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May 23, 2014

Flexible Process, Actual Solutions: Look Inside SmallBox's Collaborative Marketing Strategy

May 23, 2014

In the world of digital marketing, it’s vital to have processes that generate actual solutions for clients. However, I think it’s even more vital to include flexibility within that process. For myself and the other marketing strategists at SmallBox, this applies to our approach to creating Marketing Strategies for our clients. Every client has different needs. Some need to empower their teams to actually create ongoing content, others need to get in front of their clients regularly through online advertising or social media and don’t know where to begin. The challenges are always unique – which makes our process unique as well. But when I tell people how we create marketing strategies, I try to communicate the following points of emphasis:

We’ll Need to Collaborate

Something our clients find valuable in working with SmallBox is that we don’t disappear into thin air after an introduction, and come down from the mountaintop weeks later with their marketing strategies ready to go. We’re partners and it’s important to understand what exists, what’s realistic and what’s aspirational together. So we like to get everyone in the room (sometimes multiple times) to talk about goals, audiences, ideas, and values. We incorporate a variety of collaborative exercises that draw this information out of our clients, while also making them feel a sense of ownership.

Our strategies really stem from those conversations. Of course, all of our strategies are rooted in our Discovery Process where we’ve most likely done a content audit to look at the current website, an analytics review to understand the behavior of website users, a social media audit to assess where our client should play and focus on building their communities, and a competitive audit to really address the industry landscape online and derive opportunities for marketing going forward.

We’ll need a strategy and plan for each traffic channel

There are some exceptions, but most clients determine that their goals are to increase conversions, revenue, and traffic. From there SmallBox will dive into every traffic channel (organic, referral, direct, advertising, etc.) to understand and locate major opportunities. From there, we’ll use keyword and analytics research to determine potential tactics that could help achieve our goals. The outcome of this comes in the form of a Traffic Strategy; walking clients through ideas and tactics to capitalize on attracting traffic and ultimately converting in a variety of ways for every potential channel source.

We’ll Need to See What’s Possible with Content

One of the biggest challenges people face with reaching their goals online is content. What will we write about? How do I get people involved? How do I find the time to do it? Should we use Social Media? How? The questions can be overwhelming. We’ve written at length about the importance of Editorial Calendars to rally the content troops, and Customer Personas that make it crystal clear who you’re talking to.

But what should content teams write about? Should they even be writing? What about video? Once again, we’ll typically spend time collaborating with stakeholders to create a unique “Engagement Cycle.” This maps a customer’s decision-making and buying process to your sales process. From there, our clients are armed with an understanding of what types of content they should be creating or re-purposing, and what topics are important to their audiences (based on the personas we’ve built).


Between the customer personas, editorial calendar, and a complete engagement cycle, clients begin to really understand all that’s possible in the form of a Content Strategy. Our Content Strategies get deep – the end result is a plan with a tactical approach to meeting our clients’ goals through content. Within our Content Strategies, we look at:

  • Social Channels (why are you on Pinterest when your audience doesn’t know what Pinterest is?)
  • Roles for the content team (who’s in charge? - the “editor in chief,” if you will)
  • Metrics (we have to know if our efforts are successful). 

We’ll Need to Constantly Measure Our Strategy and Pivot where Necessary

Remember when I mentioned flexibility at the beginning of this post? It’s crucial that we not corner ourselves into any one Marketing Strategy. We need to have the space and flexibility to adjust as we move forward. The most important thing is giving our clients the best chance for success. Sometimes that means we adjust because the data suggests another path forward.

Marketing Strategies can be overwhelming. “How will we ever get this all finished!?” is something we hear sometimes. At first, the work can seem like a heavy load for some clients. The good news is that we’re your partner. We are equipped at SmallBox to handle much of the production of our recommended strategies. Also, throughout the entire process and partnership, one of our un-relenting goals as a team, is to empower you as our client and guide you through the strategy to realize your marketing success.

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