Lean Strategy Field Guide: Marketing

Are you connecting with your target customers by tapping into their emotions?

Keywords

The words and phrases your audience uses when searching for your products or services. Focus your webpages, articles, advertisements, and other online content around these keywords.

Key Messages

The messages your target audiences need to hear to be motivated to action. These should be informed by, or use directly your Keywords.

Channels

The channels through which you will communicate your key messages to your target audiences. A website is an example of one channel.

Content and Social Media Strategy

Deciding on a particular channel to use and setting up an account is extremely easy — and that can be part of the problem. While you may technically be “on” a given social media platform just because you’ve signed up and a secured a username, that’s the social media equivalent of signing up for a marathon.

The real challenge comes with planning, executing, and managing the actual content to go on those channels — and doing so consistently for a long time.

Because there are so many possible combinations of channels, content types, and levels of execution, we’re only going to touch on these topics from a high level.

To get started, here are some initial guidelines to consider:

1. Goals:  Always focus on how any channel or piece of content will connect back to and support one of your Big Goals in the purpose step. Content creation is too time consuming for it to be done in a haphazard way. Make every article, post, tweet meaningful.

2. Ideation: Create a consistent structure and home for content ideas to be collected and collaborated on. Whether it’s a spreadsheet or a tool like Trello, you’ll want a place where ideas can be gathered, discussed, and refined.

3. Themes: Think about your social media posts in terms of bigger themes, topics, or types of content, not just as individual posts. It’s best to have groups of posts that tie into a specific and memorable theme or concept that you can continue to reinforce over time (e.g. “Marketing Mondays” or “Will it Blend”). Just like TV channels have many episodes of a specific TV show, your social channels will get more traction if you can find a theme that resonates with your audience and continually deliver on that.

4. Calendar and Scheduling: It’s extremely important to look ahead and determine how much content you’ll need for a given length of time, and determine when it will be posted. It’s easy to think about a single article, video, or tweet. But looking at those things being repeated over days, weeks, and months it quickly highlights the need for organization to avoid inconsistent or unproductive communications.

5. Consistency: The biggest challenge — and the number one downfall — of those getting started in content creation and social media is creating consistent output. It’s easy to get started on these things and incredibly hard to keep them going. Unfortunately, consistency is the only way you’ll have a real opportunity to connect with an audience. Building a loyal audience is usually a slow process that occurs over the course of months (or years!). This is why we strongly recommend starting slow and focusing on only the highest value channel for your company. If you can build up one channel successfully, you’ll have a great base to jumpstart the next one. If you start with too many at once, you’re bound to get overwhelmed, fall behind, and end up with channels that look like ghost towns. This can be more damaging to your company’s perception than having nothing at all.

Customer Relevancy for Keywords

To start gathering an initial set of Keywords, we can use the information we’ve gathered in the previous areas of Lean Strategy to guide us:

  • Customers: Who are your Target Customers and what is their Job to Be Done? Your Keywords should be relevant to that Job, not solely your specific solution for that Job.
  • Competition: What other products or services do your Customers search for when seeking to satisfy that Job? You should look closely at the words and phrases your competitors use on their websites and marketing materials. Google Suggest is also an excellent source of insight for words and phrases that people really use.
  • Offering: How are you providing a unique solution to satisfy this Job? Focus on words related to your unique value proposition and the Features of your Offering that satisfy the Elements of Value your Customers care about.

Keyword Research Tools

In order to do more in depth assessments of Keywords, particularly if/when you’re planning to pay for ads, there are several tools available that can provide more in depth information about the competitive strength of Keywords:

  • Google Adwords Keyword Planner:
    • https://adwords.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner
    • Free to use when you create a free Adwords account
    • Provides search volume ranges, related keywords, competition (number of advertisers using the Keyword)
    • You can also access suggested ad bid values which inform competition levels
  • Moz Keyword Explorer:
    • https://moz.com/explorer
    • Paid subscription service, with a friendly, easy to use interface
    • Provides search volume ranges, related keywords, competition, difficulty to complete, opportunity to “own”, search engine results page (SERP) analysis (why certain sites do well)
  • Wordtracker Keyword Demand:
    • https://wordtracker.com
    • Paid subscription service (less expensive than Moz)
    • Provides search volume ranges, related keywords, competition, search engine results page (SERP) analysis, results from Google, Amazon, YouTube
  • Ubersuggest Keyword Search:
  • Google Trends:

Keyword Ownership

There are a couple indicators in your results that will help establish a baseline assessment of their competitive saturation:

  • Are there multiple search advertisements at the top and/or bottom of the results page?
    • The more ads there are, the more valuable that Keyword is to competitors. If there are multiple ads, it’s likely that the word produces strong conversions for those companies – i.e. Customers that come via those ads perform whatever action the company values: makes a purchase, signs up for a service, etc.
    • Of course, the more companies that are already paying for ads around those Keywords, the more expensive it will be for you to purchase ads around the same Keywords — and that means you’ll be paying more money for more head-to-head competition.
  • Are the organic results (i.e. non-paid ads) related to well-known, established companies or organizations relative to your industry?
    • Companies that have been in the industry a long time, had significant success, or produce quality content related to your industry are likely to have a stronger hold on the highest positions in the search results.
    • The more the organic results for your Keywords that are owned by established players who’ve built up referral links over long periods of time, the more difficult it will be to surpass them in the rankings.

4 Forces That Affect Customer Change

To help focus all of these components into messages that will connect with your Customers, we’ll look at the forces that affect your customer’s desire to engage with your Offering.

Forces that Promote Change:

1. Push from the Current Solution: The Customer’s current solution is falling short of satisfying their Job to Be Done in one or more ways.

2. Magnetism of a New Solution: A new solution may be appealing because it improves on weaknesses of the current solution, or offers something that isn’t currently available to your Customer at all.

Forces that Resist Change:

3. Anxiety of Trying a New Solution: Switching to a new solution might cause the Customer to worry: What if that new solution isn’t as good as we hoped?

4. Habit of the Present Solution: The Customer is already used to doing things a certain way. Even if their solution isn’t great, it might be “good enough”, and it might feel like a lot of work to change.

Testing Your Key Messages

While all of these forces are at play with your Customers, some may be stronger than others depending on your industry and Offering. As with the Keywords, it will require experimentation and testing to determine which of the forces most impacts the desire to adopt a new solution for your particular Customers. Some testing options include:

If you have a good amount of traffic on your Website (~a few thousand visitors per month), you can try:

  • Track Website Events: You can test different messaging options on your site and track call-to-action events (e.g. clicking a button to sign-up) related to the message over time via tools like Google Analytics.
  • A/B Test Your Website: Use a service or plugin that allows you to show one half of your visitors one message, and the other half another message. Using analytics you can then measure which message is more effective at engaging / converting your Customers.

If you don’t have much traffic on your website yet, you can try:

  • Online Ads: Service such as Google AdWords are designed to make it easy to test multiple variants of an ad to determine which is most effective at getting clicks. You can create a campaign, apply a set budget, and compare results from your different messages based on click-through rates.
  • Online Polling or Surveys: Online polling and survey services allow you to get feedback and opinions on the preferences and opinions of unbiased users for a fee. This can be a great way to get quick feedback prior to testing on your live website or on ads.