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Heading to High Gear: Our 2015 Business Growth Plan

By Kathryn Hawkins. Content Strategy and Marketing Maine
Image Credit: Bec Brown

We’re focusing on our own content marketing strategy for 2015. Here’s how we’re planning to build our business.

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but it’s pretty obvious: My company’s a content marketing agency, but we haven’t put that much time into our own marketing efforts. While we generally recommend that our clients blog at least weekly, we’ve gone months between posts until recently.

Why? To be honest, it just wasn’t a big priority for most of the last year.

Jeff (my business partner and husband) and I welcomed our new son in January, and kept him home with us for seven months. While neither of us took an actual break from the business, we had enough work coming in between ongoing clients and the occasional referral that we didn’t need to do any additional marketing. We were in “maintenance” mode with our company, and that was fine for us.

But in the last few months, we’ve gotten our son into regular daycare (as charming as he is, it’s impossible to multitask now that he’s mobile), and we have big plans to grow our agency in the next year. If early indications are right, our strategies are already working very well.

Here’s what we’ve done to kick our business into high gear and win new clients:

  • Refine our website

    While we’re still working on a more detailed redesign and revision to our website, we’ve already made significant changes to a couple of pages. On “About Us,” we share what sets us apart from our competitors; on “Our Onboarding Process,” we help prospects learn how we might work together, emphasizing our retainer-based engagements. These changes give prospects a better sense of our personality and processes, and help to build trust so that they might consider a working relationship with our firm.

  • Write more blog content

    We’re still not blogging here as regularly as we’d like to be, but we’re doing a lot better than we used to, and promoting these posts as part of a curated content marketing strategy to draw new followers to our site—and it’s working. Our web traffic (all organic) is up by more than 70% compared to six months ago.

  • Develop a focused guest blog and PR strategy

    In the last few months, I’ve written guest posts for sites including Business2Community, Content Marketing Institute, and numerous others, as well as syndicating existing blog content to sites like LinkedIn. I’ve also looked for opportunities to respond to relevant HARO queries, and have been quoted on online publications including CIO.com and Lifehack.org. These articles help expose our work and opinions to targeted new audiences, while also boosting our website’s SEO rankings.

  • Delegate more work

    I’m pretty frugal by nature—I’ll hardly ever buy something online without first scouring for a coupon code. So one of the most difficult things for me when it comes to running a content marketing agency is the thought of outsourcing articles that I know I could write perfectly well myself in the space of an hour or two. Sure, by writing articles myself, I was able to keep all of the profits rather than paying an experienced freelancer’s rates—but I was also hindering our growth. If I was spending time writing client articles, that was time I couldn’t spend working on our own blog or outreach.

    Now, we use our team of experienced freelancers for the majority of our contracted assignments. I still edit and directly oversee all content—nothing goes out without my OK—and I’ll occasionally write articles and white papers, but by stepping back from doing all of the creative work ourselves, we’ve been able to bring on more clients without spreading ourselves too thin.

  • Use a project management system

    For much too long, we’ve been relying on bouncing emails back and forth between our clients, writers, and other consultants that we work with. That made it tough to track due dates, and clients didn’t always remember when it was their responsibility to review topics or finished articles. After trying out a few options, we’ve opted to use a great project management system called TeamworkPM (affiliate link)—an intuitive system that allows us to set and track deadlines, send out group messages, and share files all in one place.

  • Build our network of trusted consultants and partners

    While some agencies will sub out their creative projects to freelancers they know nothing about through online marketplaces, that’s never been our style, and it never will be. In the past, we’ve had to turn down larger projects because we didn’t have a trusted partner that we could vouch for. Now, we’re working to meet creatives in different professions (writing, design, and videography, among others), exploring their portfolios, and often testing them out on smaller internal projects before bringing them on to large client projects.

  • Participate in group mentorship programs

    Recently, we were selected to participate in a SBA-funded program called ScaleUp America, where our company and 10 or so other small businesses around Portland, Maine will work in group and personal mentorship sessions on training in topics including financial forecasting, HR and hiring, and closing the sales cycle, over the next few months. I’ve also begun participating in an online “Mastermind” group to discuss business challenges with other founders, which has been a valuable way to learn about tools to help with our workflow and talk about shared issues.

  • Set big, but realistic goals.

    We’ve got a few metrics we’re hoping to beat (or maybe even trounce) in the coming year when it comes to client contracts, website traffic, and staffing, and we’re planning to hold ourselves accountable. Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted on how we’re doing.

How are you resolving to build your own business in the New Year? Share your comments below.

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Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.

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