Back to School: 5 Free Resources You Can Access Today to Create an A+ Marketing Strategy
By Peter Decoteau
A CRASH-COURSE IN MARKETING
Coschedule’s primary product is a team-oriented, online marketing and content calendar, but while your needs (and time) for that level of marketing planning may vary, their active blog is a wealth of free resources covering everything from broad theory and strategy to more specific topics like where to start with search engine optimization, what makes for quality content, and how to write effective email subject headers. For those looking for a crash-course in marketing strategy—the high-level how and why of marketing—Coschedule’s “Marketing Basics 101” is a surprisingly in-depth introduction to the field, without being too wordy or leaning into too much jargon. You’ll have to close out of a few promotional pop-up windows, but once you do you’ll have access to a quick overview of the main goals of marketing, various disciplines within marketing, and some important concepts that drive most marketing strategies.
Neil Patel is a bestselling author and speaker most known for co-authoring the book, Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life With Money, Meaning and Momentum, as well as being recognized as a “Top 10 Marketing Expert to Follow” by Forbes Magazine. Specifically relevant to this article, though, he is a renowned thought-leader in digital and content marketing who is able to boil down high-minded concepts into understandable and actionable guidance.
Neil’s blog post, “What is Content Marketing,” is a fantastic introduction to how effective content marketing can be when done right—and, of course, how to do it right! You’ll want to put some time aside for this one; unlike the previous article, Neil’s deep-dive into content marketing is extensive, going from theory and strategy through a history of case studies, and then into important concepts like inbound marketing, the customer journey, and the various, ever-evolving forms of content. It’s a substantial post that, like the best educational pieces, provides insight into so much more than just its one main topic.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
Like Coschedule, Moz sells a digital marketing platform while also practicing what they preach by offering free resources for both users and non-users. If you’ve read through the articles mentioned above, you’ll notice that Moz is executing strategic content marketing, attracting your attention, engaging you with valuable content and earning your trust by giving it all away for free. Their “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” tackles what can be an intimidating topic by breaking SEO down into manageable “chapters,” starting with the easiest concepts and eventually working through the more technical aspects of the practice. You may not want or need to know how “robot directives” or “structured data” works—hopefully you have a webmaster for that—but understanding how search engines “crawl” your site, and what you and your team can be doing to help those engines do their work, can put you on a path to stronger SEO, which makes it easier for new patients to find your services before they find your competition.
While sound SEO will help to improve your organic search results, implementing paid search campaigns offer the ability to “skip to the front of the line” to affordably reach potential new patients at the top of search results. As the preeminent search engine in the world, Google has also established itself as one of the most powerful advertising platforms in the world—and where better to learn how to maximize your returns than from the source? Google, ever-aware of how daunting it can seem to learn and effectively advertise on its advertising platform, offers free courses on its “Skillshop” (formerly Google Academy) that are broken down into small, manageable interactive sections. Lessons within the Ads course cover the basics of setting up an ad campaign, and then go into depth on key areas like audience targeting, copy writing for ads, display ads and keyword list building. There’s always something new to learn with Google Ads (discover the basics from Chris Mesigian’s “Hello? Is it Me You’re Looking For?” from the August 2021 issue of Impact, available at www.ppsimpact.org/hello-is-it-me-youre-looking-for), and with paid search more broadly, but learning the basics and putting some time and resources behind a simple campaign can yield significant results.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Perhaps more so than any other topic on this list, the social media landscape is constantly evolving, requiring marketers to adapt with new trends and new platforms, without chasing too many passing fads, of course. That’s why this final resource is not a single article or course link, but a blog that offers insights and strategy for any and all social media of note. On the Social Media Today site you’ll find articles posted daily that provide news from the big players in social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter), including updates to user guidelines, new products and technology, recommendations for optimizing performance and changes to the user experience. You’ll also find information on new platforms worth learning more about, like TikTok and Clubhouse. Spread amongst these current topics are pieces that offer broader insights into social media strategy, such as the article, “Shifting Social Media Consumer Behavior and Its Impact on Marketer in 2021.” Staying on top of developments in social media is near-impossible even for full-time marketing professionals, but dipping into trends every once in a while can at least help you make the most out of your social media presence.
Peter Decoteau is the Director of Marketing at Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers (PTSMC), Connecticut’s largest private practice physical therapy company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.