10 Targets for your Company’s Digital Marketing Plan – 2014

Having clear targets is the only way to measure your *own* commitment to growing your business, and you are the source of that commitment, the locus of energy, accountability, and action in your marketing. That part of it you can’t outsource. The *will* comes from you. We’re used to making resolutions for the coming year that are full of good intention, except they’re nebulous – like losing weight or eating right. To the degree they’re non-specific, they’re fundamentally undoable. You don’t lose “weight” – you lose 12 pounds in 3 months. You don’t “exercise”, you walk 15 miles per week. Life does not occur in generalities – it’s always something specific that actually HAPPENS.

Here’s our 2014 Wish List for your Marketing Targets: Print it if you need to, circle the ones you intend to adopt, and staple it to something you can’t operate without. Avoid body parts. If you’re committed to growing your company in the new year, these are excellent milestones for you to check off.

1. Google Authorship: We’ve continually emphasized blogging on your business site, because it’s the single best starting place for a content marketing campaign. Search engines are still text-based, and a unique blog post 4-12 times/month gives you that many fresh, additional landing ‘pages’ for google to index. Google isn’t impressed with moving a few blocks around on your home page, or a color and graphic facelift. But if you’re going to go to the effort of content marketing by blogging consistently, why not get the most from each post? There are a lot of little things we teach clients to optimize their posts on the fly – non-technical search optimization – but getting each post well-featured in google searches as a landing zone is the most obvious win. This year, make sure you’re operating as a confirmed Google Author, when you post. You want to be seen as the clear local/area expert – the Google Author bump in status is low hanging fruit that you can easily obtain. Process completed by when?

2. Optimized LinkedIn Profile: It’s no longer just a resume site for employees to network – TONS of business is transacted with LinkedIn as a search engine and expert finder in your field. It’s also your #1 “ABOUT ME” page that people check out, when you’re doing in-person networking. And yet most profiles are poorly written, with few search terms highlighted. Material is often set to private, which does you no good (what’s the point of a social network where you’re mostly invisible?), or there’s extraneous material that doesn’t lend itself to your current business (it’s not a homework assignment – we don’t have to give a complete answer to every school we ever attended, or job we ever held). This is the year you optimize your LinkedIn profile for online AND offline networking. It’s not the year to obssess over your business card – LinkedIn is now the 2014 equivalent of the business card, with a search engine and social network built right in – don’t underestimate it for your industry. Fully updated by when?

3. E-mail Curation: For a while there, it was uncool to send people links to stuff they could already find just as easily in Google. Who wants to dig through their e-mail for something interesting, in the era of 1000 e-mails? But now, it isn’t just that there’s too much stuff out there – that’s been true for a long time. There’s really really GOOD stuff out there. Stellar stuff. The “Arab Spring” of content creation is just a symptom of how much really inspiring, informative, and useful info is being generated now that *everyone* is a content producer (you included). The best thought leadership on earth is on the web. The bad news might be that for every really useful post, there are ten bland clones, stripped of anything but warmed over mental drool. The good news, though, is that for every 10 pages of drool, there’s a gem! An easter egg. Another piece of this is that audiences are more targeted and self-selecting. People now expect content curated for just them. This is where you come in. In 2014, you can curate content from the web including your own posts, and deliver that in a targeted newsletter featuring only the best. The value is in the selection. You get to brand it (don’t plagiarize it, curate it!) and be the editor, and the only requirement is that you know your audience – your client prospects and what they really need, value, and are looking for – and have superb taste and selection skills is picking out the best. Suddenly, e-mail marketing is like Christmas shopping, and the whole store is FREE! Co-curation is something we do for MadPipe clients committed to effective e-mail marketing. First campaign sent out by when?

4. Twitter Campaign: Stop thinking of Twitter as a chat room. That’s what kids do with it. You’re a business or a professional, the expert or the talent. Sure, maybe you flirted with Twitter briefly and, when the audience wasn’t welcoming of a sales pitch or your latest web site announcement, you balked. It’s not hard to figure out, at all. What works is thought leadership. Everyone we know using Twitter productively is tweeting and re-tweeting insights, ideas, analysis, advice, a rare fact or truth – not a pitch or their latest cat update (though even that, has its place). Twitter is the venue to see if you can work out what you want to change in your industry, how it relates to the world, to clients, and the market, and whether you can share it in short, pithy remarks with a hash tag or two. In 2014, figure out what you’re really about, what you want to change about your business context, and lead your industry by calling it out in a daily tweet. You can even schedule them over the course of the month, so they come out at optimal times each day. One of the ways we coach clients is to help transform vision and experience into inspiration and incisive points that grab an audience. First month of posts scheduled by when?

5. Video Campaign: Seriously, you’re not making at least a couple videos each month? Google is managing the 2nd largest search engine (Youtube) and even handing you the video hosting (which is ordinarily crazy expensive) for FREE. Even the video ad revenue possible is worth your time. But aside from that, video is ideal if you feel comfortable talking over a few visual bullets points or do OK with your face on a cam. Video can be a core content generator that feeds ALL your cross-channel marketing (your blog, e-mail marketing, twitter…). It doesn’t even have to be “great” video, it just has to be really relevant video, and have a really great *title*. If you’re putting more agony into the way your voice sounds than you are into the title, you’re probably over thinking it. In the new year, kick out two videos/month, don’t look back, and get coaching to make them better as you go forward. Awesome is a process, and it lies ahead of you, so always go forward. First 4 videos posted by when?

6. Reviews Campaign: You’ve gone to all that trouble to ensure your clients are satisfied, happy, even content. The only value shouldn’t be that you got paid and hope for a referral. GET the referral. Here’s how: your Yelp and Google Plus Business page are supremely important for garnering reviews. If they’re not set up properly, optimized keenly, and fleshed out fully, that’s step one. But then you’re not done. The most important thing you can do is review the process in place in your business for getting customer feedback, and translating optimal experiences into reviews, and less optimal ones into service opportunities. We coach clients on this aspect of their business development. Every single client is an opportunity for the NEXT paycheck, not just the current one. Getting reviews isn’t easy – it isn’t meant to be easy – but it is critical in a social web environment where word of mouth takes place online and, even when it’s verbal, it’s the online confirmation that matters most. In 2014, dig into your internal process for both setting up and completing the transaction with your clients, whether they’re ongoing/repeat business or one-time fulfillments. Yelp routinely dominates search results, and that’s a reflection of one thing – reputation travels. Process designed and in place by when?

7. Press/PR Campaign: In 2014, the idea that a PR campaign is something conducted mainly by Fortune 500 companies is obsolete, and has been. Even if your business is 1-10 people, press matters. Newspapers aren’t the press anymore, anyway – at least not the lion’s share of it. The line between press and post, news and blog and social media, is mostly semantics. What PR signals is *authority* – it demonstrates that your business matters in a particular area of expertise, and it’s just not that hard to get a little press. You can even make it yourself. In the new year, implement a simple business policy – if your business has a notable day, it’s press. We tell clients, ‘if you would tell three other people, why aren’t you putting out there for everyone?’ An excess of humility only ensures a surplus of obscurity. If you want the competitive edge, position yourself as an industry leader, even if you’re one guy. First campaign out by when?

8. Participate in Networking Groups / Meetups: No one likes the guy who shows up to dinner with a fold-out presentation – we’re not advocating you tote around a catalog case. But there was a lull, where networking groups largely dried up (not completely) in favor of the web. Social networks were the new marketplace. There’s been a clarification in what each type of network is good for. Social and market clarification is about finding the optimal purpose for a thing, after lots of trial and error; it’s based on the notion that people are intensely creative creatures who, given enough options, resources, and room to refine, will beat an ever more efficient path toward their goals. The market is not abandoning LinkedIn and Twitter, but people are also going back to face to face meeting in droves. The growth of Meetup.com, albeit not at first glance a business tool, and the flood of independent professionals and small local startups into a post-crash economy, have reinvigorated networking organizations. This revival is an opening for you in 2014. Stop shaking hands with the same dozen people who are being entirely too conservative about their business growth and do a Google search for networking groups in your nearest metro area. Perfect your pitch into a 30-second conversation starter about vision and value, fix your LinkedIn profile, and join a new group. Remember, you’re a thought leader in your field. You have everything you need, so it’s just really about doing it. Member of a new group by when?

9. Digital Marketing Plan: 2014 is the year you craft, and continually *maintain* your strategic marketing plan, ever mindful of next steps. Maybe it’s also the year you get your accounting in order, or deal with personnel issues, change your company name or revamp your web site. But your plan is central – you can’t afford to operate without one and, as the year progresses, you’ll get busier and refer to it often. Marketing is as much a part of your business as the operations – in fact, without marketing there IS no business. Your company IS your marketing. Your business is the integrity and consistency with which you proceed into the market. Work out your market differentiators, your overall plan, and next steps with a coach and, perhaps more important – GET COACHING. The idea that a small business goes it alone, in THIS marketplace, is wonky. You can bet the big guys have all kinds of coaches on retainer so, in 2014, don’t lament that you can’t compete or can’t catch up. This is your year – perhaps the most serious year in the history of your company. Be an athlete. Plan in working order by when?

In the first quarter of the new year, you can do or launch each of these 9 targets. If that’s so, imagine what the rest of the year will look like. A continual pattern of traction and action. Wouldn’t 10 make a nice round number, though? Number 10 is you. You are relentless. You are committed. You are not going back, and you are not slowing down. This is the year you own your marketing as *the* conversation your business is having with your market. All the other targets depend on this one. And resist the temptation to throw money at pre-packaged “tech”-niques. Marketing your company effectively isn’t technical wizardry and can’t be had without your thought, leadership, and involvement. But it’s also primarily brain work, not pulling secret levers and switches. You can get help, serious help – help that makes all the difference. But you *are* the beating heart of your business, the leader at its head, and your marketing is its voice. Right now, this year, put those pieces together into an integrated set of steps forward. It’ll be a year unlike any other. You are in action on this by when?

If you’d like help creating an efficient department for your company or organization contact MadPipe today.

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides creative direction, marketing leadership in marketing, and campaign direction for firms that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, Forbes, and Success Magazine.
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