All marketers can learn from the dedication, preparation and planning of Olympic athletes. This series of posts will put that into perspective when preparing your own marketing plan.

Here are the posts in this 5-part series:

Today, we talk about tactics to use to make your social media marketing cut through the water like Michael Phelps.

Butterfly, Freestyle or Medley: You Need to Choose Your Social Marketing Tactics Approach

Just like there are different strokes that work in the water for different races, different approaches work for different marketing objectives. The key is to hone in on what will work best for your product and business.

There are two main categories of marketing tactics:

  1. Content marketing and
  2. Community marketing

A third tactic, which will not be discussed in this post is Value Driven Promotion (G-d willing I’ll do a separate post on that in the coming weeks). While tactics work together to help you reach your marketing goals you will want to develop campaigns for each one independently to best leverage the strengths each has to offer.

Content Marketing 101: Freestyle Strokes

Like a freestyle swimmer that must excel in the basics strokes and take them to the next level, content marketers use great storytelling, copywriting and psychology to impact their target markets and influence decisions. Really the basis of ALL marketing is great content.

What is content? We toss that word around all the time and people will complicate the spit out of it. I like to keep things simple and say there are three forms content can take:

  1. Text, including blog posts, articles, ebooks, white papers, etc.
  2. Multimedia, including pictures, videos, audio, etc.
  3. Interactive, including applications, games, quizzes, etc.

Content can be consumed by your potential customers and all great marketing campaigns are built around great content. You want to have a deep understanding of what your target market is likely to respond to and then build content that helps them make better decisions about your product.

The content marketing plan is where you will list the different campaigns you run around pieces of content and how you will deliver each one. In listing your content marketing campaigns below pay close attention to how you can use content to better engage and reach your target audience given everything you now know about them from your research, including which platforms they are likely using.

For example, if you are marketing to lawyers in a professional capacity, then a series of videos on YouTube with a strong push and promotion on LinkedIn will be a good course of action. If you are marketing to students who want to learn the basics of Internet marketing, then a series of blog tutorials promoted on Facebook will be a better approach. Always match the tactics to audience, first considering where they are online and which of the three content types they are most likely to respond to.

In mapping out your content campaigns focus on the following points:

  • Best type of content to use with the campaign
  • How content will be produced and managed (user generated v. internal)
  • Delivery of content (blog, download, etc.)

Once you have this mapped out, creating compelling content with magnetic headlines, useful information and clear calls to action are the key to converting your visitors to customers.

Community Marketing 101: The Medley

The medley relay races combine all four strokes, with a different swimmer performing each stroke for two pool lengths of racing in their turn. Teamwork, coordinated effort and style count for earning the gold in this event (an event that Michael Phelps’ team dominates in). Community marketing is like the olympic medley of the online world – a marketer can only be successful in this area by working to help and enrich the experience of online community members.

Online communities include social networks, list serves, forum boards, the comment sections of blogs, and anywhere else that potential customers can interact with each other and your company. Community marketing tactics involve any campaign where you encourage social interaction among your customers in online communities. Examples include contests, customer recognition and spotlight features, polling, surveys, and Q&A, forum discussions, and anything else designed to primarily create interactions.

The success of community marketing is to invite interaction that will primarily benefit the customer by itself, whether they buy your product or not. For example, if you are going to sell your weight loss eBook, then you should be in every discussion forum about weight loss, answering questions, giving advice from your experience and meeting new people. Avoid mentioning your product at all: rather be a helpful face among members of the community. If you are truly being of value and service to other members, they will check out your profile eventually and see that you have an eBook on this topic. Having already established credibility among other members and offered loads of value to the community, many members are likely to trust your product and buy it.

In planning your outreach activities, don’t plan each interaction, rather come up with a course of action that you can commit to over time. For example, in drafting your community marketing tactics into a calendar format for each community marketing campaign or asset you will use, describe the outreach in general terms and what you hope to accomplish. For example, for the weight loss eBook, you might say the type of outreach will be “answering questions on the Weight Watchers forum boards” with the intended results being “(1) answer 10 questions per week, (2) make 5 new connections per week and (3) increasing profile views and click throughs to the eBook landing page”.

Use the following bullets to help create a calendar for your community items to reach out to your customers:

  • Type of Outreach:
  • Launch Date:
  • Manager:
  • Keywords:
  • Intended Result:
  • Status:

This calendar should be flexible as community marketing moves fast, has surprising results and should ultimately come from a true desire to be helpful a member among members (marketing your business is secondary).