By Francis Moran
If “new and improved” is supposed to be the most potent statement in marketing, then I have high hopes for the newly designed website you are now reading.
If you are a long-time reader, you will know that this blog had its origins almost six years ago, when the bulk of my time was spent managing the technology PR agency, inmedia Public Relations, that I had founded a decade earlier. A few years ago, I started a transition away from an agency model and back to my roots as a marketing strategist. Although inmedia persists and continues to have some great clients, I now spend most of time working hands on with smaller and startup B2B technology companies that know they need the marketing strategy piece but don’t have either the resources or the requirement for a full-time VP of marketing.
The model I set out to develop was a virtual one wherein we are able to bring to the table exactly the marketing resources a young company requires in exactly the right amount and at exactly the right time. In support of that, we re-striped the inmedia blog about two years ago under the name of the new venture, Francis Moran and Associates, and widened our scope of our writing to cover the whole spectrum of bringing technology to market, from hard-core marketing issues like positioning and social media to adjacent issues like financing, government support programs and the health of the whole commercialization ecosystem in our three key operating areas of Canada, the United States and Britain.
You really seem to like what we have done. Traffic levels have seen consistent growth. We have attracted contributors of a calibre far higher than anything we anticipated at the outset. And the blog has created an international footprint for my personal brand that could not have been achieved any other way.
So why the redesign?
Well, if you know me at all, you know that I am obsessed with setting objectives for programs and measuring their progress against those yardsticks. And we did the same for the blog.
As with any marketing program, all we could measure at the outset were activity levels. And we have consistently met or exceeded our targets for the number of posts per week, number of guest posts, syndication of our content across other great marketing, technology and news sites, and so on. We characterise these measurements as outputs.
The next key set of measurements were around outcomes — traffic levels, comments, ping backs and so on. And again, we have met or exceeded most of these, usually well in advance of the time frame we had originally anticipated.
The third set of measurements, and ultimately the only ones that count, are impacts — what impact does all this have on key business metrics, which, in our case, were lead generation and new business? And here, I must be honest, the blog failed to meet expectations. When we did our first-year analysis, we were obliged to conclude that the blog had not delivered either the lead flow or the new business that we expected — and needed — it to do.
Here’s the most important thing about setting objectives: They’re not guarantees that you’re going to accomplish what you set out to accomplish. They are targets to shoot at, and the reason you set them is so that you know whether you hit them or not and if not, by how much and, maybe, even why.
When we fail to hit a target, we have to ask ourselves was it unreasonable? Well, no; the whole point of a content-marketing exercise like this is to make our agency better known and to drive business to it. Did we do enough of the right stuff? Well, given that we were generating the traffic and excitement around our content, we were clearly connecting; just not converting.
So, what was wrong?
Well, if you can believe it, we are a bunch of marketers who created a blog intended to generate business that did not actually ask for the business! In other words, a marketing blog by a bunch of marketers all about effective marketing that did an abject job of marketing. Talk about the cobbler’s barefoot children!
So, we have redesigned things. You can’t help but notice that we now have some case studies featured at the very top. (More will come.) And we have a rather explicit call to action: “Work with us.”
Bottom line: We will still generate each week all the great content you have come to expect from this blog. We’re just going to make it more obvious that behind all that great content is a team of great marketers who would love to help you bring your great technology to market.
Please let me know what you think.