It's that time. The temperatures are rising, the birds are singing and if you look hard enough you can see the buds on the trees.
As the world prepares to come back to life, it's not just your weary car that needs the salt and gunk washed off. Your marketing efforts deserve the same attention.
Your brand is as organic as the seasons. With proper care and attention, it will bloom and grow to be larger and stronger than ever. But it may not do so well left to its own devices without proper care and maintenance. Don't let that happen.
Below are six ways to put the “spring” back in your marketing step.
Re-evaluate Your Audience
Think back. When's the last time you stopped to really understand who your audience is? When is the last time you updated those marketing personae or questioned whether “the way you do things” is still working? My guess is it's been awhile.
Do it now.
We all fall into a rut or a certain way of doing things. We make assumptions and don't question them. We get lazy and stop tweaking.
By scrubbing the dust off our business and looking at our audience with new eyes, we're able to spot assumptions that are no longer true (and maybe never were), identify new opportunities, drop dead weight and find new areas for business that didn't exist the year before. Simply because we looked.
Markets shift. Industries evolve. Your business needs to bob and weave in tune to your audience's movements. Spring cleaning doesn't just have to apply to your garage; use it to put the life and the relevance back in your marketing.
Assess Your Situation
Speaking of things you haven't done in a while, have you checked the search landscape for some of your key search terms? Have you taken time to assess where you've gained favor, where you've lost it, and what opportunities you're not even taking advantage of?
Spot any new competitors or potential partners? See content of yours that's doing surprisingly well or competitor content that is smoking you?
What about your sitelinks? Are they still relevant or are they hawking services or employees you no longer have? Do you recognize what's showing up at all? What does Google Suggest say?
If you haven't checked recently, the time to check is now.
Plant New Assets
Maybe it's your website you haven't updated since 2010 (with a copyright date to prove it). Or the blog on your site you haven't updated in six months. Or maybe there are new assets your business could really benefit from if only you could get them started finished.
There is no better time to act than right now. Create a plan. Implement.
Make a list of the areas of your site that need to be updated and schedule them into your work queue so they get done. Create another list of things you believe are important to your business – resource guides or whitepapers or customer testimonials or a really great video about whatever it is that you do – and pick one you'll work on this month. Start there.
By investing in new asset creation you give your audience important signs of life around your business, increase your thought leadership in your industry, and also leave a little something for the search engines to find and rank you for. Plant the seed to start creating these new assets and marketing collateral.
Invest in Yourself
Wake yourself up from your winter slump by seeking out new opportunities for education, growth and networking.
Pursue national learning events like the recent SES New York conference or local seminars, networking events or meetups where you can brush elbows with smart folks without dumping thousands on travel costs. These opportunities allow you to take the relationships you established online and nurture them offline. They will also expose you and your team to new ideas, new tactics and perhaps a new way to look at an old problem.
Or invest in online education for your staff members with webinar series from trusted organizations like SEMPO, MarketingProfs or others. These resources can pack your whole team with new insights for a much more reasonable cost.
Dare to Speak
Whether it's an event at your local chamber of commerce, an industry meetup or something on the national stage, commit yourself to at least one speaking opportunity between now and the end of summer. Doing so will reignite your passion for your industry, get you elbow-to-elbow with smart minds, open the networking gates, and make you more confident in your knowledge of your craft.
If public speaking makes you nervous, relax. You're in good company. Also, tough!
Working on your speaking skills will make you better at what you do – helping you speak intelligently about your industry, what your company does and the issues that are important to you. Plus, it's good to do things that terrify you.
Contribute Content to a High Authority Site
Creating contributed content is a great way to emerge from the frozen temperatures stronger than how you entered them. I'd really encourage all businesses to focus on at least one outlet that they think could bring value to their business and where they could bring value to someone else, and to tailor an article specifically for them.
If you're wary about giving your competitors free content, first, don't be. But second, don't be afraid to reach out to parallel industries.
For example, maybe you're a caterer located in Austin, Texas. You don't have to stick to just other catering or food-related blogs. You can hit the mommy bloggers (meals on the go), fitness blogs (a post on gluten-free or raw cooking), DIY/craft blogs (how to organize a kids birthday party on the cheap), wedding related blogs (10 tips from 10 years of weddings) etc. You are limited only by your imagination.
By investing in contributed content, you grow legs for your brand while establishing expertise and driving new traffic to your website.
We all let things go a little too long during the cold winter months. But that's over now. It's time to come back to life and shoot some extra energy into what you're doing. What's on your plate to have a more energetic spring?
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!