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Add Influencer Marketing to Your Planning

January 23, 2017 Leave a comment

influencerInfluencers are thought leaders, experts in their field, strong communicators or advocates who have strong reach or credibility with the target prospects of your organization. They can sway people to your organization often suggesting they consider your product or service.  Therefore, you need to include influence marketing into your marketing planning and activities.  This influence marketing needs to have a long term mindset as it involves creating trust with these influencer  individuals which takes time.  By engaging with the people at the top of their industries, you find credibility among their contacts.

This post will answer the following questions:

  1. Who are these influencers?
  2. What are the benefits of building influencer relationships?
  3. What are the elements of an influencer marketing plan?
  4. What are some of the action items to attract influencers to your organization?
  5. What would you like these influencers to do?
  6. How can you return the favor to influencers if they assist your organization?

Who are these influencers?
Well they could be:

  • If law firm, lawyers from other law firms that don’t have your firm’s specialty
  • Bloggers in your desired market
  • Consultants who install products related to your product
  • Speakers who are respected in your marketplace that present at association meetings
  • Current customer that is the president of a respected association
  • Media or academia persons with a focus in your particular area

What are the benefits of building influencer relationships?
There are many but here are a few that I came up with:

  1. Partnering with influencers in your marketplace assists getting your message in front of your target audience and accelerates conversions to customer / client status.  They can increase website traffic and getting new leads.
  2. The more trust influencers have within their industry, the more likely they can push your prospect further along the buyer’s journey.
  3. Influencers are great at getting your brand known by discussing, promoting and sharing content.
  4. Lowers cost of sales as their recommendation did not need an expensive campaign and prospects are found without a great deal of sales and marketing efforts.
  5. Shorter sales cycle as the influencer recommendation eliminates the first part of the sales process which involves getting known and establishing trust.

What are the elements of an influencer marketing plan?
You want to develop focused value-add relationships with your influencers which necessitates a plan including the following elements:

  1. Determine the budget, goals and responsibilities – For influencer marketing to work it needs to be made a priority including having a budget.  Document the goals that you want for this marketing program.  Make sure that there are marketing resources available to assist with the necessary marketing activities.
  2. Finalize the influencer type(s) – Brainstorm with others and determine who your target influencer types are (bloggers, media, consultants, etc.). Document your findings.  Need to know who influences your buyers.  These influencers types should be mentioned in your buyer personas.
  3. Discover specific influencers – Now that you know the type of influencer, get down to the specific persons that can impact your business and your buyer’s decision making process.  This discovery is not easy.A tool to use is BuzzSumo, where you can search keywords and discover the Twitter handles of accounts haring similar keyword-related content.    Filters allow you to sort influencers by reach, authority, influence and engagement.  This tool identifies websites and social users with serious influence.  Find the most influential content for any topic, domain, or author as well as the influential users that shared and linked to it.  Find individuals who have an established voice and social presence.  Or if you don’t want to do the search yourself, go to an outsider, such as through freelance.com, to do the search and come up with the list of influencers and their contact information.Look at their reach (blog subscribers, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, YouTube subscribers, books sold, Instagram followers, etc.).  See how much engagement they get such as retweets or comments on their blog.  Look to see if they communicate to others and affect people.
  4. Understand the needs of the influencer types – These needs are much like what is included in buyer personas.  Monitor the community to understand them and what they need.  As you make the list of influencers, determine how you can help them.
  5. Determine the necessary action items – Brainstorm with your marketing team and come up with the list of action items.  Document these action items.  Put the necessary tasks on the marketing calendar and any expected costs onto the marketing budget.  Tailor your actions to the individual influencers.
  6. Do the determined action items – You want to build trust with high quality content and engagements.  Keep track of your efforts, just like other marketing programs, in your marketing project management system.
  7. Perform measurements and make adjustments – Measure the performance of your engagement with the selected influencers on improving your brand and increasing revenue.  Keep track of the source of your leads especially if they came from specific influencers.  Report the efficiency and effectiveness of your efforts.  Review these efforts and make any necessary adjustments.  Look for new influencers and repeat cycle.

What are some of the action items to attract influencers to your organization?
Every organization is different in how they market to their buyers, donors and prospects.  Every market is different.  And who influences these markets are different.  But here are a few actions that can be done to attract influencers:

  1. Since you might not have their email addresses, direct message (DM) via Twitter the influencers to start out a conversation.  Ask them to check out your website, check out a specific content piece of yours or check out your blog.  And most importantly ask them how you can assist them.
  2. Schedule a meeting with them at a conference they are attending or at your office to discuss how you can assist each other.  Remember they might be promoting their business or efforts as well.  Try to meet them in real life (IRL) as that enhances the relationship.
  3. Create your influence relationship management (IRM) system.  Get their contact information (including name, position, organization, twitter id, email, phone number (if possible), something unique about them (President of an organization), website URL and/or blog post URL).  You need this info so that you can contact them and to keep track of the relationship.
  4. Join associations that the influencers are a part of and that your target audience attends.  You might be a member already but increase your efforts by following the association blog, following their social networks and staying more engaged with the association.  Influencers usually appreciate involvement with associations.
  5. Attend conferences that influencers and your target audience attends.  Review the conference content and speakers.  Look for influencers at these conferences.
  6. Sign up for webinars being done by the influencers.  Gather information from these webcasts and communicate thanks to the influencers after the webinar.
  7. If you have a product and you want the influencer to recommend your product, consider sending them the product for free.
  8. Create a nurture campaign to keep them informed of your company, your services and your products.  This might be a newsletter or scheduled emails with information (blog posts, webinar mentions, ebooks, etc.) that they might find valuable.
  9. Follow their social media networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, blog, YouTube channel, etc.), monitor the networks and engage with them such as retweeting their posts.
  10. Invite them to speak at your user conference or be included in a marketing piece such as an ask the expert document.

What would you like these influencers to do?
Be creative, but do encourage them to do the following:

  1. Mention your product or service to those in the marketplace.
  2. Share your content via their social media networks such as Twitter.
  3. Retweet your organization’s tweets to their large number of social media followers.
  4. Contribute a guest blog post to your organization’s blog.  Hopefully they will share that post on their social media networks.
  5. Be interviewed for a blog post or a video for posting on your YouTube channel.  Hopefully they will share this content on their social media networks.
  6. Contribute to an eBook or an article that you are publishing including those that are asking for expert opinions.  Hopefully they will share this content on their social media networks.
  7. Ask your organization to be on a panel of speakers at an association meeting.
  8. Present in one of your webinars or at your user conference (and make sure you record these presentations).

How can you return the favor to influencers if they assist your organization?
Remember that this is a 2 way relationship and you need to thank them when necessary by:

  1. Give them a call or send them an email thanking them for their assistance
  2. Offer to collaborate on projects so that they have more ownership of the content you want them to promote
  3. Exchange an email unrelated to any content you are promoting.  For example, if you saw that their blog was nominated for an award, send a brief congratulations email
  4. Thank the influencer in a tweet for any help they offered you that week
  5. Follow their social media networks
  6. Share their content
  7. Engage with them thru their social media posts (comment on their posts)
  8. Promote their events or their speaking engagements via your social media networks

The concept of reciprocity is simple: if someone does something for you, you naturally want to do something for them.  Although every influencer is different, when developing these relationships, remember to be as authentic and personable as possible.  Respect and genuine interest are what will make these valuable partnerships last.  A blog post can become outdated and a tweet can be forgotten, but what will last are the genuine connections you create with influencers.

If you have not already done so, you need to start building your influencer network now.  Make influencer marketing a consistent part of your marketing plan.  Find the relevant people, reach out to them, and build a relationship to support your organization’s sales and marketing efforts.  Hope this influence marketing post helped.  Feel free to comment back on your influencer efforts.

Photo credit: StockSnap.io (132)

Investment for Inbound Marketing

July 26, 2016 Leave a comment

BudgetMoney

You know that Inbound Marketing is the right way to go for your organization, no matter if you are a law firm, a B2B tech company or a non-profit.  What do you need to implement Inbound Marketing?  Every organization does marketing differently and every implementation of Inbound Marketing will be different.  It requires content.  And it is preferable that a marketing automation system be in place to maintain the Inbound Marketing process.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What’s the condition of your website?
    Your website is the place where much of your Inbound Marketing will point to and be the place where prospects will come to for more information.  It will be the hub.  If you have a well-designed website that says what you do and clearly differentiates yourself from your competitors then you are in good shape.  If not, you will need to allocate budget to redo your website.  Is your branding and messaging up to date?  If not you will need to spend time and money to correct this.  Are your product and service offering pages up to date?  Do you have the key words on the pages so that the search engines can find your pages?  Get your website up to speed so your Inbound Marketing efforts will benefit.
  2. How much current content do you have and can it be used for Inbound Marketing?
    Review what content you have currently and see if any is useful for Inbound Marketing.  Is your content (blog posts, videos, eBooks and Infographics) educational?  And case studies are great content for campaigns as well.  Evaluate what is missing from your content library and add it to the task list.  Fill in your content gaps.  Gather your internal content creators (your thought leaders) and make sure they are available to do blog posts.  Gather your outside content creators (outside writers) and make sure they are ready to contribute.  Make sure you have the necessary vendor paperwork (tax and non-disclosure) all submitted and filed away.  Make sure you know the costs for these writers so that they can be factored into the budget.
  3. How aggressive is your competition from a marketing perspective?
    If you are losing deals to the competition more than usual then find out why.  Check out their website.  Review their messaging.  Make adjustments in your marketing efforts which could mean more money is necessary in the budget.
  4. What is the status of your current contact database?
    You will need to look at the number of contacts you currently have in your CRM system, your financial system and your marketing automation system.  Review if you need to spend money to increase the number of contacts (get outside lists) or if you need to spend money to clean up the database.  Is your database easy to segment (do you have the buyer personas in place and the job titles accurate)?  Segmentation is key  for Inbound Marketing.
  5. What tool do you have in place to manage the Inbound Marketing process?
    Inbound Marketing is not easy to manage especially with all the various campaigns going on and the automatic delivery of emails.  There are great solutions available such as HubSpot, Marketo and ACT-ON to do the job.  The marketing automation solution will be the tool for landing pages, newsletters and targeted email blasts.  And maybe your blog posts and web pages.  The marketing automation solution will drive your Inbound Marketing.  They are well worth the money and if you don’t have a marketing automation solution get the budget approval for purchase and gather a team who can select the right solution for you.
  6. How much do you need to increase the activity for the various stages of the sales/marketing funnel (TOF, MOF, BOF)?
    Do an analysis of what content you have for each stage of the funnel.  Review if you have a shortage of content for in any particular stage of the funnel.  If so, factor in additional money in the budget for content creation.
  7. How fast do you need to move the needle and increase revenue?
    Hopefully, the organization did not wait too long to implement Inbound Marketing.  But if the organization needs increased revenue very quickly, then factor in additional money and resources to speed up the Inbound Marketing efforts.  You need to pay more for fast.

The answers to the above questions will affect the budget you will need for implementation of Inbound Marketing. The answers to the above questions will also affect how fast you can implement Inbound Marketing and get returns from it.  Align the budget with the expectations of your marketing efforts.  If you budget $75,000 a year for the tools and writing resources to do Inbound Marketing and the goal (or actual amount) of additional profit is $50,000 then rethink the investment. Inbound Marketing is an investment in time and money.  Make sure you know what you need before you start the journey.

Let me know your experiences with the investment necessary for Inbound Marketing.

Photo credit: StockSnap.io (86)

For InBound Marketing, You Need Content Marketing

July 12, 2016 Leave a comment

ContentMarketing
Inbound Marketing requires transparency, honesty  and authenticity.  To do this you also need Content Marketing.  You need to build trust with your prospects before they will purchase from your organization,  use your services or before prospective donors will donate to your organization.  You need to convey Thought Leadership.  You need to convince them that you are an expert.  To do this you need content, no matter if you are a law firm, a non-profit organization or a B2B technology company.

Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing are connected.  You can’t do Inbound Marketing without content and it does not make sense to do Content Marketing if you are not also doing Inbound Marketing.

Before you are embarking on a Content Marketing strategy here are some warnings:

  1. Implement a system for Inbound Marketing – It will take some time to implement a Marketing Automation solution like HubSpot (90 days minimum).  During Marketing Automation solution implementation you can also be getting your content engine going faster.  You need a system to organize your campaigns and the content that goes with those campaigns.  You need a system to time your content correctly and you do this with a campaign calendar.  You need a system to measure your results so that changes can be made in your campaigns and content.  It is very  difficult to manage and measure Content Marketing without a system in place.
  2. Will take longer than you thought – Creating a content engine that is producing consistent and informative content is not easy.  It will take time.  Could be months.  There are many variables to this including budget allocated to it, your time, your staff’s time and what else is going on in your company & industry.  Probably not the best time to implement Content Marketing if your largest marketing event is next month.
  3. Will cost more than you thought – You will need help in content creation.  Might be additional staff. If you don’t have enough, you will need to hire.  Other employees outside of marketing can be used but you might not be able to depend on their content production.  You need to evaluate the content you have currently and the staff you have to create content.  You definitely will need outside writers to assist.  They cost money.  Make sure that you put in the marketing budget some money for writing services.
  4. Your involvement will be greater than you 1st estimate – You know your organization and know what you want.  You have the passion.  You will need to be the project manager working with the Marketing Team members and outside vendors.  Others will need to have access to others in the company such as Sales and Product Management.  You will need to interface with these other individuals and fill them in on the goal and the content being worked on.  You will be the evangelist for the Content Marketing philosophy and that will take time.
  5. Constant tweeking will be necessary – Not all campaigns and not all content will work.  You will be getting real-time data.  Review this data such as which content is working and what content is not working.  Make sure that you make adjustments to the content that is not working.  It could be as simple as changing an image, or changing the title, or the description on the landing page describing the content.  Maybe it is too many questions on the form submission that is scaring folks away from the content.  Or maybe you don’t have the right target audience.  If doing paid LinkedIn sponsored updates you might need to increase the impression size so that more people see the update.  Consider A/B testing to see what title or subject line works in getting more people to download the content.
  6. Some non-successes will happen – You will have failures.  Don’t get frustrated.  Don’t give up.  Review the failures and adjust for the next content piece or modify the content that failed.  Make sure that the content creation team understands that there will be failure, that they won’t be punished for these failures and that the failures will be discussed and learned from.
  7. Continuation of other marketing activities will be necessary –  Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing is not the only marketing that will be occurring.  They are designed for lead generation or demand generation.  Marketing is also about branding and community.  Don’t forget to do the user conference for your clients.  Have webinars educating clients about new product releases.  Attend events that will generate contacts for future mailings that will contain content offers.  Also don’t forget the education to others in the company about maintaining the company branding.  Make sure that Content Marketing does not interfere with the equally important other marketing activities that must occur.
  8. You need to have something that is worth while to convey in your content – Last, but probably the most important is that you will need great content.  You will need case studies.  So you better have some happy clients that will take the time to be interviewed and approve the case study.  You will need testimonial videos so again you better have some happy clients that don’t mind being filmed and will say good things about your organization and your products/services.  You will need informative and interesting blog posts so make sure that your team can get the expertise necessary for these posts and that they know what topics to do posts on.  Every company looks good at the top of the funnel.  You need to show why your organization is different and better than the competitors to move down the funnel.  Hopefully you have something to say that will help do this.

When done right, Content Marketing shows expertise.  It gets people interested for more.  When the content engine is working right with Inbound Marketing, prospects will come to you and Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) will be generated.  Content Marketing is not easy.  It will take time.  It will take money.  But when used with Inbound Marketing it is the right thing to do.  Let me know your warnings and tips regarding Content Marketing.