My Entire Marketing Strategy From Bottom To Top
Rather than tell you what you should be doing as far as good marketing strategy, I thought it would be best to focus this post on outlining my entire marketing strategy for expanding my marketing agency and why I made the specific choices that I did.
Funnel Based Marketing
My overall strategy is a funnel based marketing strategy. I have been an independent marketing consultant for 5 years and before that I worked at a national agency for 2 years and I have a total of 10 years marketing experience. My primary niche is CRM and ERP systems management with a particular specialization in data visualization. Primarily, I help corporations take the massive amounts of data that they have and turn it into pretty little reports that can be read by a 5 year old.
When choosing a niche to expand into, I decided on the small business niche. I wanted to make the leap from independent marketing consultant to full service marketing agency. There’s a large difference between being a freelancer and being in charge of a team. I see it as the difference between being a product and being a company, plus it has always been my goal to get myself to a place where my money is working full time for me rather than spending time working for my money.
The problem is, I had not had to sell myself for over 4 years. I’m the only person on staff at my agency with my particular skillset which meant that I had to start from square one as far as lead generation. No lists and no referrals to work from. Facing this dilemma, my only real choice was to create a funnel based marketing strategy. Here is the sequence that I took, the specific tactics I employed, and why I employed them.
Pre Campaign Setup
I started out by writing four, what I thought were really strong articles that would appeal to small business owners. I tested the content by posting it to forums and making revisions to the articles based on the discussions people had on the forum posts.
From there, I wrote an eBook (From Zero to ????: The Startup and Small Business Owner’s Guide To Profitability) and a guide (The Small Business Owner’s Guide To Account Based Marketing). These served as my email capture enticement offers. The eBook is on a broad subject because half of it was originally pieced together from parts of old personal blog posts (I’ve always been into Entrepreneurship) it has since been completely reworked 3x over.
If I were to have approached it from a 100% strategic angle, the eBook would have been on a far narrower subject, like the guide was. I chose that particular topic for the guide because there are several Account Based Marketing tail words that are easy to rank for. My thought was that it would give me a good targeted piece of content now and it would pay SEO dividends in the long term, so it’s a twofer.
Step 1: Launch An Awareness Campaign
Now that I had my bare bones content marketing pieces set up, it was time to launch an initial awareness campaign. The video above was the crux of that campaign. I went with video for my launch campaign for a few reasons:
- Video is a strong performing bottom funnel ad medium
- Video ad engagement on Facebook is cheap
- I hoped a high quality video would increase my initial Authority
No one that would turn out to be a good client would simply see my ad. Go to my website, and decide that they need to get in contact with me now to help with their marketing services. My overall goal with this campaign was simply to make a strong splash into the market and to get people into my universe. I figured a catchy video ad like you would see on TV produced by a larger ad agency would accomplish that goal and would have the effect of immediately giving credibility to my brand.
Since I did not have anyone to target to initially, I used Facebook custom audience targeting. I ran the ad for two weeks to small business owners within a 20 mile radius of where I live and I A/B tested and refined a statewide custom audience over time. For the A/B testing demographics, I used different combinations of Behavior targeting. With Facebook ads, you can target via Interest (what people Like or Follow on Facebook) or you can target by Behavior.
At present, Facebook is the number two advertising and consumer market research company in the world. Behavior targeting is based on what you do, both offline and online, not what you say you like. My best performing ad demographic was male small business owners ages 25-40 in my state who earn more than $100k and spend higher than average on electronics but have not made an online software purchase within the last 6 months. The power of the platform is that you can target anything and anyone, if you’re not creating really targeted campaigns but you’re using custom audiences, you’re wasting money.
Step 2: Launch An Information/Authority Campaign
For this campaign, I used a landing page that I created for my eBook and a landing page that I created for my guide and created ads centered around both. I targeted anyone that engaged 95% of my video (3 second views is not an engagement metric worth anything), anyone that visited my site within the last 30 days, and again A/B tested custom audiences. For the ABM guide my best performing custom audience was; small business owners who earn over $100k and spend more than average on Facebook advertising.
My specific goal with this campaign was to further narrow my funnel and find leads that I could nurture on a specific track (small business owners with an interest in Account Based Marketing). I chose this track because it’s a subject that I am an authority on and ABM Marketers are not yet focusing on small business owners, they’re still trying to attack the enterprise market. I figured it would be extremely easy to set myself up as an authority. By hyper targeting my audience so much, I was able to get email addresses for 50 cents a piece through this campaign. Every single one of them already pre-qualified according to the criteria I had in mind and they all expressed interest in the very subject that I wrote about.
Step 3: Launch a DRIP Campaign To The ABM List
A DRIP campaign should be one of the core tools in any company’s tool box when it comes to marketing. Put simply, DRIP campaigns are automated sets of emails that are sent based on specific actions or time intervals. If someone is currently in the market for buying a car, getting a ton of information in front of them about cars ASAP is generally an effective marketing strategy, whereas trying to do the same thing to someone who just bought a car last week is just a waste of money.
Taking a step deeper into consumer buying behavior, we also see that a core aspect of the buying process is that people buy in stages. You don’t suddenly come to the realization that you're going to go out and buy a car tomorrow. Instead, you approach the process through a series of steps that culminate with you stepping into a dealership and purchasing a car. Lead acquisition DRIP marketing attempts to capture the attention of those customers that just came to the realization that they might want to buy a product, and attempts to nurture them through those stages in order to influence their buying decision.
The ABM guide that I used to acquire the email addresses that I plugged into my DRIP campaign was a bottom of the funnel piece. It was designed to let my target audience know that they have a problem (they’re spending too much on their advertising efforts) and what the immediate solution is to solve that problem, invest in an ABM strategy. My goal with the DRIP campaign was to continue moving my prospects through the funnel so I set up a simple sequence of emails:
- Email One: Case studies about companies that have employed ABM and the benefits that they’ve gained. The guide gave them all of the meat that they needed to get them started researching the topic. This email was simply designed to make them start thinking more about it and to start to visualize the improvements that could be made within their organization if they implemented this strategy.
- Email Two: “Trialing ABM Within Your Sales Department”. Since I don’t have a tiered product offering, this was my freemium replacement. The goal here was to push the prospects toward implementing a trial run of my ABM strategies within their business so that they could see some of the potential benefits first hand.
- Email Three: “Let’s Talk About Your ABM Strategy”. This was the very first pitch of any kind that I made to any of my prospects. If they were in the funnel through all of the campaigns, they received four purely informational touches from me before this soft pitch.
- Email Four: A highly personalized email offering 30 minutes of my time for free to discuss their business needs and to offer pointers.
I set the cadence for the emails so that each one went out 4 days after the prospect opened the prior email. Since this was my initial launch campaign for everything related to this segment, I optimized this entire DRIP campaign for returning a quick ROI on my investment. I wanted to weed out prospects that did not have a very high probability of closing right away so I set the whole sequence to only fire if the prospect opened all of the previous emails. If they didn’t open any of the emails along the way, I threw them into separate, broad subject DRIP campaign targeted towards producing more long term results than short term.
Costs and ROI
All in, I spent a total of roughly $500 for all of these campaigns, a little over $100 in expenses and $400 in FB ads. Literally the only parts of any of it that I outsourced any of the work for was the video and the graphic cover for the eBook. If I had to outsource any of the work along the way (content, the landing pages, ad creation, etc.), my overall costs would have been significantly higher. Some of the pieces that I used got reworked into bigger and better things so I am including the ROI for those as well. Here are all of the benefits that my $500 spend got me:
- 348 highly targeted email addresses. I wasted some money on some of the segments, for example my local business owner campaign was expensive. Toward the end of the campaigns, I was able to start picking up emails for around 50 cents a piece. If I were to buy a targeted list of email addresses, it would cost me $1.50 per and I would be cold emailing them. I consider the campaign a huge win from this aspect.
- I honestly kind of just threw out the initial iteration of From Zero To ?????: The Startup and Small Business Owner’s Guidebook simply because I needed some filler content to offer to small business owners. Almost half of my email sign ups came from that guide even though I used it as the incentive piece in about 1/5th of the paid campaigns. After pausing for a few months and working on other projects, I went back to that eBook and I expanded it to 63 pages and spent about a week going over every detail of it and making it look nice. The expanded version is now available on Amazon for $2.99 in eBook version. I only uploaded it to Amazon this week but before doing so, I created a test landing page on my site and sent an email to the list I acquired from the FB ad campaign and 27 people bought a copy for $2.99 for a running total ROI from this of $80.73. I never knew the thrill of publishing could be so exhilarating so even if it stays there and never sells another copy, I’m happy with that.
- I closed two pieces of business as a result of my campaigns. One was a small Salesforce.com related job for $600. The second resulted in me flying out to Melbourne Australia for 2 weeks (all airfare and expenses paid) to help out a company based there that targets the US market. I spent one week working and one week vacationing and made $5k.
Total Return on my $500 investment to date: $5,680.73