We see loads of excellent content campaigns executed by clients using Passle. Here on our blog, you'll find lots of best practice examples of great content from professional services, data analysis from across our network, and answers to content marketing questions.
From all those learnings and working with the top firms in the world, we've put together this guide to running a best in class content campaign, all the way from planning through execution and reporting.
In this first post, we'll take you through the early stages. These planning steps will let you:
- identify your market segment
- set relevant and business-oriented goals
- put together the right team
Planning: targets, goals & team
A campaign is only as successful as the goals that it achieves, and the results it generates.
Segmentation & targeting
This is the bread and butter, or perhaps the tea and biscuits, of marketing strategy. For a campaign to work, it has to align with your strategy for growth. Conducting a segment and target analysis provides a focus for your marketing, it aligns the efforts that you are about to undertake with the goals of your firm.
There are loads of great authors on segmentation, targeting, and positioning. I'd recommend Mark Ritson over at marketing week for the irreverent take, or this article for a more middle of the road opinion.
There is lots of good research out there on segmentation and targeting, so I won't dwell on it too long. However, the quick and dirty way to do these is to:
- Take your revenue by client
- Segment by factors such as location, size, industry, client need
- Analyse for profitability, market size, and fit with your firm
- Target the best segment to expand that will achieve your firm's goals
That last point is really key. There is no point in trying to gain x% market share if your overall firm's goal is profitability. Equally, being focused on profitability if the firm's goal is market share will hold you back. By necessity, segmentation and targeting will require conversations with senior management that they may not be ready for.
The best way to prepare for these conversations is to have clear, inarguable data. The best way to get that data comes first from your own firms billing. The best way to supplement that data is with accurate research. For those without a large research budget, LinkedIn's advertising tool is brilliant. In mere moments you can segment data by all sorts of factors, and have your ideal segment mapped out in moments.
Bigger isn't better here. I'll repeat that. You are not trying to reach very many people with your campaign. For the overwhelming majority of professional services firms, reaching a very small number of the right people is far more important than reaching the masses.
Realistically, the number of people that can understand and actually decide to buy your firm's services is very, very small. Keep your target group small to reflect this.
*Usually, segmentation, targeting, and positioning are undertaken once a year (possibly then reviewed several times a year). We've added this step here because a successful campaign needs a target, but you don't need to redo this step every time a new campaign is coming up.
So much marketing happens without proper goal setting. Sometimes that's because marketers are "idea led" and let a cool concept run away with them before thinking about what they are trying to achieve. Sometimes its because we set ourselves bad goals.
Les Binet & Peter Field are two names all marketers should familiarise themselves with. They've been researching marketing effectiveness for a decade. One piece of their research found that there are distinct long and short term effects of marketing campaigns. Most marketers do themselves a disservice by undervaluing their long term impact.
To reflect that, set a long term and a short term goal. The short term goal offers a leading indicator and a good measure of the effectiveness of the efforts. The long term goal shows a more complete picture of how you have affected the bottom line.
Long term you want to be winning work. In the short term, that looks like making people aware that you have offerings they need and ensuring that your target view those offerings positively.
A classic campaign might look like this:
Long term: generate specific work "y", from firms in the target group with a value over "x".
Short term: demonstrate awareness & positive perception of our firms' offerings in the area of specific work "y".
The amounts and areas here should be determined by the segmentation. Long term goals can afford to focus on revenue and need not demonstrate direct attribution. It is enough to have contributed.
Short term goals need to be pointy, sharp, and clear. When someone asks what impact that campaign had, you want to be able to say: "We reached these specifically named people at these named target firms, and they viewed us positively in this area that we have expertise in"
Business leaders aren't fools. They don't need to see a name on a lead sheet to recognise value. Equally, in 2020 we know that people aren't going to purchase your services off the back of that ebook download. Your goals should reflect that.
Short term - awareness & perception. Long term - revenue.
Assembling the right team
To be successful, a marketing project needs to have the support of the right people within your organisation.
Even the best idea can be snuffed out by a word from the wrong person. Any marketing project, no matter how well planned and conceived, can be killed in moments by a senior person with an off the cuff comment.
The way to prevent this is to be deliberate about who you have supporting your project. Build this community in the right way, make sure they share in your success and your project is much more likely to succeed.
Authors are somewhat self-explanatory. These are the people that will be directly making your initiative work. For us, they are the experts within firms. Having a clear understanding of who these people are, as well as a select few you have a closer relationship with, will help to start your project and keep the momentum going.
If you don't have the doers on your team, it's very difficult to pull out examples of when things go well, making it harder to demonstrate the behavior you want and the results when things work.
Supporters are the least obvious of the three types of people needed for a marketing program to be successful. A diverse group, this encompasses all the people within the organisation who will benefit from your initiative. This is often the business development and sales teams, the junior professionals, and account management teams.
These people provide a wider reach for your efforts. In the case of thought leadership, they are sharing it with their clients and contacts. For other initiatives, these people are the ones sharing the word about what you are doing and why it matters.
Sponsors are perhaps the most difficult to get right, but highly important, sponsors are the ones lending their authority to the project. These people are usually senior leaders in the firm, directors, heads of sectors, etc.
Without sponsors, your project is at risk all the time. Bring these people on board early in your ideation process. Frame your project in a way that makes it as relevant as possible for them. Finally, make sure that you have multiple sponsors and involve these people in sharing the good news around your project.
From here, we'll look at how to formulate a message that resonates, how to package that message and how to deliver it to your targets. Stay tuned for part 2 next week.