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A Straightforward Guide for Marketers



A Straightforward Guide for Marketers

Have you ever sat down at your desk first thing in the morning and spent a good 45 minutes browsing social media or getting lost in your inbox because you can’t focus on what you need to do? At the end of the day, you feel as if you’ve wasted 8 hours of your life that you’ll never get back.

On the other hand, have you ever sat down, opened your calendar app or a to-do list, and jumped right into work, knocking out task after task in a matter of minutes? When you shut your computer at the end of the day, you feel accomplished and know that you’ve done everything possible to move towards your professional goals.

What’s the difference between these two scenarios? A plan. Having your day (or week, or project) mapped out with a concrete action plan will help you feel more focused and accomplished in less time. When it comes to marketing, an action plan could mean the difference between a campaign that sizzles and a campaign that fizzles.

Now that you know there’s a way to ensure more days end with the satisfaction of work done well, let’s take a closer look at what these plans actually are and how they can benefit you.

What is an action plan?

An action plan is a proposed strategy for whatever you want to accomplish. It’s a clear, detailed list of all the steps you need to take to reach your goal, along with a proposed timeline of when you’ll complete each step or task.

Perhaps you’ve heard of action plans in the past, but never tried to create one of your own, Or maybe, this is a brand new concept to you and you’re pretty sure you just heard a choir of angels in the background.

What is the purpose of an action plan?

Action plans are designed to help you reach your goals faster. By breaking down projects into smaller steps, you can ensure that you:

  • Meet your goal in a timely fashion
  • Don’t skip a step
  • Communicate effectively with team members
  • Set reasonable expectations for what you can accomplish in a specific period of time

While they will vary in complexity, action plans are good for small projects, large projects, projects that you complete on your own, and projects that involve other team members or individuals outside of your organization.

Convinced you need action plans in your life? Good. Let’s take a look at the steps necessary to implement them.

How to Write an Action Plan

Action plans can be as simple or complex as they need to be. However, before you start writing out the steps to reach your goal, you’ll need to identify something very important… your goal, of course!

What is it that you’d like to accomplish? Is there a new campaign you need to prepare before a specific launch date? Maybe you’re teaming up with another business or a nonprofit for cross-promotion. Perhaps you’re looking to increase brand awareness through various channels.

Whatever your goals, get very clear on what it is you want, why it’s important, and when you need it done. You may wish to create a SMART Action Plan by incorporating SMART goals into it. SMART stands for: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This framework helps you determine if your goals are realistic, identify what actions are needed to reach your goals, and defines what success looks like.

Once you’ve determined what you want to accomplish and when it will need to be done, it’s time to start devising your plan. Follow these easy steps to create your plan of action.

  1. Use a template or tool to capture your action plan and share it with anyone who needs to be involved. (You’ll find some options in the next section)
  2. Brainstorm. Consider all the steps that need to get done to complete your project. You may find it helpful to start with larger aspects of the project and then break those down into smaller tasks. No task is too small to be listed (let’s be honest, checking things off a to-do list feels amazing).
  3. Delegate and assign responsibilities to team members. You don’t have to go it alone! Hopefully, you have a trustworthy team standing by to help complete tasks and inch you closer and closer to the finish line. This also allows you to identify what resources you need to achieve the goal.
  4. Schedule due dates. If your project needs to be done by a specific day (which it should or it could stretch on indefinitely), then each task will have its own due date. Keep in mind that some tasks can be worked on at the same time, while others will require that a previous task has been finished before you can start the new one.
  5. Set up alerts to keep yourself (and your team) on track. It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget about a larger project looming in the distance. Use your scheduled due dates to set up reminders and pencil in time to work on specific tasks.
  6. Track your progress and check in with your team. Your action plan may have looked top-notch when you wrote it, but as you work through it, you may discover that things need to change. If you see that you’re falling behind in the tasks, it may be time to re-evaluate and potentially tweak your action plan.
  7. Celebrate. Completing a project is often cause for celebration, but don’t forget to review what worked and what didn’t for a smoother project next time.

Leadership action plans will not only help you achieve your goals, but will also help your team be clear on what they need to do, and feel accomplished once they’ve done it. They will also serve to identify any weak links in your organization.

Action plan Formats may differ depending on the needs of our specific project, however, as long as you include the goal, the steps, the people involved, and the due dates, you’ll have a solid plan to work with.

Action Plan Templates

When you’re ready to create an action plan, there’s no need to start from scratch. There are a number of templates and examples available that will provide the framework you need to devise your marketing strategy.

Below, is an action plan example for a 30-60-90 Day onboarding plan. This can always be tweaked to onboard individuals into a marketing position, or to create a marketing plan for your organization.

Sample action plan for onboarding

A marketing action plan may be as simple as this template:

Sample action plan for marketing

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You can also use Hubspot’s Marketing Plan Generator to guide you along the way.

No matter how you do it, an action plan may take a little bit of time to create, however, you’ll save time, energy, and resources when you have a clear plan of action for your next project or campaign.

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The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling



The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling

Storytelling is an art.

Not a process, method, or technique. And — like art — it requires creativity, vision, skill, and practice. Storytelling isn’t something you can grasp in one sitting, after one course. It’s a trial-and-error process of mastery.


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How to Blog When You Have No Time



How to Blog When You Have No Time

Finding the time to blog is a frequent challenge for many marketers. Marketers often wear many hats and it can be difficult to focus long enough to churn out quality articles when you’re pressed for time.

How to blog when you have no time? We spoke with author and marketing expert David Meerman Scotton how to avoid common time management mistakes by developing a routine.

No matter what you’ve got on your marketing plate, it won’t get done without proper time management. Learning how to make the most of your time will greatly affect your productivity and overall success as a blogger.

Why is blogging time management important?

When it comes to creating content, maintaining consistency is key. This is why blogging time management is so important. You may not always feel motivated to create on a regular basis, but establishing a schedule will help you to stay consistent with your blog output.

For example, you may find that you’re better at writing in the mornings. So you can set aside 2 to 3 hours each morning to work on writing based on how many articles you’d like to produce each week.

Create a content calendar to help you plan your content in advance and set reasonable deadlines. Make note of holidays or seasonal events that may impact your content schedule.

Getting organized will help you set and achieve goals for your blog. If you’re starting from scratch, check out our guide to starting a blog.

How to Blog When You Have No Time

1. Use blog templates.

An easy way to jump-startyour creative process is to start with a template. Why suffer through writer’s block staring at a blank document if you don’t have to? HubSpot’s free blog post templatescan help you format your article and get started writing faster than starting from scratch.

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Templates function as an easy to follow outline where you can organize your thoughts and start to flesh out your content. HubSpot’s offer includes six templates ranging from how-to posts to pillar pages and infographics.

2. Develop a blogging routine.

In many ways blogging reminds David of exercising. In order to be successful at it, you will need to develop a routine. “It is programmed in,” David says. “It is about building it into your life and making it a second nature, like running in the mornings or doing yoga after work.”

Dedicate time each day to writing or allocate one to two designated writing days per week. Block time off on your calendar and turn off messaging apps to avoid interruptions while you write.

Once you’ve gotten organized and created a routine, you may find you had more time to write than previously thought.

3. Keep a list of ideas.

One way to save time coming up with content is to make sure you always have a running list of fresh ideas to work with. That way you’re not scrambling at the last minute for worthy topics.

Creating topic clusterscan help you flesh out your blog content strategy. A topic clusteris multiplearticles grouped by a shared topic or related topic. For example, you may have one pillar page that gives a broad overview of a topic. From there, you can create more in-depth, specific articles on related subtopics.

This will not only help you plan content but organize your site architecture as well.

4. Perform research prior to writing.

It’s much easier to write when you have all the pertinent information you want to include in one place. Research your chosen topic before sitting down to write and organize the information in a quick outline.

Include any keyword researchin this process so you can ensure your content aligns with what readers are searching for online. This way when you sit down to write, your only job is to write — not look up new facts.

5. Don’t edit while writing.

When writing it’s very tempting to want to stop and make corrections. Don’t do this. It breaks your writing flow.

Instead, write a rough draft withjust pops into your mind first. Follow your train of thought without stopping to fix typos or edit. The goal is to just get your thoughts on the page. Once your initial draft is written, you can always go back and make changes.

6. Perform article updates.

Another strategy is to build upon existing content by performing an article update. Giving your older content a refresh is not only good for SEO and your readers, but it can be a quick win for adding new content in a time crunch.

With older content, you may need to include additional research and update it for accuracy, but it generally takes less time than writing a new article from scratch. Review your existing content. Are there articles you can do a deeper dive on? Have there been industry advancements you can include? Is there a new angle to explore?

7. Find content ideas wherever you go.

By making blogging a life routine, you will come across creative content ideas much more frequently. Keep an open mind, observe new things that interest you personally and find ways to turn them into fodder for a blog post. By noticing world dynamics that get you excited and relating them to your audience, the process of blogging becomes a lot more natural and fun.

Accumulate content ideas from different situations in life and find ways to apply them to your industry.

8. Hire a freelancer.

Sometimes your workload is just too heavy and your efforts can be better used elsewhere. If you have the resources and budget to do it, hiring outside help may also be a great option.

Sites like Upwork, Contenta, and MediaBistro make it easy to find writing professionals. If looking to generate content on a larger scale, consider working with a content agency.

Blog Like A Pro

Creating content with a consistent cadence is an obstacle busy marketers frequently struggle with. Creating a schedule and mastering blogging time management will allow you to create even when you’re short on time.

This article was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How clean, organized and actionable is your data?



90% of marketers say their CDP doesn't meet current business needs

A customer data platform (CDP) centralizes an organization’s customer data, providing a single 360-view of each consumer that engages with the company. Yet there are still data-related considerations that organizations have to make beyond what the CDP does.

“[CDPs] were designed to fill a need – to enable a marketer to easily get to the data they need to create their segmentation and then go on and mark it from that point,” said George Corugedo, CTO of data management company Redpoint Global, at The MarTech Conference. “But the issue is that CDPs really don’t take care of the quality aspects of the data.”

Maintaining data quality also impacts segmentation, campaigns and privacy compliance challenges for marketing teams that use this data.

Data quality

The data in a CDP depends on the quality of where it came from. Therefore, an organization using a CDP must also consider the quality of the data sources and reference files used to build out the CDP.

“The inevitable question is going to be, how good is this data?” said Corugedo. “How much can I trust it to make a bold decision?”

This is something that has to be on every organization’s radar. For instance, when identity resolution is used, the issue depends on the quality of the third-party reference files. If they are provided by a telecommunications company or credit bureau as the data partner, those files might only be updated quarterly.

“It’s just not an optimal solution, but every single CDP on the market uses some form of reference file,” Corugedo stated.

It’s up to the data scientists and other team members working within the organization to own the accuracy of these data sources.

Read next: What is a CDP?

Segmentation and other actions

The quality of the data using specific reference files and sources will vary and will impact the confidence that marketers have in creating segments and using them when deploying campaigns.

Marketers have to make this decision at a granular level, based on the trustworthiness of data from a particular lineage.

“If they have a campaign that is reliant on suspect data, they can actually delay that campaign and say maybe we wait until that data gets refreshed,” said Corugedo.

Otherwise, marketers are just “spraying and praying.”

Using rules instead of lists

The advantage of having a CDP is unification of all data. But the data is being updated all the time. Instead of deploying campaigns based on a fixed list of customers, the use of rules to define segments allows marketers to update who they engage in the campaign.

“A list, as soon as it’s detached from the database, starts to decay because it doesn’t get any updates anymore,” Corugedo, adding that using lists takes longer to execute a campaign.

Lower quality from data that isn’t updated can have serious implications for healthcare and other industries, where accuracy is essential. 

“Instead, rules are passed through the campaign just like they would be with a list, but those rules reevaluate every time there’s a decision point to make sure that only the qualified people get the particular content at that point,” Corugedo explained.

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Privacy and regulatory compliance

Maintaining data quality through a Redpoint Global dashboard, or a similar combination of tools and data personnel, will also help an organization manage privacy.

The crucial point is that people on the team know where the data came from and how it’s being used in campaigns. The stakes for sending out relevant messaging are high. Privacy and compliance issues raise the bar even higher.

If you’re using a CDP, you can save headaches and extra labor by using a tool that has compliance and privacy baked in, so to speak.

“What we’ve done is embrace some of this complexity and absorb it into the environment, so the marketer never even sees it,” said Corugedo. “What we do is with every implementation, we will implement a PII vault that keeps PII data super secure, and we can anonymize the marketing database.”

This way, personal information of individual customers (PII) is never violated.

“Marketers ultimately don’t necessarily need to have visibility to PII,” Corugedo explained “They like to see it for testing purposes and making sure that it looks right and everything, but the truth is we can do that in other ways without revealing PII.”

Having a handle on data quality adds to the confidence marketing teams have in creating segments and executing campaigns, and it can also help protect the customer’s privacy and guard against regulatory infringements.

Facts not fiction: Beyond the CDP from Third Door Media on Vimeo.

About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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