You see it all the time, with sports teams being easy examples.

A team has been floundering, underperforming, low on morale.

Then comes a new CEO or manager, and turns things around.

Look at Apple when Steve Jobs came back, or Liverpool when Jurgen Klopp joined.

What’s going on? It’s the power of a clear plan and vision.

When everyone is pulling in the same direction, and they all understand the specific destination and the checkpoints on the way, magical things happen.

Of course it happens the other way round too – previously successful teams fall apart, even though individually they’ve got all the elements and skills to succeed.

And this is the case with huge numbers of companies and their marketing – they have pretty much all the components required, but they have no plan, nothing pulling it all together, and therefore it’s ineffective, and often a mental weight, weighing down the owner or manager.

Specifically in my world of Facebook ads – people run campaigns with no clear vision or real idea why, they just heard Gary V proselytizing about spending money on social so they do it – but actually there’s’ no benefit because it’s not being used to move them anywhere specific.

So let me lay it out for you.

Here is a general, slightly-vague-so-that-it’s-relevant-to-all strategy that applies to pretty much any business with an online presence.

It’s the strategy I’m in the process of putting into place for my own business, and it’s what’s going to see our number of happy clients grow and grow in the months and years to come.

Step 1 – Branding.

Refine your messaging across the board, get clear on 

  • Who your customers are,
  • What you want to be known for, 
  • Who the ‘common enemy’ is,
  • What your big idea/USP/identity is

Then use that, and make sure your brand and messaging is consistent everywhere – website, social, email.

Step 2 – Content.

The best book I’ve read on approaching content recently is ‘They Ask, You Answer’ by Marcus Sheridan. Honestly, it’s fantastic and you should read it.

With the internet so full, quality content (emphasis on QUALITY) is the best and cheapest long-term strategy to become trusted by your industry and attract new clients.

  •  Answer questions that your prospects will have.
  • Shoot down bullshit you see in your industry.
  • Let people peek behind the curtain.
  • Educate and entertain.

This could be linking to blog posts or writing long content pieces, but for most businesses, video is the best place to start, because people can show that they’re interested in what you do simply by stopping their scrolling and watching – allowing you to build audiences quickly and cheaply.

Step 3 – Audiences.

Writing content is great, but results from SEO are SLOW, so don’t expect to be ranking on Google in days or weeks.

Accelerate the process by promoting your content on social (this is even the strategy I’m helping to put into place for an SEO agency)

Choose the platform where your clients are – for most businesses that includes Facebook, but then maybe LinkedIn, or Instagram, or Twitter, or anywhere else that your audience spends time.

You’re not selling here – you’re just introducing yourself to people in a non annoying way, showing them that

a) you understand them.

b) you know your shit.

There is a specific best-practice when it comes to pushing content out on Facebook that I will share.

Step 4 – Retarget

Now that you’ve built an audience of people who have engaged with your content, it’s time to build that relationship.

The way we do that is by using retargeting to guide them along your customer journey/funnel/eco-system.

Depending on your audience, prices, buying cycle, and product type, you might need to do lots of warming up – sending people to blog posts, to more videos, to in-depth guides… But the goal is to gradually ask for more commitment from them.

You are qualifying them at the same time as building your own authority. 

Here’s a list of potential free steps (in rough order of increasing commitment), start with one near the top, then choose a lower one, then another etc.

  • 30-60 second video
  • 2-5 minute video
  • 5 minute + video
  • blog post
  • Long blog post
  • Online quiz
  • video series
  • Quick cheatsheet download
  • Guide download
  • ebook download
  • A webinar
  • A real book for free
  • A quick consultation call
  • A long strategy call
  • An in-person event
  • An in person strategy session

The end goal of this is generally to get qualified contact details, so an email, or a phone number, or an address, so that you can continue the conversation on another platform (email, phone, in person).

For some businesses, such as ecommerce, you might just need to do one post from the top of the list, then send them straight to your shop, for others, you might need a lengthy warming-up process.

The best way to work out what you need is to reverse engineer it – start from the purchase of your core-product, and work backwards in small steps, asking yourself at each one “what would I need to know/feel/understand here to take this step.

The series of steps you choose should ‘flow’ easily – so that each following one feels like the natural next thing to do.

Step 5 – Sell

By this stage, you’ve built up a relationship and established yourself as an authority to be trusted – now it’s time to sell.

Whatever sales procession takes over, whether that’s sending people to your online store, getting your sales team to follow up, or meeting them in person for a coffee, you should now be dealing with a qualified prospect who trusts you and is receptive to working with you. 

– – –

That’s the strategy, you can add in extra elements if needed, for example if Google Adwords are a good source of leads for you, then send them somewhere that you can retarget them, and let them take the steps from there.

The aim here was to give a strategy that was broad enough to show almost any business how things could be broken down without it becoming irrelevant- but clearly to go into more detail would require more knowledge of your business and clients.

Now. Go do it.