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Marketing outside your neighborhood: Developing your plan

Grow your practice, Practice Management Marketing Plan

I once wanted to send Mr. Potato Heads to my executive clients – the real potato version because it was closer to the original Mr. Potato Head, and since our company was based in Idaho, it made sense to me. We were launching a new program that would challenge our clients with all of the senses, so I thought it would be hilarious to send the first package with just the ears. The next package with the eyes … and so on, until they had the whole potato to put it all together.

I know you’re judging my intellect right now, and that’s okay. The best part of brainstorming in a marketing meeting is coming up with ideas that may feel crazy or even bad, but you never know where that idea will lead. Accept the crazy, weird, and wonderful ideas because they may get someone else in the room to stretch themselves and find the idea that is perfect.

In the first part of this two-part series, I talked about the importance of planning in marketing; without a plan and its data, you really don’t know where to go. Now, in this article, I’ll show you how to take your information and develop the plan to execute your marketing.

I personally love this part of the process. It’s where you can get your team to dream a bit and brainstorm with fervor. You make a space for all of the ideas: the good, the bad, and the Mr. Potato Heads of the creative vision.

Yes, you will let go of the bad ideas, but the team’s participation is the gift. Have the marketing team do an offsite or Zoom meeting for planning. Everyone should have access to the data uncovered in the first round. Today is all about planning. I recommend doing this down and dirty with a Google printed calendar, lots of easel size Post-it paper, and smaller Post-it Notes.

Where do you want to show up? Create a list of possible marketing initiatives

Let’s say you figure out – through your interviews – that your ideal clients all like Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. You also discovered three conferences and two popular podcasts where your potential clients are already showing up.

How much does it cost to attend the conferences or virtual events? A lot of niche events love having financial experts present! It is something almost all of their attendees crave with popular topics, such as how to be more profitable, how to stay afloat during disasters or pandemics, and payroll laws they should be aware of. Can you get a speaking spot, and do you have someone on your team who is trained in public speaking to be effective and engaging in front of an audience?

Take those insights and determine what the key performance indicators should be upon participating. What is the cost per investment, and what expectations do you have in converting new prospects into clients? 

Social media is very easy to execute, but remember that you are competing with a lot of other noise. Is there a way you can stand out? Do you have someone on the team who loves social media, and can put together a strategy to share inspiration, education, and behind-the-scenes content on a consistent basis?

Regarding podcasts, sponsorships are one way for exposure, but being able to get on the actual podcast to chat it up with the host is ideal. This not only humanizes your brand to the audience, but could also bring massive awareness! In addition, some companies have paid sponsorship spots where you can do a short interview. See if you can be a guest, first, to share your expertise and help their audience with one of the problems you uncovered in your interview. Better yet, create your own podcast.

When do you want to show up? Mark the blackout dates

Start off by marking out the busy season you uncovered in your clients’ niche. This is not a dark time in marketing for you; this is an expected, lighter engagement time. Perhaps you can send high-end treats to your clients and wish them luck at the start or end of their busy season. 

  • Put the large conferences or podcast events on your calendar.
  • Are there any tax deadlines for your clients that you should think of doing marketing awareness or training around?
  • Can you identify slow months for them, where they may be more open to live or virtual experiences?
  • Are there holidays, or days such as International Donut Day, that you want to incorporate into the mix?

Take all of these and add them to the calendar.

How do you want to show up?

Once you determine where and when you are going to show up, it’s time to tie all of these things into an actual unified plan. It takes a bit more planning to come up with an annual or quarterly theme for your education, podcasts, events, and social. However, when you come up with that connection, you are paving the way for your team’s success and for your messaging to be consistent.

Maybe one quarter is all around tax tips, so for all of your social, newsletters, blogs, and podcast appearances, give a tip. Or, perhaps you want to lean into the Olympic theme this summer and have some fun creating challenges for your clients to achieve and receive gold star prizes or a free service for a month. Whatever it is, it’s time to brainstorm those themes and combine these separate marketing acts into one full production.

Questions to ask the team:

  • Is there a theme for the year or quarter that we can tie all of these things into, so that our message is consistent? 
  • How can we show up differently than our competitors?
  • What is unique to our brand that only we can bring to the experience?
  • What is the story we want to lean into for the year?
  • What customer problems have we uncovered that we can solve and share?
  • Who else can we bring in to help? (Current customer testimonials? Partners? Thought Leaders?)

Everyone learns in a variety of different ways, or needs to engage with your message in multiple forms in order for it to finally sink in. Having a variety of videos, articles, or audio recordings will give your prospective audience a few different ways to discover your content in a way they feel most comfortable for consuming. 

In addition, think about your ideal audience’s day. Do they typically commute to a job? Do they show up at different locations? If so, you may want to prioritize podcast recordings over blog articles. Do they have time to hop on social media or read the news in the morning? Maybe articles on LinkedIn, or a strong social media presence, would be best.

Either way, when you post, think of different video, written, audio, and visual content to reach your clients.

Cut time with strategy

Once you have figured out your ideal plan of what you want to do and where to focus, it’s time to get it into a quarterly calendar or task-based system, such as Asana, to take action. This is where you are looking at each activity, its date, and building out all of your tasks to be prepared for the overall event. 

Really dig into the details, create due dates for each piece, and be specific. When does copy need to get done and be approved? When do marketing images need to be created and approved? How about overall campaigns, collateral social posts, and hashtags?

Review your large events or podcasts, and work backward to set deadlines, so you show up how you want to show up. Make sure you schedule everything, including printing collateral, booking travel, ordering swag, booth design and layout, training booth staff, setting up client meetings who are local, staff attire, dinner meetings, the plan to capture leads, contests, and booth engagement.

For podcasts, remember that you want to get the questions in advance, so you are succinct in your responses. It’s also good to have a landing page for the audience, with a free giveaway in exchange for their information to contact them later.

For webinars with thought leaders, you’ll need to book them well in advance, create your decks’ template, all of the advertising, pre/post production events, email nurtures before and after the event, and your call to action for your audience to keep them engaged.

If you’re participating in social media, planning at least a month in advance will help you prevent the possible day of creative block or panic that could occur. What are the themes you’re working on, hashtags you need to use, and who needs to approve the posts, and by when? What is your response strategy and times you will be available? Are you doing any live events that need pre-date announcements?

Putting all of your ideas, copy, and plans in a calendar, and finishing it in advance, means you can automate the system and become proactive with clients and prospects, instead of reactive. You are intentional about your timing, and where and what your audience needs.

Expert tip: Create multiple marketing pieces off of one idea. 

Take this article. I could read this article and create an audio recording. I could take that recording and add images to create a YouTube video. I can take four clips of that YouTube video and use them in social media for the week, or add some additional research and create a deck for a presentation.

Making one piece work in a variety of ways means you can fill a week+ of presence off one content idea! There is no way your ideal clients are reading and watching everything you put out, so don’t worry about repeating the message and make life easy on yourself.

What are your ideas?

These two articles may have seemed like you were drinking from the firehose of marketing. I look forward to hearing about your creative ideas and what your team came up with, even the crazy Mr. Potato Head ones. Leave a comment below and I’ll respond to it.

I hope you find ways to explore outside your neighborhood, and if you make it to mine, don’t forget to stop by for a socially distanced hang!