Its an online Travel Challenge and I'll have a team of 14 people. It has already completed 2 years and is present on all social media sites. My job is to get more people to know about it (Marketing & PR). What am I required to do? How can I make the best use of the resources I have? Thanks.
What? You are obviously unqualified for this position. You need to quit and let someone else do it.
Really you should be doing 2 things; be creative, and learn the industry standards.
Industry standards are the tried and true digital marketing channels (departments of a digital marketing agency). They are generally; SEO, SEM, Social Media, and display/retargeting. There are lots of subsets of these broad channels, you should learn all of them.
There are lots of great places to do this, (I am self taught as well) but you will generally need teachers or at least people to ask questions. If there are any agencies in your town I would try and make friends with people that work at them and ask for their guidance. You should ideally pick one specialist from each discipline. Generalists exist (I am one, you are becoming one) but there are more specialists. Ask them for their best reading materials and where they stay current, and then learn from that. Some of the best documentation will come from the software that you need to use in order to be successful. Finally you need to understand analytics to tie it all together.
SEO: Moz, BrightEdge, Raven & inbound.org
SEM: Adwords, Marin Software
Display/Retargeting: Start with Perfect Audience or Adroll, then move into letting Adwords handle it except for facebook, then progress to Adwords video retargeting
Social Media: more moz/inbound.org and sprout social. Seth Godin for social media theory & strategy as well (understand tribes)
Analytics: start with KISSmetrics, and then work your way into Google Analytics. GA is free and difficult and powerful, KISSmetrics is expensive and easy. Spend the $ early to learn best practices.
Being creative is the hardest part of the job. This is what you need in order to become a "growth hacker." You just need to come up with ideas that no one else has come up with yet in order to gain an edge over your competitors. Being creative doesnt come from being at your desk or even learning about your industry (marketing). Go for hikes, read for pleasure, explore religions, find challenging hobbies.
I joined our local hackerspace, learned to lasercut and like to tinker with sparkfun projects. I go geocaching. I also taught myself how to build web applications and iOS apps. It lends a tremendous hand to understand the way our software works in order to measure its success. The point is to step outside your comfort zone and be ready for the muse when she comes.
I agree with Maddie. If you're asking that question, you've been assigned the wrong job. Perhaps it's excusable if they have no money to pay for a marketer, but with 14 people reporting to you, that doesn't seem to be the case. I wonder what they're thinking.
Not to be rude, but it sounds to me as if you're in over your head. It's one thing to stretch and learn on the job; it's another to have no experience, not know what to do, and be managing 14 people. I agree with Maddie and Robbin.
This is a huge opportunity for you to learn and grow.
And no, you are not screwed, and not over your head. Obviously, you are at the right place at the right time. You just need to decide to become the right person.
I became a CMO of a web design company, without much experience and without any knowledge of web design space. And we are growing.
What you must realize is that you are NOT a marketer. With 14 people in your team (which is HUGE!), you are a leader of the marketing team.
What's the difference?
Well, now you don't do day-to-day tasks and tactics. You are creating an overall strategy, and define the steps with your team. The steps that THEY will put into action.
So, what you must do is to divide your team members into teams.
I'd go with:
1. Content team
2. SEO team
3. PPC team
4. PR team
6. Data team
7. Social media team
Then, define the overall strategies: what are the goals, what's the main focus, etc.
Then, with the leader of each team, define the strategy for content, PPC, SEO, etc.
Leave the how-to to them.
Your job is to lead them, guide them, and manage them.
If you want me to help you with this, we can schedule a call, and talk about this more detailed.
Spend 30 - 60 days listening. Find out who the thought leaders, bloggers, journalists who matter and don't do anything. Just listen on twitter, facebook and the blogosphere. You'll get a sense of opportunity through this discovery. I actually think it's to your advantage that you have no background in doing this.
The best PR is the anti-PR. Give people something to talk about, so they spread the word FOR you. Create something valuable (content, maybe?) and make it easy to share. Good luck!
What ever strategy you adopt, I believe that the tracking of the progress is very important. A small handy app is very important which may be used to mobilize your team of 14 people. I've experimented it with a resort company and it was successfully implemented.
I have spent the past three years interviewing startups about what they are doing today that is working effectively in the digital economy for my show StartUps In Action on national broadcast radio.
From the hundreds of "interrogations", I've done, I've learned 1) cash is always flowing somewhere (if it dries up in one stream, it will find another way as sure as life), 2) entrepreneurs are brilliant as find the new stream and learning how to pan for gold in it, 3) I learned where it is flowing today.
In the digital economy, marketing, publicity, direct response and retargeting advertising all all components of the newest form of direct response called crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, crowdsuccess.
Recruiting a crowd of like-minded people is working on all fronts.
Before jumping to conclusions about crowd funding people should look into it more deeply.
Based upon this real world research, I began interviewing startups committed to crowd success, and today I believe I have interviewed more of them than anyone else on the planet.
I know so many crowd success stories, in all verticals, I'm not surprised by Mark Cubans statement; "Anyone doing a start-up today, who doesn't use crowdfunding, is crazy."
New crowdfunding companies such as CrowdTilt have added a new component call "Sell Something", which provides excellent free market research.
Check it out https://www.crowdtilt.com/referrals/love-mhayes59
They will even jumpstart your campaign with $20.
If you have any follow-up questions, please forward them to me
Mike@StartUpsInAction.com and I'll be pleased to reply.
With such a large team and already active social media accounts, you need to be producing tons of content. For both your properties and for guest posting on other related sites. But you'll need to also promote your own content too. Try to write really edgy and engaging titles and articles.
Use paid social media to amplify your content and message. Use targeted Facebook ads to also grow your visibility.
If at all possible, try to come up with a unique story and angle that you can pitch to big publishers online to hopefully get more mainstream authority.
I've been in the online marketing world, successfully for the last 9+ years. I'd be happy to hop on a call and give you more details on these and other suggestions.
Here are 2 simple ways to get some initial content going:
I'd say start by getting out your camera and interview the people at your firm and let them tell (funny) stories about subjects relevant to what they do at the firm.
Edit the content into a series of short videos.
Set up a youtube channel if the firm doesn't have one already.
Embed the videos onto the company's site (preferably its blog).
Ask the people in the company to share the content on their social networks.
Draw up a list of customer's FAQs.
Take each FAQ and use it as a chapter for a content episode
Write an article for each FAQ and maybe also add a video version.
Publish on website
Ask the people in the company to share the content on their social networks.
They key to getting your colleagues to promote your content is by making stuff they can be proud of, the best way to do that is by featuring them in the content.
Happy to discuss more on a call.
If you are looking for a starting point I would highly recommend testimonials. The travel niche thrives on recommendations. The more happy stories of thrilled travelers you have the better.
There are many people with no formal experience or training who are brilliant marketers. David Ogilvy never graduated from college, for example. Neither did Steve Jobs. Few hold a candle to either of them.
But here's the problem implicit in your question: You're asking how to proceed. Do you have within you the intense curiosity and love of learning necessary to tackle this job? Do you know how to ask the right questions? Have you gone out there and read, for example, the 25 greatest marketing and advertising books of all time? What have YOU done already -- or are you doing right now -- to prepare for this? Because if you are fundamentally incurious, then you cannot do this job and you certainly cannot lead others. If you have a towering intellect coupled with an intense curiosity, on the other hand, and you have drive, passion and perseverance, you could very well succeed.
In other words, it's up to you. You need to ask yourself if you're in over your head. You need to ask yourself if you have the innate curiosity and drive to know, to investigate, to question -- things necessary for you to succeed and to lead others.
Your questions do concern me. You seem to want others to tell you what to do. Now if you'd come here and said you'd read the histories of marketing for many start-up companies; you've read the great marketers and advertisers of the last 50 years; you've watched or gone to talks by thinkers like Sinek -- and then you had questions about applying those ideas to your challenges, that would be utterly different. Until you aren't operating from a vacuum of knowledge, even the best advice in the world won't help you because you'll lack the worldview to apply it correctly.
So it's on you to decide which path you want to take.