One of Todd Giannattasio’s cardinal rules is do not commit random acts of marketing. Those who succeed stick to a strategy.
To that end, Giannattasio founded The Growth Suite, which offers playbooks proven to succeed with companies and clients. The guides give detailed step-by-step processes and blueprints for success.
Giannattasio and digital marketing expert Madalyn Sklar talked about how to get the most out of a content strategy, starting with fitting it into your business.
Content strategy is the living, breathing embodiment of your marketing approach. Your actions have meaning based on metrics to gauge success.
“A content strategy is your plan for reaching the right person with the right message in the right place at the right time to move them along their customer journey from stranger to customer,” Giannattasio said.
“Your strategy should have clear intentions for each stage of the customer journey to move people through awareness, engagement, permission and conversion,” he said.
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Any strategy should relate to a specific corporate environment.
“This is how you nail your ‘message to market match’ and get real traction for your customer acquisition,” Giannattasio said. “This is better than throwing Hail Marys and trying to sell to everyone all the time without building your relationship equity first.
“Remember that people don’t buy from strangers,” he said. “They buy from people and brands they know, like and trust. So, don’t try to sell to strangers. Build a relationship with your audience.”
Working now for the future
A strategy elevates you from operating in the heat of the moment.
“With a content strategy, you’ll plan your posts in advance as opposed to throwing content together at the last minute,” Sklar said. “This allows you to ensure your content has a purpose and that you aren’t posting for the sake of posting.
“Done right, having a content strategy can help you reach the bigger-picture goals in your business such as growth, traffic, engagement, conversions and more,” she said.
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For Twitter and social media in general, Giannattasio had these tips to reach the right people and get their attention:
- Know your audience. What problems do they have? What symptoms? What outcomes do they want?
- Publish content to help with those problems and deliver those outcomes so that you are worth following.
- Search out those phrases and start connecting with people.
- Reply to their tweets to open a conversation and get their attention. Remember that when talking to a new person, you are not trying to “drive traffic” or “close a sale.” You are opening a conversation and beginning a relationship.
- Do hashtag research for what your target audience uses.
- Use them in your tweets.
- Set up a listening stream in Hootsuite for those hashtags so you can easily join in the conversation.
“Other people can also be a source to create awareness and attention to your brand on Twitter,” Giannattasio said. “If you are publishing blog content worth sharing, then Twitter can be a great word-of-mouth and ‘referral’ channel.”
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Sklar emphasized going to potential customers.
“If your target audience is on Twitter, then it’s definitely a platform you want to use to get your business in front of them,” she said.
“You can reach your target audience by consistently sharing valuable and relevant content because it increases your chances at getting noticed,” Sklar said. “Another great option is to make connections through Twitter chats.”
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Twitter is one example of how to build relationships with your audience to make your sales process easier. Being active and engaging on Twitter establishes you as a reliable, credible source that potential customers will want to do business with.
“Most people aren’t going to buy from you the moment they discover you,” Giannattasio said. “They don’t know, like and trust you enough to give you money — and just because you found them talking about a problem doesn’t mean their wallet is out and they have an immediate need.
“When your relationship with your audience plus their need for your product is perceived as greater than their current pain, you will easily get happy customers,” he said. “Your mission: Build relationships with your audience and give value.”
Familiarity eventually can lead to sales.
“Use Twitter to continuously — but not annoyingly — keep your conversation going so other parties become familiar with you, and you cultivate a relationship,” Giannattasio said. “If they start following you and they see your posts regularly, that will help stack the deck more in your favor.
“Familiarity breeds trust,” he said. “Great marketing is a dialogue, not a monologue.”
Build toward a sale
Giannattasio believes these benefits will result if users keep a consistent schedule of tweeting valuable content for their target audience:
- Educate and nurture them to a confident buying decision.
- Position yourself as the authority in the industry.
- Be top of mind.
- Earn their business when it’s time to buy.
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He recommended joining Twitter chats or starting one for your audience.
“Twitter makes it so easy to connect with new people,” Sklar said. “We’re all here to build relationships. It’s just a matter of putting yourself out there. Share great content, and have genuine conversations.
“As Gary Vaynerchuk would say, it’s important to focus on adding value before you come in and ask for the sale,” she said. “So, what are some ways you can add value and share your expertise with your audience first?”
Generating permission-based leads using Twitter is not that complicated.
“Like a free sample at the mall, giving away some value up front will help to bring someone closer to becoming a customer,” Giannattasio said. “It will create momentum toward a sale. It will pre-qualify them as worth following up with.
“Now that you’re building relationships with your audience, you can start to present them with lead magnet offers,” he said. “This’ll grow your email list. Now you have direct distribution and a second channel of communication. Remember that familiarity breeds trust.”
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After that initial contact, move to the next step.
“With this micro-commitment of signing up for your free lead magnet offer, you can then present consumers with a paid offer that aligns with that small value that you’re giving for free,” Giannattasio said. “For instance, ‘If you like that General Tso’s chicken sample, you should buy the lunch platter.’
“You present these offers on Twitter with a message or tweet that has a compelling reason to sign up and a link to a landing page with a signup form on it,” he said. “Easy peasy.”
Send email requests
Sklar emphasized the fundamentals.
“With permission-based leads, someone has given you permission to market to them,” she said. “A common way of doing this is through your email list. It’s smart to use Twitter to drive more subscribers to opt-in.”
An opt-in opens the door to sales.
“The real secret to selling anything with social media is that sales don’t typically happen on social,” Giannattasio said. “They only start there. However, you can test out follow up to your engagement and value tweets and conversations with relevant product offers — and links to your website — when appropriate.
“You should spend 80 percent of your time and content giving value and building relationships, and 20 percent generating leads and driving sales,” he said. “You should never sell to someone who isn’t going to get value from your products. Use this content strategy to ensure you don’t just spam the Twittersphere and that you are putting out value to the world.”
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Incentives to buy are related to fear of missing out.
“When it comes time to ask for the sale, give people a clear call to action in your tweets,” Sklar said. “Start by addressing the pain point your offering solves, and share that you have the solution. Then point them in the direction of your sales page.
“Remember that tweets have a short lifespan,” she said. “Don’t just promote your offering once and think you’re done. You want to keep sharing to reach more people.”
Post content that showcases your products and services in a timely way that relates to the needs of potential customers. Draw in user-generated content to lend credibility to your messages.
Lots of suggestions
Giannattasio has a laundry list of possible content:
- Practical Tips
- Social Proof
- Engaging Questions
- Thought Leadership
- Your Story
- Address Pain Points
- Address Objections
- Paint Dream Scenarios
- Behind the Scene
“The kind of content you post on Twitter ultimately goes back to your audience,” Sklar said. “What resonates with them? What kind of content would solve their biggest struggles? Always create with them in mind.”
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Power users have several Twitter features available to effectively manage their content strategy.
Take advantage of TweetDeck to regularly schedule tweets throughout the day. Don’t go too far in advance in case events beyond your control make your content, outdated, insensitive or worse.
“Use Twitter lists to organize your audience into the proper stages so you can easily monitor and communicate the right message to the right people at the right time,” Giannattasio said. “Use Zapier to add people to a permission and customer Twitter list when they sign up for lead magnets and buy on your site.
Strategy rests on purpose
Each of these tools improves management efficiency.
“Managing your content strategy is so much easier when you batch your content,” Sklar said. “Set aside time to create a week’s worth of social media posts, and add it to your scheduler. Then it’ll be off your to-do list for the rest of the week.
“Figure out exactly what purpose Twitter serves for you,” she said. “What do you hope to get out of your presence on the platform? Are you actually getting those results? This will help you see if you’re on track or need to pivot.”
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There are overarching guidelines to improve content strategies.
“Get in the habit of Tweeting ideas and concepts that you want to dive deeper into later,” Giannattasio said. “Reply to your own tweets or use it as the foundation for a longer post on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, email or blog later.
“When someone asks you a question or for advice, record a short video on your phone giving that same tip, and post it to Twitter so more people can get a taste of your expertise,” he said. “You cannot be known for having ideas that create value if no one knows that you have them.”
Giannattasio prefers to batch create. Then schedule tweets with a tool such as Hootsuite. Also repurpose snippets from longer-form content on other channels for Twitter.
Through his Growth Suite site, he has a free slide deck with content strategy tips.
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