Traditional marketing channels still hold great lessons for us; if you look closely enough.
In this episode, I’ll explain how you can use a tactic that magazines have been using forever, to plan your content out into a repeatable process and takes the stress out of the question “What are we going to post or create this week?”.
Be sure to download the free resource for this episode.
As part of the service, I have had this episode transcribed. Transcribing, proofing, and editing a podcast episode is A LOT of work. That’s why I use a service called REV who provide professional freelance transcriptionists who are vetted for quality. While they offer a 99% accuracy guarantee, I do not proof-read their work extensively. Instead, I simply copy and paste below and, as such, please note that this is not a verbatim transcript of the episode and I have trimmed things like the intro, close, and mid-show ad.
I think I am pretty lucky in terms of my marketing career. I started out when websites and digital were really only starting to become a thing. I remember some of my first marketing plans and budgets when I worked for a private vocational college called Australian Business Academy.
They were full of traditional marketing, you know, the things the marketing gurus and masterminds turn their noses up at these days because they aren’t sexy.
Essentially, the marketing plan each year revolved around spending the middle of the year visiting schools and career markets, all over NSW and the ACT, and building as big a database as we possibly could. If my memory serves me correctly, we’d have about 12,000 students on the database by about August each year.
We’d top up the database, at key decision making periods and enrolment periods, with TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads and editorials.
Then, we’d market to them through hard copy mail and yes, we’d literally mail merge and print the letters and sign them by hand and stuff them in an envelope, load the car up, and take them down to the post office. Before we had a printer that could print directly on envelopes, we would have to print labels and stick them on the envelopes. I do not miss that!
We’d also telemarket to them, so, lots of time on the phones talking to prospects and seeing if we could qualify them as leads to get them along to open days, tours, and application interviews.
As digital started to emerge, we added text messages and emails. Man, this was before platforms like HubSpot, and Campaign Monitor, and Mailchimp, so, I remember knowing how to write the email content in Word, exporting the database to a spreadsheet, and then mail merging that spreadsheet and word doc into Outlook which then took a record, sent an email, took a record, sent an email, and so one and so one … about 12,000 times. So it was sending emails individually from my inbox. It would take hours for the merge to complete.
Then, I’d have to go and make a global change to all the records at once, in the database, to leave a note that I’d sent them an email!
Crazy, hey? Thankfully, times have changed and many of you will not know the same struggle, but it was real.
Side story and one I think is important because it shows that some simple thinking from your target market’s point of view can have huge benefit.
So, clearly our target market was the students coming from Year 12, however, they were not the ones funding the study. Mum and/or Dad or maybe grandparents were. So, those paying the fees were an important stakeholder in our marketing. We needed the student and the funder to be on the same page.
I won’t say disengaged, because that is unfair, but we all know 17 and 18 year olds might not show as much urgency around making post-school study decisions as maybe Mum and Dad might want them to show.
So, while we sent some hard copy mail, in an envelope, addressed to a potential student, it was sealed and parents didn’t often open their 17 or 18 year old’s mail. Fair enough.
But, how could we reach the parents, or grandparents, in a non-mass advertising way – so, not TV and radio and newspaper?
Well, we realised that it usually wasn’t the 17 or 18 yo student who would clear the letterbox. That was an adult’s job, you know, because it was usually full of bills back then.
So, what we used to do is send 3-4 hardcopy mail campaigns which were DL sized promo cards which promoted upcoming open days or important key dates. They were double sided, colour, and really well designed to be eye catching.
We used to leave a little white space in the design so that we could print the address straight on the card which allowed us to send it, just like a holiday postcard, without an envelope.
As such, when the parents or the grandparents cleared the letterbox, they would invariably sort through the pile of mail and see the card … and they could read and engage with it because it was ‘open’, so to speak, it wasn’t in an envelope.
That then gave them some information to then speak to the 17-18 year old student and say “Hey, this looks OK, should we check it out?”
It worked surprisingly well. And, it was cheaper and took less time because we didn’t need an envelope!
My point in telling you all that was in the hint around the comment that today’s so called marketing gurus and masterminds turn their noses up at traditional marketing tactics because they aren’t sexy.
Sexy or not, you should choose marketing tactics because of the target market, not because of what you think about them. I’m not on Tik Tok, but if I was trying to market to tweens and teenagers, my personal opinion of the platform, as a consumer, shouldn’t come into it, and I’d definitely be using it to market.
For example, databases have always been important. They don’t become less important because marketers are bored of them.
With the DL mail cards, you can see that with just a little bit of thinking about how the target audience engaged with the communications, we were able to make them so much more effective. I reckon that thinking would still be valid today and maybe even more so because letter boxes are so much more uncluttered so you could get better cut-through.
Traditional marketing channels also still hold great lessons for us, if you look closely enough, and I’ll explain, after the break, how you can use a tactic that magazines have been using for ever, to plan your content out into a repeatable process and takes the stress out of the question “what are we going to post or create this week?”
As I said before the break, traditional marketing channels still hold great lessons for us, if you look closely enough, and one that I love to share with people, who might be feeling overwhelmed with creating regular content, is how magazines plan their issues.
It is a great approach because it is a repeatable process and takes the stress out of the question “what are we going to post or create this week?”.
The answer is a simple template.
Now, I know what you are thinking, “Urgh, a template” and I’d normally be the same because I can count on my hand the number of times someone has promised a template that will help and it just leaves you with a half completed document and/or more confused. They rarely work.
But this one does, mostly because you create the template, for you.
Magazines have long planned out each issue using a simple template method.
Each month, they simply look at the template and determine the ‘what’ of the ‘type’ of content. Let pretend it is a magazine for homes. Each month, they may have three major articles. One on interior design, one on gardens, and one on a feature house.
That is all part of their template each issue. So, they know they need three major articles, and they know the topic streams, they simply have to plan the what – what about interior design will they have, what about gardens will they have, what is the feature property.
So, how does that help you?
First off, there’s a free resource in the show notes for this episode at marketingbuilder.net. Download it and print it out.
Just so you can follow at home, the resource is just an A3 sheet with boxes on it that have been split in two with a vertical line so it looks like an open magazine. There are heaps of them on the page.
Then, grab a copy of a magazine – something like better Homes and Gardens, Mens or Womens Health, a golf magazine, or something. Doesn’t really matter. Whatever you can steel from the Doctor’s or Dentist’s surgery reception.
Then, work through the magazine and log, on the printed resource what ‘type’ of content is on each page.
You would start with the cover, that goes in the first section on the resource, then you’d probably have 2-3 pages of ads, they go in the next section on the resource, then probably a table of contents, and then you get into the meaty stuff.
So, if there is a big major interview, write down on the resource, in the corresponding box, major interview. Then just keep working through the magazine until you get to the end. You might need a few copies of the resource.
You might find it useful to do this with multiple magazines, not different issues of the same magazine, but different magazines all together.
Then, take a look at what you’ve logged on the resource and make a list of what you think you could produce.
For example, you might create a list that includes
- Hints and tips
- Staff spotlight
- A Guide or How To
- Questions and answers
- Whatever it might be.
Then, make a decision on the things that you think you could produce on a consistent basis (or continue to produce if you are already doing certain things).
Once you’ve committed to creating those ‘types’ of content, grab a monthly calendar and start plotting them. Maybe you do a blog which is a Guide or How To once every two weeks. Drop that in on the day you release it.
Maybe you run a monthly competition, maybe you do a social media Q&A, or a live broadcast or whatever. Just plot them all in the month.
Now, what you have is a repeatable template where, each month, you know when you are creating certain types of content and you simply have to make ongoing decisions about the what, or the topic, of those types of content.
To get started, head along to the show notes for this episode at marketingbuilder.net and download the free resource.