As an integrated marketing agency, we spend a lot of time talking to companies about the value of lead gen-focused growth strategies. This isn’t just lip service either, we’ve got the case studies to back up our claims.
The only problem was; the most important case study namely, our own was missing. That’s what happens when you focus all your efforts on producing top-notch work for your clients. Things on the home front get neglected.
It was the old adage of the shoemaker’s kids and we were determined to rectify matters post haste (or at least within 12 months). Our offspring would not go barefoot another year.
The beginning of 2015 saw us off to a great start, but we were determined to do even better. Many slices of pizza (and a few bottles of beer) later, we had a plan. A remarkable, achievable plan with a hint of audaciousness about it.
Here’s how we overshot our growth goal by nine percent and increased profits by 46 percent (and how you can too).
It’s simple, straightforward and easy to execute. Which is not to say it doesn’t involve a huge amount of hard work as well. However, if you follow the steps outlined below, you’ll avoid overwhelm and might even find yourself enjoying the process.
We identified a number of SMART objectives for 2015, but our main goal was to grow by 20 percent. We knew that to achieve this we would need more inbound leads. Lead gen is something we do well, but the number required was a pretty big ask for a smallish agency like us. (Or so we thought.)
Design a Strategy
There’s no getting around it. This is a time-consuming process, but it’s also a classic example of what you put in, you get out. It’s worth the effort, so put in the hours. First, we conducted a comms audit on ourselves. A laborious task that involves going over every aspect of your internal and external communications to identify strengths and weaknesses. Again, well worth the effort.
Next, we researched the market and took a long, hard look at our competitors. Based on our findings we saw that pure PR, PPC, SEO or content marketing on their own wouldn’t work. At least, not if we were to have any hope of meeting our ambitious objectives. Instead, we came to the conclusion that an integrated marketing strategy was the best route for us to take.
Make Important Decisions
These decisions were a vital part of the process. They helped us stay 100 percent focused on the end goal and served as markers along the way, reminding us to stay the course.
This is what we decided. Depending on your objectives, your decisions may differ slightly.
- Strategy was everything. For us, this meant that once our plan was in place we would only work on things that supported it.
- Treat our website as an investment, not a cost. We put the developers on speed dial and called them immediately when something needed doing. The priority was to increase conversions, not cut costs.
- Be bold and take some risks. Sometimes (most times) risk taking involves spending money. Cheap and easy wasn’t going to cut it.
- Prioritize long term gain over short term results. We decided that we didn’t just want a 20 percent growth rate in 2015. We wanted to grow 20 percent every year.
- Be open and share. Everyone working on the project had full access to the entire marketing strategy. We’ve found that people function better when they have context. We also trust our team implicitly, so there was no need to hide things from them.
- No channel could operate successfully in isolation. We wanted congruity in the form of common threads, messages and themes running through all our marketing.
Related Article: The Small Business Guide to Online Marketing #DreamSmallBiz
We spent a lot of time researching our target market, developing personas, brainstorming angles and coming up with hooks. (We also had the pizza delivery place on speed dial.) We emerged from our self-imposed exile bleary-eyed, exhausted and pleased with ourselves for a job well done. The information we’d gathered became our integrated marketing plan.
We went granular, outlining each activity by channel and by month. Was this a painstaking process? You’d better believe it. However, it gave us the proper alignment. Our PR campaigns were supported by our blog strategy, which also supported our SEO strategy. Our campaigns also filtered through all marketing channels.
Here’s What Our Strategy Included:
- Content with a purpose: Every piece of content we produced needed to have a clear purpose. It didn’t matter if that content was for our blog, for our website, for someone else’s blog, or for our video cards. The purpose might not have been obvious to someone outside of our company, but it was to us. If it didn't have a point, it didn’t belong in our strategy.
- PR for links: Our goals were big, but resources were limited. We needed to be smart about how we approached things. With our PR efforts, for example, we focused purely on outlets that would link back to us and support our SEO efforts.
- SEO for keywords we could rank for: We searched for opportunities to rank for some important, high-potential lead gen search terms and we went after them with requisite gusto.
- PPC for keywords we couldn't rank for: We didn't want to be too reliant on AdWords, but we also knew that a well-structured B2B PPC campaign had the potential to blast us that much closer to our goal.
- Events for all the things a website can’t deliver: Online tactics can take you so far, but at some point, you’ve got to step out into the real world and show yourself. We made it our mission to exhibit, attend, and speak at as many marketing and industry events as we could find time for. Networking isn’t for sissies, but it paid off.
- HubSpot for managing it all: Our virtual HQ for this project. We shopped around for software options and in the end settled on HubSpot to manage our database and drive our integrated strategy. The platform’s complexity had us on the back foot initially, but we worked hard to become HubSpot experts and it’s now an integral part of our strategy.
Eyes on the Prize
Knowing exactly what you’re trying to achieve helps you maintain focus. At every point along the way, our goal was front of mind. Some of our tactics didn’t pan out and when that happened we made sure to stay focused and keep our eye on the prize. We course-corrected when things went wrong and did more of the stuff that worked well.
Related Article: B2B Demand Generation: How to Attract More Leads Faster in 2016
What We Achieved
In 2015 we…
- Generated 32 followed links to our site with an average DA of 43
- Generated 352 leads
- Closed 58 deals across our video and integrated comms departments
- Built a clean database of over 3,000 prospects
- Were shortlisted for seven awards, and won two
- Ranked on in the top three on Google for 20 keywords
The End Result
- We grew 29 percent, well beyond our 20 percent target
- And we increased our profits by a staggering 46 percent
Now are you sold on integrated marketing?