Content marketing tactics: Good, better, best

Aug 7, 2017 | Create Confidently, Convert Competently, Enhance Efficiently

A practical plan

Promoting a small business or startup can be a daunting task, especially in the early stages. There are so many questions about how to get started, and plenty of excuses that can prevent you from priming your marketing pump. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a practical plan to take your marketing tactics from non-existent to humming along nicely?

That’s what this article is all about.

Good-Better-Best marketing tactics

One of our sons’ favorite children’s books was Berenstain Bears Ready-Set-Go. In this story, our beginning readers got an introduction to comparatives like good, better, and best while taking a ringside seat at the Bear family’s mini-Olympics.

Much earlier, in my own childhood and teen life, I paged through the huge mail-order catalog of Sears, Roebuck and Co. The Sears catalog famously presented good-better-best purchasing options, much like software companies still do today (often renamed as free-basic-pro).

This relative approach has merit when it comes to marketing tactics, too.

When you’re just getting started with content marketing, you can’t do it all right away. Instead, you need tactics that are good enough to launch your early stage efforts. From there, you can always get better and perhaps even strive to be among the best content marketers in your field.

Scaling up from zero

Because content marketing is such a rich and varied discipline, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re starting out. The suggestions offered below form a practical, scalable way to build up your content marketing tactics and delivery from scratch.

As you move through these suggested levels you’ll be able to match your time, effort and expense to your business needs.

Put strategy before tactics

Be sure you have a marketing strategy in place before you implement this or any similar tactical plan.

Your marketing tactics at every level should be based on your

  • Business niche
  • Business goals
  • Target market
  • Personas of your ideal customers
  • Positioning and unique selling proposition
  • Content map

Skip this stage, and it won’t matter how practical your tactical plan is. It won’t achieve your goals.

For more information on forming your content marketing strategy, check out these articles:

The 5 stages of content marketing for beginners

Content strategy: Use personas to see trees in a forest

What a trip: Mapping content to the buyer’s journey

Marketing tactics: Good, better, best

There’s no right or wrong way to structure a tactical content delivery plan. But these suggestions can give you a place to start.

At each level you’ll increase the frequency, complexity, level of automation and cost of your efforts.

(Please note that some of the links to products recommended below are “affiliate links.” That means that if you purchase the item, I’ll earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you.)

Good

Get started
  • Website
  • Basic responsive site
  • Weekly blog
  • Simple lead form

  • Social Media
  • 1-2 social profiles
  • Manual blog sharing
  • 2-3 posts per week

  • Email
  • Email service
  • Initial list 100+
  • Periodic emails

  • Video
  • 1-minute explainer

  • Collateral
  • Sales sheet(s)
  • Case studies

  • Advertising
  • Test social promotion

  • PR
  • Test free PR services

  • (C) Content Marketing Startup

Better

Juice it up
  • Website
  • Specialty pages
  • 2-3x/week blog
  • Lead magnets
  • Landing pages
  • Social proof

  • Social Media
  • 3-4 profiles
  • Manual content curation
  • 3-5 posts per week
  • Paid promotion

  • Email
  • Build list 1000+
  • Segmented lists
  • Email sequences

  • Video
  • Home page intro
  • Video social proof
  • Landing page videos

  • Collateral
  • Ebooks
  • White papers
  • Infographics

  • Advertising
  • Modest social ads
  • Test Google AdWords

  • PR
  • Regular free releases
  • Test paid PR

  • (C) Content Marketing Startup

best

Optimize
  • Website
  • Buyer-stage pages
  • Persona pages
  • Daily blog
  • Reactive lead forms

  • Social Media
  • 4-5 profiles
  • Automated curation
  • Auto-scheduled posts
  • 5-15+ posts per week

  • Email
  • Build list 5000+
  • Email automations

  • Video
  • Demos
  • Webinar recordings
  • Video blogs

  • Collateral
  • Webinars
  • ROI calculators
  • Competitive comparisons

  • Advertising
  • AdWords campaigns

  • PR
  • Paid PR placement

  • (C) Content Marketing Startup

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GOOD tactics to get you started

Keep it simple at this stage, but try to touch on all the tactical areas in an integrated way so you can learn what works best for your situation.

Website

To begin you’ll need a simple but solid website that works equally well on desktops, tablets and mobile devices (a “responsive” site). I recommend hosting a WordPress site on Bluehost using the Divi theme to gain responsive functionality.

Your site should include one of the most basic of types of content: a business blog. Try to post at least once a week. If that’s not doable you can stretch this schedule but you should be consistent with your frequency and timing.

Other pages on your site should at least cover the basics of your offering, your company, and a contact page. Keep your personas in mind when you build these, and keep page content buyer-centric, not focused on you.

Besides your contact form, you should have at least one other “lead” form to collect subscriber details. Keep the form short (first name and email address is adequate). If possible, offer something of value in return for submitting the form: a PDF copy of a blog post, a case study, or similar.

Social Media

Start by establishing profiles on one or two social channels where your prospects are likely to be. Manually post a short excerpt and link to each blog post you write, plus one or two additional comments or shared articles per week.

Follow these tips to get going with social media marketing.

Email

Email is one of the most effective content delivery tools, so plan to put it in place right from the start. But don’t try to make Google Mail, Outlook or Apple Mail perform this task.

Instead, you’ll need an email service that automates your list management, email creation and bulk delivery. I recommend ConvertKit for its combination of simplicity and power.

Set an initial goal to build a list of at least 100 email subscribers. That will give you a platform for initial communication and feedback with a core group of interested people. Here are some tips on how to do that.

At this stage, simple periodic emails to your full list are just fine. These could be links to your blog posts, announcements, news or articles you’ve curated.

Video

A 60-second video that explains the value of your product or service is a key building block for a “good” tactical plan. Learn about other types of videos and some of the easy video creation tools at this stage so you can up your game in later efforts.

Collateral

At minimum you should create and offer a sales sheet for each of your products and services. Keep these benefit-oriented, not just a list of features.

If you have existing successful customers, PDF case studies are great basic collateral to offer as well. If these are extensive or detailed, consider “gating” these downloads with a simple lead form.

Advertising

With as little as $50 you can test paid promotion of your social posts, so this is a good marketing tactic to try early on.

PR

Free services exist that can give your press releases and announcements additional exposure. They take just a bit of effort and no budget, so give them a try at this stage!

Make it BETTER

When you’re ready to move to the next level, try these additional marketing tactics.

Website

Add specialty pages with content such as a glossary of terms, a library of resources, and business quotes. Use feedback from your core subscribers for ideas of web content that will appeal to their needs.

Increase your weekly blog post frequency to two or three.

Add lead magnets throughout your site. These are lead forms that offer something of value in exchange for contact information. (Increase your collateral content to support this effort.)

Use landing pages to increase the conversion rate for your lead forms and lead magnets.

Build your credibility by adding “social proof:” testimonials, customer quotes, logos, success stories and more.

Social Media

Expand your social profiles to three or four social channels.

Regularly curate content to find and share articles that support your thought leadership and value proposition. Post these to your social channels manually.

Strive for at least three to five posts per week per channel.

Implement a paid social post promotion campaign based on your testing results and budget.

Email

Build your subscriber list to 1000+ individuals.

Segment your list to track the different characteristics and behavior of your subscribers.

Build and deploy automated email sequences that deliver a planned series of messages to various segments of your list.

Several email service providers (including ConvertKit) support segmentation and sequences.

Video

Add more video content to your website. Consider a home page intro video, video social proof, and landing page videos.

Collateral

Write, design and publish an ebook or two. Ebooks take some effort but represent high-value lead magnets that can drive subscriber conversion. They can also be used as the root of a content tree. Here are some ebook examples.

Write and publish a white paper or two to delve deeply into a core element of your positioning. Use these as lead magnets, too.

Develop and offer info-graphics. These can be derived from your ebooks, white papers, blog posts and other content. Again, they make great lead magnets and social sharing content.

Advertising

If your earlier tests showed promise, continue to run modest social ad campaigns to promote your best posts.

Learn about and try Google AdWords in a limited test.

PR

If your free PR tests bore fruit, consider issuing regular free press releases and announcements to your marketing tactics.

Conduct a test of paid PR channels such as Business Wire and PR News Wire.

Strive for the BEST

These suggestions take a lot more effort, time and budget. But they might help your business break through the clutter to new visibility and success!

Website

Restructure your website’s information design to present pages that are dedicated to the steps in the buyers’ journey and your targeted personas.

Move your blog to a daily publication.

Implement lead forms that are “reactive” to the behavior of visitors. Forms could display:

  • When a visitor shows signs of exiting a page
  • Spends a certain amount of time on a page
  • Scrolls through a specific amount of content on a page

Several form plugins and some email service providers (such as ConvertKit) support this type of interaction.

Social Media

Expand your social profiles to four or five channels or more.

Automate your content curation and post scheduling process. Tools such as Google Alerts, Buffer and Post Planner can help you achieve this.

Try to make five to fifteen or more social posts per week.

Email

Build your subscriber list to 5000 or more.

Add logic to your email workflow to automate tag subscribers, set triggers, exclude certain subscribers, link sequences and other advanced email functions.

Video

Publish longer videos such as video product demos, webinar recordings, video blogs and the like to expand your library of deep content.

Collateral

Develop and offer in-depth sales support collateral such as webinars, ROI calculators and competitive comparisons.

Advertising

If your tests showed promise, invest in Google AdWords campaigns.

PR

If your tests showed promise, invest in paid PR placement campaigns.

What if this still feels like a lot?

Whew! Even when you break all these marketing tactics down like this it might still feel overwhelming!

Fortunately you have the option of doing the tactical work yourself or getting outside help, no matter what level you’re at. To help you choose whether to go it alone or bring in an expert check out my article, Should a small business owner outsource content marketing?

Also, there are ways to improve your efficiency as you advance through these stages. Check out my article, 3 clever content plans to triple your output for more insight.

Make this plan your own

I’ve tried to give you a practical plan to start simple, add some improvements and build toward a sophisticated content marketing machine.

Of course this isn’t the only way it can be done. Nor are these stages always discrete; you might mix tactics from several levels depending on your own skills, experience and needs.

Your unique situation will dictate how best to proceed as you start, grow and optimize your marketing tactics.

But one thing is certain.

You’ve got to start somewhere!


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