Hit the Ground Running: Your New 30/60/90-Day Content Strategy and Marketing Plan

Your first 90 days in a content role will make or break your tenure. Get it right and you set yourself up for success.

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Your first 90 days in a content role will make or break your tenure. Get it right and you set yourself up for success.

But going from a standing start to instant impact is tough. You’re meeting a new team, marketing a new product, and (possibly) learning a new industry.

Most marketing leaders don’t have the luxury of taking their time, either. Tech companies expect new hires to drive results—immediately.

We recently interviewed inspiring marketing leaders like Cari Murray, director of marketing at Marvin, Margaux Morgante, communications lead at Kudos, and Madhav Bhandari, former head of marketing at Bonsai and founder of Early Stage Marketing.

They’ve worked across the marketing spectrum and at varying points in a company’s lifecycle. Collectively, they’ve designed and executed countless 30/60/90-day marketing plans.

In this article you’ll learn how to:

  • Quickly build knowledge about your team, product, and industry
  • Audit existing content programs and campaigns
  • Experiment with new content strategies

What to do in your first 30 days: Learn

Arrange 1:1s with your peers and colleagues

Content is a channel (you publish blogs, eBooks, and podcasts) and a service (you write sales enablement emails, craft press releases, and ghostwrite executive statements). It’s innately cross-functional. Great content marketing relies on partnerships and relationships.

As soon as possible (even before your official start date), reach out to people across the company.

Instead of booking ad hoc calls, Cari Murray recommends prioritizing your 1:1 calls in roughly this order:

#1 Marketing executives

VPs and CMOs can be your best friend or worst enemy. They hold your purse strings and veto power over your campaigns.

During your calls, build rapport and suss out their objectives. Find out the following:

  • What’s working well (and what’s not)?
  • What gaps do they expect you to fill?
  • How do they track progress?
  • What does success look like to them?
  • Where can you find answers to questions?

#2 Sales and marketing peers

Content can’t function alone. You need support from other marketers, social media managers, and sales directors at your company. Build connections throughout your GTM departments to develop soft power—or the ability to drive change where you don’t hold any authority.

#3 Product teams

When content flies solo, you end up publishing paper-thin blogs because you lack the knowledge to go deeper. The frustrating thing is that help's usually available.

If you show an interest, passionate folks will happily share their wisdom.

Companies are packed with intelligent and passionate developers, product managers, and designers. They’re a great resource—but only if you talk to them.

“Ask what made them come to your company,” says Cari. “Why do they use your product? What have they learned from your customers? What communities are they a part of? Who do they follow and what do they read? What gaps do they see in our marketing and messaging?”

If you show an interest, passionate folks will happily share their wisdom.

#4 Customer-facing teams

For every one customer a marketer talks to, customer success and service agents deal with a hundred. They’re a treasure trove of insights and ideas. Set up calls with people on these teams and ask:

  • Why do customers buy from you? 
  • Why have customers gone to competitors? 
  • What frustrates them most? 
  • What are their most frequently asked questions? 
  • Who are your biggest champions? 
  • Can you talk to those champions?

Listen to real sales and support calls

Sales reps spend their days talking to prospects about their pain points, challenges, and objectives. Those conversations are invaluable audience research.

Start by asking sales leaders if they have call recordings.

If they use a tool like Gong, Outreach, or Marvin, they’ll have massive libraries of sales (and possibly onboarding) calls. Ask for access and listen to real prospects explain their pain points, challenges, and goals.

Even for veteran marketers, hearing the direct voice of the customer is a boon.

“Being able to hear calls is incredible,” says John Schneider, CMO of Betterworks. “It's an invaluable feedback loop.”

Don’t overload on calls in your first few weeks, though.

“Customer perception changes,” says Madhav Bhandari. “The customers you talk to in month one will be different from those in a year. The best thing you can do is to keep listening to customer calls.”

Begin empathy interviews with current customers

Customer calls are great assets, but you’re never part of the conversation. A rep’s goal is to sell a prospect on a product. A customer service agent is trying to solve a specific problem. Neither will allow you (a marketer who’s just along for the ride) to jump in and explore a pain point or challenge.

That’s where empathy interviews come in.

Empathy interviews are structured conversations used to get to the root of a user problem. They allow interviewees to speak about what’s important to them, including the (often undiscussed) emotional aspects of challenges.

Here’s an example of an empathy interview in action.

The best framework I’ve seen comes from the Techstars Entrepreneur’s Toolkit. There’s a whole chapter on understanding your customers complete with explainer videos, interview demonstrations, and tips.

Design a messaging framework

Your first 30 days should be listening heavy. So much so that Cari Murray calls this stage a “listening tour.” You get to know your team, market, product, and customers.

Your final job in this stage is to turn those conversations into some foundational marketing guidelines—your messaging framework.

Cari suggests putting everything you’ve learned into eight basic buckets.

  • World view: The narrative behind your brand messaging and thought leadership. How do you see the world? What do you want to change?
  • Who we are: A big picture overview of your position within the world. Where do you sit in the ecosystem? Who else do you work with?
  • Company descriptions: Your approved copy for company bios. For example, “Marvin is a qualitative user research platform that elevates the voice of your customers so you design exactly what they need.” Create a short and long version to give yourself flexibility.
  • Target audiences: Pull together information on your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), customer personas, and buyer profiles. Add any demographic, firmographic, and psychographic data you have.
  • Pain points: Explore your customers’ challenges. Avoid surface-level descriptions. Instead, dig into the details so sales reps and marketers fully understand the pain of the status quo and attraction of your desired end state.
  • Positioning statement: Use your favorite product marketing positioning framework to define why you’re the only company that achieves a specific customer need. (Crossing the Chasm has a popular ‘Mad Libs’ template. Alternatively, I can recommend April Dunford’s outstanding positioning methodology, which we’ve used internally at Campfire Labs.)
  • Key competitive differentiators: List the features, functionalities, and benefits that only your product has. Include the benefits, too.

Like many tasks in your plan, brand messaging is not “set it and forget it.” (Even if some marketers treat it that way.)

“Messaging is fluid and therefore never final,” says Cari. “The reality is your message should change as you learn from the buyer. You don’t want to change it every day, but you need a good audit process to ensure it’s up to date.”

What to do on days 30-60: Build

Audit your existing content

As a new content leader, you might inherit a mature content department, a non-existent function, or something in between. If you have a blank slate and there’s nothing to audit, you can skip this step. Otherwise, let’s talk about how to audit existing content.

Select your data points

Select metrics that make sense for your GTM strategy. For example, product-led companies might focus on product-qualified leads and sales-led teams on form fills. Don’t select KPIs simply because the figures look good or others are doing so.

Create a content inventory

Use Google Analytics (GA) to export a full list of content assets with performance data. You may need to supplement GA data with other tools like Hotjar or Amplitude.

Analyze high-level campaigns

Use campaign, program, and theme filters to compare performance at a high level. Put more time and money behind successful campaigns. Deprioritize (or nix) underperforming programs.

Optimize individual assets

For each content asset, study the qualitative (time on page, bounce rate, engagement) and performance data (conversions, links, shares). As you move through your content library, make recommendations for each piece.

A few reliable options are:

  • Refresh: Find content that once performed well but has begun to wane. Update your messaging, add subject matter expert (SME) content, create new images, and secure fresh backlinks. 
  • Expand: Look for outlying high performers. These are opportunities to double down, creating content hubs, pillar pages, or miniature acquisition funnels.
  • Remove: If assets aren’t performing and can’t be improved, they’re not worth keeping. Nix low-impact content to improve the overall quality of your content library.

Translate business objectives into content goals

Goal-setting is tough, especially when you’re new. You lack context and insight into what’s achievable and realistic. Instead of working in isolation, Cari Murray suggests collaborating with business and sales leaders to work backward from company-wide revenue goals 

To set Marvin’s marketing goals, she followed a simple process.

  1. Growth goal: Set your revenue target
  2. Deals: Divide your growth goal by your ACV
  3. Opportunities: Multiply your required deals by your win rate
  4. Leads: Multiply your required opportunities by your conversion rate

For example, Marvin wanted to secure $100,000 net new business every month. (Not a real goal.) They would need:

  • 10 closed (won) deals (at $10,000 ACV)
  • 20 opportunities (at a 50% win rate)
  • 40 sales-ready leads (at a 50% conversion rate)

Opportunities and sales-ready leads are Cari’s “most important marketing KPIs.” They demonstrate how she’s driving revenue and moving the needle. But they aren’t her sole focus. Top-of-funnel metrics like traffic, engagement, and sentiment all matter in the long term.

Implement an attribution model

The B2B buying process is more complicated than ever. Buyers jump forward and loop back in the sales process. They’re autonomous and informed. Much of the buyer’s journey happens off-site—on social media, private communities, and third-party review sites.

This makes tracking difficult.

Say someone reads a glowing testimonial for your product on LinkedIn, asks for a second opinion on a professional Slack group, and reads a few articles on your blog. When they eventually sign up, what channel gets credit for the acquisition: social media, content marketing, or community?

Your answer will depend on your attribution model.

Ignoring a few niche options, you have five models to choose from:

A visual representation of five attribution models: Last click, First click, Linear, Position-based, and Time decay.
  • First Interaction: The first touchpoint gets 100% of the credit for a conversion.
  • Last Interaction: The final touchpoint gets 100% of the credit for a conversion.
  • Linear: All touchpoints get an equal split of the credit for a conversion.
  • Time-Decay: All touchpoints get some credit, but the older the interaction, the lower the amount.
  • Position-Based: The first and last touchpoints get 40% of the credit each, with the remaining 20% spread evenly between the remaining interactions.

What to do on days 60-90: Experiment

Map out your funnel and identify weak spots

Few stages of the buyer’s journey occur without content. Demand gen requires thought leadership to raise awareness. Lifecycle marketers need MOFU blogs for nurture campaigns. Sales reps can’t close deals without case studies.

But often content leaders gravitate to what they know best, overinvesting in certain funnel stages and leaving others underrepresented.

When Margaux Morgante took over communications at Kudos, she drew out the sales funnel and placed each existing content asset in its corresponding funnel position.

Kudos' blog distribution by funnel position.

“I could see if one category was getting more attention than another,” she explains. “We spent about a month working with our onboarding team to create a guide for new clients. That was their investment for the year. Then, I moved on to awareness and top-of-funnel blog content.”

Create a writing center of excellence

The reality is, content teams rarely—if ever—have the capacity to own every piece of writing. If you try to handle everything, requests for blogs, eBooks, and press releases will swiftly swamp your schedule, leaving little time for your own work or objectives.

Teams that gatekeep the writing of content, do nothing for their organizations.

To protect her team, Hannah Cameron, director of content marketing at Affinity, pivoted content’s role to a “center of excellence.” Instead of simply writing sales emails for reps and eBooks for demand gen, she aimed to train her colleagues and provide them with content best practices.

To copy Hannah’s approach:

  • Identify what departments need the most help: Prioritize teams where you can have the most impact. Usually, it’s demand generation, sales, product marketing, product, and HR.
  • Give them a lightweight editorial guide: Condense your brand guidelines into a lightweight guide. Focus on basic actionable advice like company terminology and formatting. Equipped with your guide, departments should be able to start creating content that's largely consistent with your brand.
  • Delivery writing training: A guide isn’t a substitute for training. Deliver writing and content marketing training over time to improve their writing craft.

“Teams that gatekeep the writing of content, do nothing for their organizations,” Hannah says. “Writing is such a small part of what content marketing does. Empower others, and focus on your larger goals.”

Launch new content marketing programs

Your content audit will show how your current content programs are performing. By cutting underperforming initiatives and doubling down on those with potential, you create a solid marketing foundation.

With your basic content strategy working, you can start experimenting with more innovative or unusual ideas. Use small-scale proof of concept campaigns to trial:

  • Formats: Shortform or longform, written, audio, or video, in-person or virtual. Instead of creating net new content, repurpose existing pieces to publish faster.
  • Themes: The problem with marketing audits is that they limit you to what’s there. Test out new messages, ideas, and themes. Consider running month- or quarter-long campaigns to give them the best chance of success.
  • Audience: Modern B2B buying committees are huge, typically between six and 10 people. Each of those people represents a way into a deal. Target different personas—end users, executives, and everyone in between—to discover your best way into accounts.

Iterate, experiment, and improve

Don’t think of your 30/60/90-day plan as a one-time process. In practice, it’s the start of dozens of iterative cycles. Customer interviews? Keep doing them. Internal meetings with peers? Make them monthly catch-ups. Finished your brand messaging guidelines? Review them every quarter.

Don’t lose momentum. Use your initial plan as a springboard and continue experimenting, refining, and improving. 

Disclaimer: You might not have 90 days

The 30-60-90 day plan is a tried and tested business framework. However, it’s not necessarily the best fit for fast-moving tech companies.

To work out how much time you really have, Madhav Bhandari recommends looking at the company’s lifecycle stage.

  • Early-stage SaaS: $100,000 to $10 million revenue
  • Mid-market SaaS: $10 million to $1 billion revenue
  • Enterprise SaaS: >$1 billion revenue

Mid-market companies have larger budgets, defined processes, and specialized roles. It takes time to understand the context and get things moving. At larger companies, timelines are more generous. You may well have 90 days to plan, execute, and experiment.

However, at early-stage companies, 90 days is, “a luxurious timeline.”

Typically, younger companies expect faster execution. Madhav says it’s common for marketers to compress a 90-day plan into just 30—learning, executing, and experimenting before their first month is out. So build a 30/60/90-day content strategy—but implement it quicker.

David is a former craft beer journalist turned writer and digital strategist. He now helps ambitious technology brands tell narrative-driven stories.

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