Category Archives: Strategy

Auto Added by WPeMatico

The Ultimate Guide to Finding and Hiring a World-Class Marketing Manager

The Ultimate Guide to Finding and Hiring a World-Class Marketing Manager written by Kyndall Ramirez read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When you first start your business, you’re wearing every hat—you’re overseeing every single aspect of the company:

Accounting, check. 

Sales outreach, add it to your to-do list.

Administrative work, it’s not going to do itself.

And let’s not forget, you’re the full-time Marketing director, too.

Your list of roles and responsibilities goes on. And these things add up quickly. Most entrepreneurs suffer from the belief that they can do it all. But eventually, there will come a time when you’ll have to admit that doing everything yourself is no longer effective. 

So that’s why we’ve created the last guide you’ll ever need to help you find and hire someone you can trust to take some work off of your plate.

Signs that it’s time to hire someone to help you

1. When you just can’t seem to find enough time 

When you’re spread too thin tending to every other aspect of your business, your days start to get longer and longer. Your to-do list becomes more than just a list—it becomes pages. And things start to get put on the back burner—like your marketing efforts.

2. When you’re constantly fixing mistakes and putting out fires

When you’re strapped for time and in a hurry, the quality of your work suffers. Mistakes happen—and you’re busy fixing things instead of creating. 

Marketing mistakes can cost your business a lot of lost revenue. When this happens, it’s time to take a step back and look for additional help.

3. When you find yourself doing repetitive tasks

As the business owner, your attention should be focused on leading, pitching your products/services, and managing your big picture operations. 

If you’re finding yourself working on a laundry list of repetitive tasks like social media scheduling, managing clients, or preparing marketing reports, it’s time to bring in help to allow you to focus on the big picture.

4. When you lack consistency in your marketing efforts

If you want your campaigns to produce results, your marketing needs constant attention and consistent effort. Writing a random blog post every couple of months, sending a one-off email promoting a new product, or following a content calendar sometimes—isn’t going to cut it. 

You can’t expect the garden to grow if you don’t water it.

If you can relate to any of these telltale signs, it’s time to bring in someone who can tend to marketing your business, regularly—like a Marketing Manager. The job is too important to do in your spare time.

What a Marketing Manager does

A Marketing Manager helps with daily marketing activities and initiatives of a company. 

They work on building brand awareness, managing social media, planning and implementing marketing campaigns, creating content for SEO and traffic growth, tracking and analyzing performance data, and the list goes on. 

To be sure you’re hiring the right person for the job, you need to know what to look for in a Marketing Manager. 

What a typical day looks like for a Marketing Manager

Each day can be different, but some of the most common activities you can delegate to a Manager are things like

  • Creating content for publishing on your blog
  • Managing and engaging with social media accounts
  • Writing newsletters to send out to your list
  • Designing collateral and assets for social media
  • Writing landing page copy to support promotional campaign

These are a few things that may take up the day for a Marketing Manager. They often wear many different hats and usually have a long list of responsibilities. 

The skills to look for when you’re hiring a Marketing Manager

These are the 6 core skills you should look for when you’re hiring someone in-house to help with marketing. 

1. Creativity—they’re creative. They use out-of-the-box thinking to ideate and develop strategies on how to drive growth for your business.

2. Writing—they’ll be responsible for creating a lot of content. It’s imperative they understand how to write for audiences in a way that captures their attention and connects with them on a deeper level.

3. Research—they’re investigators. They need solid research skills to keep up with new trends in the industry as it relates to your business’ target audience.

4. Omni-channel and social savvy—they’re a versatile marketer. They understand that the customer journey isn’t linear. They should know how to implement marketing tactics and strategies across all marketing channels: email, social, paid, SEO, and content.

5. Critical thinking—they’re inquisitive and analytical. They should be able to understand and leverage data to guide marketing decisions and the overall strategy.

6. Project management
—they’re a project management pro. They should know how to juggle and manage multiple projects and initiatives at once.

What a job description for a Marketing Manager position should include

The job itself varies based on the needs of your company. Here’s an example job description including the core responsibilities and qualifications you should include in your Marketing Manager job post:

Responsibilities:

  • Research and analyze customers’ behavior and insights, consumer trends, market analysis, and marketing best practices to build successful strategies
  • Plan, create, and implement strategic marketing campaigns that align with company goals
  • Organize promotional assets and campaigns for new products/services launches
  • Set up and maintain tracking systems for online marketing activities
  • Write content for campaigns across various channels such as social media, email, and blog
  • Manage all online channels of production, including website, social media pages, email campaigns, and responses
  • Create, maintain and strengthen the organization’s overall brand through all media avenues
  • Create and distribute content on key channels to reach new audiences

Requirements:

  • Proven work experience in digital marketing and knowledge of content management, creative writing, advertising concepts and vendor negotiations
  • Demonstrable experience with social media marketing, email marketing, advertising campaigns, marketing databases and analytics, and SEO/SEM
  • Knowledge of traditional marketing tools
  • Critical thinker with strong problem-solving and research proficiencies
  • Solid knowledge of website and marketing analytics tools
  • Highly creative with experience in identifying target audiences and planning digital campaigns that engage, inform, and motivate
  • Knowledge of various Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • Solid organizational skills and detail oriented
  • Ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
  • Superb written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to simplify complex information into a user-friendly format

Find world-class marketing candidates by looking in these places

Luckily, there are many places where marketers hang out. Social media, networking sites, job boards—since most marketers have an online presence, there are a lot of places you can look to find talent. Here’s a few places to start:

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great place to start. You can post your job there as well as source for candidates based on their title.

Freelancer sites

Upwork and Fiverr are sites that are dedicated to hiring talent and finding jobs. You can browse profiles and reach out to folks to invite them to apply for your open job. People can also find your job posting and apply on their own.

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups that are made up of people with specific skill sets (e.g. Content Marketers, The Copywriter Club, Remote Marketing Jobs). People often add posts about jobs to groups, and these kinds of posts typically get a ton of engagement.

Job boards

Larger job boards like Indeed, CareerBuilder, or Monster have a plethora of candidates with all levels of experience. There are also marketing job boards you can check out like VentureBeat, CrunchBoard, or Mashable.

Interview questions to ask marketing job candidates

You should ask questions that give the candidate an opportunity to show how they think about and work on problems. 

What’s an example of a lead-generating campaign you’d be excited to work on here?

This question gives the candidate an opportunity for on-the-spot brainstorming. It highlights what they know about your company and if they did any interview prep prior.

Share an example of a challenge you faced at one of your previous employers.

How a person responds when the going gets tough or when they’re caught in a difficult situation is important. This question hones in on how they handle those situations. 

Quickly onboard your new Marketing Manager with these 3 steps

If you want to get your Marketing Manager productive quickly, here are a few things you can do to set them up for success:

  1. Give them access to your marketing tech stack—you want to be able to manage the tasks and projects your Manager is working on. Giving them access to the programs and tools your team uses is important for transparency and accountability.
  2. Integrate them with your team—most people work best where they feel ‘part of the team’. They’ll communicate better with you and your team. This is especially important for marketing roles where collaboration is key.
  3. Get them to interview a few of your best customers—a quick way for your new team member to learn about your business quickly is to learn directly from your audience and have them interview your customers.

Two things are almost always in short supply for small business owners: time and money. Is it worth it to spend money on a Marketing Manager if it frees up your time and contributes to the growth of your business? 

The answer is most likely yes. By hiring a Marketing Manager, you get to take some things off of your plate and focus on the big picture. Not only do you get some of your time back, but now you have someone whose job’s main purpose is to focus on efforts that will grow your business. Pick the right one, and your return on investment should outweigh the initial cost.

 

7 Small Business Trends that Arrived Just in Time for 2021

7 Small Business Trends that Arrived Just in Time for 2021 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

This blog post is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro.

 

Every year for the last 20 or so, I’ve wrapped up the year with my predictions for trends in the coming year.

I’m usually spot on too. But that’s really more of a testament to the fact that trends tend to creep up on us rather than overwhelm us. So, they’re not that hard to spot if you’re paying attention.

Add to that that a trend has usually long since “tipped” in the main by the time it’s honestly something that small business owners need to heed. Think social media, mobile marketing, or heaven forbid AI.

Ah, but then 2020 happened, and anything that might have crept up on anyone pretty much arrived untethered and proud. Trends accelerated and became fact more than a trend – Zoom anyone? A new behavior that may have taken years to take hold is now instantly second nature.

It’s going to take a new level of insight to curate this year’s trends. The trick this year lies in the ability to spot the behavior that may emerge from the change, or the forced trends if you will. For example, is business travel is going to take a long time to recover? Are large conferences on hold for a while? Will people come to expect 15 virtual meetings even in the office?

So, what do we make of any of this?

I suspect you can count on many pundits simply regurgitating the already worn line about marketers using this moment to become more human. That business will be more about people and less about whatever it was about before COVID.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that a) doing the same thing you were doing in a different format is an innovation and b) that anything in your industry will look precisely the same again.

This year the friction around change went to zero because there was no choice. Expect some people to try and crawl back to what they knew and still others to re-evaluate and restart everything.

I think a lot of business soul searching has occurred, but let’s not oversimplify its result. Because we were forced to deal with change that we don’t fully understand, it has led to some introspection. But where we’ll land is, frankly, anyone’s guess and leads me to my first trend.

1) Paying attention becomes a survival mechanism

In 2021, as in most years, businesses will thrive and survive due to many factors, but next year those who best discover the shift of the moment will be more equipped to evolve with their customers.

2020 showed us just how fast everything could change and simultaneously how fast we can respond and then change and re-respond. This is the commercial version of present moment mindfulness, I suppose.

Don’t take anything for granted; something that feels like momentum may be a bandage for the moment’s feeling. Talk to your customers as much as you can, not because they can tell you what they want or need because they can tell you how they feel.

Expect fear to be feeling number one for most of the year. Tune your strategic thinking to finding ways to be the light in the dark.

2) Everything gets smaller

From a practical standpoint, we’ve already seen this. Conferences, meetings, gatherings of any sort contracted, and we will all need to relearn how to gather again, no matter how much we think we crave it.

Expect a push for less content, shorter videos, more intimate launches, mini-courses, 142-page books instead of the classic 284 pages.

This trend will be driven by people’s desire for something that feels more personal than the market’s design to get smaller.

Design, a true barometer of change, has already moved in this direction. Take note of the larger headline fonts, muted color splashes of retro illustrations, and more white space on web pages. 

Smaller also means less complex, and you can expect that to play out in a large dollop of nostalgia. Visions of families riding around their neighborhoods on bikes during 2020 sparked an emotional desire for simplicity.

3) AI gets practical

Almost every trend article you encounter this year will talk about AI in some fashion. While I mention it here as a trend, I do so for some of the practical things it now brings rather than the futuristic promise of the technology it implies.

Without getting too techie about the workings, the mid-2020 roll-out of Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 or GPT-3 made AI a useful tool for many applications.

No longer confined to those pesky bots on website help desks, AI is now being embedded in our basic typing functions. Maybe you’ve noticed that the application keeps suggesting finishes to your sentences as you compose an email in Gmail.

This isn’t simply a feature added by Google; this is AI at work powering routine tasks.

This fall, I wrote my latest book, The Ultimate Marketing Engine (HarperCollins Leadership Sept 2021), entirely in Google Docs. I was amazed how often the suggested AI helped me write better or at least easier sentences from a simple suggested start.

Look in 2021 for a host of tools, services, and websites aimed at making writing easier. Tools like HeadLime and MarketMuse will change how content is created.

AI applications can already write an article based on a handful of fed keywords. Now, is this award-winning prose? Well, no, but is that blog post you paid someone $15 to write near as good as AI – probably not. AI writers can get you 80% of the way there, and then you, the brilliant content strategist that you are, can spend your energy on making it sparkle and getting it read by others.

This will shake up the content creation, social posting, and freelance industries dramatically.

4) Talent investment is back in style

Most large businesses understand the competitive nature of attracting and retaining their best people. Therefore, they often invest heavily in recruiting and employee branding initiatives.

Small businesses rarely can afford outlandish perks to attract talent, but one trend that I think will grow in small business is talent development.

Even if revenue is down and budgets are tight, I predict that small business owners will see the wisdom of creating training and mentoring opportunities to level-up, develop, and, let’s face it, send a clear signal that their people are an important piece of their success.

This has always been an important topic, but I think we’ll see a return to a fundamental commitment to employee engagement around things like profit and skill development that will not be limited to big biz only.

If you have training for skills, mindset, and even personal development, small business is a great target market right now.

5) Video gets personal again

I said this last year, so that’s the again part.

Video will continue to grow as a content medium and act as a bridge to a couple of other trends. Most notably, the acts of paying attention and getting smaller.

I think video, think of it as asynchronous virtual content, will take another big leap and bounce from the Zoom screens we are in front of to the more personal 1 to 1 platforms for sales, technical support even as a form of commenting and collaborating.

Expect the use of tools such as Loom and BombBomb to continue to grow. I mean, face it, who wants to read that 4 paragraph email when they can close their eyes and click play.

6) UX and SEO get attached at the hip

 A few years ago, it was fashionable to talk about the marriage of content and SEO. Now that content is basically online air; it’s sort of passe to talk about the concept as two.

But there’s a newish player making waves this year – UX or user experience. UX isn’t really new as a concept. I mean, navigation and content structure are UX. So is site speed and security. However, with its mobile-first point of view, Google is going to raise the SEO bar another notch next year.

Three words you better come to terms with for 2021 – core web vitals.

This isn’t a technical post, so you’re just going to have to research this one on your own but suffice it to say that sites that load slowly or don’t provide what Google thinks is a great mobile user experience are going to suffer in the SEO game. 

The typical mum Google has gone as far as to publicly claim that in 2021 they plan to combine core web vitals with other ranking signals. 

My go-to source for education on anything SEO related is my friend Brian Dean at BackLinko. You can find high-quality stuff here – especially when it comes to learning more about core web vitals.

You can see what Google thinks of your core web vitals right now in Google Search Console.

7) Coaching ranks swell

During 2020 some people found that corporate jobs weren’t so stable or fun anymore. Some were laid off and started that coaching or consulting business they had longed to start, while others took the pause as a moment to reconsider their life path in general.

My final prediction is that the number of people who decide to start coaching businesses and those who decide now is the time to get a coach will explode next year.

I think 2021 will be a year of recovery and personal development and, in some cases, one of changing priorities.

This crystal ball stuff is fun, but more than anything, stay curious this coming year, and you may indeed discover a new and exciting chapter in business and life because the only thing that I know for certain is that change is gonna keep coming.

 

Manage your clients, websites and tasks.This blog post is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro.

GoDaddy Pro offers a robust suite of free tools to web developers & designers to help them save time managing all their clients and sites. With GoDaddy Pro, you can easily shop for your client, monitor their sites, and manage all their WordPress websites from one place. Exclusive time-saving tools let you bulk update WordPress core, plugins and themes on multiple sites with one click, as well as automate WordPress backups, cloning and migrations, and so much more. Get real-time performance, security and uptime monitoring across all your client websites. Members also receive a 30% discount on new, qualifying products.

When you pair GoDaddy Pro with qualified WordPress and Ecommerce hosting plans, the benefits are even greater by including access to all premium features at no additional cost.

Learn more about GoDaddy Pro

Build a Game Changing Marketing Action Plan in Just 9 Steps

Build a Game Changing Marketing Action Plan in Just 9 Steps written by Kyndall Ramirez read more at Duct Tape Marketing

In order to do anything meaningful, you have to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. The saying ”failing to plan is planning to fail” couldn’t be more true. If you want your business to be successful, you have to have a game plan.

But where do you start? And how do you create an action plan that sets you up for success? We’ve mapped out the steps for you. Follow these 9 easy steps to craft a winning marketing plan of your own. 

1. Create a strategy before tactics

Start with strategy.

Steer clear from falling for the hot, new marketing tactic of the week. The key element in making your marketing effective? A strategy-first approach.

You need to build your strategy before you even think about the tactics. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you trying to sell to anyone and everyone?
  • Are you struggling to stand out from your competition?
  • Are you unsure of what tactics make sense for you right now? 

These are strategy problems and can only be addressed with strategy solutions. 

You need to know your big picture business goals. Once you have those defined, then you put together the tactics it will take to make that strategy come to life. Use this ultimate marketing strategy plan for small businesses to get you started.

2. Research your current customers

Talk to your people. You can learn SO much from your customers. They shape your business, your core messages, your products or services, the list goes on.

Knowing your customers can uncover the best ways on how to attract, reach, and better serve the right people. Start by asking your customers these 5 questions.

3. Research your entire digital competition

Research is a common theme here.

Conducting competitive research is a way to grow and evolve your business. But it’s not just researching companies you consider to be your direct competitors—you need to take a look at your entire digital competition.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What terms are my competitors ranking for that I should be?
  • What content are they putting out on their blog?
  • What kind of ads are they creating?
  • Where is my competition showing up that I’m not?

This kind of research gives you insight into:

  • New ways to serve your customers
  • Why other sites are ranking higher than yours
  • The type of content you need to be creating
  • Data you can use to spot new opportunities
  • New opportunities to gain customers

4. Promise to solve a problem

Nobody wants what you sell. People want their problems solved. Solving people’s problems is the golden ticket for your marketing efforts.

People buy better versions of themselves, not things. They want what they believe will help them feel good about themselves, achieve something higher, get relief from some level of pain or discomfort, avoid a sticky situation, or prepare themselves for the future.

It’s your job as a business owner to understand the problems people are trying to solve and match your offers to those very specific problems. Very few people in the world want the things, the services, and the solutions businesses sell.

You need to have an approach that is focused on a very specific type of customer, with a very specific need or problem, and a promise to solve that problem in a very specific way.

5. Map out the customer journey with the Marketing Hourglass

The customer journey isn’t linear. It’s our job to help guide buyers as they travel down the often-crooked path. The way that people buy today has changed so dramatically that instead of creating demand, we need to organize behavior.

A traditional marketing funnel might have the stages such as Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase. But the thing that the traditional marketing funnel neglects to address is that when it comes to lead and referral generation, a happy customer is your most powerful asset.

This is why Duct Tape Marketing follows the Marketing Hourglass approach. It consists of seven connected stages: 

  • Know—one of the best ways to become known is through organic search. Start using content to spark interest.
  • Like—once someone knows your business, you need to nurture your leads during this phase by demonstrating your expertise, sharing knowledge, and giving them useful resources.
  • Trust—people buy from organizations they trust. Get your customers involved in content creation. This is where customer generated videos, case studies, stories, and social media are a major playing piece.
  • Try—this stage is where the audition happens. It’s where you need to really deliver more than anyone. Consider doing a free or low-cost version of what you sell.
  • Buy—time to show real results and keep the experience high in this stage. Think about how you orient new customers, exceed their expectations, and surprise them. The complete customer experience is measured by the end result, not what you did to get the sale.
  • Repeat—the best way to get repeat business is to make sure your clients receive and understand the value of doing business with you. 
  • Refer—turn happy customers into referral customers. Create a remarkable experience with your customers that exceeds their expectations so they are compelled to share your business with others.

Every business has these stages, but many aren’t addressing them all. You need to figure out what the journey is like for your ideal customer or people who are looking for the solutions you offer.

Use the Marketing Hourglass framework to map your customer journey. Then, the next step in the marketing action plan is to strategically use different types of content at the various stages of the hourglass.

6. Use content as the voice of strategy

Content creation is the hardest job a marketer has to do, but when you plan your content with your hourglass in mind, it’s the highest payoff work you can do.

Content has grown beyond just being a tactic—it touches all aspects of your marketing and your business. It powers the entire customer journey.

Your audience expects to be able to find information about any product, service, or challenge they face simply by doing a Google search. And if you aren’t showing up, you won’t be found. There’s a pretty good change they won’t move forward with you because you lack credibility in their eyes. People go with solutions they feel they can trust. 

You must use content as your voice of strategy, and the best way to do this is to produce content that focuses on education and building trust at every stage of the customer journey.

7. Develop a list of quarterly priorities and live by the calendar

As a small business owner, you know there’s always plenty to do and never enough time in the day. But marketing needs to be viewed as a habit that’s ingrained in your daily routine. 

Planning for what needs to be done and when—is how you can stay focused on the activities that will give you the highest ROI. Start by creating a list of the highest impact items you need to fix or implement for each quarter. 

Then, live by the calendar. If you don’t schedule it, odds are it won’t happen.

Something that has worked extremely well for many business owners—who have been trained by the Duct Tape Marketing system—is adding monthly themes around your foundational marketing projects, breaking them up, and spreading them out over the course of the year. If you commit to an annual calendar, you’re more likely to follow it on a consistent basis.

8. Measure what matters

There are so many things you can measure: sales metrics, social metrics, content metrics, conversion metrics, growth metrics, the list goes on. And one of the hardest things is determining what you should be measuring. 

But you can’t measure what’s easy—you have to measure what matters. You can start by doing these 4 things:

  1. Create metrics that serve your priority objectives—whether it’s your goal to increase customers by X or grow your audience by X, you need to define what metrics make sense for the goals that you’ve set.
  2. Establish target goals for each objective—figure out how you’re going to gather the data you need to gauge whether or not you are on the right track.
  3. Select the tools you’ll use to track your progress—dashboards are an everyday reality for marketers. As a business owner, you need to be able to see what’s happening day to day.
  4. Use your results to make improvements—when you’re measuring the right things, you’ll start to see trends, why something happened, and what you might be able to do to make improvements.

9. Get a marketing action plan built for you systematically instead

Building a plan and taking control of your marketing can be daunting. But it isn’t that hard with the right system. Especially when you use a proven approach.

With Duct Tape Marketing’s Certified Marketing Manager Program, we take that burden right out of your hands. We’ve taken the very marketing system that has now been installed in thousands of small businesses and turned it into a hybrid coaching and training program designed to help you accomplish two very important things: create a marketing action plan for you AND learn how to implement it. You can schedule a free one-on-one coaching session here.

Running your business without a fully fleshed out marketing plan is like driving without a map. Maybe… just maybe you make it to your destination, but you might find yourself taking quite a few detours along the way. 

Save yourself a lot of trial and error by following these 9 steps.

5 Critical On-Page SEO Factors That Impact Your Ranking

5 Critical On-Page SEO Factors That Impact Your Ranking written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Having high visibility in a search engine’s organic results is critical to your business’ online success. 

People use search engines to find solutions to their problems. And if your product or service isn’t visibly ranking in search as a solution to their problem, that’s a massive missed opportunity for your business.

So what can you do to improve your rankings and where do you even start? 

Start by focusing on optimizing your on-page SEO. On-page SEO is one of the most important processes you can use to achieve higher rankings organically and start showing up in front of your target audience. 

Because the search landscape is constantly changing and evolving, it’s imperative you make sure your on-page SEO knowledge is up to date. Here are five critical on-page SEO factors that every business should be thinking about.

1. Content

Focus on your H1 headings and H2 subheadings

You need to use H1 and H2 tags. These help Google understand the structure of your page. Your headline should become an H1 heading. Your sub-points should be H2 headings, and bullet points can help organize information under each subcategory. 

While this strategy for organizing content makes it easier for readers to skim and settle on the information they’re looking for, it also helps Google to better understand your content.

Use your target keywords at the beginning of your pages

An old-school on-page SEO tactic that still works today is to use your target keywords in the first 100 words of your article or page. Google puts more weight on the terms that show up early on your page—it helps Google understand what your page is about.

2. Page Speed

Slow pages are a no-go. Page speed has been cited consistently as one of the leading SEO ranking factors for years. Slow loading sites provide a bad user experience. Search engines prefer sites that are going to show users the answers to what they’re looking for as fast as possible.

You can improve your site speed by reducing your number of redirects, compressing files, implementing website caching, reducing your page size, removing third party scripts, and many other steps that can speed up load time. 

3. Mobile Friendliness

Today, we live in a mobile-first world. More people use mobile devices than desktops to browse the web. And because of that, Google has made it clear that your pages need to be mobile-friendly. 

Google has a mobile-first index. On pages where content is not easily accessible for users on mobile, it’s unlikely that you’re going rank high in search results.

Google takes into consideration what the user’s experience is when they land on your site. Your site needs to:

  • Be responsive and automatically resize to fit whatever device your visitor is using
  • Use large fonts for enhance readability on a small screen
  • Have easy navigation—that means having accessible menus is a must

If you have any doubts whether or not your site is mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing tool to see how your site stacks up. 

4. Domain names, extensions and URLs 

Your URL helps Google understand what your page is all about. And having the right kind of URL can improve your organic CTR.

URLs

Using the right kind of URL is important—every URL on your website should be short, sweet, and keyword-rich. It needs to be a URL that Google’s bots can easily reach and crawl. But the theme here is: keep things simple. Keep the URLs as short as possible, write them in plain english, avoiding number or letter sequences that might only mean something to your team, and use relevant keywords tastefully—don’t just throw in keywords just for the sake of it.

Domain names and extensions

Domain names and extensions do impact on SEO—however, the approach has changed over the years. The major factor that leads to website ranking is hosting valuable content and getting valuable backlinks from authoritative sources. But when you add a keyword-rich domain name and relevant domain extension, it’s icing on the cake.

Let’s take a look at this example. 

Say we have Website A with the domain name and extension of www.plywoodstore-london.com and Website B with the domain name and extension of www.londonply.store. Both can rank just as well as the other. However, the latter will garner more trust and will help the business get more on-topic backlinks for the keyword search of ‘London plywood store’. 

Your domain extension is an opportunity to communicate what you do—coming up with your domain name gives you the opportunity to be uniquely relevant to your business, and you can get creative while boosting your SEO ranking. 

Consider choosing a domain name based on your business type. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you’re in technology or IT, you could go with .TECH
  • If you’re in retail or eCommerce, .STORE could be a good choice
  • If you’re a journalist or publisher, try .PRESS
  • If you’re building your personal brand, then you can use .ONLINE

5. Internal and external links

The web is built on links—so links are a crucial SEO ranking signal. A well-optimized page will include both internal and external links.

Internal links

Including internal links to other pages with relevant content can help Google to better understand how all of your content is related. When you include internal links, make sure the anchor text has keywords in it. This can boost your rankings with search engines.

External links

Some people hesitate to include external links for the fear that doing so will just drive traffic away. This isn’t the case. You want to show that you’re creating quality content for your website visitors. When you link to other relevant, authoritative sites in your niche, it creates a better user experience and is good for SEO.

If you have a business with an online presence, on-page SEO has to be a focus to compete and stay relevant today in search. Thinking about SEO on each page individually instead of just collectively as a whole gives you the greatest chance at standing out in SERPs on multiple pages.

 

.store logoThis blog post is brought to you by .store.

Have you ever tried to find a domain name and been given  the message, “Sorry, that domain name is already taken!”? You are not alone! But with .store, a new domain extension for eCommerce and online stores, you will get the domain you want!

What’s more, www.yourbusinessname.store, instantly tells people your website is a “store” and lets your brand do the marketing for you! So, go ahead
and get the perfect, memorable website URL for your online store at www.get.store​.​

Why small business owners need to own marketing instead of renting it

Why small business owners need to own marketing instead of renting it written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Odds are this question has crossed your mind at one point in time if you’re a small business owner: “Should I hire someone in-house for marketing or continue to seek outside help?”

So many small business owners are afraid to hire marketing people internally. Where do you even start? And is there something wrong with keeping your marketing in the hands of an outside consultant?

Not exactly, but there comes a point in time when you need to stop renting marketing and own it internally. Here’s why.

The difference between owning and renting marketing 

First, let’s define what owning marketing vs. renting marketing really means.

Renting marketing is when you’re seeking outside help from a consultant or an agency to market your business.

Consultants are usually your strategic partners—the Duct Tape Marketing Consultants are an example of this. They can help you with high-level strategy, things like defining your ideal client, crafting core messages that set you apart, sharpening your brand identity, optimizing your website, or building your blog. 

Owning marketing is when you hire a marketing person internally to handle routine things like writing content for your blog, creating social posts, getting reviews for your business, managing your communities, public relations, working on referral programs, and more depending on your industry.

There’s a time and place for both. And there’s a sweet spot smack dab in the middle where ‘owning’ and ‘renting’ will work hand in hand. But more on that later.

Why you can’t abdicate your marketing

It’s common to delegate what you can as a small business owner. Marketing is one of those things that gets delegated most of the time. But when delegation becomes abdication—then you’ve got a problem.

Too often businesses have ‘someone looking after their marketing’. But when you look beneath the surface, it’s less about having someone effectively run their marketing and more about being a convenient opportunity for business owners to check the marketing box and turn their attention elsewhere.

When you’ve just abdicated and hired random people, you limit your bottom line results, and you aren’t building a long-term internal asset. 

Consultants can’t be your entire marketing department. They can only carry so much on their plate, and they won’t have the opportunity to know all of the intricacies of your business as well as someone internally would. If you want to get your business to the next level, it’s time to start building an internal team.

How digital channels add complexity

There are so many digital channels out there available for you to use today—which makes managing them all so much more difficult. It’s nearly impossible for one person to do it all alone.

Not only are you responsible for the strategy for each of the channels that you choose to use, but without help, you’re also in charge of the implementation and execution.

Small business owners need help with marketing, but they often don’t want to hire. 

Why small business owners don’t hire for marketing

Business owners are often skeptical about someone coming in to help with their marketing—whether it’s in-house or even on a consultant basis—so much so they don’t hire marketing people for reasons like:

  1. They don’t see marketing as a priority—few business owners have a marketing background, and while great marketing can deliver, most don’t want to spend their time (or money) on it.
  2. They’ve been burned before—a lot of times small businesses have had a bad experience with a marketing guru of some sort or they’ve hired a marketing person who ‘knew’ how to manage social media, but didn’t have any broader direction when it comes to marketing strategy. (And that’s because there often isn’t a bigger strategy.)
  3. They can’t justify the cost—small businesses often have limited resources. Hiring is a commitment. It’s an upfront cost, and the ROI isn’t instantaneous. But your costs should pay for themselves quickly if you hire the right person.
  4. They don’t know how to hire or train the right person—business owners (usually) aren’t marketers. They often don’t know what to look for, where to find talent, or how to get someone up to speed successfully.

But small business owners can only do so much on their own. There comes a point in time when even the skeptics need to re-evaluate and consider getting help if they want their business to continue to grow.

The natural progression of a mature business

When a business matures, growth becomes stagnant, and sales slowly begin to decrease.

This is when it’s time for your business to be shaken up. You hit a certain threshold where you can only grow so much, and you can’t do it all as a business owner. You’re already spread thin. If you want to take it to the next level, having an internal marketing team is key.

You can combat slowed growth by upping your marketing game. Whether it’s researching ways to reach new audiences, creating new product offerings, building referral programs, focusing on new platforms, you need to refresh your growth in the marketplace.

And with stronger marketing efforts and an internal person dedicated to taking care of those things, you can do just that.

Get help but plan to make marketing an asset

When an outside consultant or advisor is your entire marketing department, you can only reach a certain level of growth. 

I mentioned earlier that there’s a sweet spot smack dab in the middle where ‘owning’ and ‘renting’ marketing work magically together, hand in hand. Where you can really win is when you marry an internal marketing hire with your strategic partner. 

A marketing consultant can help you with the strategic component like the plan, the operations of the plan, the analysis of results, and ensuring you remain on track on working towards your big goals.

Meanwhile, the internal marketing person who knows the intricacies of the business (or soon will) can be directed by an outside resource—like a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant—to execute on this plan and craft messages that align with your strategy. This is how you get the best of both worlds.

By hiring internally, you end up building an asset for your business. But that still brings us back to one of the biggest blockers for small business owners—how do you find, hire, and train the right internal marketing person?

Well—we’re creating a program to solve this exact problem. 

We’re using our proven systems to build a Certified Marketing Manager Program. The program comes with an experienced consultant armed with a proven marketing system and a personalized training program based on your business for your marketing team (even if that’s just one person). 

Our Duct Tape Marketing consultant will teach your team how to build, run and implement a custom marketing system tuned to evolve as you grow. They can even help you find and hire the perfect internal marketing manager or coordinator.

It takes the daunting task right out of your hands. And this is exactly what you need to get to the next level.

So, this all sounds great, right? But you might still be wondering how exactly these 3 roles work together and who’s responsible for what. We’ve created a visual ‘What’s Your Role’ Map that shows you exactly how the business owner, in-house marketer, and your marketing consultant’s roles and responsibilities work together in the Certified Marketing Manager Program. 

Why reviews are so much more than social proof

Why reviews are so much more than social proof written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Online reviews are a crucial part of marketing these days. The presence of lots of great reviews provides a layer of proof that you keep your promises.

But often overlooked in the obsession for 5-star reviews is the actual words used by the reviewers. A 5-star review often implies that this is an ideal customer. They had the right problem, you solved it wonderfully, and they had a great experience.

Then, they voluntarily turned to a 3rd party review site such as Google, Facebook, or Yelp and told the world how great you are – effectively referring your business to anyone who cared to read the review.

You want more of those ideal customers, don’t you?

Here’s the real point – if you want more customers like the ones leaving great reviews you should pay very close attention to how they talk about your business – in particular, the words and phrases that show up repeatedly.

There’s gold in those phrases as it’s essentially your best customers telling you over and over again exactly what it is that you do that solves the real problem they have.

Here’s a real-life example of excerpts from some reviews for a local business to drive this point home.

  • “They came and worked as scheduled and cleaned up nicely after it was done.”
  • “The guys showed up on time and did a wonderful job.”
  • “In the past, we have dealt with people who don’t show up or do a professional job. Everything was cleaned up very well.”

Do you spot a pattern here? It’s not ever clear from these excerpts what service this business provides, but the clues to how they provide it are obvious.

The core message this business should put at the top of the fold on their website is – “We promise to show up when we say we will and clean up everything before we leave.”

It turns out this business is a tree service, but the real problem they solve for their ideal customers is that so few people in the home services industry are organized enough to offer appointment times and often leave a mess behind when they leave.

For this business and so many others that I’ve worked with over the years, reviews are a strategic marketing asset as much as a vehicle for social proof. Mine them for your core message and they will become a tool to help you attract even more ideal clients.

The process of review research is pretty simple.

Turn to your reviews on Google, Facebook, or any industry-specific review sites and start carefully reading your positive reviews. (Negative reviews can tell you a lot as well, but for now, that’s not what we are looking for.)

As you read the reviews start noticing words, phrases, themes, and patterns that are repeated. This is your customer explaining the problems your company solves for them, the things you do that others don’t, these are the words, phrases, and themes you need to start using in your marketing message right now.

Sometimes you’ll discover that your happy customers simply love your people or your approach. That’s great, don’t discount how powerful this can be as a message. In some cases, you’ll uncover a complete and creative core message hidden inside a review.

A few years ago we were working with a subscription-based lawn mowing service that attracted busy professionals as their ideal customers. After culling through their reviews we spotted the following in several reviews – “I just love coming home on mowing day.”

So it seems that the problem this company solved was that they were very professional, did a great job, and could be relied upon to do what was promised, but the ideal customer expressed this as experiencing a moment of joy in an otherwise hectic world. That’s kind of magic.

So they began to promise that – “You’ll love coming home on mowing day” – begging prospects to wonder if that’s true for them with their current service.

Using reviews to develop a core message of difference – one that offers precisely what your ideal customers value is how you turn a simple review into a powerful marketing strategy. But, you can also often find a handful of recurring themes that make great blog posts topics, FAQs,  emails subject lines, and ad copy for your Google Ads.

It’s all about using the words of your ideal customers to attract more of the same.

Now that you have this review thing down let’s expand it a bit. Studying reviews is also amazing for competitive research. Finding themes in both the negative and positive reviews of your toughest competitors can provide a sales advantage or spark an idea or two about some things you could do better based on some of the reviews you read.

Reviews and the words they contain are more than social proof, they’re amazing content and a path to better messaging in your marketing.

Focus on Your Customer to Grow Your Business

Focus on Your Customer to Grow Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Simon Severino

strategy In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Simon Severino, CEO of Strategy Sprints GmbH, where their goal is to coach CEOs and their teams to ensure higher NPS (Net Promoter Score), higher sales conversion and faster execution.

Simon also teaches Growth, Strategy, and Innovation at select MBA courses across Europe. Simon is the host of a podcast The Strategy Show, a show from CEOs for CEOs, in every episode he promises you will find a new masterclass on how to grow and scale your business.

Questions I ask Simon Severino:

  • In your experience what are some of the biggest mistakes that you’ve come across that companies commonly make, especially in the strategy area?
  • Can you think of a business that you have been able to convince to simplify and that’s where growth came from rather than piling more on to get growth?
  • Would you say there is a type of business this approach works best with?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • What are Strategy Sprints and how they work
  • How to find the #1 bottleneck in companies
  • How to focus on customer growth

More about Simon Severino:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Zephyr logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Zephyr.

Zephyr is a modern, cloud-based CMS that’s licensed only to agencies. The system is lightweight, easy to use, and incredibly fast. And with an array of beautiful themes to choose from, you can get your clients’ websites up-and-running quickly and with less effort. Or, if you’d rather build a custom site, Zephyr includes agency services to be your plug-and-play dev shop.

Zephyr is passionate about helping agencies create great websites for their clients. To learn more, go to Zephyrcms.com.

Creating a customer success journey

Creating a customer success journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back in the 80s, there was a brand that became a cultural hit called Members Only. Yes, I had a Members Only jacket, there, I admit it. The tagline for the companies’ line of apparel was, “When you put it on, something happens.” (First off, if you’re too young to remember this fad, you can do a search and still find fan sites, and, if like me you had one, please reply to this email, and we can be team members.)

Here’s my point today – what if you could come to think about your customer or clients or patients or whatever you call them – as members.

Now, I’m not merely suggesting you create a membership aspect to your business. However, that might be a great model for you; I’m suggesting that you think this way about them.

If you did, it might change how you innovate, iterate, and support every aspect of your business.

In a stable membership relationship, your goal is to help every member get the transformation they are seeking. So, naturally, you would care more about them getting a result than you getting a transaction.

If that were so, you would have to ask yourself much harder (or at least different) questions.

Then you might start analyzing your customer journey more like a customer success journey.

So, here are a few things to ponder.

1) Where are our customers now in terms of the results they want?

Think stages – we use three stages to talk about our small business customers and their marketing – Build, Grow, and Ignite.

2) What are the characteristics of customers in each of these stages?

For us, we might analyze their online presence, marketing message, and lead generation activity to characterize what they are thinking, feeling, and doing during each stage.

3) What milestones must they achieve to move to the next stage?

Again, for us, it might be a website that generates email sign-ups or phone calls, all the way through creating a robust referral generation system.

Milestones are a pretty great way to think about activity because you can create a yes or no question – do they have this – yes/no are the only answers.

4) What activities or action steps must they take to achieve each milestone?

This becomes the project plan to move through the stages or take the success journey you map out for them.

And, this is a biggie, this becomes the roadmap for every system you need to create in your business, so you provide an incredible journey for every single customer no matter the stage of their journey.

5) What systems must we create to ensure passage through the stages of the success journey?

The beauty of this approach is that it keeps both you and your customers on the same path – a path this is based on transformation, a path that can be accurately measured, a path that is all about results.

Becoming Your Best Virtual You

Becoming Your Best Virtual You written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Becoming Your Best Virtual You

Virtual and work from home is getting a lot of hype right now, for obvious reasons. I’ve been a big fan of virtual work for many years, and there are some tools I’ve come to love and rely on over the years. I’m going to talk about some of those tools that I think a lot of people have either underutilized or are coming to a new appreciation for right now.

Some of these tools you might begin to use out of necessity right now, but as you get to know them, you might discover that you enjoy them so much you’ll continue to rely on them once we’ve returned to business as usual.

I’m going to run down my list of go-to tools, give you some case studies, and share how I personally use those tools in my daily life as an entrepreneur.

1. One-to-One Video

A lot of people are relying on one-to-one video at present because we can’t meet in person, but one-to-one video is a great communication tool even when we do have flexibility with how we meet up and converse with others.

By one-to-one video, I mean a video that you record specifically for one individual. The greeting and message is personalized just for them. And I’ve found over the years that this technology has many applications, from sending internal messages to remote folks on my team to interacting with clients and prospects.

The first way I use one-to-one video is to provide clarification when I’m sending a message. Say I’m forwarding on a long document with lots of detailed information. I might send along a one-to-one video highlighting the most salient parts of the document to help direct the reader.

I also find it’s a helpful tool when you’re working with a distributed team. For example, I work with a lot of web designers, and it’s quick and easy to record a video that shows minor edits that I’d like to see on a webpage they’ve already mocked up.

It’s also great for documenting processes. Using the screen capture tool allows you to walk someone through a process, if you’d like to give them a guided step-by-step walkthrough of what needs to be done in a given program.

It’s also a creative way to interact with clients or prospects. Instead of just sending a standard introductory email, which doesn’t stand out well or capture attention, use a personalized video to catch someone’s eye in an otherwise crowded inbox. It’s also a great way to send a thank you or to ask for a review from a happy customer.

The Tool: Loom

My go-to for one-to-one video is Loom. Even the free version of the platform has tons of functionality. You can film yourself, do a screen capture video, or create a video that shares your screen and shows you down in the corner.

Loom also makes the sharing process seamless. As soon as you’re done recording your message, you hit stop, it produces a link, and you drop that URL into an email. If you’ve integrated Loom with Gmail, it will embed the video directly into your email.

When someone gets the email, Gmail users don’t even need to leave their inbox; the video plays right within their inbox.

2. Video Meeting & Webinar Platform

When you’re working with a distributed team, it helps to have a way for you all to come together face-to-face. That’s where video meeting platforms come in. We use them for internal meetings, to talk with clients (to present ideas, brainstorm, or offer updates); we even use it for one-to-one sales calls.

Video is also a great tool for creating educational content and webinars. And some podcasters have started using video in their recording process. While they’ll only use the audio stream to produce the podcast, it’s helpful for them to be able to see their guest on the screen and makes the interview more natural and seamless.

The Tool: Zoom

The video meeting and webinar platform I’ve come to rely on is Zoom. What I love about Zoom is that there’s no software involved. No one needs to download anything to access the meeting; you simply forward a link and anyone can join from any device.

Zoom can be used for both webinars and meetings. The tool allows you to do a presentation (like a webinar) where everyone is an attendee and is muted. There’s a screen-sharing functionality, and you can incorporate features like chat, Q&A, and polls into your presentation.

Alternatively, you can use Zoom for meetings. Here, your team hops on the video and you can sit around and talk in much the same way you would if you were all around a conference table.

Of course, the one thing everyone must have to participate in a Zoom meeting is a way to connect. But it’s possible to do so via computer or phone. There’s an app for mobile devices, and people can even call in through a dial-in number, if that’s easier.

3. Live Streaming

Live streaming is becoming increasingly popular. And particularly during the current moment, where we’re not able to meet up in person, we’re seeing more personalities hopping onto Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn to connect with their audience.

I think live streaming is an incredible tool for building community and speaking to your fans, but I find it’s often over-utilized. I think the key to creating great live streaming content is to start by asking yourself “What is useful for my community, prospects, or clients at this time?” That’s the question that should be driving you as you devise your live programming.

All of the major social platforms allow you to go live from within their individual apps, but I prefer to use an external tool.

The Tool: StreamYard

My go-to for live streaming online has become StreamYard. I find the tool helpful for a number of reasons. First, it allows you to broadcast to multiple platforms simultaneously. Rather than having to decide between addressing your fans on Facebook or LinkedIn, with StreamYard, you can do both at the same time.

It also allows you to add branding onto your video. You can put your logo or any relevant promotional information in the bottom third of your video screen. You can also easily incorporate Q&A and chat into your video, making it easy to engage your audience while you’re live.

It’s also really easy to record and hang onto your sessions. While it’s possible to download things that go live on other social media platforms, they don’t make it simple for you to capture that content. StreamYard makes it seamless, and then you have access to the content for future use, should you decide you’d like to reuse it.

Finally, StreamYard allows you to schedule out the time when you’ll go live and includes a notification on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or your streaming platform of choice. By notifying your audience of when you’re going live in advance, you create a built-in audience for your content and ensure that you’ll have people there to engage with—it helps you to create more of a live webinar experience.

4. Collaboration Software

For many folks who are used to sharing office space with their colleagues, the biggest hurdle to remote work is keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to advancing your projects and agendas. You need a unified communication tool and work space so that you can bring together all the emails, files, revisions, and to-do lists in one place. That way, everyone is always on the same page, and you always know right where to go to look for information.

There are tons of great collaboration suites out there, from Basecamp to Asana to Microsoft Teams.

The Tool: Slack

Our team loves Slack for collaboration and communication. When you’re used to working in an office, you can just pop down the hallway to ask your colleague a quick question. When you’re working from home, Slack is the next best thing.

It not only allows you to keep up a friendly and more relaxed chat environment, it also helps you to keep communications unified and to make sure all relevant parties hear announcements and are kept up-to-date on the latest company news. Rather than having to call around to each person individually, you can notify the appropriate Slack channel, and everyone who needs to receive your message gets it right away.

Is Virtual Me Here to Stay?

A lot of these tools have become necessities right now because of the coronavirus pandemic. People are using the tools in new ways. Some are conducting networking groups online rather than in person. Others have even set up co-working video sessions, where folks log on, go on mute, work individually, and occasionally come up for air to say a few casual words to each other.

We’re even seeing families adopt the technology for fun ways to stay connected virtually. I’ve seen scavenger hunts, science experiments, play dates, book clubs, and dance parties all occur on the web in these last few weeks of social distancing.

While some of these virtual ways of being will likely go away when life returns to normal (a virtual family game night will never replace the in-person hugs and warmth you’ll feel), I suspect some of these new ways of working will stick around.

For example, I host a number of weekend bootcamps throughout the year with our Consultant Network, and we’re planning to move them to virtual events. While there are some things you may lose in a virtual setting (the spontaneous conversation over lunch, say), in terms of cost and ability to include more people, virtual has got in-person beat every time.

Tips for a Better Experience

When it comes to connecting virtually, there are a few steps we can all take to make it a better experience for ourselves, our clients, our families, and anyone else we may be conversing with online.

First, audio is a big deal. There’s nothing more frustrating than listening to fuzzy audio that keeps going in and out. Particularly if you’re presenting to a group, it pays to invest in a nicer, USB condenser mic (like the Blue Yeti). These microphones pick up more depth and character in your voice, and they make you sound a lot more professional than the mic on your iPhone headphones.

Video matters, too. Rather than relying on the built-in camera that comes on your laptop, spend a little bit more on something like the Logitech C922 Pro. A nicer camera will give you higher video quality, with better light and clearer visuals.

Speaking of light, make sure that you have natural light on your face, if you can. Don’t have the light streaming in behind you, though, or you become a silhouette. If you don’t have natural light wherever you’re recording from, investing in a ring light can help your video look less dark and grainy.

Finally, do what you can to eliminate distractions. I know it can be difficult when you’re working from home and might have kids or pets running around in the background, but anything you can do to make your background as clean and seamless as possible is a major bonus for video calls and presentations.

I love the company Anyvoo; they create easily portable backdrops for video calls. You can get whatever you’d like printed on the canvas—your logo, a peaceful mountain scene—and you simply set the background up behind you whenever you have to take a video call. It’s on a stand, so it can be assembled anywhere and is taken down just as easily.

Many of us are adjusting to a new way of working that became a reality very suddenly over the past few weeks. I hope these tools make the transition a little easier for you, and that some of them become favorites that will continue to help you grow your business even after we return to normal life.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Klaviyo logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to klaviyo.com/beyondbf.

Building a Marketing System in 7 Steps

Building a Marketing System in 7 Steps written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing philosophy is that marketing is a system. It’s not a series of tactics you approach willy-nilly. It’s not a blog post here, a podcast episode there, a social media ad once in a while. The kind of marketing that gets real results is driven by strategy and is constantly refined.

Today, I’m going to walk you through the seven steps any business must take to build a robust marketing system. Going through these steps now and revisiting them annually is the key to ensuring your business’s long-term success.

1. It Starts with Strategy

When you think marketing, your mind might leap to tactical elements: setting up a social media profile, creating share-worthy how-to videos on your YouTube channel, soliciting positive reviews on Yelp. Those are all well and good, and they are certainly elements you’ll want to tackle eventually. But first, you’ve got to start with strategy, and strategy starts with knowing your ideal customer.

If you don’t understand who your ideal customer is—their core problems and the value you bring to every engagement—how can you possibly find a message that resonates and identify the tactics that will work?

The short answer is that you can’t. Every great marketing strategy is rooted in pinpointing your ideal customer and honing in on the ways they want to interact with a business. Only once you’ve established your ideal client can you begin to connect what you offer with how you solve your customer’s problems.

2. Take Control of the Customer Journey

Today’s customer journey is driven by the customers themselves. People can go online to read your website, snoop on your social profiles, and get the inside scoop from existing customers’ reviews. If you let it, the buying journey can happen with hardly any input from you.

But smart businesses don’t sit back and let the customer do what they want; they take the reins on the customer journey. We like to frame the customer journey as one that flows through a marketing hourglass. The journey has seven steps: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer.

We call it the marketing hourglass because your marketing tactics need to be involved at every step along the way. It’s not enough for you to leap in just before the sale. You must use tactics early on to help ideal prospects discover your brand. Your content should help convince them that you’re likable and trustworthy.

And your marketing efforts must continue long after that first sale is done. You’ll continue to be involved in the process of encouraging repeat business and a steady stream of positive reviews and referrals. As marketers, it’s our job to help customers take each step along the journey logically.

3. Content Has Risen to the Strategic Level

Don’t conflate the word “content” with “blog post.” Content is way bigger than that.

Content allows us to take the promise that we made to solve a problem and expand that so we can dominate search, social media, and all other places online where prospects are looking for answers about our brand.

We like to use content hubs to create one-stop-shops for the kind of informative, meaningful content that addresses a customers’ needs anywhere along the journey. Hub pages are designed to bring together all relevant information on a certain topic on one page. Think of them as the table of contents for a great online book in your area of expertise.

Whether someone’s just discovering your business, are coming back for one last look before they make a first purchase, or are sharing information about you with a friend looking for a referral, content hubs have something for everyone.

Content hubs are not only great resources on your website, they help improve your ranking in SEO and ensure that it’s easier for new audiences to discover your business.

4. Be Everywhere Online

People today live their lives online. The average internet user is online for six and a half hours each day! So that’s where every business needs to be, too.

Creating a total online presence allows you to greet people no matter where they are on the internet. Did someone drive by your brick-and-mortar store and look you up on Facebook? You should have a complete profile, with photos, reviews, and contact information, to greet them!

Did one of your happy customers refer you to their friend? Make sure your website is optimized for search, so that you will appear in queries even if that friend forgot to write your business name down and instead searches for a term associated with what you do.

The final piece of having a total online presence is ensuring that all of the pieces are integrated to work as a whole. Make sure that you use consistent branding across all of your profiles so people easily recognize you as the same business. Have your social handles on your website, so people can click from your homepage to your Instagram or Facebook profile. And vice versa! Use social media organic posts and advertising to drive traffic back to your website.

5. Keep the Leads Coming

A steady flow of leads is what will keep you in business for years to come. Not every lead will become a customer, but if you constantly have new opportunities coming your way, you’ll be able to continue to grow your business.

There is no one way to generate leads. In fact, it’s best to spread the wealth so that you’re there in the channels where your ideal customers live. That being said, it also pays not to stretch yourself too thin. You don’t have to be on every social media channel, guest blogging for every industry publication, appearing on every podcast, and showing up in every search related to your industry.

Instead, focus your efforts on the channels that are most likely to generate results. If your ideal clients are Baby Boomers, there’s no need to spend time marketing on a Gen Z-dominated social media site like Snapchat. It’s best to focus on building up those channels that are most likely to consistently generate leads.

6. Focus on Converting Those Leads

Are you doing what it takes to convert each and every lead? What about a plan to reactive old and lost clients? You can dramatically impact a business by setting up better experiences along the customer journey.

This starts with customer journey mapping. Mapping allows you to understand exactly what’s happening at each stage of the journey. If there are elements that are contributing to a less-than-stellar experience, you have the power to change those and make them better. Once you know you’ve built a great experience all the way through, you’ll have a better shot at winning back those clients you lost and capturing new ones, too.

Customer journey mapping also helps you consider all conversion behavior. It’s not just the sale that matters, it’s every conversion step leading up to that. Are people signing up for your newsletter? Are they downloading your free ebook? Are they booking an online appointment to video chat with your sales reps?

By tracking and measuring each conversion behavior, you can begin to identify those weak spots. If you can boost conversion at each weak spot by one or two percent, it adds up to a huge bump cumulatively over the journey.

7. Make a Plan

You don’t need to be like those giant corporations that have five- and ten-year strategic plans. But you do need a plan that says—for this year, quarter-by-quarter—these are our biggest priorities.

Most businesses try to bite off more priorities than they can chew. Limit it to three or four priorities each quarter. From there, you can break these big-picture goals into actionable steps.

Marketing isn’t something you can set-and-forget. It needs to happen daily, so you should schedule it in to ensure it becomes a habit. If you have a team, stay on top of them to ensure that your priorities are moving along and you’re hitting each of those actionable steps on time.

Once you’ve discovered the tactics and strategies that work for you, write them down. By documenting your processes, it’s easy to pass those tasks off to staff members or outside marketing support. That frees you up to focus on the next big strategy to grow your business.

Great marketing is a cyclical thing; it never truly ends. Once you’ve gone through these seven steps, go right back to the beginning and refine your approach. Do you need to revisit the profile of your ideal customer? Is there a new online channel you should be considering in your marketing efforts? Have your mapping exercises highlighted a new opportunity to boost conversions at a given stage in the journey?

By revisiting each of the seven steps of your marketing strategy each quarter, it keeps your approach fresh and helps you identify new ways to reach customers.