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It seems like every day there’s some new site, app or network that’s just begging you – or perhaps nagging at you – to use it as part of your marketing strategy. Just recently, Twitter released its Vine app and there is no shortage of blog posts and webinars telling you exactly how to jump onto this newest and hottest trend or surely you’ll be left behind in the darkest ages of internet marketing.
The moment there’s even the slightest whisper of something new, marketers come out of the woodwork with advice and ideas for taking advantage of the new shiny thing. (Honestly, how many really useful ideas can you come up with for an app you’ve used for five minutes?) Blog posts pop up like mushrooms with dos, don’ts, exclamations of delight and dire warnings.
And all you want to do is crawl back into the hole of 1998 when it was way cool to have a website and you were all the rage if you did and that was enough.
The Problem With Marketing
Or perhaps, the problem with the way we often think about marketing is that every new channel, path, idea or strategy feels like a gigantic rock of responsibility dropped on our heads.
Good grief, I just figured out my Facebook plan! And now you want me to use what?
Let me ask you seriously: how excited were you the day you heard there was another social channel that would give you another opportunity to reach, connect with and “create a community” of customers?
When Google+ jumped on the scene? When Pinterest became the new hot place to be? When MySpace made a resurgence? When someone told you to answer questions on Quora, get your local business on Foursquare, open an Instagram account…
Did you think, “Wow, good thing I’ve got all these opportunities!”
Or did you think, “Holy cow, how the heck can I possibly add another thing to my to-do list?”
If you’re like me your first thought was, “This is going to require more Oreos than I thought.” Followed by, “Someone’s joking. Right?”
But that’s our wrong-thinking getting in the way. That’s our reactionary “my list is full” thinking.
Most significantly, it’s our brain stuck in “channel thinking” and not in “strategy thinking”.
But there’s another way to think about it – one that won’t require years of therapy or boxes of Oreos to cope with. It’s all about thinking in terms of integrated marketing.
You Don’t Need A Facebook Plan. Or A Twitter Plan. Or A Twitter/Vine Plan. You Just Need… A Plan.
The good news is that if you’re spending time trying to figure out what your Facebook strategy is (for example) you’re doing it wrong.
Why is that good news?
Because you can stop spending time focusing on your Facebook strategy, feeling overwhelmed by it, ignoring other marketing channels because you simply don’t have the time and brainpower left to deal with it all.
While you’re at it, you can stop planning your Twitter strategy, your YouTube strategy, your blogging strategy.
I want you to think about your overall message instead.
What is it that you want to achieve with your marketing?
What’s the message that you want to get out there to your customers and prospects?
If you can answer those questions seriously and well, then you can immediately cease worrying about everything else. And the next time some ambitious startup announces the new best thing you’ve ever seen (already at ten million users!) you can simply laugh and keep going.
When you have a core message and goals it no longer matters what channels and tools you use to market. All that matters is that you stick to your purpose. Then you can choose to absorb – or not – another means of delivering that message and meeting those goals into your arsenal.
Awesome. So How Does That Work?
You’ve started with your core message and your goals, right?
Now you need content.
But wait, you may be wondering, isn’t that content marketing then?
Sure, if buzzwords make you happy. But at its core, isn’t all marketing content marketing? You can’t have a blog or a video or a webinar or a podcast or speak at a conference without content.
So get yourself a piece of content that aligns with your message and your goals and begin to build a multi-channel approach around it.
Rather than speak abstractly, I’ll give you an example from our own business and how we might manage a marketing campaign. These are all real components of marketing programs we’ve run, but I’ve gone ahead and aggregated several clients into one broad, gorgeous, big-picture overview of how you can integrate your marketing and keep your hair at the same time.
Start With Your Content
It doesn’t matter what you start with. Just think “message” and “goals”.
In my example we’ll start with a press release. Company Q is releasing a new product so we write a press release that gets submitted to industry publications. These can be print publications or online publications or both.
Marketing buzz? Check.
We take that press release (which is written in a specific format with a specific tone) and “friendlify” it for a blog post. We re-format it, we throw in some great photos, we spiff up the language so it’s less press-y and more people-y. Depending on our goals, we may want to supplement with a how-to, quick-tip or other helpful post.
Blog marketing? Check.
We take that press release/blog post and pull it apart into little bitty 120 character snippets. We pick some highlights. We edit. We throw in some related factoids, stats, tips or other tidbits, drop in a link to the blog or website and start scheduling some tweets.
Twitter marketing? Check.
We take those photos, build ourselves an album, add some captions and queue up some Facebook posts.
Facebook marketing? Check.
We put together some demo videos of the new product, a highlight reel of features or benefits or changes since a last product release. Or remember that how-to blog post? We expand on that video-style. We pick out some highlights, or we supplement with additional information that we have handy at our fingertips because… good news!… we’re already clear on our message and goals.
YouTube marketing? Check.
We distill the contents of our other content pieces and put together an email newsletter. A teaser from the blog. A couple of photos. A link to videos. A call to action, buy here, sign up, check this out… something to pull people back to the website or get them acting on our news. Perhaps a special offer or deal just for subscribers.
Email marketing? Check.
We’ve got product shots! Guess where those go? Pop on a price, add a short and enticing description, link back to the website and…
Pinterest marketing? Check!
We grab a few behind-the-scenes photos… the warehouse. The assembly line. The product in action. Employees using products. Customers using products. Whatever is relevant to the product and… say it with me… our message and our goals. We overlay a cool filter.
Instagram marketing? Check!
I could go on but you probably get the idea. If you want a good exercise, take this example and keep going.
Can you turn this into an opportunity for marketing on Google+? How about LinkedIn? OMG, what if you have an industry event or trade show coming up! You have to put on your “trade show marketing” hat, right?
Nope, you’re going to sit back, pull out your message and goals and reuse, repurpose, expand, consolidate, slice, dice and keep going.
A Closing Thought On Goals
There’s an argument to be made that your goals are different depending on the channel.
For example, some companies use Twitter solely as a customer service outlet. They don’t post news, interesting tips or “engage” in any other way. But on Facebook they pull out all their photos and funny stories and put on a human face.
So then, don’t you still need a strategy for each channel?
No. And here’s why:
If providing better customer service isn’t one of your primary goals then it hardly matters that Twitter gives you a chance to do it. If you don’t want to engage and build community then what’s the difference whether Facebook is a good place for that or not?
You may execute your goals differently on different channels but your goals do not change. If they do then you’ve got an identity crisis!
If providing customer service is your goal, then the only thing you need to do is choose the appropriate channel. The nuances of “how” you do things may change – for instance, your exchange with a customer will be completely different on the phone vs. on Twitter but that’s just logistics. You need policies at that point, not strategies.
And breathe! Do you see how you can integrate your marketing not only to save yourself a whole lot of time and stress, but to be consistent with your brand and message no matter what avenue your marketing follows?
Are your gears spinning just a little bit about how you can apply this to your business?
Ask me in the comments if you have any questions or need help getting out of channel thinking and into “big picture” thinking!