Comprehensive Inbound Strategy:
I uncover core workflows and processes needed to skyrocket your startup’s growth.
Everything you need to grow.
Polished drafts, outreach and social.
Documented plan for the DIYer.
Relationship-centered brand awareness.
10X current content marketing results.
Strategic design, captions and hashtags.
Skyrocket Your Startup With a Documented Inbound Strategy
Your personalized, polished strategy serves as the roadmap. Follow its directions and you’ll reach effective inbound marketing. When I build an inbound marketing strategy, I’m building more than a spreadsheet or document: I’m building systems.
“If solid goals are established and the majority of time is spent manipulating systems toward those goals, great results will materialize naturally.”
– Sam Carpenter, Work the System
In 2016, 72% of B2B Marketers attributed their greater content marketing success to a documented strategy. Duh, right!? Execution comes much easier when you have the plan, systems, structure and metrics in place.
My 7-Step Strategy Development Process
Step #1: Define Quantifiable Objectives
The top five inbound marketing goals include: lead generation, brand awareness, engagement, lead nurturing and sales. We’ll narrow it down to one. Why? Because every other aspect of this strategy must fuel your top objective.
“The goal is not to be good at content. The goal is to be good at business because of content.” – Jay Baer
Your story, metrics, audience, funnel, content development, promotion… It all hinges on the question, “What do we want to achieve with inbound marketing this year?”
But fear not, ye overzealous startup founder. Laser-focused, strategic inbound marketing tends to achieve multiple objectives at once.
For example, our sole focus may be lead generation. But here’s the thing…
- As we create content for a specific audience, engagement goes up.
- As we conduct outreach to potential leads, we increase brand awareness.
- As we launch growth campaigns, the depth will foster lead nurturing.
- As we generate real leads, we’ll attract the interest of investors.
And on and on it goes…
So, yes, we will center our strategy and efforts on one specific objective. However, the natural consequence of consistent inbound marketing is holistic startup growth.
2. Personify Your Ideal Audience
Great marketing feels personal. You likely know the type of person you need to attract and convert, but do you deeply understand him?
Do you know what keeps him up at night?
Do you know the publications he reads?
Do you know the influencers that mentor him?
Do you know the exact questions he’s asking related to your solution?
Do you know the precise words he’ll connect with while reading your copy?
Comprehensive personas address these questions and many others. It covers demographics, personal goals, career responsibilities, daily frustrations, primary influences, driving motivators, content preferences and consumption patterns.
I use a variety of research methods to compile this profile, including:
- Analysis of Popular Industry Content
- Google Search Analytics
- Social Listening
- Competitor Analysis
- Target Market Interviews
- Customer Interviews
The mix of data and speaking with real people creates a depth and cohesion to the personas. Ultimately, the insight serves as a springboard to developing widely useful, engaging content. And, at the end of the day, that’s what brings results.
3. Discover Your Sticky Story
Hieroglyphics, ancient religious writings, the cursus publicus, Vyasa, minstrels, Poor Richard’s Almanack, newspapers, magazines, company bulletins, soap operas, commercials, product placements, email newsletters, blogging, social media…
An inundation of tactics the past decade has distracted many from what truly works. Yes, the medium evolves with time, but there’s one unchanging truth: consumers buy the story.
Someone already had your revolutionary startup idea.
A few may have even given it a shot.
You need a way to break through the noise and get heard.
You need a provocative story with an interesting, entertaining and motivational perspective.
Products and services lack the WOW-factor necessary to serve as the pillar of your story. Quite frankly, you wouldn’t be reading about my services if it could. Instead, we need to dive in and discover several nuances to devise a remarkable message.
I lead us through this process by using the building blocks of storytelling (i.e. Character, Setting, Plot, Conflict and Resolution):
1. Asking a series of astute questions. I’ll shape your brand’s character development and personality through precise adjectives and positioning statements.
2. Outlining a juxtaposition of your challenges and your audience’s challenges. There’s an overlap, and finding it serves as the foundation of your story plot.
3. Developing an interesting, entertaining, motivational and public goal. Conflict and resolution ignites curiosity and natural provokes word-of-mouth.
4. Reverse-Engineering the most profitable place to tell your story. Usually a blog serves as your setting. But maybe not. I’m very open to innovative, non-traditional paths.
By the end, we’ll construct a remarkable story that will gain attention, admiration and authority.
4. Determine Metric for Success
Objective + Audience + Story dicates the metric we’ll use to track gauge success. In general, the top-five inbound marketing metrics are:
- Website Traffic
- Sales Lead Quality
- Social Media Sharing
- Time Spent on Website
- Conversion Rates
More often than not, startups want to increase user signups (objective) and measure new signups (metric). However, it’s not that simple. For example, how do we distinguish new users who came through inbound marketing vs. those who signed up for other reasons?
We’ll hash all this out and come up with a cohesive system.
5. Outline the Journey
Like every hero, each conversion has an origin story. Sometimes you find someone willing to quickly move through your funnel, others need more time. Regardless, they get there in a very similar fashion – especially when you provide directions.
Strategic content marketers direct readers through a funnel without them realizing. They predictably move from level to level, moving close to the ultimate objective.
It’s important to define your funnel because it helps inform content decisions. You see, each persona has its own funnel. Each funnel has its own level. And each level must address specific questions before the persona moves any further down your funnel.
A simple calculation also reveals the minimum amount of content your site needs to efficiently convert every persona.
Personas (p) x Levels (l) x Questions (q) = Minimum Content
So, if you laser focus on answering one persona’s twenty questions throughout five levels…
1 x 5 x 20 = A Minimum of 100 Pieces of Content
Once we understand the journey and the support your persona’s needs, we can use our content planning to address each concern. And if you already have content, we’ll use the Content Audit to map what you have and find the gaps in your information. (The Content Audit portion of the strategy is addressed more in Step #7: Develop Optimized Systems.)
6. Reverse-Engineer the Content
Most everyone wants to jump right to this step, but you shouldn’t. You glean an enormous amount of insight while defining your objective, persona, story and metrics. When you neglect those factors and jump into blogging, you’ll lose.
Remember, you don’t need a blog; you need to attract, convert and retain customers.
During this step of the strategy, I’ll reverse engineer everything we gathered so far to determine the most effective content types. In general, most companies use a mix of 4-8 of the following:
- Social Media Posts
- Blog Posts
- Email Newsletters
- In-Person Events
- Pre-Produced Video
- Live-Streamed Video
- Online Presentations
- Research Reports
- Interactive Tools
- Digital Magazines
Unless your persona has a VERY specific format preference, it’s important to distribute content across a variety of types. It’s a lot of work, but nothing we can’t easily manage with an editorial calendar and efficient project management.
Once we know the types of content, I’ll put together a 6-month editorial calendar. Here I’ll pre-plan a variety of details regarding each piece of content, including:
- Publish Date
- Working Title
- Value Proposition
- Funnel Level
- Metrics Tracking
- Add’l Notes
An editorial calendar is like a GPS yelling “TURN LEFT NOW!” From this, we can distribute milestones, keep everyone informed and develop project timelines.
7. Develop Optimized Systems
Systems run my life and business. Without them, I’d never accomplish anything. Likewise, I believe creating systems in your inbound strategy keeps everything running smooth.
During this portion of the strategy, I document the following:
Style Guidelines: Defined standards of your company’s branding. It provides a holistic overview of logo use, visuals, colors, grammar, tone, voice, point of view and more.
Content Inventory: A full, analyzed inventory of all content on your website. Helps identify content gaps, which new content we should prioritize, what content needs improvement, if we should get rid or consolidate pages, and where to optimize for conversions.
Initial Outreach List: Foundational list of 60 industry influencers, 300 content creators, and 400 consumers that are active in the industry’s online community.
Amplification Workflow: What steps will we take to quickly amplify new content?
(E.g. internal email to employees, employees’ social media, email to subscriber list, paid social media, social bookmarking, guest posting, organic social media posts, one-on-one outreach emails.)
I’ll spend the first two weeks of our contract deep in the trenches building this strategy. It will require several meetings and brainstorming sessions to really lock down.
Once it’s done, you’ll overflow with clarity, vision and direction.
You feel empowered to achieve greatness. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll have bewitched you to continue our relationship by investing in my monthly blog management, too.
|• 1-Hour Kickoff Phone Call||• Quantifiable Objectives||• In-Depth Audience Personas|
|• Competition Research||• Story Development||• Analytics Planning|
|• Conversion Funnel Setup||• Content Analysis||• 6-Month Editorial Calendar|
|• Style Guidelines||• Content Inventory||• 60x300x400 Outreach List|
|• Amplification Workflows||• 4x, 1000-Word Blog Posts||• Strategy Sign-Off Call|
Client Engagement Workflow
I develop individualized inbound strategies for each client. While the outcome looks different, the workflow stays consistent for each new project.
Step #1: One-Hour Kickoff Call
I’ll extract basic info about your startup, goals, current efforts, wins/fails and target market. Consider it a State of the Union.
Step #2: Audience and Oppo Research
Gather information and get a lay of the land. Use the research to develop competitor profiles and audience personas.
Step #3: Story Development
Using what I’ve gleaned, I’ll pitch a few Sticky Story ideas. From there, I’ll go deeper on the plot, conflict and resolution.
Step #4: Analytics Planning
Every objective gets tracked or ignored. I’ll create a quantifiable plan for metrics, setup and monthly analytics reporting.
Step #5: Funnel Building
Every new customer goes on a journey. It’s our job to direct them. I’ll build conversion points and funnel stages.
Step #6: Content Engineering
With the groundwork in place, I’ll reverse-engineer effective types of content and a create a 6-month editorial calendar.
Step #7: Systems Development
I’ll develop style guidelines, a content inventory, your initial outreach list, and content amplification workflows.