To effectively market in today’s noisy, fractured marketing landscape, you’ve got to be firmly in charge of your customer’s experience. 

B2B buyers are bombarded with choices, but they are unequivocal in what they demand: relevant information delivered through a coordinated and personalized decision-making experience. If they don’t get it, they’ll take their purchasing power elsewhere and look for alternatives to meet their needs.

With the hype of marketing efforts from social media to influencers to content marketing, it is tempting to leap into tactical initiatives when beginning to formulate an annual marketing plan. But without an overall marketing strategy driven by your customers’ value journeys and your business’ needs, you’re missing the critical “why” behind the tactics.

It is important to step back and follow some fundamental principles that help guide your strategy and identify which tactics will be implemented and how they influence buyers at different stages of the customer value journey.

In this article, we break down seven steps to build effective, strategic B2B marketing plans:

    1. Analyze your company’s situation in the market.
    2. Outline your buyer.
    3. Define the Customer Value Journey.
    4. Set SMART goals.
    5. Identify tactics to meet strategic goals.
    6. Establish measurement (KPIs).
    7. Set your budget.

These steps, done properly, will set you up for success. 

1. Analyze your company’s situation in the market.

Before you can get started with your marketing plan, it is a good idea to do some self examination by revisiting or defining your current state or situation.

This entails three key areas of focus: The company, your competitors and the business climate.

Conducting a basic SWOT analysis is an important foundational and fundamental step to creating an annual marketing plan. It is essential to review and define your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the context of your marketplace, competition and your recent efforts. If you have done this in prior years, it is good to review previous SWOTs, measure progress, and compare changes in the marketplace.

The temptation is to skip this important work and just begin “planning.” Don’t do that. Like practicing the fundamentals of any sport, this is essential to performance. Doing this will reward you with new insights and fresh opportunities, and will have a positive impact as you begin to better align with your customer wants.

2. Define your buyer audience.

If your company already has buyer personas, we encourage you to revisit these and refine them. If you don’t have a buyer persona, you should create them.

We are big proponents of bringing marketing and sales together during some of these initial planning steps. Your sales team is an important resource when creating buyer personas, and a few of the steps to follow; helping define the customer value journey and defining parts of your measurement plan. 

A recent survey by Hubspot found that when sales and
marketing teams work together, companies see 36% higher
customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates. 

For defining the customer audience, we use Customer Avatars which are similar to personas but go deeper to help you understand your customer’s world – the stressors, the opportunities, and the vision for the future.

The Customer Avatar is a snapshot of a person in time that defines:

Once you have this information detailed out, it’ll help you define a Customer Value Journey for your buyer. 

According to Gartner, the typical buying group for a complex
B2B solution involves six to ten decision makers, each armed
with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered
independently and must de-conflict with the group.


We recommend you have an avatar for each key audience member that defines the different details that impact their information gathering and decision making within their role. In some cases, you may have multiple audiences for a single product or service. 

3. Define the Customer Value Journey.

We believe documenting the Customer Value Journey is arguably the most important step in formulating a sound marketing strategy for businesses.

The Customer Value Journey is a blueprint for creating a predictable flow of customers. It defines the step-by-step process of how buyers interact with products and services, providing a framework for converting casually interested prospects into high-value customers and brand promoters. 

Modeled after human relationships, it includes additional steps not found in a traditional marketing funnel. These steps lead to a more natural sequence of interactions, and helps align organizational and customer interests around shared success, leading to satisfied customers, advocates, and promoters. 

This framework, completed properly, will identify a current state and will reveal a host of gaps and opportunities to market to prospects. It helps you meet them on their terms through the channels they use to gather information and provide the right information to address their needs.

4. Set SMART goals.

Once you have a Customer Value Journey defined, you can determine what goals you want to achieve and how they impact specific stages of the journey.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This means that your goals should be specific and include a time frame for which you want to complete it.

For example, your goal could be to increase sales qualified leads by 15% in six months, or a simpler goal would be to increase levels of engagement on a specific product page by the next quarter.

If you don’t have clearly defined SMART goals before you move into tactical planning, you will have little direction around what you are trying to achieve and you will not be able to hold your marketing organization accountable for ROI.

5. Identify tactics to meet strategic goals.

The ultimate purpose of a marketing plan is to map out ​​a strategy to attract more prospects, convert more leads, close more sales and build loyal advocates. That requires selecting, implementing and integrating the right tactics to achieve the goals you’ve set to reach your goal. 

Tactics live in four primary areas: 

With these four areas in mind, determining tactics is part art and part science. Some are  fundamental, while others may require additional learning and consideration. There may be  tactics that are new that you would like to pilot to test performance. The challenge is identifying the right ones and integrating them to lead your audience deeper into engagement with you.

Here are some of the digital marketing tactics we employ:

6. Establish measurement (KPIs)

It is essential that you determine key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide measures of performance against your goals.

Many times, companies do a lot of activities without a clearly outlined framework of how to measure whether those activities are having an impact. 

We recommend you begin the KPI process by focusing on a handful of the most important, actionable metrics to gain insight into the effectiveness of a particular tactic, campaign initiative, level of engagement or even the performance of an outside specialist. 

A Growth Scorecard provides the framework needed for periodic review and assessment of initiatives, and can reveal opportunities to optimize an initiative. It also provides a crucial point of accountability with senior stakeholders who need to have a line of sight to how marketing is performing. To learn more about Growth Scorecards, visit this link:

7. Set your budget

Before you can finalize your marketing plan, you have to know your budget and prioritize activities to fit.

Once you have defined tactical elements of your marketing strategy and the KPIs you are measuring, you should categorize them by importance and impact. Then, you can prioritize the tactics you will invest in first, according to the available budget. 

It’s helpful to note an estimated budget or budget range for each tactic. Some tactics may be managed by internal resources as part of your marketing operations budget, while other tactics or initiatives may require external specialty resources such as a contractor or agency partner. Some of your marketing budgets will need to be allocated for out-of-pocket costs associated with media. 

In summary, your final marketing plan should be written to clearly communicate to other stakeholders your plan for action; a clear strategy, opportunities based on your SWOT, goals to address those opportunities, tactics you plan to use to achieve those goals and a clear framework for how you will measure those tactics. 


The Customer Value Journey is one of the essential components to our marketing strategy framework. And likely the most important.  If you would like to learn more about how creating a Customer Value Journey can benefit your organization, a good place to start is by taking our free Growth Audit.  It will help you quickly identify gaps in your current marketing and provide guidance on which stage of the journey you should focus on first.

Free Growth Audit

*As a trained and licensed DigitalMarketer Certified Partner, we use the DigitalMarketer framework, which includes the Customer Value Journey, Customer Avatar Canvas, the Growth Scorecard and other tools and resources.

While 2020 started out strong for many companies, COVID-19 put a quick end to this growth and left us all in a state of unease. But after months of quarantine and continued uncertainty about how long the recovery will take, businesses need to take action to ensure continued revenue, regardless of how long it takes for sales to return to “normal.”

As we talk with companies in different industries, we’re seeing a number of recurring themes: 

There’s a sense of anxiety and urgency as businesses try to decide what actions to take. Fortunately, there are immediate initiatives to employ that can be successful with audiences amid the COVID economy. Risdall has compiled these efforts into what we’re calling 3×3 for 2020. For this first blog post, we’ll be focusing on the three audiences you can engage for the greatest ROI.


Your current, loyal customers are a group that is often overlooked, but cannot be taken for granted during challenging times. 

We’ve all heard the adage that it’s more expensive to bring on a new customer than to keep an existing one, and this point is extremely important in our current marketplace. Don’t forget, your customers are also facing financial pressure and your partnership is one of the areas where they may be looking to save money. 

In your efforts with current customers, we recommend focusing on protecting and strengthening your relationship. There are four key ways you can demonstrate this:

Showing empathy is an easy way to connect with current customers. Something as simple as a personal note from your president acknowledging the situation and letting them know they’re not alone can be very impactful. An empathetic call from a sales rep that isn’t just focused on closing a sale can strengthen your relationship. But more than anything, listen to what they’re saying and look for ways you can make their lives easier. 

Don’t be afraid to reinforce what makes you valuable to your customers. Recap existing relationships by updating and sharing case studies, developing a newsletter, or developing a regular email and phone cadence to remain top of mind. You cannot simply assume your customers remember what you’ve done for them and why you’re bringing value. (Keep in mind, the people who control budgets at organizations often have no idea what vendors are bringing to the table.) 

Customers are looking to you as the expert and educator on your area of service, and oftentimes their industry. Keep your client roster informed about changes in the marketplace, ways your services can help with their needs, and ideas and opportunities for growth that they may not have considered. This information can’t just talk about yourself and your services. Focus on content that helps your customers solve their problems. 

If customers come to you for certain products and services but not others, now is the time to promote those other offerings. Consider bundling them into packages that prove more cost efficient than working with multiple vendors. Promoting yourself as an easy, single source can help deepen the relationship, save them money and provide you with additional revenue. Obviously you’re not going to be able to sell everything to everyone, but make sure your customers know about your complete breadth of services. 


If you are like most of our clients, you have a short list of key prospects you would love to convert to customers. These prospects might be familiar with you, may have had some contact with you in the past, and could have even considered you at one point. Now is the time to focus energy on reaching out to this group. Like all businesses, they are looking for ways to reduce costs. 

Engaging them with a value proposition is a great way to get their attention while generating discussion with your sales team. Depending on your business, this might be a percentage reduction during a specific time period, a volume discount, or support services included at no charge. Make sure your incentives are carefully thought through and that you work with your sales team to identify something truly valuable to these prospects.

Another item that is essential to this group is what we call social proof. This is basically well-told stories of customer satisfaction. An incentive will get your foot in the door, but in order to close, you will need these proof points that cover the various boxes your prospects will need checked. This might be the product itself, your customer service, or how it compares to other products in the consideration set. If you don’t have good social proof, now is the time to develop really good case studies that are thorough and cover the different criteria that this audience will need in order to consider a change. 


Like key prospects, the ideal customer audience needs to be clearly defined by behavior and need, but you may not have them on your target list yet. Just like your customers and key prospects, they’ll be evaluating their business and will be open to learning more about how your product or service can impact it. 

You’ll need to reach this group with targeted engagement rather than broad awareness-building efforts. It’s essential to deliver impactful, relevant information along with triggers designed to initiate a request or contact with your sales team. As with your key prospects, you’ll want to work with your sales team to develop incentives that generate interest and result in conversations. 


While we are dealing with a challenging economy, it’s important to remember that there are still customers out there who need what you have. The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for businesses to refocus efforts, but this requires creativity and flexibility with your marketing efforts. Discussing your current situation with a partner like Risdall, who will help you review your current marketing strategies and engagements, can ensure your efforts get measurable results and sales.

We cover the complete 3×3 for 2020 marketing strategy in our Marketing Priorities in the COVID Economy webinar, available on-demand here.

Longtime professional hockey player, coach, and broadcaster Barry Melrose said skaters should work their hardest when on the power play and it’s the defense that can sit back and settle in. While hardly anyone would claim to be on a “power play” right now, the analogy is closer than may first be obvious. 

During a power play, both teams have obstacles to overcome. One team is physically short-handed while the other is trying to beat the odds. This past hockey season, teams on the power play scored only about 20% of the time and, in fact, were scored against about 3% of time.

While both teams have disadvantages, their desired outcomes are very different. One team aims to get back to where things were, business as usual, so to speak. The other team – the one Barry Melrose said should work their hardest – aims to come away with a goal.

During these unprecedented times, many leaders of organizations say they just want to get back to business as usual, with some saying they just want to get back to work, period. That’s understandable. But it’s also the mindset of being on defense, and means the probability of coming out ahead is drastically lower.

Organizations often find themselves focusing their sights inward and losing a view of what is taking place outside of their organization. This tends to happen when organizations are busy, and doing the work takes priority over other tasks, and/or when organizations get bogged down by the business of being in business and operational functions take large chunks of the day.

In hockey, a red light signifies a goal has been scored, and by using the R-E-D technique, organizations can use this time to increase their chances of coming out even stronger.

R-E-D focuses on three actions that tend to get overlooked by many organizations: Research, Evaluate and Develop.


When was the last time you took a thorough look at your industry? And, for those in B2B, how about your clients’ industries? 

Many organizations say it’s hard to find the time to invest into staying up to date on: 

Good intentions often become low priorities and, eventually, afterthoughts. If you can’t confidently say that you are an expert on what’s happening in these industries, now is the time to catch up. 


After completing the research phase, do this classic exercise: imagine a competitor to your business that, if it existed, would keep you up at night. What does that organization look like? How does it operate? How is it structured and how are its processes superior? What capabilities make it a threat and how does technology factor in? What kind of employees do they have, how do they attract them, and how do they keep them? 

Now, examine each part of your organization and evaluate it against this imagined, existential, threat-posing competitor. 


Now that you’ve done research and feel confident as an expert on your industry, and have evaluated all parts of your organization against an imagined top-performing competitor, it’s time to take action. 

Develop the framework, structures, processes, tool box, and team to align your organization, as closely as possible, to outperform the imagined competitor. 

Most everyone has obstacles right now. The separator is mindset. Is your mindset to sit back, settle in, and have your aim focused on getting back to business as usual? Or, is it to work your hardest and focus your aim on coming out ahead?

Ryan Richardson helps and empowers organizations to become more effective, efficient, and accountable. Though never playing, coaching, or broadcasting hockey at a high-level, he did have the hair for it.

Like millions of other college students over the last 60 or so years, my college career started with freshman Art History. 

Twice per week that first semester of college, I’d trudge across campus for the 8:30 a.m. class. Joined by a couple hundred other freshmen, we’d sit in a darkened auditorium as the professor would project classic works of art onto a large screen and describe the history of each one.

The lectures didn’t seem to be customized, dynamic, or unique. They were probably repeated, more or less word for word, each year to a new freshmen class. The class was a lecture; there was no Q&A, discussion, or any interaction at all. I’m still not exactly sure from where the professor delivered the lectures, but it was rare to actually catch a glimpse of him. There was no roll call and it’s doubtful the professor even knew the names of those taking the class. 

As concern over COVID-19 intensified and precautionary measures increased, countless organizations have begun to grapple with how to adapt to a time of sheltering at home, self quarantining, and social distancing. They are rediscovering and realizing what matters to keep customers engaged, much like the lessons I learned from my Art History class.

Lesson 1: Interaction Matters

Gyms were some the first businesses to close as COVID-19 spread through communities. Initially, many group fitness instructors live streamed their classes.

The instructors quickly found that their good intentions had difficulties – poor lighting, echoing sound, awkward framing, and maintaining live broadcasts at normal class times although their clients’ schedules had gone awry. Another problem they faced was competing with the already existing and mature industry of workout videos; exercise streaming services allow people to take any class at any time, following along with slickly produced videos. 

Others, including the dance studio my children attend, found success by making meaningful interactions. Instead of just broadcasting or recording dance classes, akin to the workout video model, they use video chat technology and maintain two-way communication. Dancers ask questions and instructors watch and give instruction on form, steps, and the routines. 

Lesson 2: Personal Connections Matter

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received numerous emails and calls from organizations stating how they are dealing with the COVID-19 situation, with many asking for support. Most of these people and/or organizations I hadn’t heard from for an extended period of time, and often times needed a reminder of who they were/what they did. 

Personal connections have always been important. We are more at ease placing our trust in those we feel we know. This may be a shopkeeper or sales rep we’ve worked with, or an organization that prioritizes authentic and meaningful communication.These personal relationships, that consisted of what seems like a continual conversation, were where support was quickly offered and accepted. 

Lesson 3: Community Matters

Seemingly overnight, amidst business changes because of COVID-19, the movement to support small businesses was put into hyperdrive. 

Communities sprung into action to patronize and organically promote small businesses and ones with strong connections to the communities in which they operate. The deep reservoirs of goodwill these organizations had established with their communities meant their communities naturally rose up to support them and show appreciation for the dynamic, adaptive, and personal ways the organizations have served them. Some of these companies have been so overwhelmed with community support that they have been barely able to keep up with fulfilling orders. 

Soon the pandemic will end, and organizations will go back to business as usual. Gyms parking lots will once again fill up, commerce will rebound, and communities will chat about more than the latest COVID-19 prediction model.

In any crisis, lessons can be learned to make tomorrow better. Many are now discovering or rediscovering the importance of interactions, personal connections, collaboration and community.

As it was, my entire freshman Art History course could have been recorded by a professor anywhere in the world and made available for anyone on Earth with an internet connection to watch at their leisure. Take the time to make sure your clients, prospects, and connections know what about your business is unique, that you understand their needs, and that you truly care about making them successful. 

Ryan Richardson is the Director of Media at Risdall Marketing Group and has a deep appreciation for classical art.

Now that we’re weeks into stay-at-home orders and most of us are working remotely from the comfort of our homes, it’s a great time to review an aspect of marketing that often gets overlooked — content.

Risdall is constantly reminding our clients about the importance of fresh, relevant content. With so many people spending more time online and hungry for information, you have an opportunity to share your expertise with a vast audience who are still looking for information related to doing their jobs and ready to listen. Here are our thoughts on reviewing content and some ideas for ramping up your efforts. 

Don’t create content for the heck of it

Before we get too excited, it’s important to remind everyone that it’s never a good idea to just create content for content’s sake. When creating anything, outline the key points you’re trying to get across to the audience and stick to this plan. 

Take some time to review topics and ideas that are important and helpful to your client base. Also, make sure you (or your organization) has a specific point of view you’re trying to get across in every piece. Whether we’re in quarantine or not, it’s never a good idea to just parrot what other authors are saying. 

Time to highlight your expertise

Whether your content is related to the quarantine or not, now is the time to showcase your expertise in the industries you serve. Take the time to craft content that connects your unique expertise to specific needs and interests of your audience.

You know your clients’ needs better than anyone else, and the better you can speak to meeting these needs (and solving their problems), the more powerful any content you create will be. Be specific about your approach and results. Your audience is looking for real, actionable items. 

It’s probably time to create a big piece

A great way to generate a lot of content at the same time is to create a larger piece like an ebook or white paper. These large content types allow you to cover a variety of topics, then break the content into smaller pieces. A good ebook could be the reference point for months’ worth of blog posts that each include a call to action to download the full piece. There’s also a certain amount of authority that comes with creating long-form, useful content that educates your audience. 

Bigger pieces of content typically take more effort to create than smaller pieces. Your subject matter experts may have more time available to dive into a topic, and you can then repurpose and use this content for other pieces in the future. Investing in content now may prevent you from taking up their time for input when their schedules are packed.

Google (and your prospects) love updated content

A great way to make sure your site is keeping the attention of search engines is to keep creating new content. Google has turned itself into an “answer engine” that provides users with the answers they’re looking for. Make sure your content is covering keywords and topics that prospects are including in searches, whether they’re typing out full questions or just specific words. 

If your content topic is evergreen, you could see visitors coming for years to come. If it’s related to a current subject, you’ll see an uptick of visitors simply because it’s a topic that users are actively searching for right now. 

Don’t forget about case studies and testimonials 

The default for most of us tends to be blog and website content, but let’s not forget that client and customer stories and testimonials are an extremely valuable part of your content library and highly effective on pages of your website where prospects are reviewing specific products or services. This real-world “social proof” showcases your ability to meet the needs of clients and generally contain keywords and phrases that are commonly searched for by prospects. 

Chances are your customers are experiencing a certain amount of downtime right now, and may have the time to write a testimonial or approve a case study. It’s also a great opportunity to keep communication channels open with your current and past clients, and to remind them of all the great work you’ve done together. 

Put content creation into a regular schedule

While most of us still have plenty of regular job duties to attend to, we should really be taking any extra time we have to review and refine current content, not to mention creating new content. Even if it’s only for an extra hour a day, it’s the perfect time to get several months’ worth of blog posts, ebooks, and white papers written and ready for review. 

If you need help getting started in this area, we’d love to walk through your current content strategy and how it can be improved. Whether it’s focused on creating new content or reviewing existing pieces and how they fit into your overall marketing strategy, Risdall’s team is ready to help.

We are in unsettling times with office closings, events canceled and many business activities in flux. However, we are still connected online and we can’t just sit around doing nothing. As marketers, we need to be creative, and continue to interact with clients and prospects, introducing solutions, meeting needs and doing the best we can despite the circumstances. Here are some thoughts to keep your company (not to mention yourself) connected with your audience while most of us are working from home.

First thing’s first

First of all, watch your existing campaigns. Make sure nothing inappropriate or irrelevant (ex. an event that was canceled) is being promoted. You don’t want to appear out of sync with what’s going on in our marketplace. (We recently got a message from a restaurant promoting franchising opportunities — while most restaurants are closed!) 

People haven’t disappeared

Just because we’re not having in-person meetings and events doesn’t mean the world has stopped and people aren’t interacting. More importantly, users are consuming content like never before and are looking for relevant information and solutions that can help their businesses now and in the future. Here are some ideas for how to make the most of your marketing, even when most people are working from home.

Proactive outreach

Depending on your business, and the realities of a long-term quarantine, your product or service may be of help to your customers managing through this crisis. Now’s the time to reinforce that, while showing empathy. Let them know what you’re doing to be proactive and thoughts on how we’re all going to get through this together. An email or phone conversation to check in with a friendly “hello” and “how can we help?” can go a long way!

Over-communicate, letting your customers know if there’s going to be an impact on delivery, completion of projects, or any sort of delay during this time. Most professionals are in the same boat, attempting to work with limited resources, so make sure you’re in regular communication with them. Chances are they’ll be understanding as long as you let them know if something is changing. 

Virtual booths

With so many high-profile industry events canceled in 2020, there’s a lot of reduced exposure. However, many of these organizations are turning their cancelled events into virtual trade show booths, allowing attendees (and even those who weren’t going to attend in the first place) access to the speakers, demos, presentations, and information provided virtually on a section of their website. Risdall has already helped clients make this transition after the sudden cancellation of HIMSS 2020 and is seeing very positive results. This inconvenience has sparked innovation and new ideas of how to do things differently for future events — building contingency digital plans or virtual booths for anyone interested in seeing the information that was to be presented at the event, not just the people who were planning on attending. 

Targeted lead generation

If you aren’t doing this, now is the time to start. Creating targeted demand and lead generation campaigns can give you an edge in a marketplace that is more competitive due to this crisis. Defining your target audience and driving inbound sales engagement will result in conversions and sales. Even in a down market, there is still a need for your product or service and targeted inbound marketing allows you to find those who need your product and service and deliver a relevant message to them.

Update your metrics

Don’t wait until the end of the second quarter to reset your expectations for marketing results. We can safely assume numbers are going to be down across the board so make sure you and your leadership agree on updated goals and metrics for the coming months, if not year. We’re still not sure what the long-term impact will be so review and be realistic about what your business will (and will not) see. 

Got extra time? Update your content

You’ve probably already seen cringe-worthy communication that clearly should have been removed from distribution now that events are canceled and most people are stuck inside. (For example, a retail store campaign is of little value right now when people are hunkering down.) 

If you’ve got extra time with cancelations, it’s a great time to review things that often get placed on the back-burner; in particular content. Now’s the time to define and write future blog posts, long-form content like ebooks and whitepapers, and determine your social media posting schedule. Now is the time to create content that is educational and informative and positions you as a thought leader in your industry. Good content posted now can position you for greater visibility and boost your authority as things return to normal. How great would it be to have a significant portion of your content for the rest of the year done and ready for the coming months?

More than anything, stay active

The worst thing any business can do right now is be complacent. Everyone is still active online and available to receive your marketing and content. Work with your marketing team (or agency) to think through the best course of action for your business during times of uncertainty. If necessary, rethink your current plan to make sure you’re being creative about keeping your business visible and maintaining relationships. Things will return to normal and hopefully, the economy will come roaring back. What you do now will impact your business a few months from now.

Don’t panic and if you’d like to talk through ideas and strategy to keep your marketing successful while most people are at home, please contact us.

The universe in which we draw our target terms can be very large. Choosing the appropriate terms comes down to 4 key considerations:

It is very important that you choose the wording most aligned with your customers’ language and not your own. 

The way you should work your keyword strategy is to start by choosing a “head term”. Head terms are high volume, 1 or 2 word keywords. They are the most difficult to rank for and the traffic that results from these tends to be fairly general in audience.

After establishing your head term, start researching longer, more nuanced phrases around that term. Those with 2-3 words are called “body” keywords and 3+ words are called “tail” keywords

Here are some examples:

Head: Clock Radio

Body: Clock Radio iPhone

Tail: Clock Radio with iPhone Wireless Charger


Head: Financial services

Body: Retirement financial services

Tail: Financial services for retirement planning


As you can see, the more words a search query has, the more specific the searcher’s intent. The search volume for tail terms is much much lower, but the searcher is likely a more qualified prospect. 

After assembling your keyword universe, it is time to align these terms with your content marketing plan.

Content Marketing Plan

In order to rank a webpage for a keyword, you have to have content published around that term. SEO only exists in what search engines can read from your website. 

When defining a SEO content marketing plan, you will need your defined keywords as a starting point for topic generation. The most effective approach that will have the most impact is the hub and spoke model.

What is the hub and spoke model?

The hub and spoke model of SEO is the practice of clustering content topics around a central theme. The central theme (head or body keyword) is the hub, supported by a number of related content pieces. The goal of the model it to become an authority for the hub term. And to do that, you must thoroughly explain the subject and answer the questions of searchers. 

Even if a subtopic doesn’t exactly match your product or service offerings, you are trying to build your overall authority.

SEO strategory graphic

When generating topics for your model, keyword research can help be your guide. You can use Google’s own real-time search suggestions to get an idea of what people are searching for around your search term. 


Google search results autocomplete


Other tools, like SEMRush, BrightEdge, Moz and Answer the Public can find questions around a term. (But that’s a topic for another blog post.)

Sometimes it may be helpful to write a very big, comprehensive piece on your hub topic. Then take that long form content and break it into smaller chunks and publish those. Smaller chunks of the larger piece can be published in multiple formats and on different channels:

Any time you can write long form content and repackage and republish parts, you are saving yourself time and getting maximum value out of your investment.

SEO, Content Marketing and Website Structure

With your content marketing plan defined, determining how it fits into your website structure can be a bit confusing. Websites don’t exactly follow a hub and spoke model, websites follow a hierarchical model. 

Hub pages should connect content from across the website, no matter where it resides. Related content like blog posts, product pages, press releases should all be referenced from the hub page.

It is crucial that you cross link your supporting content to your hub pages, and vice versa. This will help pass authority from one page to the next.  


Risdall’s Guide to an Effective SEO Strategy explains the main concepts everyone should understand about SEO and the essential components that should be in every SEO plan. Click here to download your copy.

As with any marketing or business strategy, having some defined goals and objectives can help keep you focused on the right path along your optimization journey.

Along the journey you will often be presented with choices. When presented with any choice, always choose the one that helps inch you towards a goal. 

Website Goals

What is the purpose of the website?

This is a question I usually ask when assessing websites for the first time. For me, it should be obvious. Crystal clear positioning, strong calls to action and well defined content paths (landing page > blog > resource > conversion etc etc). 

Conversion Goals

The overall goal of any website would be to drive business. Typically that process is several steps (see customer journey map) or micro-conversions. 

For e-commerce retailers, the transaction is the ultimate goal. For other websites (B2B, informational, content publishers, SAAS etc) the goals would likely be driving the prospect down the funnel.

Here are some general conversions you likely would track:

Top funnel conversions:

Mid funnel conversions:

Bottom funnel conversions:


Your SEO program goals will always start off being more general. Do not arbitrarily set performance goals like “increase organic traffic by 1000 views per month”. 

For one thing, you need time to establish a solid baseline. That means that your analytics has to be configured correctly and collecting data for a reasonable amount of time.

What are good SEO goals to start with:

Once your site has been optimized, everything configured correctly and your content is in alignment with your keywords, you can start being more specific with your SEO goals.  Once established, here are some other metrics that you can start to work on:

There are a lot more goals & SEO KPI’s that can be layered in, as well as some that may be event or seasonal. To determine the specific goals and KPIs for your business, it’s best to partner with a digital marketing agency such as Risdall.

Risdall’s Guide to an Effective SEO Strategy explains the main concepts everyone should understand about SEO and the essential components that should be in every SEO plan. Click here to download your copy.

Part of any sensible SEO strategy is a firm understanding of your current “state of affairs”. This includes completing a few audits to clarify what your shortcomings are and where you currently rank.

Why is this important? Well you may uncover some technical roadblocks on your website that could take time and money to resolve. It’s better to find out if there are issues upfront rather than waiting until after executing your plan. 

SEO Website Audit

Thankfully this process has been greatly improved by the use of SEO tools and services. Basically, a tool can crawl your site and look for known technical issues and report back. Most tools will report some sort of grade and give you a prioritized list of issues to fix. 

Some great tools Risdall uses for website audits include:

The more premium tools frequently offer keyword research tools and competitor insights. Another key feature of a quality SEO tool is the ability to monitor your keyword rankings across search platforms. You’ll want to measure and monitor your impact on both technical and content optimizations.

The best tools can integrate into your existing Google Analytics and Search Console accounts. This will allow for more precise reporting and the ability to aggregate different metrics from various sources.

Keyword Rankings and Search Results

Ask yourself these three questions:

To determine your current keywords, some of the above mentioned tools can analyze your current visibility. 

Another key observation is the number of pages you are currently ranking for. This is easily accomplished by turning the search engine on your site. Type this into the search bar ““.

This will give an idea of how many of your pages are in Google’s index. Does the number seem high, low or just about right? 

Google Tools Audit

Ensuring that your suite of Google tools are properly configured is the most crucial step in an SEO strategy. You must ensure that analytics is properly configured, the website has been submitted to Google and that you are taking advantage of tag management. 

Remember: Google’s tools are very powerful, but out of the box they are set in a one-size-fits-all configuration. Like any tool, they need to be setup by experts and tailored to your website, audience and traffic. 

Google Analytics Configuration Questions:

Google Search Console Questions:

Google Tag Manager Questions

Risdall’s Guide to an Effective SEO Strategy explains the main concepts everyone should understand about SEO and the essential components that should be in every SEO plan. Click here to download your copy.

Who is coming to your website? 

More importantly, who do you want to come to your website? 

Having a clear understanding on who your prospect and what their search-intent and context is FUNDAMENTAL to driving the kind of traffic that is meaningful towards your goals.

We like to call SEO “intent based search optimization” (IBSO). What “IBSO” is really about is defining what is the prospect searching for at each stage of their journey, and which asset on what channel will satisfy that search. 

  1. Intent – What is the prospect searching for?
  2. Context – Why are they searching for it?
  3. Asset – What assets will satisfy their search?
  4. Channel – Where should their assets live?
  5. Optimization – How will the prospect find the asset
  6. Ascension – What is the next step in the customer journey?

To really have a sound platform to work off, you ideally would have well defined customer personas and a customer journey map.

Customer journey map

Defining the intent and path of your audience will ensure web users will find your site, find what they want on your site, and (ideally) buy your product or service. It’s important to note that user paths and intent is an evolving concept and should be reviewed on a regular basis.

Risdall’s Guide to an Effective SEO Strategy will explain the main concepts everyone should understand about SEO and the essential components that should be in every SEO plan.

In an ever-changing landscape of best practices, tools, and marketing services, Google algorithm updates can quickly become overwhelming to marketers to choose where to begin SEO and what areas to focus on for the best ROI.

Before embarking on any SEO tactics, having a sound strategy can help define a path and expected outcomes. A comprehensive SEO strategy should include these items:

SEO Strategy & Planning

After the Strategy & Planning portion of a program, you naturally dive into tactical execution:

SEO Execution

What isn’t SEO Strategy?

There are many other disciplines that are sometimes lumped in with SEO. Digital marketing is a large umbrella, and while SEO definitely falls under that, it is easy to confuse related subjects.

Here are things that fall under digital marketing that are not SEO:

Risdall’s Guide to an Effective SEO Strategy will explain the main concepts everyone should understand about SEO and the essential components that should be in every SEO plan.

Click here to download the eBook and talk with our team about optimizing your SEO efforts!

Companies are under constant pressure of adapting their business or closing the doors for good. One company learned first-hand how avoiding change and ignoring market trends can lead to an unfortunate demise.

Kodak: The Inventor of the First Digital Camera

Founded in 1888, Kodak dominated the market for cameras, film, chemicals and paper for nearly a century. The company represented everything photography was in people’s minds – the fun, the memories, the technology and the Kodak moment.

In 1975 Kodak was a pioneer in creating the first digital camera.

Unfortunately, their team underestimated consumers’ desire for a convenient, easy-to-use camera that didn’t require film. Instead of releasing the digital camera and introducing new technology to the world, Kodak chose to keep the technology under wraps for fear that it would hurt their film sales.

Film was Kodak’s most profitable product, so when the executive team made the decision to focus on film and keep the digital camera an internal project, they thought they were protecting the company’s future. However they learned the hard way that companies can’t ignore trends and consumer demand.

If you don’t Do It, Your Competitors Will

Around the same time Kodak was improving its digital camera technology, two other camera manufacturers happily stepped up to the plate and released digital cameras for sale to the public. Sony and Canon started selling cameras in the early 1980s. By the time the team at Kodak realized they needed to enter the digital age whether they wanted to or not, the competition was too fierce for Kodak to catch up.

Kodak’s marketing myopia was the start of a downward slope for the company. Kodak has since attempted to regain its market share and restore its public perception, but its strategy misfire with the digital camera has left a scar that can’t be ignored.

When Sales Get Tough, It’s Time for a New Business Strategy

Kodak viewed itself as being in the business of film, so it wanted to protect the stable revenue from film sales. The company might have had a different experience had executives viewed themselves as being in the business of telling stories and providing customers with a way to share their memories. By asking the right questions and paying attention to consumer desires, companies can develop effective strategies that help navigate through uncertain times.

When organizations are having trouble meeting sales goals, it’s wise to explore one of the below business strategies for growth:

These strategies were created to help companies develop strong business models by aligning their company needs with consumer demand. If Kodak had embraced a product development business strategy to sell the digital camera to its current customer base, then it might still be the photography giant it once was.

When trends change, pay attention to what your target market is saying and adapt your business accordingly. Kodak learned the hard way, but you don’t have to. If you’re seeing a plateau with sales or a shift in market trends, give us a call at (651) 286-6700 to talk about a business strategy that could be the difference between making it and breaking it for your company.


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