ASSIGNMENT 7: YOUR MARKETING/PR PLAN AND ONLINE THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

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1 ASSIGNMENT 7: YOUR MARKETING/PR PLAN AND ONLINE THOUGHT LEADERSHIP Read the following assignment. Then read Chapters 11 and 12 in your textbook. Be sure to complete Self-Check 7 to measure your progress. You Are What You Publish: Building Your Marketing and PR Plan Chapter 11 of your textbook covers identifying organizational goals, building a set of buyer personas, researching the words and phrases buyers use, and determining what you want each of your buyer personas to believe about your organization. The key element in a new rules web-based marketing and PR plan is a strong focus on customers/buyers and ways to solve their problems, rather than a focus on the specific features of your product or service. This is a new mind-set for many, but it will pay off by bringing you closer to achieving your marketing goals. The four Ps of marketing product, place, price, and promotion are secondary to understanding buyers and creating content that will reach them. Again, the plan must focus on the buyer but be developed within the context of your organization s goals. What Are Your Organization s Goals? Marketing and PR department goals are often out of sync with the rest of the company. For example, web-traffic counts become irrelevant if they don t result in higher sales. For most organizations, the ultimate goal is more revenue (or more donations, members, and so on.) But goals need to be clearly stated and measurable for instance, a 20-percent increase in California sales in the third quarter. With such a goal in mind, the next step is learning about your customers and segmenting them into groups that can be targeted with web-enabled strategies. 38

2 Buyer Personas and Your Organization Planning begins by identifying one or more buyer personas to target. A persona (also called a microtarget) is a representative buyer who has a specific interest in your organization. Political campaign managers determine personas when planning a marketing strategy. They segment voters into categories and target their candidate s pitch to those categories rather than attempting a one-size-fits-all approach. The Buyer Persona Profile This is a kind of biography for each identified group. Determine their goals and aspirations, the problems they face, the media they rely on, the words and phrases they use, and the kinds of images and multimedia that appeal to them. Researching the publications they read is one way you ll answer some of these questions. However, the most effective way to build a persona is by interviewing members of a targeted group. This includes paying attention to the exact words and phrases they use. Interviews will help you empathize with prospective buyers. The more experience you have exploring their world and the problems they face, the more effective your profile will be. How many personas will you need? That depends on the markets your organization is pursuing and the number of ways in which differ. Reaching Senior Executives Contrary to common belief, senior executives consider the web to be the most valuable resource for gathering business information. This includes a strong use of online video. The Importance of Buyer Personas in Web Marketing At this point in your marketing and PR plan, you should have quantifiable organizational goals and defined buyer personas of the people you want to reach. Through the interviews you conducted, you ll have identified the buyers problems that Lesson 3 39

3 your product or service solve and which media the buyer turns to for answers: search engines, blogs, forums, online news services, and/or audio and video resources. Knowing the answers to these questions is essential before proceeding. In Your Buyers Own Words Your plan requires an understanding of the words and phrases your buyers use. You ll want to incorporate those terms into your website so that your buyers feel comfortable browsing there; but perhaps more importantly, when buyers scour web for information, these are the words that search engines will pick up, sending people to your website. These key words and phrases may differ among the different buyer personas you develop or with potential buyers in other countries and cultures. Be very specific when gathering these key words in interviews and in the publications or blogs your buyers read. What Do You Want Your Buyers to Believe? This phase involves identifying the appropriate message for each buyer persona. Decide what each persona is buying from you beyond the product itself. Develop information specifically for each buyer persona rather than a generic message for all buyers. Remember, you re not creating a big electronic brochure but informing specific buyers. Developing Content to Reach Buyers The marketing plan should now be developed for each buyer persona as a publisher might develop an editorial plan. The goal is to reach buyers with focused content in the media formats they prefer. For example, perhaps your research shows that certain buyers prefer video or podcasts. Websites should contain individual pages targeted to each of your buyer personas. For in-depth discussions on solutions to problems faced by buyers, a downloadable white paper might be appropriate. At no time, of course, should these detailed buyer profiles or marketing plans appear on the website. 40

4 Marketing Strategy Planning Template The author s template in your textbook helps address two implementation challenges: 1. Shifting from a focus on products and services to a focus on buyer personas 2. Changing from off-line marketing techniques (advertising, direct mail, etc.) to web-based approaches. The first page of the template (page 154 in your textbook) takes you through the steps of building a detailed buyerpersona profile. It addresses such questions such as: Who is this person? What problems does he or she face that your product or service can solve? Where does he or she look for information on the web? How can you structure that information with the right design, tone, and content strategy to inspire them to buy? The second page (on page 155) helps you focus on creating web content that will surface in search-engine results. It enables you to check off the various types of content you ll use as well as the mechanisms for publishing it. The third and final page of the template (page 156 in your textbook) helps you focus on your goal motivating people to buy, donate, or subscribe. Only the information you provide will drive prospective customers to that action. The New Rules of Measurement The old rules of measurement were built on the ROI (return on investment) concept. Marketing success was measured by sales leads and PR success by the number of no-cost mentions of the organization made in print media. These techniques have much less relevance in the world of Internet marketing. Lesson 3 41

5 Ask Your Buyer for a Date The author uses a dating analogy to illustrate the mistake of applying the old rules of off-line marketing to the web-enabled world. Poorly designed web strategies require the disclosure of personal information before being able to speak to someone. Measuring the Power of Free As stated previously, the old method for rating PR effectiveness is tallying the number of mentions made in traditional media. But that doesn t cover it anymore. Since traditional media excludes such web-enabled factors as mentions on the blogosphere, YouTube views, Facebook likes, or Google search-result positions, the old method presents a stark gap with today s marketing strategies. What You Should Measure Refer back to Page 1 of the marketing and PR strategy planning template. The goals section does present things to measure, namely how many people Subscribe to your blog, like you on Facebook, sign up for your newsletter, view your videos, and so on Download your e-books, presentations, videos and other content Blog about your organization and what they re saying Are contacting you to speak about your offerings And of course, it s crucial for any organization to regularly track how the numbers are doing, be those numbers of sales, donations, memberships, and so on. Registration or Not? Data from an e-book Offer It s important to remember that what you re trying to measure is the total amount of exposure your ideas are getting through your web strategy not just the number of people willing to give you private information through registration. In fact, research shows that people will download your 42

6 content between 10 and 50 times if you don t require registration (by asking for a customer s address, for example). Think about it: It s more likely that people will pass your content on to others if you don t impose a registration requirement. But obviously, an organization can t give everything away for free. Thus, for you to derive a solid benefit in terms of sales leads from sharing content, a hybrid solution is suggested. Make the first offer free, but within your free content, extend a secondary offer that requires registration. Educating Your Salespeople about the New Sales Cycle The old model for marketing and sales consisted of the marketing department generating leads, then handing them over to salespeople to close. The relationship between departments was often adversarial, with one group blaming the other for any lack of success. The new model poses sales and marketing in cooperation throughout the sales process. Buyers will evaluate your offerings throughout the sales cycle based on what they see and do on your website and via social networks. In this new atmosphere, your content effectively works as a salesperson. The meshing of sales and marketing is essential for complex, high-value sales that require long decision times and involve many buyers. Web-enabled marketers need to educate their actual salespeople to understand the parallel effort that must inform each step of the sales process. In turn, web-savvy salespeople can use social media to drive buyers just as marketers do. Obama for America Your textbook author maintains that Barack Obama was elected 44th president of the United States because his campaign observed and acted on the same online opportunities outlined in this course. The author s point is that the approaches and techniques you re learning about here can be applied to any group, be it a traditional business, nonprofit company, religious organization... or political campaign. Lesson 3 43

7 Among other extremely effective actions, the Obama campaign Focused on buyer personas in this case, voters on a state-by-state basis to move them to action (vote) Leveraged lists, Facebook views, and even subscriptions to text messages Delivered information primarily online the Internet was a first line of attack rather than an afterthought Embraced nontraditional journalists such as bloggers and podcasters Consistently delivered a message that was clear and simple: change. This follows the principle that people don t care about products and services so much as they care about themselves. Courted large numbers of small donors through online contribution arrangements and kept all donors informed In addition, the candidate himself, Barack Obama, Rarely talked about the competition, but rather focused on problems facing voters Put his supporters first, releasing information on the web before giving it to mainstream media Stayed positive and never based his personal message on fear Took time for his family and displayed an attitude that people liked Stick to Your Plan As you implement your marketing and PR plan, don t be surprised if you encounter resistance by individuals or institutions who still cling to the old rules of advertising. These people s ideas are outdated and ultimately wrong for today s world, as proven by the experiences of so many successful online marketers highlighted throughout your text. 44

8 Online Thought Leadership to Brand Your Organization as a Trusted Resource So far, you ve learned that online marketing and PR is effective if the content presented is closely tied to the organization s goals. The form of the content will depend to some extent on the technology used blogs, videos, podcasts, or some combination of these or other tools. Yet the quality of the content should mark your organization as a thought leader that is, as an idea-driven, trusted, expert resource. Web content of this type can influence thousands of buyers in more ways than traditional marketing and PR ever could. Developing Thought Leadership Content Thought leadership consists of focusing on the buyer s problems without mentioning your product or service. Rather, by sharing the knowledge and information you ve gleaned from your experiences in your field, you re hoping to become the vendor of choice when customers are ready to buy (or subscribe or donate). The idea is to provide useful, powerful information for readers who might hire you in the future. Forms of Thought Leadership Content Among the avenues for executing thought leadership are White papers. According to your text, white papers argue a specific position or solution to a problem. In the world of marketing and PR, these writings are marketing tools for helping decision makers justify a course of action. They re written for a business audience, defining a problem and offering a solution without pitching a particular product or company. They re generally free but often require registration to view; as you learned earlier, this remains a way for organizations in this case, the source of the white paper to generate sales leads. Lesson 3 45

9 E-books. These are defined in your textbook as a PDFformatted document that solves a problem for one of your buyer personas. E-books take advantage of computer graphics and electronic links to additional content. Your author suggests laying them out in landscape format for easier reading on a screen. The ideal writing style here s light and relatively informal, while the design should employ both interesting graphics and a lot of white space. E-books should be free and not require registration. newsletters. Newsletters deliver content in small doses on a regular basis to individuals who have agreed to receive it. They shouldn t be simple advertisements but rather contain content that presents solutions to one or more buyer personas. Webinars. A webinar is an online seminar that relays information through audio, video, and graphics and are often led by guest presenters (that is, nonemployees of the organization). In the online commerce arena, webinars examine specific problems that a company s products or services can solve. Wikis. These are software-based content repositories in which users can post or edit information about specific topics. Research and survey reports. Companies publish reports of work they ve conducted for free both to share content and show their capabilities. Photos, images, graphs, charts, and infographics. These tools are particularly useful for products and services with visual appeal. Blogs. As you read earlier, a blog is intended to benefit the organization the blogger works for. Audio and video. Podcasts, as you also learned earlier, are ongoing series of downloads available by subscription. Similarly, video blogs are often popular with customers. An interview format for a video in which you interview experts or product users can be an effective way to get thoughtful content out. 46

10 How to Create Thoughtful Content To create thoughtful content, Define your goals first. Don t write about your company or products. Thought leadership involves showing that your company can solve buyer problems. It s not advertising. Decide on whether to make the content free and whether to require registration. Approach the process like a publisher considering stories for specific readers and their concerns. Tell stories and give examples of interest to your audience. Compose an attention-grabbing title as well as descriptive headings and sub-headings that contain searchable keywords. Promote the effort aggressively. Alert journalists, bloggers, and analysts that the material is available and send them links to it. Measure the results and improve. Repeat. Leveraging Thought Leaders Outside of Your Organization Consider recruiting well known experts in your field to prepare content for you, write a blog, or participate in a webinar. This shows your organization to be a forward-thinker within the industry. How Much Money Does Your Buyer Make? By conducting a survey on compensation, one company was able to emerge as a thought leader in their market specialty. The approach described in Chapter 12 of your textbook ( Online Thought Leadership to Brand Your Organization... ) requires a different kind of thinking. Marketers no longer concentrate exclusively on getting exposure for their products or services, Lesson 3 47

11 but on getting ideas out. They do this by understanding buyers and telling stories that connect with buyers and help solve their problems. Self-Check 7 1. When developing an advertising plan, what is it crucial for marketing and PR to focus on? 2. The best way to develop buyer persona profiles is through. 3. True or False? Your organization shouldn t make its marketing plans and buyer persona files accessible to the public. 4. What has been proven to hinder the rate at which people download website content? 5. True or False? The first step in a thought-leadership initiative is notifying local newspapers that your organization will be rolling out something special soon. Check your answers with those on page 84. ASSIGNMENT 8: BUYING AND MARKETING IN A NEW WORLD Read the following assignment. Then read Chapters in your textbook. Be sure to complete Self-Check 8 to measure your progress. How to Create for Your Buyers When developing content for your web-enabled strategies, you should create specifically for one or more of the buyer personas you developed during planning. The material should address the specific problems your product or service solves. 48

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