If you’re a parent of school-aged children, depending on where you live in the world, this may be the first time you’re reading a blog post in silence in 2 ½ months. In the U.S., back-to-school season has been in full-force since mid-August, but here in the New Jersey suburbs, my kids only started a new school year this week. So I may finally be able to return to some kind of predictable daily schedule come…let’s say… late October?
If you’re not a parent, then presumably you were at one time a student, and therefore, you likely remember that old back-to-school mantra: a new year, a new you? (Or as Billy Madison once said, “Back to school. Back to school. To prove to dad I’m not a fool.” You can subsitute “dad” with “the CEO.”)
One thing I learned at this year’s Digital Summit is that it’s still a good idea to publish seasonal content. So I decided to jump on the #backtoschool bandwagon (#backpacksonsale #coollockerdecorations) and see if I could somehow apply a “back-to-school” mindset to our tech marketing goals for the rest of 2019. So here are 6 back-to-school-themed marketing directives for you to consider this month.
1. Get Back On a Regular Schedule
Okay, let’s admit it. A lot of us slack off on producing new content in August. (And by us, I mean me.) If the slow office pace of summer vacation became an excuse to slow down on content output, make sure you’re ahead of the game for the fall.
Homework: If you haven’t already, prepare a well-defined and well-researched editorial calendar by the end of this week. Start rolling out weekly or bi-weekly posts again before you get sent to the principal’s office. Or, as I had to contend with this week, find yourself having to write this week’s blog post.
2. Refresh Your Look
I have two middle schoolers, and yes, middle school is still a jungle. Eighth graders who arrive on the first day of school still wearing that now-stretched-out, over-laundered concert t-shirt from the middle of 7th grade are going to get snarky comments, or worse, no attention at all.
You may want to ask yourself if 2020 is the year for a web site redesign or at least a refresh. We so often put off a redesign project because it feels daunting, both time- and budget-wise. But sometimes refreshing your look can be as simple as updating a feature image, or moving around a few sections so visitors to your site notice something’s different and take the time to discover what it is.
3. Make Sure You’re Up-to-Date on Trends
You’re in for a lot of eye rolls in the cafeteria if you’re a high school sophomore still talking about Stranger Things 3 when the new season of Riverdale is set to premiere next month. The savvy tech marketing professional should be using BuzzSumo or some other tool to learn what’s the most shared content in your target audience or who on Twitter has made it to the top of the lists of key influencers over the summer.
I can’t believe how many tech company sites still populate their blog mainly with promotional posts or announcements about new product features. Especially since studies show long-form content is more effective than short-form content anyway. Now’s the time to start doing your due diligence so your content in 2020 will be fresh and current, instead of stale. Content research and strategy is a service we provide all our clients, but one we haven’t done for our own blog in a little while. This summer, we remedied that and our new content is going to reflect new trends in cloud, security, and devops.
4. Keep Your Eyes Peeled for New Friends (and Practice Good Friend Rules)
The beginning of the school year means new classes and new faces. As a content marketing professional or the social media manager for your tech company, it’s obviously important to keep up the relationships with the people in your network who already like and share your content. But, especially if you haven’t in a while, now is a good time to scope out the “People You May Know” section and add a few new connections to your roster. (The New York Post reported earlier this year that the average American hasn’t made a new friend in five years!)
However, we’re all becoming more and more wary about the intentions of new social media “friends.” So if your aim is entirely selfish and me-oriented (which I’m not 100% innocent of), be prepared to be called out for standard sales pitches. Lately, my most preferred way of making new meaningful professional connections is by talking to the sales and marketing professionals manning the booths at various tech events like AWS summits. Face-to-face is making a comeback, and authentic interactions that offer something for both parties continue to reign in any industry.
5. The Goal for Every Student Is Always to Learn New Things …
You may be known in the industry for being the most seasoned experienced marketing professional, but, in technology especially, we know that no matter how many years you’ve been at this, things are always changing — especially in digital marketing when it comes to SEO best practices, where to invest your marketing budget to generate the most ROI, and which type of media is most popular among which demographic this year.
It won’t be for another couple of months that we’ll start seeing “trends” and “tips” articles for 2020. But a good way to get ahead of the game for next year is to register for a few educational industry events this fall and winter, as opposed to just working the booth and the crowd at the conferences aimed at new leads and sales. As mentioned above, I really got a lot out of the Digital Summit in Philly this summer. If you’re not there as you’re reading this, you already missed Content Marketing World and Inbound 2019, (both scheduled for the same week and the week my kids went back to school), but you can still register for MarketingProfs B2B Forum in DC and a few regional events like Content Jam in Chicago.
6. …And Grow!
In all seriousness, how back-to-school is most like marketing is that the goal for both students and marketing professionals is always growth; growth in emotional and physical maturity for the student; and growth in business (specifically in traffic to your web site and new leads for your colleagues in sales) for the marketing team.
But growth without analysis or reverse engineering goals is useless. For instance, your content strategy can’t simply be “I want to increase our traffic by double this year.”
What are you hoping will happen once the traffic arrives? Where will you be driving your new users once they find themselves on your various content-rich landing pages? Has sales been briefed on branding and messaging? Is everyone along every touchpoint aligned?
Stay tuned to see how the IOD blog is about to have our own crazy intense growth spurt this fall — supplying you weekly with expert-based content focused on topics such as “5 Facts You Never Knew About K8,” “The Biggest Limitations of AWS Lambda,” “The Most Popular Tools for Serverless Deployment,” and more.
Don’t forget: If you find yourself floundering with your homework, and need some help creating new content, we’re always here to lend a hand. Get in touch for more information on our content research, strategy and creation services.
To all students (formal and informal) and all parents, too: best of luck this year!