This topic is definitely one that hits close to home for us here at WarmUp. We recently (very appropriately so) were asked by an investor to explain our marketing plan. After some tough questions, we realized that what we thought we had as a marketing plan wasn’t as great as we thought it was. It can be humbling and embarrassing to realize that you haven’t appropriately focused on what marketing tactics you’re trying to employ and, more importantly, why you’re utilizing those tactics and to what end. 

If you’ve worked for a new startup, you know how many hats everyone wears and how easily things can fall by the wayside. By the way, that last sentence is what’s called an “excuse.” Yes, it takes work to create and execute a marketing plan. No, you don’t have to be a marketing wiz to create one (I’m not). However, you do have to put in the effort and then hold yourself, your team, and any vendors who contribute to the marketing accountable. 

So, what did we learn from this experience and how did it change our marketing plan? Read on to learn from our mistakes.

Just creating content isn’t good enough

Often, you’ll see people talk in LinkedIn posts about creating tons of content (see Gary V) and how it will magically increase the SEO value of your site. They say to create constantly and frequently regardless of topic. Just put out content so that you’re heard above the din. 

To a degree, that’s true. The algorithms of social media favor frequent and consistent content. However, if you don’t have anything valuable to say or any way to actually help your reader, then you’re better off not writing that fluff piece to fill space and “beat the algorithm.” It’s like your parents probably told you when you were younger. If you don’t have anything nice (or helpful) to say, don’t say anything. 

Think about it. Do you read articles with little to no helpful information in them? Or, are you looking for something that changes your life for the better? We can all agree that we’re too busy to waste time consuming content that is uninteresting or unhelpful.

In addition to not just creating content for content’s sake, you also need to ensure that you’re creating things with an end goal in mind. Are you trying to raise awareness about your product or services? Are you trying to generate leads for sales? You need to be intentional and thoughtful BEFORE you create the content so that it all supports the organization and its goals. If you don’t know what your focus should be, how can you create something meaningful that supports the goal? 

Video rules

I don’t know about you, but personally, I search for information on YouTube more than I do on Google. Granted, they are basically the same thing. However, we’ve all seen that when you search on Google now, video results often come up first or towards the top of the results. There’s a reason for that.

People who watch explainer videos are 74% more likely to buy the product that is featured. Video helps build legitimacy and trust for your brand and works great on mobile devices. A video can get the message out much more quickly than requiring someone to read a blog or comb through FAQ pages. Video is also very shareable and trackable so ROI attribution is easier to prove. No wonder Google loves it so much. 

In addition to all of those benefits, it’s just easier to create. Often, we’ve seen that more down-to-earth, person-on-the-street style, smartphone videos have higher engagement than the super polished, uber-professional videos that you often see. It feels more authentic and gives you insight into the company and the people that work there. 

Again, when talking about this through the lens of how you can create a marketing plan even if you’re strapped for time, you can quickly write a short script with a few bullet points. Focus on a poignant thing that happened to you or that you learned which would be helpful/relatable for your audience.  Then set up your smartphone on a tripod, create your message, and share it quickly. 

Omnichannel approach, but on easy mode

Now, here’s where the real magic happens. Everything we’ve discussed prior to this fits into this overarching strategy. I’m sure you’ve heard of omnichannel approaches and it can seem overwhelming, but it’s only as overwhelming as you let it be. The key is consistency across your different mediums that you’re using for communication without wearing out your welcome or burning yourself out. 

Here’s our approach in a nutshell. We work to produce at least two of our WarmUp Chats videos per month (essentially interviews with folks at other companies who have had experience with referral programs). 

We then take that content and split a couple of quotes which are turned into graphics for social sharing as well as two short video snippets of meaningful/helpful quotes from the interviewee. We then spread that content over the next couple of weeks to bridge the gap between the first video of the month and the second. This allows us to maintain our consistency and keep our quality of content high without killing our bandwidth. 

In addition to those executions, we’re also pulling the audio from the interviews and sharing that via a referral marketing podcast. It doesn’t take much additional work to render the audio separately from the video and it opens up an entirely new way for our audience to consume the content. It also gives us new platforms on which to be discovered by interested companies. If you’re searching for a referral marketing podcast, there aren’t a lot out there. So you’ll likely stumble upon ours and, if you like the content, a rapport is created which will likely lead to a new prospect.

Next, we take that content and craft short messages about the value of each piece and share that organically on LinkedIn through our team. We also use it in our sales cadence to provide helpful info to our prospects rather than constantly communicating while providing no value. 

The goal is to be altruistic, not self-serving, and if it’s helpful and the prospect wants to have a discussion as a result, that’s great. 

Lastly, we send out several emails a month to our prospect list, which we segment by industry to provide the most helpful info that we can for each person.

Overall, it sounds like a lot, but it starts with the video and then the rest of the content is relatively easy to create. If you are making content that is legitimately helpful and packed with information and opportunities to learn from others, then the value is huge. 

So, what are you doing? Are you doing enough to promote your brand through content creation? Are you doing too much? Do you even know the purpose of your marketing and what goals you’re striving to hit? 

If not, it’s not the end of the world! It just means that now that you’ve realized it, it’s important to sit down as a team and put the effort into determining what results you’re looking for. Once you know that, look at your capacity to decide what makes sense for you to create, content-wise, and then start executing. Set a target for how many pieces of content you’re going to put out in a week, a sprint, a month and start scheduling time to get it done. Lean on your teammates and vendors to hold you accountable and do the same for them.

It won’t be perfect the first time you make a video or write a blog, but the best way to learn is by doing. Determine your target, create, learn, grow, and then repeat.