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Content Marketing Strategy’s & Tactic’s to Help You Beat Your Strongest Competition

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By Hector Cisneros

Most honest content marketing companies will tell you that a comprehensive SEO content marketing campaign will require a substantial investment to make it successful. If this is the case – does that mean that companies with smaller budgets won’t be able to compete with bigger companies? The simple answer is “Yes and No”! In the short run, companies with larger budgets should be able to outperform the smaller budget company with ease. However, if a smaller budget company is strategic and patient, it can definitely compete in the long run. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore strategies and tactics that companies with smaller budgets can use to compete with their larger competitors to gain organic ranking and traffic. So, put on your captains’ hat and military sun-glasses as we plan our attack on our bigger well-financed competitors.

If you studied warfare, strategy, and tactics, you would have learned that it’s not wise to tackle a superior opponent head-on. In fact, most of the tactics discussed employ hit and run or deception tactics, (otherwise known as guerilla tactics). One strategy we like to employ is to hit the enemy where they aren’t. For example; If your competitor isn’t on Twitter, maybe you can be number one there. It’s also possible to overwhelm an opponent with greater numbers for a short period of time on one or two venues in which they are weak.

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A good example would be; if the competition is blogging once a month, you post a blog a week instead. On top of this, you have to choose your battles and which battlefields you want to engage the enemy.  To know which tactics and battles to engage in, you have to develop intelligence on the competition.  For the sake of clarity, when I say strategy, I am referring to the overall marketing plan that will be implemented. When I talk about tactics, I am referring to individual elements of a strategic marketing plan (items like a blog, social posts, video or landing pages).

At Working the Web to Win, we use research to develop a strategy and select tactics that will help our clients win their battles.  For example; Our first step in any campaign is to start by analyzing what the client is doing right, what they are doing wrong, see if they are missing any marketing elements and then to analyze the same items of their biggest competitors. The Steps are as follows;

Step #1 Analyze the situation.
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  • What resources are available (budget, digital assets, referral partners, etc.)?
  • Who is the target market (Prospect Demographic/Psychographic Profiles)?
  • What are the battlefields (Media venues – organic search, social media, PPC, etc.)?
  • What is their Unique Selling proposition/s (why prospects buy from you)?
  • Who are the competitors and their USP’s (why they buy from the competition)?
  • What has worked in the past, if anything?
  • What has not worked in the past?
  • What is the time Frame needed for Success?
  • What is the Goal of the Campaign?

Step #2 Create a Marketing Plan
  • The plan is based on the actual budget
  • The timeframe needed for the campaign to succeed
  • The short-term and long-term goal/s of the client
  • Select the assets that need to be developed (web pages, social sites, blogs, videos, etc.)
  • Develop the message (logos, verbiage, Images, videos, social profiles, etc.)
  • Create the assets (landing pages, shot videos, buildout social profiles, blogs, etc.)

Step # Execute the Marketing Plan
  • Select Media Venues (Search Engines, Video, Blog and Social sites hosts, directory listing sites, etc.)
  • Upload, publish and test the web pages, ads, banners, graphics, blog post, social profiles, social post, Directory listing
  • Install analytic tools to evaluate the ongoing results.

Step 4 Monitor the progress of the Marketing
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  • Monitor the digital assets daily for the first week
  • Switch to weekly monitoring once things show that they are operating properly
  • Do monthly evaluations and tweak campaign based on findings.

Step #5 Evaluate the success of the Plan

  • At the pre-determined time, (the goal date) determine if you succeeded.
  • If you did, determine what worked and what could have worked better.
  • Decide what to keep or continue, what to change or get rid of and what to improve.
  • Create your next strategic plan and include the knowledge you gain here.

When a client has a smaller budget, they often forgo many of the above-listed steps. This is not a good idea in that any skipped steps lead to mistakes, bad assumptions, lost time and revenue. When this is the case, we focus on looking at items that fit the budget and the scenario that our research has provided. The least expensive items that companies should include; Landing pages, Social media pages, a Blogger Blog, a YouTube channel, a Facebook streaming video page, and Directory Listing pages. If our client has a database of customers, they should also be using email for newsletters and email blasts. More expensive and potentially wasteful venues like pay per click and banner ads are mainly used to A/B test messages, ads, and graphics.
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Most Cost-Effective Elements - Of the above-mentioned tactical items, many can be deployed by the clients via sweat equity. They can actively write and posting content to these venues. These marketing tactics can include social media posting, blog posting, video posting and sending out newsletter/email blast. Most clients can also gain substantial benefits by adding their business and product profiles to the top 100 search directories. It is relatively simple to post your profile to Google My Business, Google Maps, Bing, Yahoo and a few of the big-name directory’s, but this tactic is too labor intensive to do manually for the top 100 directories. So, paying for this service is the best way to go. Expect to pay between $150 and $1,400 to the posting service company. The amount you invest will depend on how many directories you select and how often you can update your profile on them. The service we provide starts at $150 to post your profile to the top 100 search directories one time for one URL.

So why is posting your business profile to the top 100 search directories important? There are several reasons this is a very cost-effective tactic. First, it can be a one and done proposition. You don’t necessarily have to pay for this every month. Second, your 100-top search directory postings are authoritative backlinks. These are valuable organic ranking factors because they are trusted backlinks to your site. Third, they produce traffic to your site when a visitor finds your profile on one of these directories and click on your link.
Every business should make sure they are listed in the top 100 search directories if possible. If you can’t, make sure you add your profile especially to Google search, Google My Business, Google Maps, (anything with the name Google in it) along with being in Yahoo Business Listings, Bing Places, Merchant Circle and Manta.  Directories like Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Angieslist and a few others are more specialized, so make sure its appropriate for your business. I also recommend being in the top 8 social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, Blogger, and YouTube) as they also act like search directories. If you’re into giving and receiving referrals, look into the big referral network directories like Referral Key, Opportunity, Alignable, and BNI. Most of the directory listing sites mentioned above can be populated and managed by a small business. Some of the directories offer entry-level service for free while also offering pro-access. BNI, on the other hand, requires you to join that organization to utilize their network.  If referrals are important to you, then BNI could be your small business giant killer secret weapon.

Having mentioned all of the directory sites above, imagine how long it would take you to fill out all of those profiles. Now, imagine filling out your profile in the top 100 search directories. You can see how quickly managing this marketing tactic can grow and get out of hand. Having said that, this can be the best one and done tactic for return on your investment that any small business should take advantage of. Not doing so means lower organic ranking and reducing traffic to your digital assets.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Speaking of low-cost sweat equity tactics, the top of our list includes; blogging, vlogging (video blogging) to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and daily social posts. Ideally, this content would be authoritative (i.e., uniquely created and owned by you) and shared on your blog, video channels, and other social nets. These tactics produce page views, engagement, comments and clickthroughs to your landing pages. The same is true of sending out e-newsletters and email blasts to your opt-in email database. In many cases when you’re new and small, you have more time than money. This is the perfect time to use sweat equity to develop these strategies and tactics. Obviously, all these tactics take time, but when you don’t have money to outsource this, rolling up your sleeves and posting your way to success is the secret sauce to online marketing wins.

On the other hand. If you have some money but very little time, definitely outsource as many of these tactics as you can afford. Always look at the return on investment. Just make sure you vet and select a marketing company that can provide customers recommendations and testimonials, can show you a proven track record, and if at all possible a written guarantee.

Courtesy of Flickr
The bottom line is this. A smaller business with a limited marketing budget can successfully compete with much larger organizations if they create a strategic marketing plan and select marketing tactics that fit the plan and budget. They generally need to be patient because smaller budgets require longer timeframes, especially if we are talking about organic search marketing. On top of that, low budget marketing plans usually require some if not a lot of daily sweat equity to succeed. They will also fail miserably due to a lack of effort.

Any big or small business can succeed if they follow our five-step program. The more you cherry pick this program, the less success you will achieve. This doesn’t mean that missing any of the steps will cause you to fail; it means it will take you longer, and you will have less success. The best way to succeed in any business endeavor is to follow a path that has already proven its worth. I have given you this with our five-step plan. Use it and win, or wing it and lose, it’s up to you. If you don’t have time, call us at Working the Web to Win. We can help you win the battle against your Goliath.

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

This article provides a detailed discussion of plans to help smaller businesses and underfunded companies to implement marketing programs that can compete with larger, better-funded competitors. It further provides a detailed set of steps so that the reader can create their own strategic digital marketing plan. Lastly, many additional links are provided to other sites, along with comprehensive related articles, including a link to the BlogTalkRadio, show notes page.

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If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. I recommend checking out the links on the blog, along with checking out other related articles on our Show Notes Page.  Also, don’t forget to listen to the BlogTalkRadio show on this subject. If you have a related useful comment or opinion about this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog. Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+ and share us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”


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