Rightsizing Marketing During the Downturn

Every company is considering cost-cutting and streamlining operations to weather the storm of business closures due to the Covid-19 downturn.  Even those companies whose workforce is able to continue working remotely are belt-tightening. And wisely so.  Published estimates of the cost of the pandemic range from $3.3 trillion, if it’s controlled and we are back to normal in 12 months, to $7 trillion if it takes three years.  Everyone is going to be on a fiscal diet. 

47% of CEOs surveyed identified Marketing as the first place to reduce budget because of  business pressure caused by COVID-19.

Not good news for Marketing. As a technology marketing veteran, I’ve watched the economy recover after 9/11, the 2008 crash, and several smaller ups and downs along the way.  But nothing has been quite so devastating as this.  In a recent survey that we conducted with one of our clients, Fortra Search, we surveyed Silicon Valley tech CEOs and senior executives to get their outlook on the business impacts of the virus.  One of the things that came to light is that they are all looking at streamlining costs, and forty-seven percent (47%) said that the first place they’ll be forced to cut is Marketing. But, marketing is designed to support the sales process. So, how can a company stay relevant in the marketplace without a marketing team to create demand for its products, or building its brand?   For some companies, the answer can be outsourced marketing. 

Applying Business Realities to Right Size Marketing

To determine the right mix of marketing resources consider where your company will be when the economy begins to recover.  Companies will likely fall into four categories, each with a different approach to marketing.

Outsourced Marketing Teams Can Cost 70% Less Than In-house Marketing Teams

Although it seems counter-intuitive, external marketing resources can actually be a company’s most cost-effective approach. We ran an analysis of the cost of a completely outsourced marketing organization vs. an in-house marketing organization. Both teams have the essential team members for cost-effective, sales-oriented marketing. In our simplified model, outsourced marketing can save over seventy-percent (70%) in employee costs alone, and often have access to more seasoned marketing resources. We used average U.S. salary data and calculated federal and state taxes as well as the cost of benefits to get an overall cost. 

Of course, different markets have different salaries and benefits costs. But the general savings dynamics still apply. 

Redirecting budget toward outsourced marketing resources also saves money that can be reallocated toward program costs like media or investments in content, virtual events, or your website. 

A Right-sized Marketing Effort Probably Requires Both Internal and External Resources

We’re not recommending that you replace your entire marketing team with outsourced talent. But a dedicated agency can bring new perspectives, deep understanding of the marketing craft especially in rapidly evolving areas like SEO or Social marketing, and can work side-by-side with your internal team to maximize results. Most of our clients don’t need every practice that an agency like ours offers, and most have an internal marketing leader, CEO or Founder that works with the agency team. Budgets and requirements vary based on actual company needs, but in general, we have found that a mix of internal and agency resources leave more budget for programs, and result in stronger pipelines and brand.

While it may seem like hiring an agency is exactly what you can’t afford to do, be sure to run the numbers.  You may find that you can’t afford not to. Read more about KTC on our website. www.ktcmarketingandpr.com


Agile Marketing: Learning From our Software Developer Colleagues

Agile [aj-uhl, -ahyl]: quick and well-coordinated in movement

Virtually all software developers rely on the Agile Software Development methodology.  Before the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published in 2001, software development (and nearly every other business function) was executed linearly. Conversely, “Agile” is collaborative. Everyone works together in short “sprints” to make progress toward common goals and results. One person doesn’t wait for a hand-off from another person, but rather, people from different departments work together to experiment with ideas, address issues together to progress and keep momentum. 

The concept of “Agile” now touches virtually all business processes but has a significant impact on marketing.  

Agile marketing teams collectively focus on high-value projects and work together to reach milestones and complete those projects. The work is executed in short periods of cooperative, focused “sprints” and measured with real-time data and analytics. Teams measure the impact of their work, adjust tactics and increment their way forward.  together they assess the value of the project, or the effectiveness of the approach so they can modify tactics and learn from the process.  Agile marketing ensures more coordinated and effective marketing with greater overall results.

Agile Marketing has a few hallmark characteristics. 

Agile marketing allows us to:

Our clients are smart about Agile. Department silos are coming down as the PR team works with the digital marketing team, the social team, the events team and the website team to ensure that all channels are delivering the same messages, at the same time, in an integrated fashion.  Content marketing and PR use the same SEO terms that drive traffic to the website and capture the attention of customers. Web analytics inform us about areas of customer interest as well as customer behaviors during the buying journey.  Agile marketing is informed, integrated, collaborative and measurable. 

We’ve built KTC Integrated Marketing on an Agile framework. We set goals with our clients and design campaign strategies that span branding to lead generation to PR and content, social, SEO/SEM and web marketing, events, and customer and partner marketing. We implement those campaigns with our clients, track their progress through data and analytics, and increment our way toward the goals. Our clients participate in our sprints and help us shape our tactics as we progress.  

The Agile Manifesto marked the beginning of a fundamental shift in how business is done. Using Agile strategies in marketing pays off in better results, stronger brands, and more effective use of marketing resources. 

Build Awareness, Credibility, and Trust with Agile Content

As we race into the new decade, the content remains one of the most critical foundations for successful B-to-B marketing efforts. Research shows that 49% of B2B buyers rely more heavily on content to research their purchase decisions than they did last year, and 72% of marketers said that having a good content strategy was a major key to their success.

The tricky part is creating content that is valuable to your constituents long term, meeting their different needs at different stages of their buying journeys. Offering information when and where they need it will get them interested in your products and services, and guide them to the purchase decision. Content that focuses on helping customers and prospects shows that you care for them and their challenges, which builds trust over time. A good content strategy strategically delivers content in the locations that customers look for it, and makes it easy to find online, in publications and on forums that they already frequently visit. 

To get the customer perspective, we like to speak directly with our clients' customers to get first-hand accounts of their day-to-day challenges, needs, and wishes. We build our content base from these discussions. But there are plenty of other ways to get a better understanding of customer and prospect needs. For instance, we can learn a lot by speaking with sales teams, surveying existing and potential customers, reading through case studies, monitoring social channels, conducting keyword research, attending industry events, and the like.

But with so many potential types of content and channels, where should time and resource-constrained companies begin their content efforts? This is where the concept of agile content comes in. To begin, we set goals for downloads or clicks to our content at each stage of the funnel.  All content is written to be optimized for search and uses terms that are appropriate for the specific stage of the customer lifecycle.  In each weekly marketing sprint, the content we create and promote leverages things we learned the previous week. In other words, if a content piece at the top of the funnel delivers good results, then we can riff on that topic to create maximum interest.  If a piece of content doesn’t resonate with an audience on one channel, we can try other channels or adjust the messaging to make it more appealing.  Each week we measure results and adjust content and strategy to match the current appetite for content as demonstrated by the audience.  

We often recommend starting at the top of the funnel as a way to create evergreen narratives that address pressing issues and educate audiences on best practices. The three most-cited content marketing goals in the last 12 months were creating brand awareness (86%), educating audience(s) (79%), and building credibility/trust (75%).  From there, you can craft a plan that sketches out different potential types of content for different phases and channels.

A plan is all well and good, but what if you're a startup working with a small team struggling to break into a market? Or a midsize company that's growing at a breakneck pace, with every employee already backlogged to the max as they ramp up for the next phase of growth? It takes resources and time to build an arsenal of strategic content, which is why content planning and creation is one of the first areas our clients usually hand over to us. 

This is where the fun begins because agile content is marketing's great chameleon. There's a balance between creating fresh fundamental content and playing sleuth to morph existing content into new pieces tailored to meet customer and prospect needs in totally different channels, and at different phases in the buying cycle. Here's an example. We've turned a high-level panel topic that was meant for building general visibility into an analyst-led webinar that attracted hundreds of leads. We worked with a client to create a timely newsjacking comment that later turned into a feature article in a major business publication, which then became an SEO-enabled blog post and social content. Each piece of content had the same useful messages and educational material essence, but its look and delivery method changed to reach audiences where and when they wanted to receive that information.

Whether you're attacking new markets, landing and expanding in existing niches, shaking hands to close deals or staying in touch with valued customers to maintain long-standing relationships, well-researched content with a smart makeover can emerge refreshed and ready to lend a helping hand to your marketing and sales efforts.

Using SEO to Build the Right Marketing Funnel for Lead Generation

We all have the right intentions with marketing our services online.  We are told that it is as simple as advertising for your target search terms on google, sending the traffic to your website and getting leads. The sobering news is that is not the case and as prospects are requiring more and more touchpoints to move through the sales pipeline, we need to look at the digital marketing funnel with a more holistic approach.

Here are my 5 steps to building a rock-solid digital funnel for lead gen:

1. Research Keywords & Competitors

The first place to always start with your digital funnel is with research.  I always start off by analyzing the clients’ website and start by building a list of relevant search terms with intent to purchase that service or offering.  We always want to make a list of relevant competitors online as well as the differentiating factors.  From there I start using keyword research tools like kwfinder to or the keyword tool in google ads to build up a list of the top 20-30 medium to high search terms for the client.  I sort these by search volume but include average click costs and keyword difficulty as a core metric to analyze.  

Then I will use tools like ahrefs or SEMrush to start reverse-engineering the competitors’ pages and see what keywords they also rank to expand our keyword list.

The next piece of the funnel puzzle is to build highly relevant search terms based on the keyword set.  In Google Ads, we separate the campaigns into Ad Groups.  For instance, there might be “Text messaging software” and “SMS messaging software” ad groups in the “messaging software search campaign.” These say essentially the same thing but should be hyper-segmented so we are serving the searcher the most relevant page.  This will also render a higher quality score for our landing pages in the google ads account meaning better ad placement at a better cost because Google knows that we will deliver a better user experience based on relevance.  

2. Build Highly-Relevant Landing Pages

The most important piece of this puzzle is sending traffic to the place that will convert.  For any paid traffic source, we want to use a pretty specific page format.  These landing pages need to get across the value proposition of the business in the headline, supportive text for how the value proposition is relevant to customers, and a very clear call to action of what you want the user to do next.  Generally, the best call to action is a form with wording such as: “request demo” or “learn more.”  

Lose the leaks. Don’t send your hard-earned traffic to the home page or another internal page of the website because the header and footer on these pages are full of internal links to other pages which are basically “leaks” from the action we want the user to take. An easy way to think about it is to consider landing pages as your #1 hyper-segmented and focused sales rep. These reps need to do a good job of selling the service based on the benefits to the target customer or business––not to just babble about features the customer may not understand.  All the information on the landing page needs to focus on why your product or service is a benefit to the end-user.  

Building trust is key. Good landing pages should include testimonials with faces and/or third-party reviews to build trust.  A trust ribbon of clients’ logos helps accomplish this as well as having “softer” calls to action on buttons like “learn more” or “request demo” as opposed to “buy this now.”  There are several services you can use to build better-targeted landing pages such as Unbounce, Optimizely, Lead Pages or VWO.  These tools also allow great functionality such as dynamically inserting keywords searched from Google into headlines and split testing different elements of the page for conversion rate optimization.  Standard website pages simply don’t have this functionality so it’s nice to partner with specific companies that do this all day long.  

3. Setup Search Campaigns in Google Ads

Now that we have the right place to send the traffic, it’s time to build out the Google Ads account to drive targeted traffic.  You will want a different landing page for each ad group or campaign depending on how you’ve structured the account build.  The formula is complex and simple at the same time but can be broken down into keywords and ads at the highest level.

Select and Refine Your Keywords

For keywords, I generally use the broad match modified setting or phrase match depending on how many searches are estimated each month. Since new searches are happening every day, you don’t want to limit your reach especially if there is low search volume.  

It’s always best practice to build out some very common negative keyword that shows no intention to purchase.  Keywords like “how to” just show that the user is too high in the funnel or looking for a DIY solution so we don’t want to waste any spend on them.  These can eat up your ad budget fast and take away from those actively raising their hand looking to use your product or service.  Once the keyword list is properly segmented and fine-tuned, it’s time to build out the text ads.

The Ads

Ads are really important as they will be the first touch that most businesses have with their prospects.  The copy needs to get across the three elements of any good ad:


So What?

Now What?

So, for #1, you’ll want to answer what the offering is by weaving in the core keyword from the ad group.  It is important to have the core keyword in the first headline of the ad because the person searching for that keyword will feel an instant connection to your business.  They know they’ve arrived at the right place on the web.  “So what? may be the most important part of the ad.  Why should the person making the search care?  What’s in it for them?  This is your opportunity to drive your value proposition home, and tell how your product or service benefits the user.  Lastly, make it easy for the searcher with a solid “Now what?” statement. Define the action you want the searcher to take.  Is it a free demo or to shop a limited time sale?  This is your opportunity to get that across.  There are also two sets of descriptions you can add.  Less is more as you are limited by the number of characters you can use so be brief and direct.

Now we’ve dialed in some pretty targeted traffic.  We need to monitor these ads and continually optimize keywords based on performance.  We also need to comb through the search terms to ensure that we are getting good traffic and constantly expand our negative keyword list to ensure that our spending is going towards search terms that have the best chance of converting.  The sad reality is that depending on the industry, a good conversion rate can range from 1-5% for most businesses.  That’s a heck of a lot of traffic to get to your site to not convert.  Of course, you will want to set up retargeting on Google and Facebook so you can recapture those searchers and bring them back to your site. At this stage, try softer calls to action so you can capture those who may not be quite ready to schedule a demo just yet.

4. Create a good lead magnet

A good lead magnet can do wonders to drive in marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to your business.  The key here is to figure out where you can provide the most value to prospects visiting your site, causing more intrigue.  You can put your core search terms into Answer The Public and see what type of questions you can answer in detail. The idea here again is to build value, not give away your service, but to educate your prospects and build value.  Of course, you will need to ask for an email address in return for the downloadable PDF, E-Book, etc.  This should go into your email automation funnel and try and make these as personal as possible.  

5. Setup Your Retargeting List & Email Flows

Retargeting is one of the most valuable campaigns in any digital funnel.  Prospects that have visited your site, but who have not converted are generally pretty hot and considered in-market for your product or service.  There are several third-party companies that offer retargeting, but I find that there is little control and the reported metrics seem to be pretty far off from reality.  I like retargeting with the Google Ads interface as well as in the Facebook news feed.  Here you can make bids up or down based on the device used as well as creating specific exclusions and placements.  Doing this yourself in the specific interface will also allow you to see a much more straightforward click-through-rate, conversion rate and cost per lead.  I also split test sending this traffic to a landing page or to the home page, as the end user may need more info that is simply not offered on the landing page.

Out of any traffic source, email always seems to have the largest ROI.  Your email list is virtually a gold mine and the art here is finding the right ways to go into that gold mine and extract revenue.  Personal email automation has really made some great headway in the last few years and can skillfully engage your subscribers.  The key here again is to add value through useful information and then promote infrequently and with taste.  

Final Thoughts on The Digital Funnel

Every element of the proper digital funnel should continue to increase performance over time.  Results can’t be expected overnight, but over time the traffic source should be getting more dialed in.  The landing pages should be tested and the exit pop-up can bat cleanup for those not quite ready to fill out a full form yet.  These steps cover off the foundation and ensure that someone interested is going to give an honest look and decide yes or no based upon what they have been presented.

LinkedIn: One of Your Best Marketing Bets

With over 600 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is an invaluable tool of B2B marketing. As much as you use other social media sites like Facebook or Instagram in your personal life, nothing quite equates to the varied features and business-specific environment of LinkedIn.  At KTC Marketing and PR, we can help your business navigate the complex ecosystem of LinkedIn to help you achieve your goals. While our custom strategy will find the best aspects of LinkedIn for you, here is an overview of the many facets of LinkedIn.

Profiles and Networking

Your LinkedIn profile is a resume, portfolio, and cover letter, all mixed with your Facebook profile. Use your profile to show off your achievements and network with colleagues, potential clients, or employers- the more connections you have the better.  You can find almost any digitally savvy worker on LinkedIn, and even search to find people with specific companies or positions. On LinkedIn, there is no cultural requirement for people to know one another in real life to be connected, so feel free to send requests to expand your network.


Now, most social networks center around their newsfeed; when you log into Facebook or Instagram, scrolling down your feed is the main action. On LinkedIn, use of the feed is much more limited- it's one of many activities users come to the site for. The feed is a mix of posts for individual users and from businesses via their Company Pages. You can like, comment, and share in addition to posting your own content-all of which are a great way to increase awareness of your business or establish your own expertise.

Company Pages

Companies have their own special kind of profile on LinkedIn, called a Company Page. On these pages, you can post general info about your company, post content to the newsfeed, and get analytics on your content and audience. Your employees can also associate their positions on their profile with your company so that they show up in a list of all your company's employees. Browsing this employee list can be a great way to identify prospects.

Paid Advertising

LinkedIn's advertising options are jaw-dropping for any B2B marketer. You can specifically target various placements and types of creative. Targeting options include company, seniority, job title, age, years’ experience, skills, groups, geography, industry, and more. You can even upload your prospects list, reaching them and their lookalikes. While CPMs are higher than on B2C social networks, the precise professional targeting is priceless.


LinkedIn's messaging system allows you to contact the users you need even when you don't have their email addresses. With a premium LinkedIn account (which runs about $20/ month depending on your plan), you can send unlimited messages, which is clearly useful for lead generation and networking.

Job Search

LinkedIn is a great place for finding a job or employee. Their job listings can attract slews of candidates, many qualified though there is always some sorting needed. You can also search for and apply for a new position., and follow your dream company. The messaging functionalities allow you to contact hiring managers and recruiters too.

Groups and Knowledge

Beyond these basic features, LinkedIn has many other areas. Their LinkedIn Learning section has educational videos, online courses, and certifications so you can up-level your skills. SlideShare allows you to share presentations to establish your own thought leadership or find the information you need from others.  Groups bring people with similar interests together for networking and discussion forums.  

The more you use LinkedIn, the more it will enhance your company and your career. contact KTC today for a custom, comprehensive look at her LinkedIn can work for you.