure out whether a prospect really needs, wants and can take advantage of their product. Salespeople can make sales by giving unqualified pitches.
But, as a salesperson, I know that I won't convince someone to buy my product unless they need it and want it. I can get lucky and pitch the right person. But, more often than not, salespeople who give unqualified pitches are not going to close the deal. As a market gets more competitive or they have less demand, these salespeople will really struggle.
How do you qualify or disqualify a prospect? How much time are you spending making unqualified pitches and chasing prospects who don't want your help? How much of that time could you be spending talking to more people who do want and need your help?
We've been HubSpot partners for over three years now and have on boarded over 40 customers as well as consulted with a few dozen others. But something happened today that has never happened to me before—I got a rousing round of applause from a client.
We recently were retained to help a regulatory consulting company re-design their website and launch them on a full blown inbound marketing campaign. The owner knew she needed a new website and she knew she needed outside help to get it done. The company culture feared change, feared online marketing, feared competition, and had no idea of how to take the steps needed to overcome these fears and build a website that attracted prospects using valuable content.
This company knew they needed to change, but needed a framework to work by and a nudge in the right direction. So when the owner was referred to me and we hit it off she hired us and we started down this road of inbound marketing. Many of you already moving on that path would recognize what we did as a straight forward, basic plan.
That is what it looked like to me. What it looked like to them was totally different.
Here is what the employees of this company saw:
- An opportunity to share their expertise to the world
- Proof that management was progressive and concerned about the future
- An outlet for creativity in a pretty un-creative world - telecom regulation
- New sales opportunities in a stagnant market
- A new enthusiasm for the expertise they have
- A new appreciation for how much they help their clients and how important they are to them
- A new energy to find ways to add more value and be even better at what they do
This company came to understand how they can translate what they do every day into content and how that content is used to attract new prospects and they are excited about it! They see that buying is changing and they need to change to meet the expectations of new prospects.
In short, a simple website re-design turned into a new sales and marketing strategy. This project created a new energy and enthusiasm for the business, their customers, their market place, and their jobs. They were thrilled to be moving ahead and excited about the opportunities this new website and the thinking that goes with it will bring.
So when I was asked to attend a meeting this morning to review the project with the team I expected to meet with 5 or 6 key people. Instead I met with the entire company and walked them through the site and answered their questions.
And at the end of the meeting they gave me a round of applause for helping them change.
Remember, it's not just a new website, it's a new way of thinking.
In the early days of website analytics, businesses measured page hits, site visits and unique visitors. And while most companies still do, these basic metrics fail to show how inbound marketing contributes to the organization’s bottom line. Because marketers are now being held accountable for proving return on investment (ROI) for their efforts, new ways to reach data-driven decisions must be developed. However, significant gaps between desire and execution still exist.
The 2012 BRITE-NYAMA Marketing in Transition Study revealed several common challenges marketers face in the collection of and reporting on the data necessary to effectively prove ROI within their organizations. According to the study, 51 percent of survey participants stated a lack of sharing customer data within their organizations as a barrier to effectively measuring their marketing ROI. About 65 percent of respondents said comparing the effectiveness of marketing across different digital media is a “major challenge" for their businesses. To help you get started measuring your marketing efforts, here are five tips:
Step 1: Define What Marketing ROI Means for Your Organization
Before you can effectively measure success, you must define what your key performance metrics will be, and agree upon the definition of “success.” The definition of success is not only unique to an organization, but often to each stakeholder, as well. For example, content marketing managers will be interested in the number of blog posts and downloads published, while your CMO will be interested in cost-per-lead and number of new leads at each phase of the sales funnel. For examples of additional digital marketing KPIs, check out John McTigue’s blog post, Top 10 Inbound Marketing KPIs – The View From the Top.
Step 2: Set Realistic and Measurable Goals
Once your KPIs are defined and agreed upon, the next step is to establish appropriate metrics. This may be a bit tricky, especially when you are first starting out. Chances are good you will need to make adjustments to your goals as you dig deeper into the data over time. Whether your goals were too aggressive or too conservative, be willing to adjust accordingly. At this point, you may also consider establishing guidelines for how the data will be presented. As a general rule, keep things simple. At a quick glance, your C-level executives should be able to tell if the goal was met or not. If using a spreadsheet, consider a simple color coding system—perhaps green if the goal was met and red if it was missed.
Step 3: Gather the Right Data Needed
As previously mentioned, one of the primary concerns of marketers who participated in the study was the lack of sharing customer data within their organizations. If you are like most organizations and data is collected and managed in multiple databases, establish a system for collecting the data needed from each department. First and foremost, work with your sales and IT departments to create a closed-loop process through your marketing automation platform. This integration will provide you with timely feedback from sales on the impact of your various activities in driving revenue.
Step 4: Monitor Your Goals Frequently
Don’t wait until the end of the month to evaluate your performance. Rather, monitor your KPIs on a weekly, if not daily, basis. For example, at Kuno, if we notice our number of new leads is below target at any point during the month, we have a plan in place to publish and promote new content (among other tactics).
Step 5: Use Your Data to Make Better Decisions
The days of “this just feels right” are long gone and collecting simple data just doesn’t cut it. Successful marketers understand the importance of using data to make decisions and justify budget requests to their bosses.
Please share your tips for showing marketing success in the comments section below!
Shannon Fuldauer, a senior consultant at Kuno Creative, has a B2B and B2C eCommerce Marketing background including roles as Vice President of Marketing & Sales Support, and subsequently Vice President of Public Relations & SEO Services, for CareerBoard.com. She has expertise in digital marketing and advanced email communications.
I was reading some of my old blog posts today and stumbled across this one called, "Networking Isn't About Favors." In it, I talked about my sales philosophy,
[At some point in my sales process] most of my prospects ask me "how they can hire me". Meaning: they are already sold. It's just a matter of fitting the right solution to solve their lead generation problems. In order to do this, I interview them about their business, discover their goals and budget, and then make a budget and goal appropriate recommendation. Then they say "yes" or "no". Most of the ones that get that far, say "yes". I usually rule most of the "no's" out before we get to a recommendation. As a result, I don't waste my time or my prospect's time if there isn't a good fit. And I help a lot of people along the way, creating a lot of good will - that always results in more opportunities for me and my clients."
That was written in October 2007, the month before I joined HubSpot. For those that don't know, before I joined HubSpot, I sold online and email marketing services for events and small business owners. But, when I joined HubSpot, I applied this same sales philosophy to selling HubSpot's software. I've had the opportunity to train 10s of salespeople directly, impact the way other teams at HubSpot sell, and help 100s of agencies realize how they can sell in the same way. The other day, I was in a meeting with Brad Coffey and he told me that a vendor asked him a sales question. When he laughed and said, "That's a great question.", they said "We learned from your agency sales training." The funny thing is that they are neither a partner or an agency.
It feels pretty good to reflect and realize that I've stayed true to this philosophy and have compelled so many other people to follow along. Together, we're doing a lot of good, helping a lot of people now. Thanks to those who taught me and those who helped spread the messages along the way. You know who you are.
By now, most marketers and business professionals understand the importance of blogging. Two of the biggest obstacles we've seen that prevent business owners from blogging more frequently are: lack of time and fear of writing.
Here are a couple of simple strategies and tools that let companies tap into the collective expertise within their organization, which can help build a blogging team and create efficiencies in the blogging process. These are also great strategies to help prevent writer's block and burnout.
Our first tip is to leverage an app called Dragon Dictation. In their own words, "Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text content for everything from email messages to blog posts on your iPad™, iPhone™ or iPod touch™."
It’s up to five times faster than typing on the keyboard!
Dragon Dictation features include:
- Voice-to-text transcriptions that may be sent as SMS, email, or pasted into any application using the clipboard
- Submit text to social networking applications – Twitter and Facebook
- Convenient editing feature that provides a list of suggested words
- Voice-driven correction interface
At Stream Creative, we use this app. In fact, the outline of this blog post was created on my commute using Dragon Dictation. After dictating the outline, I emailed the draft to myself and cleaned it up for posting. It's a great way to make the most of travel/commute time (just make sure your focus is still on driving!).
We've found Dragon Dictation to be very accurate. You do need to speak a bit slower than normal. It works best if you only speak 2-3 sentences at a time and then pause to let the app render the results. Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think!
The second tip is to arrange brief meetings or phone calls with your internal experts (e.g. sales team, customer service reps, etc.). Keep the meetings short (max of 30 minutes). Develop a list of questions that you can send to the person being interviewed ahead of time.
Use your laptop or smartphone to record the interview session. Be sure to get their permission before recording the session. We use GarageBand on our MacBook Pro. We've found that these simple conversations can provide plenty of great content for blog posts. The people being interviewed are happy (and flattered) to share their knowledge.
On the flip side, asking those same professionals to write a blog post for the company blog would've created some mixed feelings. Let's face it, no one wants more things added to their already full plates. By using the techniques outlined in this article, we're getting the same information but via a method that doesn't create friction.
What tools, tips or strategies do you use in your blogging efforts? What have you found to be a successful for getting others to contribute to your blog?
About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.
One of the topics I discuss in my book Sales Shift – how inbound marketing has turned sales upside down making it more difficult and more lucrative at the same time has to do with the difference between a “prospect” and a “market". Marketers traditionally speak and think in terms of their market and their product positioning. Sales professionals, on the other hand, are a little more focused on their prospects' challenges and the positioning statements that are related to those challenges. As inbound marketers have generated leads and salespeople have started selling to those leads over the past five years, marketers and salespeople have had trouble coming up with the right way to talk about the differences between a "market" and a "prospect". Pete Caputa (@pc4media) and Mike Volpe (@mvolpe) discussed some of these differences in recent blog posts.
First of all, let’s talk about the difference between the two and let’s use my business as an example. I've created an ebook called "Tips for Selling to Inbound Leads". A variety of people complete the form on the landing page and download that content. In my case, these are sales people, marketers, sales administrators and even other sales consultants like me. All of these people are in my market, but none of them are viable prospects for me. That said, I still see value in calling these people. Unfortunately, most salespeople do not. Most salespeople don't know how to identify if any of these leads could lead to an opportunity somehow. What most salespeople will say if asked is, "these leads suck". If marketing is asked, they'll often say something like, "These lazy salespeople will only call the leads that say, 'Please call me. I am interested in buying your product.' Usually, both salespeople and marketers get frustrated.
What SalesPeople Should Do
Did the lead really “suck”? In my case, when sales people or marketing people download my content, it is usually indicative of a problem that exists in their company, or atleast a topic that interests them or someone they know. The lead may not be the right person inside that account who would make or even influence the decision to hire me. But that shouldn’t stop me picking up the phone. Here are two approaches I've taken that have worked well for me:
- When evaluating the quality of a given lead, salespeople must focus less on the “whom” and put more focus on the “why”. If people are visiting your site, reading your content and then downloading your offers, aren’t these all evidence that their COMPANY is a good prospect? Consider using that as a clue and just call the decision maker. I have done this personally several times and had some great results; sales person downloads my e-book on "lead conversion" and I call the Sales VP and say: “Did you know that a bunch of your salespeople have been downloading my e-book on lead conversion?”
- The other approach that I take is: I will call the lead even though I know they aren't the decision maker. During that call, I try to learn more about their and their company's goals and challenges. This conversation sometimes leads to great things such as turning that influencer into a champion; getting an internal referral; getting a referral to another company, or just making a new networking contact.
Often times, I make these calls in parallel.
How Marketing Can Help
I have spoken and written several times about sales people becoming more involved in content creation. They should. But, marketing can help generate higher quality leads too, with just a bit of help from sales. Too often, marketers create content in a vacuum, without much feedback from sales. When writing your content, you need to think less about the end user and more about the decision maker and their evaluating process. Don't be afraid to lean on your sales team for guidance. Here's a few tips:
- The title of your offer needs to appeal to the desired prospect. In my case “How VP’s of Sales can Improve Lead Conversion” is a more prospect-appropriate title than one that appeals to sales people. So, although my e-book that was titled “tips for selling to inbound leads” was one of the most downloaded pieces of content, I might have benefited more if I had fewer downloads by the right people.
- The buyer persona should be the decision maker. Most Inbound marketers do a great job understanding the psyche of the buyer and then attempting to create content based on that. The problem I see is that too many of those personas are based on “end users” (a larger group of people that is easier to reach) and not the economic decision maker (a much smaller group that is harder to reach). Take a whiteboard and identify the decision maker in the last 20 deals and write your content to that “persona”.
As a whole, inbound marketers do a great job generating a large quantity of leads. Many of these leads aren't destined to become qualified opportunities. Some are, though. By creating content for the decision maker and a more patient sales approach, more of these leads can be turned into opportunities.
Editors note: Listen to Frank's Sales Shift webinar from April 5th. It provides some additional guidance on selling to inbound leads. View the webinar here.
People consume online content via three screens: desktop, mobile phone and tablet. Given the proliferation of each, marketers should build their programs to accommodate all three. Consider the statistics:
That said, consumers interact with each device differently, and screen dimensions play a large role in preferred content, layout and presentation. So, how can marketers ensure that their content is in the proper format—regardless of how it’s being accessed?
Google recommends responsive design, in which the site detects the device and size of screen, and then automatically sizes the content to fit. For a quick overview, check out What the Heck is Responsive Design? by John Polacek (@johnpolacek), or these examples of responsive design in action from the Disney Store, Boston Globe and more.
Another option, although less preferred, is to have a separate mobile website with its own URLs. In the words of my PR 20/20 colleagues in Do I Need a Mobile Website, “if you aren’t debating whether to launch a mobile version of your website, you might want to start.” They recommend assessing your site analytics and overall user experience to make a case.
But, What’s Next?
As Pete Cashmore (@mashable) detailed in the Mashable Variety Show at SXSW, the number of screens people use to access information is only going to increase. Screens are going to get smaller, larger, on our bodies, etc. A few examples he shared include:
While many of these technologies are just in the prototype phases, the implications they could have on how people consume information and interact with content are profound. As we’ve seen with smartphones and tablets, this trickles down into how marketers do their jobs.
For me, innovations like these reaffirm my belief that technology and marketing are only going to become more intertwined. It’s up to us to stay abreast of the trends, evaluate implications on marketing strategy and adapt.
What strategies are you using to succeed in the era of multiple screens? What tech innovations have you seen that that could disrupt how people communicate? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
About the Author: Tracy Lewis is an inbound marketing consultant with PR 20/20, a certified Gold HubSpot partner and inbound marketing agency that combines content, public relations, social media and search marketing into integrated campaigns. She is also the community manager for Marketing Agency Insider, the hub for agency news, information and resources.
Image Source: IntelFreePress
HubSpot's CMO, Mike Volpe (@mvpolpe), wrote a piece on the HubSpot blog that I could paraphrase like this: "Don't Assume Your Prospects Know What You Do." He suggested that 'not repeating your value proposition' is the biggest mistake that marketers make.
Every marketer should read it. He knows marketing and marketers better than I do. But, if that's the biggest mistake marketers can make, I think the biggest mistake that salespeople make is assuming prospects care about your value proposition. As salespeople, we must suppress our urge to spit out what we do and how we do it until the right time, which is usually closing time. Our prospects must believe that we care about them, their challenges and their goals, before they'll be interested in hearing about us. Even then, it's important to focus on how we help them, not how we do what we do. The tricky part is that some prospects will ask you what you do and how you do it. Some will even demand that you tell them before they answer any of your questions. Explaining too much is still usually a mistake in these scenarios too. Why?
Although prospects have more information available to them then ever before, they don't have the right knowledge and experience to make informed decisions and create the ideal plan to help them accomplish their goals. In a perfect world, everyone would follow Mike's advice and marketing would help every prospect fully comprehened the positioning of every company. Then, prospects could make their own decisions about how to solve their own problems. In reality, that rarely happens. Even at HubSpot, where our marketing team effectively generates and nurtures 10s of thousands of contacts every month, only a small fraction of our prospects have connected their goals and challenges to our solution before we start talking to them. Prospects need salespeople to guide them through making the right decisions, given the prospect's unique situation. This starts by uncovering the challenges and goals that a prospect has. Then, it's the job of a salesperson to connect how their products and services can help them achieve their goals and overcome their challenges. Here's the process that we follow on my team at HubSpot:
- Exploratory. Understand a prospects goals, how they currently plan to achieve those goals, any challenges that have prevented them from achieving those goals in the past or challenges they (or you) anticipate they might face in achieving them, the timeline for achieving their goals and implementing their plan, the [usually negative] consequences of not achieving their goals and the [usually positive] implications of achieving them.
- Diagnostic. At this point, a prospect should trust that you are trying to help them. You mostly listened and challenged them and they should be thinking, "Wow. This salesperson knows exactly what I want and based on the questions she's asked, she must have helped other people in my situation before." At this point, it's time to identify what they are and aren't doing well that they will need to do well in order to achieve their goals and overcome their challenges within the timeline they need to achieve it, assuming they will eventually buy your product. This is where a good salesperson can teach a prospect what they don't know they don't know and talk through what they'll need to change in order to be successful. This is often the place where you should disqualify prospects if they are unwilling or unable to make the requisite changes to be successful.
- Goal Setting & Plan Development. Rarely, do prospects have all of their goals, challenges and timelines figured out. Rarely, are they confident in their plan. Rarely, do they know how they'll overcome challenges. Rarely, do they have realistic timelines. A good salesperson will help them set realistic goals and a plan to achieve them.
- Demonstration and Contract. Once all of the above is figured out, it's time to present exactly how a prospect will use your solution to achieve their goals, implement the new plan you co-developed, overcome the challenges they'll face and do it all within the timeline needed. If steps 1, 2 and 3 are done well, a salesperson can usually ask, "How are you going to implement this plan?" and the prospect should say, "I was hoping you guys could help me do that."
How Can Marketers Help?
Assuming that your salespeople follow a guided sales process like this one, how does this change what a marketer should do? Should they, as Mike suggests, focus on including their positioning in every piece of content? It can't hurt. But, I think marketers can do more than that. I'd suggest that marketers should care less about their own positioning and more about guiding prospects to solutions to their challenges, just like a good salesperson. In a complex sale, a prospect could have any number of challenges or may have different goals than other prospects do. Your short product positioning and company branding will rarely convey all of the right solutions to all of these challenges and goals. Why? If you want your positioning to be relevant and memorable for most of your audience, it must be short and sweet. Buyers are only going to store so much about you in their brains. But, the way your product helps someone is rarely short and sweet. If it were, you wouldn't need salespeople.
In my next article, I'll feature how two sales experts - Frank Belzer (@fbelzer) (Sales Shift) and Aaron Ross (@motoceo) (Predictable Revenue) - teach marketers and salespeople to customize their positioning based on the needs of a prospect. And I'll talk about how marketers can then connect the right content to a prospect based on their unique goals and challenges.
According to an Ad Age survey presented by Marketing Charts, content marketing comprises an average of 12% of overall marketing budgets. A full 10% of marketers spend more than 30% on content marketing, and 9% spend 19-30%. This means that approximately one in five marketers with a budget of $100,000 would spend up to or more than $30,000 per year on content marketing. Also worth noting is that 55% of those surveyed indicated that they would be increasing their content marketing budget for 2013.
The results of the survey are below:
This many marketers can't be wrong about content marketing. If you're not using this important tactic as part of your marketing strategy, you're potentially missing a major opportunity to reach more new customers.
Why is content marketing so popular?
Consumers find products and services in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular is through Internet searching. The more content you have on your website, blog, and social media pages, the more likely it is that a lead will find you. However, when it comes to content marketing, quality is just as important as quantity. Consumers respond best to content that provides value. Whether it is advice or entertainment, quality content that is regularly updated will attract and retain more leads than simple sales pitches. The best content marketing campaigns build trust, educate the consumer, help you develop a loyal community, and increase sales conversions.
Important factors for creating a content marketing budget
There are many different types of content marketing, including:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Social media campaigns
- Buyers' guides
The types of content that you should use will depend largely on your target audience, but it's important to use multiple approaches. For example, if you offer professional accounting services, you might create an informative white paper that describes recent tax updates, and a series of blog posts that answer the most common questions about changes to the tax code. On the other hand, if you sell flower arranging kits, a more effective approach might be to write a graphic-rich e-book and create a series of how-to videos.
Either way, the importance of ongoing content updates cannot be understated. After a lead reads your white paper or e-book, you need to create fresh new content that will keep them coming back for more. Factor this into your content marketing budget so you have enough funds to keep it going all year long. Remember, online content provides ongoing benefits beyond the initial attention it receives. A white paper will draw in new leads long after you have seen a return on the investment, and regular blog posts have a cumulative effect of improving search engine rankings.
How do you create a content marketing budget?
If you are introducing content marketing or placing more emphasis on this important component of an effective marketing strategy, you'll need to create a budget. Follow these steps to get started:
- Decide what percentage of your overall marketing budget will go to content marketing. If you follow the current trend, this will probably be 20-30%.
- Decide which types of content marketing you want to do. Remember, it's important to have ongoing content development in addition to the occasional e-book or white paper.
- Allocate your resources. Factor in the personnel time and costs (either in-house or outsourced) required for writing, editing, video production, graphics, distribution, and content promotion.
- Estimate monthly expenses. Create an annual editorial calendar so you can predict how much you will need each month. For example, if you plan to launch a new product or service in May, you might bolster your content marketing efforts around that time.
- Stick to it. A budget is useless if you don't actually use it. Track actual expenses so you can modify the budget as necessary. Don't forget to track successes and failures so you know where to focus your content marketing efforts in the next year.
It's clear that an effective content marketing strategy requires ongoing effort. Unfortunately, not all businesses have the talent or resources to do it on their own. This is why so many small businesses choose to outsource content development to a company that has the expertise and staff to generate quality content.
How do you use content marketing for your business? What percent of your overall marketing budget is used for content creation and promotion?
About the Author: Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media, a strategic inbound marketing agency and Hubspot Gold Partner based on Southern California. Go Lakers.