It is all too common that your inbound marketing strategy will hit a wall after a few weeks when you discover the resistance from internal stakeholders to support the project.
1. Early Beginnings – Getting Some Traction
You have been able to round up a few hundred emails from existing clients, but you have found huge resistance from any of the senior management to document their architect or design knowledge. A not uncommon predicament, but all is not lost.
Don’t give up. At this level your main objectives can be narrowed to:
A. Letting existing customers know you are still in the game and get in there periphery.
B. Getting new leads and customers to opt in to your newsletter.
Content generated by the architect or design industry firm is preferable, but as a last resort you can have some content created economically from outside of the organisation. You can find outside contractors with design-build industry knowledge however they won’t have knowledge of your company, specific niche or unique selling proposition. It means your content will not be as focused as if originated internally, but will still get you closer to your objectives.
A. Consistent Content to Email to Your Existing Audience
To get in your existing customers periphery you need some consistent fortnightly or monthly content to email to your existing audience. E mail is still number one for turning prospects into customers and return customers. To get up and running you can get some articles written (by native English speaking writers) don’t be tempted to even bother with $5 articles from India, or even articles under $20 from native English writers. You should be able to get decent articles from $25-$50. There are a number of market places from general ones like Elance to more writing focused like scripted.com or text broker.
Trial a few writers on 500 – 1000 articles and then settle on the one you like the most to do a series of articles on your preferred niche or segment of architecture or landscape design. You can then add these to your blog and email your list every fortnight, month or even bi-monthly. It is important do it consistently as per the schedule you were able to achieve on your budget.
Use an email service for this like Mailchimp as they do a good job of avoiding spam filters which sending bulk email raises a red flag for, and it makes the process of creating and sending newsletters and managing your list of subscribers relatively painless.
B. Getting New Leads That are Interested Your Preferred Segment.
The second objective of getting new customers to sign up is achieved by offering them a hook, these can be in the form of discounts, freebies or education. If it’s appropriate to offer them a discount or free service/product for signing up, then that can work, but be wary of this tactic.
More commonly education is the better choice. Offer to solve a problem they have by way of a free ebook or whitepaper, by now you have hopefully forged a relationship with some writers that have been writing your blog articles and you can contract them to write something a bit more substantial. You could even re-purpose the content they have already written on the blog and use this as the basis of an eBook.
Not only will this attract leads, but this eBook will position you as an expert in the segment of your choice. If seaside homes were you specialty then an eBook titled. “10 Essentials of Designing Seaside Properties” would attract very targeted traffic and by positioning your firm as the expert in this niche should allow you to charge a premium.
Minimum Viable Strategy
Keep in mind, this strategy is a minimum viable solution, but even so if done consistently it will achieve a few things. Firstly you will be able to test what your audience likes and wants to hear more of and you can use this data to craft topics for future content.
This minimum viable solution will give you enough time and traction and some small wins to get more confidence and buy-in from the rest of the team to create some better more focused content. Make sure you have a way to measure the results through a combination of google analytics and asking people on the website and phone where they heard about you. You will need some success metrics to justify more investment.
Over time you can keep chipping away at extracting the information from internal sources. If you can’t get them to record themselves prepare a questionnaire, or get a professional to do it, and book an interview with them. These interviews can be transcribed from an online transcription service and then given to your writer to make some much more focused articles and whitepapers.
Hopefully within a year you are seeing some positive metrics and are able to commit some more resources to the campaign.
2. Insourcing the Content. Outsourcing the Expertise.
Once you can get some more buy-in from the team and assuming the nominated project manager has been given enough time away from their other tasks to do a proper job of this project, which is crucial, you can start to build some more intriguing information.
What value can you offer your target market based their architectural, building or landscape problems and needs? You should be able to get some good ideas from previous email and phone correspondence of the 10 most commonly asked questions.
Have a brief chat to everyone in the office and find out what they think the customers biggest problems are. Break this down into a questionnaire that you can give everyone and ask them to give you their thoughts on paper or audio. If that doesn’t work schedule an interview and record the conversation.
Collect all this new content and add to any existing internal and supplier content as well as a database of existing customers and leads. It is now time for a strong plan, seek out someone in the office you can partner with and audit these assets and strategize what is the best way to re-purpose. Brainstorm and list the options of what is the most appropriate for your company eg.
Problems we can solve, White papers, customer case studies, manufacturing processes, how to articles, blog posts and email newsletter (how many, how often)
Outside Expertise – Get in a Hired Gun
Get an expert content marketer in (or remotely) to assess your plan and offer some feedback. A fresh pair of eyes with experience in wide range of other similar service firm campaigns will either offer some new ideas or at least affirm what you are doing and give you a bit more confidence to go forward.
A professional writer will be a strong asset at this stage. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing either. You or another internal team member can write the draft and then just have a professional polish it and offer feedback.
Whoever is responsible for this project should already have a strong grasp on writing and some formal training. Times are changing and while a lot of the fundamentals are unchanged the web has changed the playing field significantly and there are some major differences in writing for this media.
3. Turning Your Firm into an Architect or Landscape Industry Leading Resource.
If the business is large enough to employ a full time content manager then this is preferable. For an established company with a marketing budget over 100k then it’s time for a shake-up of what that money is spent on.
Bring the professionals in, allow them an inside look and feel for your company and make sure you have the internal resources to implement what they suggest. They can’t do it on their own, they need your help. They need the wealth of experiences you can only get from being in the design-build business over many years.
Keep them on a short rope and plan an exit strategy for if it doesn’t work out. You want to see results after 6 months. Add KPI’s to the contract, get their input on what they think they can achieve in terms of raw metrics, increased subscribers, site visitors, engagement and sales from your digital strategy.
Review after 6 months and if they can’t prove that there will be a strong return on investment before the year is up then find someone else. Content Strategy and Inbound Marketing works, that’s a fact for many businesses, but you need to find the right partner that can do the job for you.
Next we will re-visit web design and see How Design Build Websites Convert Visitors to Leads Through Good Design