Well, not quite: but soon!
2014 is the year that the ‘Trail really gets social. Big digital marketing warfare and all that. Now many of you will know that there’s this here blog (if you didn’t before, er…you obviously do now!), there’s the ‘Trail Facebook page and of course there’s Twitter too. For you professional types, there’s also the ‘Trail LinkedIn company page.
Previously, my digital activity has been haphazard. Yes, there’d be tweets or Facebook updates, but nothing particularly regimented.
Content has always been king, but now it’s an even bigger and more important king. The official website is effectively the shop window and I’m regularly told by clients that it looks good, credible and authoritative. In other words, it makes the buying decision easier and less risky for customers, when they are reassured by a content-rich website that looks pretty good and gives them the information they need.
That’s just one element however.
What has become increasingly obvious over the last few years is the emergence of ‘permission’ or ‘inbound’ marketing and the lack of enthusiasm for ‘interruption’ marketing – advertising, for instance. The average individual is now being bombarded with thousands of commercial messages per week – figures vary, but mark my words, it’s a lot. Through sheer necessity we have to ‘zone out’ the vast majority of these otherwise we’d become bigger mental wrecks than what we’ve become. And that represents a hell of a lot of wasted advertising.
Marketers have to accept that the days of fighting to get someone’s attention when they’re not really interested (I remember my ‘Buyer Behaviour’ uni lectures, discussing ‘receiver involvement’) is simply throwing money away.
What DOES work however, is being there when the moment comes that someone IS interested in one’s product or service. Being highly visible on Google search results is key. Thankfully the ‘Trail performs very well in that respect when typing in things like ”London spy tour” or similar.
Great web content will always be worth it. The blog will also play a part. As for social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, they may play a small part, but at the end of the day what matters is getting tootsies on the ‘Trail (my equivalent of ‘bums on seats’). Facebook ‘likes’ are lovely to have but are they a valid indicator of purchase intent? Not in my experience.
Content marketing can be many things, for example: a great website; an informative and engaging blog; regular posting on social media – a mix of text and visuals; videos; infographics; discussion papers / long feature articles.
So, I’ll spare you the gory details but you can look forward to / run away from much more of this. I’ll keep you posted as things progress and the strategy and tactics are in place. But it bodes well for the future. Online is a great leveller for the small Davids fighting the giant corporate Goliaths, if there’s a bucketload of enthusiasm, passion, knowledge and the will to win to go with it. ‘Sounds like I’m up for a scrap!
The above list can be equally applied for both prospects, customers, and industry peers. But what about customers? Don’t they deserve something a bit more? Yes they do.
I’d toyed with the idea of a customer newsletter a couple of years ago, but the thought of sending out a whole bunch of emails individually was never going to work. With hindsight there were probably mass mail programs out there that didn’t cost a fortune, I just never looked into it in enough detail.
But now the time is right to engage with those kind enough to pay for my services. Enter Stage Left: Mailchimp.
This is the tasty bit of kit I’ll be using for the new customer newsletters coming very soon (if everything goes well, before the end of the month).
So what’s the point of the newsletter? Well, there’s a few reasons. From a commercial point of view, I want to keep in touch with the people who’ve spent their hard earned cash with me in the past. Afterall, there’s a few tours available to go on: don’t be shy going on just one of them! There will be a new referral scheme introduced also – probably in the first edition – so that’s one way of spreading the news. Email is also very easy to forward onto friends and colleagues etc, so it’s worth it for that.
As there will be more social media activity on various websites, the newsletter can provide a friendly nudge when these occur. Hopefully it will be a catalyst for some good discussion: afterall, it ain’t designed to be one way traffic!
Furthermore, many of my clients – especially from 2013 onwards – have paid premium prices for their private tours. There’s got to be some genuine interest in the intelligence world to do so and should appreciate the content.
What’s going to be in it? It’s early days but I reckon the first edition will include:-
Spook News – highlighting some of the month’s most interesting spy and intelligence-related news stories from the UK but also around the world.
Spy Key topic – whether it’s a story, individual, or institution (possibly covered in the tour, but not necessarily so), there will be some background info, commentary, and additional weblinks for further reference.
Tour News – containing interesting titbits of info, or steaming hot gossip, together with special tour promotions.
‘Trail At Large – some pointers regarding the ‘Trail on social media – think along the lines of London spy site imagery on Pinterest, or other relevant Facebook and Twitter content.
Spook Books & Spy Cinema – if there’s a new spy movie or spook book released that’s caught my eye, I’ll flag it.
Once I get my head into MailChimp I’ll work on both HTML and text versions. This helps with avoiding spam filters and gives the choice of lovely images or just the nitty-gritty text and links. Email newsletters should be appealing but neither should they be an absolute pig to download. So bear with me while the optimum format is being arrived at. Needless to say, I’ll be wanting and expecting feedback on any and all aspects of the newsletter when it’s up and running.
What’s it going to be called? At the moment, I’ve no idea. I’ve thought about just nicking ‘Below Top Secret’, but if you’ve any better suggestions, let’s hear ‘em!
So keep your eyes peeled: it’s a comin’!