Recognize and acknowledge yourself to be a facilitator of your customer’s success.
They are the hero in all your communications. They are the ones who will be creating the results and making the difference in reaching goals. By placing your customer in the hero role, you engage their identity, energy, enthusiasm, and partnership. And in the end, they will be appreciative of your role in helping them be more successful.
I included that statement in 10 Foolproof Tips to Powerfully Communicate because it’s absolutely critical to getting anyone to pay attention to what you’re saying – and for you to actually have an impact in their lives.
Who are we working for again?
We get so caught up in running our business–managing employees, accounting for inventory or time or services, looking for new business, collecting from customers, paying bills, and dreaming up new products or services to offer–that it’s easy to forget we’re actually all working for our customers.
"There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."
How can we know what our customers know about us?
Understanding how your customer experiences your business can be almost impossible for any size organization. You can do research, hire consultants, ask your customers yourself, or just watch the process a customer goes through. To really understand, you almost have to mystery shop your own business: leave yourself behind, pretend you know nothing, and interact with your business.
Then admit to yourself the cold, hard truths about what doesn’t feel good or causes some friction. Every business has it–some more than others. Discovering what and where is the first step in improving. Just doing the same thing won’t get that done.
Customer = Repeat Buyers
Just to make sure we’re on the same page here, the reason you care about happy customers is because repeat business is a LOT cheaper to sustain than getting new business over and over again. If people have already purchased from you–a real customer is one who buys TWICE from you–then they already know what they appreciate about your business.
Your job is to discover what will delight your customer over and over again as they buy from you, get billed, arrange for service or returns, ask questions, and just get in touch with you. Then you have a business that can grow.
The bottom line
Put your customer–your repeat buyers–at the center of your business. Make them a hero in everything you do. If that’s how they experience your communications, interactions, and product value, then what’s left is to optimize the back end of the business to keep that going.
Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting
Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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LinkedIn isn’t just for big companies, recruiters, and job seekers. LinkedIn is also a great place for business owners to form partnerships, find subcontractors, and get more business.
Maybe you’ve decided LinkedIn just isn’t for you or your business: you don’t like it personally, you don’t ‘get it’, and it just seems like another way to waste time.
Even if you aren’t loving LinkedIn, a LOT of other people are. And they’re getting business from it. I get business from LinkedIn regularly, and I don’t do business with someone unless they’re on LinkedIn. Being on LinkedIn is kind of like having a business address or a business card: if you don’t have it, then it’s hard for people to take you seriously.
So let’s take a look at 3 things you can do that are painless, quick, and likely to help your business.
Your LinkedIn Personal Profile
1. On your LinkedIn personal profile, edit your title next to your photo to say exactly what you do and why you’re great – in 5 words or less – as a title. This is where you want to include both words that are commonly searched on LinkedIn AND differentiating words. For example, if you’re offering leadership workshops but your differentiator is that you’re focused on the franchise world, then you want to have a title like: Leadership and Team Development for Franchise Success. Or if you’re offering accounting and tax services specializing in medical practices: 10 Year Specialist in Medical Accounting and Tax Services.
The choice you need to make, aside from choosing your differentiator that pertains to being found on LinkedIn, is which order to put your title in: your specialty first, your business focus, your geographic area, your credential, or something else. The best order is the one that seems the most natural in your field and one that people would most likely be searching for. Imagine your favorite client finding you on LinkedIn – what would they put into the search field to get you?
(NOTE: If you don’t have a personal profile, then get in gear and put it together – include the last 10 years or so of work you’ve done and definitely add a headshot photo of you.)
Your LinkedIn Company Page
2. Your business company page needs to have a great cover photo AND a good description so people know exactly what your business does and how to reach you. Pick a photo 646px by 220px – you can use a tool like www.Canva.com for this. Add a call to action or a defining tag line to the photo so people can know at a glance what’s great about your business.
Then make sure your business description on the company page is complete. Include the services you offer, the results you help people get, how they can do business with you, and an invitation to call or visit your website to learn more. You’re going to connect this business company page with your personal profile, so make sure it can really work for you.
Add keywords in your company description AND into the keywords fields LinkedIn offers. Use words people would use in searching for your type of business. Add as many as you can.
(NOTE: If you don't have a company page, make one. It's important: for visibility, for search, for credibility. Just do it.)
Your Business on Your Personal Profile
3. Add your business as your current job on your personal profile. And when you describe your current job, put a description of what your business does right there! And it can be the same or an abbreviation of what you’ve put on your business company page. When you add this on your personal profile, you’ve got a much better chance of having people read it and understand your business without requiring them to click through to the business page.
However, part 2 of putting your business on your personal profile is to CONNECT them. You do this what you add the name of your business to the position description in the experience section. In the space for Company Name, start typing in EXACTLY what you put into the name field for your LinkedIn business Company page (#1 above). Type slowly so that LinkedIn can offer up to you some choices that match the letters you’re typing in – until you see the company page listing you just created come up – then click on that to choose it. That will connect this job and experience entry directly to your company page.
Now when you save your personal profile and look at the public version of it, hover over your business name in the experience section – the popup should be a small version of your company page listing! Voila! You are connected.
This is a start
These 3 improvements will go a long way towards creating your LinkedIn success. Of course, there are so many more actions you can take, but let’s not get overwhelmed. The basics are enough unless you’re going to invest some time each week on LinkedIn. When and if you’re ever ready to do that, take some time to learn about groups, posting, sharing, liking, endorsements, recommendations, discussions, and optimization of your profile and company page.
In the meantime, you now have a professional presence that can start getting your business some visibility and credibility. Remember to ask your professional contacts and customers to follow your business on LinkedIn and connect with you personally there as well.
Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting
Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Make your communication personal. Imagine you are writing one-to-one with someone you’re trying to help be more successful in their personal or professional life. Speak directly to that person.
Use plain language: straightforward, direct, action-oriented. No acronyms, no jargon, no corporate speak. Imagine you’re speaking to someone who has no prior knowledge of your product or service and you want to make them feel an integral part of the community of customers. Empower them with clear explanations and accessible suggestions.
Focus primarily on how this will help your customer’s work or personal life, specifically and with examples. Speak about ‘benefits’ on as specific a level as possible: relate them to the results the customer will directly experience by using your product or service. High-level are often not relatable, even though they are important to include. Customers will be more motivated when they understand how the new product or service they’re getting is going to help them achieve their goals and get results.
Use references, examples, and context from your customer’s perspective, not yours. Imagine you are looking at everything sitting in their seat, their office, and their home. If you don’t know what that is, go spend a day in their world and then use that first hand experience to inform your communications. (This is the scientific observation method used by cultural anthropologists and is frequently now used to understand gaps and needs of customers and markets.)
Tell a story. Storytelling is the most powerful form of communication we have. Humans are designed to remember stories, relate to them, and apply the learnings from them in ways other styles of communication can’t even hope to accomplish. When you want your customer to really get something and be inspired, persuaded, and motivated by it, use an example that’s a story. Stories can be very simple–here’s a very generic example:
Before a new tool was available, this is what Karen was up against and this is how long it took and how much it cost to get this done. With this new tool, Karen will be doing this kind of work and the impact will be that she’ll get this accomplished in much less time, resulting in Karen getting more done in less time overall, and having her work be more accurate and possibly have more leisure time. That will have a positive impact on her life allowing her to focus on more important activities.
Recognize and acknowledge yourself to be a facilitator of your customer’s success. They are the hero in all your communications. They are the ones who will be creating the results and making the difference in reaching goals. By placing your customer in the hero role, you engage their identity, energy, enthusiasm, and partnership. And in the end, they will be appreciative of your role in helping them be more successful.
Be playful, humorous, and surprising. When you’re able to delight your customer, they’ll want to hear more from you, work with you, and appreciate your efforts. No one wants to read toneless, boring, explanatory documents and memos. When we are surprised by a more human-to-human approach, we give the content more attention and are more likely to take action.
Create a cadence to your communication to allow your customer to receive your information. Think about how to organize the information to take the reader through an experience that will help them partner with you. A generally effective sequence is:
Get attention with something that will make a positive difference to the customer (a benefit). This is quick and to the point–like a subject line or headline.
Greet the customer in your role of helping them be more
Give them the big point of what this communication is about.
Let them know how this will help them. This is where stories are helpful, perhaps inside major topic bullet points.
Explain how you can help them use this information and how you’ll be available.
Close with the big point again, and a thank you for being a contribution to the common goal you have with them.
Note: Leave white space, both physically on the page, but also in the message. Not everything needs to be said–you can have supporting reference material.
Customize your communication content and vehicle for different types of customers. People consume content in different ways and the communication needs to be tailored to each outlet. Additionally, different groups of people are interested in different ‘benefits’: customizing the communication to different types of customers will increase the likelihood of the message being heard, digested, and acted on.
Take advantage of the magic numbers of communication. People generally need to see something about a particular topic 3 to 7 times in different places before the message sticks. Separately, 3 of anything is easier to remember than 2, 4, 5, etc. Three ‘benefits’, three features, three times, three bullet points, three options–use 3 of something when you want your customer to remember more than one message.
Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting
Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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First off, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what the heck the 4 Ps are:
Product–this is the whole product, including services, extras, warranties, packaging, upgrades, the whole kit and caboodle–everything that someone gets when they do business with you. Everything.
Place–the way customers get the product from you. You might sell directly, maybe you have retailers or wholesalers, you might use distributors. Place is the set of channels you have to get your product or service to the market.
Promotion–all the tactics you use to get visibility for your product or service. Includes social media, advertising, public relations, email, your website, and anything you do to get the word out, including events, speaking, and networking.
Price–this is what you charge that captures all the value you can that gives you an incentive to stay in business.
The only thing missing from this is market segmentation. That’s a fancy way of describing how you’re going to narrow your focus so that you can actually appeal to a part of the market and put all your resources behind your efforts. If you don’t narrow your focus, well, you can read about that in 3 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Marketing Results. Then meet us back here again… we’ll wait.
Ok. Let’s continue.
Why the 4 Ps are Really Where the Action Is
Take a look at that list above again. Seems like just a laundry list of marketing junk, right? It can be, unless you have some context for how these 4 Ps actually leverage each other into results.
Here’s the sequence of using the 4 Ps that makes all the difference:
First, you have to know whose problem you’re solving, and a problem they’re willing to pay to get solved. That’s your target market–and that’s the DRIVER for everything… yep, everything. Not your product idea–that’s not a driver, that’s an idea or a hobby. The DRIVER for a business is always the set of customers, the target market, the market segment (I don’t care what you want to call it), the people who will pay you so that you can be in business to get them the solution to their problem.
Once you have real clarity on who those people are, then the NEXT up is the product. The product is the SOLUTION to the problem. It’s everything those people had hoped for–that’s the ideal.
Once you have this equation down–which is what the Lean Startup process is all about by the way–then the rest of your work won’t waste a ton of your time and resources. Let me say that the other way around: if you don’t get this equation down, you’ll spend a lot of time throwing money out the window and you’ll be frustrated and poor.
The THIRD step is to use your product/market equation and figure out how to get that product into your market in the cheapest, fastest, most wonderful way possible. That’s place or channel. You can’t figure that out until you know your basic building block equation of product/market. Because how will you know where they’ll buy? And who will carry this product or who will deliver this service? You don’t until you know the basic equation.
FOURTH: time to figure out how to get the world to know about your offering. Promotion–but this includes inbound marketing as well as outbound marketing, traditional ads as well as online advertising, and social media, email, direct mail–whatever is the best match for the product/market AND the place/channel. If you do this without knowing all of that first, you’re still throwing money away…
Oops! Another Reason!
FIFTH is when you figure out how much value your market perceives your solution to create for them. Then you’re going to set a price that captures as much of that value as possible. That’s when you make money–which keeps you in business and keeps them having the solution to the problem they have. If you do this before the other steps, you’ll be leaving money on the table. Perceived value is greatly impacted by the quality of your promotion–it’s up to you to let them know the wonderful ways your solution improves their lives. If they don’t know that stuff, they’re going to pay less, that’s all there is to it. You have to do some work to get a good price, and that means understanding very well what’s of value to your market so you can make that clear to them in relation to your solution.
And that’s the 4 Ps PLUS target segment. What doesn’t that cover? EVERYTHING is in that sequence. So would you rather be cool? Or make money?
Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting
Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Have you ever walked by a storefront and noticed dust on the display, grime on the windows, or leftovers from the last holiday season that was 5 months ago?
What is your reaction?
Does this kind of unkempt look make you excited to walk in? Are you thinking "Wow, I bet they have the latest new stuff I'm looking for to: wear, fix my appliance, treat my problem, serve for a meal, etc.)."
I'm betting you have the same reaction I do – are these guys still in business? And if they are, are they up to date with the current products, knowledge, and skills to help me?
Websites are like storefronts.
And right now YOURS is answering these questions to your visitors. Do you know what the answers are? If your website hasn't been updated in the last two years, I can tell you that the first message being sent AND received is that you don't care enough about your prospects and visitors to put the time, energy, and resources into being up to date with a great customer experience.
Why am I telling you this? Not to get business – although I can recommend some great designers and developers at just about every price level and complexity. I'm calling your attention to the reality of life and business in today's world.
Trends in Website Design Change Every Year or Two – or Less!
Website design changes – not as fast as fashion, thank goodness – but fast enough for you to be paying attention. Probably every 1-2 years it's time for you to refresh your 'digital windows' (also know as your website). And, in fact, large companies refresh constantly – big changes – because they need to stay at the leading edge to keep the mindshare of their market.
I've included a slideshare below on the current trends in website design. You should take a look. This will take you 5 minutes and possibly make you a ton of money – the return on your investment for just being able to RECOGNIZE the new website designs will help you guide the designer/developer you hire so that you'll be sure to wow your visitors within your budget.
Remember, these trends in website design are good for about 6 months – then we'll see some more evolution in design. But your site will be good for probably 1-2 years.
Here they are – with thanks to Accrinet Corporation for putting together a short and sweet trends in website design slide deck!
Top 10 Web Design Trends for 2015 from Accrinet Corporation
Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting
Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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You naturally want your business to have as great an appearance online as possible, within your budget. We all want to put our best foot forward. Online, that means having a website that represents your business well. A website that can be found, and that engages your prospective customers in such as way as to get them to call you, make an appointment, or show up at your business or store. Representing your business ‘well’ can easily become a black hole to pour money into. Not that it’s necessarily expensive: custom websites have become much cheaper than they were even 5 years ago. No, what happens isn’t that the absolute cost is high, it’s that what you pay for is the completely wrong thing for your business. You may think I’m crazy for saying that. You wouldn’t believe how often it’s true. About half the time I start working for a small business client, or even if I meet them through a class I’m teaching or a speaking event, when I hear about their frustrations, the story is always the same: The business owner needed a new website – someone had said the website was looking old and tired and they should get with it so their business would look like it was alive and fresh. (So far, that’s decent reasoning.) So, thinking the website’s problem is about ‘looking good’ the business owner looks for someone to design a better look. That’s a website designer. Frequently a website designer is either a developer (writes html and css code) or a graphic designer (makes stuff look good). (Now this is getting complicated, right?) So they hire the website designer/developer/artistic person/coder and get a new website. Most of the time the business owner is responsible for the content (all the words on the site) and sometimes for the graphics as well. What the business owner usually ends up with is a beautiful site that has mediocre copy (words) on it, sometimes decent graphics, and absolutely NO IDEA HOW THIS WILL BRING IN BUSINESS. (Sorry about the all caps – this gets me in the gut every time.) AND they’ve spent all the money they’ve budgeted for online marketing on this website. So, they're all done. But what they have is basically a beautiful hole in the ground with no plant that will grow and build the business. Then, when I come into the picture the question is always: why am I not getting more business? I just paid big bucks (thousands – not even a super cheap website, but thousands were paid) for my beautiful new website and I’m not getting any more customers? Do you have any idea why? Oh, and by the way, I don’t have any more money to spend on this because I was told all I needed was a great website, so don’t tell me I have to spend any more money. Geez… what a lose-lose setup. The business owner believed a beautiful website was going to make them more money – get them more customers. The person they did business with probably believes that too – or they just love what they do and don’t care about the return on investment of the business owner. Then the site doesn’t do squat. And that reinforces that websites are just a necessary evil expense for businesses and it’ll be a cold day in h*ll before that business owner will pay that money for another website. Time will go by, their site will start to look dusty, old, uninhabited, and in need of another beautiful face lift – and the whole cycle begins again. Here’s the reality: your website is an ASSET to be optimized to get a RETURN on it. It’s NOT an expense. It’s real estate you own on the web and it's up to you to figure out how to get it to bring in customers. That’s really its PRIMARY purpose: to bring in new customers. Your website isn’t about looking pretty – it’s about doing the work that needs to be done so people online can: Find you Get to know you Figure out whether you’re real Experience the value you deliver Eventually feel confident enough to exchange money with you for services or goods If your website isn’t doing that work, then you’re leaving money on the big digital table in the cloud every day. Here’s what this is like: Getting your hair done so your digestion is better. Wearing beautiful clothes so that you can have better conversations with people. Buying a beautiful home so that your commute is better. A tenuous connection may exist between beautiful websites and more business, but it’s not the core component of what makes a difference. So stop throwing money away on design you don’t need. Take a good, long look at Amazon.com and ask yourself if beautiful design is what’s making them money. In this case, beautiful design has EVERYTHING to do with FUNCTION – a streamlined buying experience that’s unparalleled on the web – and very little to do with graphic design (aside from color and shape of buttons, size and type of font). It’s about the copy, the placement, the process you go through – and that’s all backed up by a very deep understanding of consumer marketing and sales. If you really want a website that increases your revenues by a significant % as well as your profits, get some marketing help, not design help. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Social media updates can easily start to turn into tasks that just need to get done. So we automate or just put titles on posts to get them out the door. And then we may settle for either no or only a little engagement. Or we just get frustrated with the whole social media thing and stop posting for a while. Whether we like it or not, this approach applies to most of us at one time or another. When we post on social media with that mindset, this is what it looks like: Now, there’s nothing terribly wrong with any of those tweets (they could just as easily been a Facebook post or LinkedIn or Google+). They’re just not very compelling. I'm definitely not suggesting going to the opposite end of the spectrum and using click bait copy – that’s copy that is either misleading or tantalizing in a provocative way just to get you to click through. The problem with that is you can get people frustrated after a while – something Upworthy has experienced by building a huge following by posting a lot of inspiring articles from all over the web, then going over the edge with click bait that kind of messed with the trust they built. Trust. That’s what you REALLY want to build in your prospects and customers. The kind of trust that makes them loyal, inspires them to refer you, and keeps them coming back and bringing their friends with them just to tell them how great you are. Trust takes a while to build – and can easily be derailed. Trust is built by consistently creating value and being clear to people what value you’re offering. Trust is built by honoring your promises. And your promise is what makes ALL the difference in a tweet, status update, post, a pin, and everything you put online. Here are a couple examples of a promise: Need some pain relief for your TMJ? Or to get rid of a stress headache from clenching? Here are some quick tips for that. Would you like to get rid of low back pain caused by walking? Here's a stretch for that! Each of these is a short post or tweet with a problem identified and a promise that you’ll get something of value – pain relief in these examples. When someone clicks on the link, they find something that actually delivers on that promise. That builds trust. And that makes people love you and your business. So, next time you’re posting on social media – or even writing a blog or web copy – think about what you’re promising, what you’ll deliver, and how that will make a difference for the person reading or listening. That’s called a brand promise. Mine is that you can count of me to always tell you what will improve the results you’re getting in your marketing. Always. And I can help you get those results. What’s your brand promise? Once you uncover it – it’s there and has been since you decided to be in business – then make that promise in every tweet and post you create, in the variety of ways you actually deliver on it in your business. Feel free to ask me any questions about this! I love challenges. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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The all-inclusive approach to marketing is such a temptation – it’s irresistible! Almost all of us engage in this at one time or another. The problem is that it’s a losing proposition: losing time, money, relevancy, and most importantly it wears you out. Avoid these 3 pitfalls of all-inclusive marketing and you’ll start getting great results: Serving the anonymous crowd We often believe our business serves everyone. And maybe we define everyone in one of the following ways: Age Location Gender That could look like some of the following descriptions you might have of your ideal customer: Women ages 18-25 People who live in San Francisco Men with children All of those are way too general. You can’t speak directly to any of them because you have no idea what they’re interested in. Are they hipsters? Geeks? Boomers? Single? Married? Wealthy? Poor? Educated at what level? Do they like pop music or indie music? Are their children babies? High schoolers? When you know those kinds of details about your ideal customer, your communications are so much more compelling – your audience feels like you GET them, that you know what their life is like and your business may have just the thing for them. When they feel like you really understand them – that you know what they face, love, do, and their dreams, then they’ll love you. All you have to do is take a chance and really think about who you’re truly serving and go out and find out what their life is like. Don’t worry about missing out with other types of customers; if you’re successful with that group, your business will grow to include other groups. Really. Communication Choice Overload You got yourself going on social media, on email, and started a blog. Probably because you’ve heard that’s really what you need to do now – no longer can you place an ad in the newspaper and have customers appear. Maybe you’re on Facebook, perhaps LinkedIn, trying out Twitter, possibly YouTube, and maybe Instagram. You could also be on Quora, Periscope, Pinterest, Google +, Vine, Meetup, Tumblr, About.me, Medium, or others. Ok – I’m exhausted just listing all those… and there are more… How in the world will it be possible to keep up? Think of this like you think of your real world connections. I’m guessing you don’t visit every meetup or restaurant or bar or gym or club or whatever in your area when you want to meet more people. Well, maybe for a month, but its not sustainable and you won’t get to really know anyone that way – and they won’t get to know you. Social media is similar. Consider the option of choosing just one social media platform, plus email and a blog. Then build those in an integrated way: write your blog, email it to people interested (building your email list is another discussion), and have some fun with the topic on your chosen social media platform. Be all in on the ONE social media platform. Post only what you know your audience loves. Which leads me to the last item. Business Personality Disorder You have a personality – I have a personality – everyone does. Well, your business presence MUST have a personality. Why? Because you’re talking to individuals as your business and no one connects with a nothing personality. We don’t even like robots who don’t have a personality. Usually, we forget about personality for business because we’re so focused on trying to get people to buy something. In today’s online world the equation is similar to the in-person truism we all have heard: people buy from people – people they trust. That means your business has to be like a person – in fact it’s made up of people so that’s not really as weird as it may first seem. The alternative challenge with personality is that your online personality could be a mismatch between the real experience people have with your business and your social media presence. This usually happens when you choose to leave this activity in the hands of an intern – the intern will assert their personality and then you have a problem. Be intentional – understand what your current clients love about your business – how do you treat them? What do they count on? What tone of voice? Type of information? What role does your business play in their lives? Then capture that personality in a thorough description and make sure anyone posting anywhere for your business is speaking through that personality only. The Bottom Line Your marketing results will improve dramatically when you take the steps to: Focus on one carefully understood ideal customer that you can speak directly to every time you communicate via your business – online, in store, on price tags or shelves – always. Pick one social media site for your business and focus your resources on that one to make it be great. If you have more resources left AFTER you’ve proven yourself there, then add another. Or if that one isn’t working, leave it gracefully and choose another to be great on. Identify what your personality is in the eyes of your customers and stick to it consistently everywhere, all the time – be intentional about it. Have fun! Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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In every class I teach and almost every client I work with, the subject of a logo comes up in discussion. Often the logo seems to be what passes for marketing by some business owners. And every time this topic is discussed I can’t help but think how fast marketing has changed in so short a time. Still Relevant But Not Central While logos are still relevant, their importance is so diminished in today’s marketing that sometimes I even forget that a business may need one. Logos were important when marketing was a print-based activity. A logo had to do the work of conveying the personality, quality, service, and reliability of the business in a simple graphic place in an ad, on a business card, on the letterhead, on the brochure, and any other printed materials. The logo WAS the personality of the business – that and the tagline were the way to understand what differentiated that business from another similar one. Financially, the logo needed to be developed before the printing was done because everything was printed and to change all the pieces would be a huge extra cost – so the logo needed to be finalized and put on all the print material then very large quantities would be printed. Lots of pressure to get it right the first time. The New Focus of Marketing Now, that has all changed. Content carries all that information and messaging. Reviews let us know about the service and reliability. Likes and shares tell us about the quality. That leaves the logo to do very little work, except be a shorthand reminder of all the rest – more a signpost that has to be consistent everywhere than a communicator of great value. This has drastically changed the role of the graphic artist from having a central role in the declaration and communication of a business to a utilitarian tool more like the internationally recognized signs used during the Olympics that show which sports are where. The real heavy work of communicating the core differentiation of a business is in content strategy and personality now. And how that personality is defined and developed across all content big and small on all social media platforms. Frequently, the upshot is that I recommend holding off on a logo for a new business until you know what your customers love about you. In the meantime, use a text logo made from you business name, or a photo of you or your shop. Or, at the very least, a simple logo that costs no more than a few hundred dollars. Yes, that’s possible, desirable, and highly recommended. A logo can easily be added to digital content: website, pdfs, articles, and social media. The cost of printing has frequently come down to just the cost of business cards at about $50 for 1000 or more – not a big investment. How a Logo Helps A logo can serve another important purpose though: as a statement by the founder that the business is real. This is not a small contribution to helping the business owner/founder start to manifest their dream. However, that doesn’t often justify a mult-thousand dollar cost of a logo when that money could be better put to use in creating an asset that will produce a larger return – such as a really effective and engaging social media presence or a business-generating content strategy. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Marketing campaigns are like that, too. Certain things happen at different times – otherwise the story doesn’t make sense: the order of events and their dependencies matter. A story that’s read out of order doesn’t work – it doesn’t fulfill the intention of the writer and it isn’t fun for the reader. That’s true for a marketing campaign as well. Marketing campaigns are a set of actions designed to achieve a result for your business: get more visibility, increase revenues by 10% this quarter, improve traffic to your website or your store by a certain percent this month, sell more of a particular product, or any number of objectives you may have. Marketing can be thought of as a series of mini campaigns and major campaigns that line up to consistently produce a revenue stream for your business. Here’s the challenge: For marketing campaigns, mini or major, to be successful you have to know both where you’re headed and what you are going to make happen with your prospect when they get there. When you’re developing a marketing campaign, you are the writer – the creator of the universe of that marketing campaign. Your prospects are the ‘readers’. You’re creating an experience for them and they may jump on board or they may not. If they do jump on board, you determine where they’re going, what that could feel like, and where they land. All of this may seem obvious, but it isn’t always. First let’s look at a successful campaign. Campaign #1: Say you run a Facebook Ad campaign that captures the attention of your prospective market. They love it! They click on it and sign up. You set it up so that you’ve offered something free for them if they signed up for your email list. And it was a big success because they connected with your message, followed your call to action and you achieved your objective. Now let’s look at something that is a mix of success and not. Campaign #2: You run a Facebook Ad campaign to see if your market is interested in your business. They love it! The ad is designed to get likes for your page. So you get lots of likes – great right? Well, maybe. Now you have lots of likes but an uncertain path in front of you to do anything with them. You don’t have email addresses (and email is still the BEST way of getting people to take action that involves buying anything or signing up for something), and Facebook has made it very hard to get your business page posts in front of your ‘likes’. While you have a lot of likes, you now have a lot more work in front of you to convert those likes into something that contributes to your revenue. You’ll probably have to run more ads and make them just as compelling – not an easy thing to do. The problems with Campaign #2 were: Not having an action people could take, While they were inspired by your call to action, That would move you a lot further in the direction of getting more revenue. Said another way: when your ad or your content really inspires people and they take action, you need to be ready to receive that action in a way that leads to something for your business. Just trying something out sometimes leads to a big response, and then where are you? You’re definitely not writing your own ending – mostly because you weren’t ready to be successful. You need to have every step mapped out in case you have a hit on your hands, because creating another hit isn’t easy. And missing it is really a bummer. Do. Or do not. There is no try. – Yoda https://youtu.be/h5SNAluOj6U Be serious when you run campaigns – be all in – don’t assume that you may not get a response – don’t just ‘give it a try’. Think it all the way through and create the ending you’d really like to happen if your campaign exceeded all your expectations. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Creating and building online visibility is about a lot more that just a website. Your website is the beginning of putting together a network of places your business appears – and together that network contributes to your credibility and connection with your customers. This is not a whole lot different than advertising in newspapers and local bulletin boards used to be. You would choose a variety of publications or venues to put the word out about your business and then stick to that for some time. Generally, more than one place is required to actually generate credibility – people need to experience something several times in different ways before they register it as real (lots of research done on this with varying estimates on the number of times: anywhere from 3 to 7 to 12). Building Visibility Online Today’s version of that is to have a website and a blog, and then put the content from your blog out on your choice of social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Quora, LinkedIn, etc. Hopefully you haven’t chosen ALL of them – if you have, stop now and chose 3 to focus on, no more. Choose them based on where your ideal customer is likely to be hanging out. Not all of us love to write. And those of us that do, sometimes we get tired of it. So, there’s another approach. I know it’s not new to you, it’s pretty obvious, but most of us have some reluctance to jumping into it. That’s video. Unless you’re already doing a lot of video, you probably have some trepidation about seeing yourself talking away on a video. You may think you have to memorize it all! Or that you need to be perfect. Or that you don’t look good enough to be on video. That’s all just a bunch of useless excuses. I understand that’s maybe how you feel, but if you start looking around at who is using video to get their name out there AND doing it successfully, you’ll find that most of those people don’t look or act ANYTHING like actors. Shooting Your Video Content Video can be formal where you do memorize something and then look directly into the camera and repeat it. Video can also be very informal – like you’re just talking to a friend sitting at your desk or table in your office or your kitchen. Or even out on a bench in your local park. You can have someone take the video of you, or you can set it up yourself and take it. Editing the beginning and end to get rid of you turning the video on and off is easy – you can even do that AFTER you upload the video to YouTube. And iMovie isn’t that hard to learn. Plus there are other video editing tools you can find. I found myself a very inexpensive lighting setup on Amazon – with umbrellas, nice stands, and a bag to carry it with me. All for around $140. I also have a tripod with an adapter that holds my iphone. I basically can video myself and have it look pretty good anywhere and anytime I want. I recently took my portable video setup to a planning session and we shot video during the break – with lighting. Setup and tear down took 2 minutes. Social Media Loves Video Content One of the very cool things about video content marketing is that you can get great results using YouTube as well as putting it natively on Facebook. Social sites are optimized for video content – because it keeps users on the site longer. It also keeps people on YOUR site longer – that makes for good SEO. You can grab the embed code from YouTube once you upload your video and edit it, then put that on your site. Here’s a nice trick: put one on your home page, just at the ‘fold’ (where the page ends on the screen and you have to scroll up to see the rest). The video should be half visible without scrolling. People find video almost irresistible – so they’re likely to take just a little extra time on your home page to see what that video is all about. Use Video Content in Your Email Newsletters Another cool thing is that email service providers, like Constant Contact, make it easy to embed video links with generated images right into your newsletter. So then, all you have to do is make the video, cut the beginning and end off, then embed it in your newsletter with a little bit of writing saying what the gist of it is, and your done! Here’s what you need to do: Identify your style: formal, informal, chatty, indoors, outdoors, etc. Find a good place to video where the background is not moving and there’s enough diffuse light. Choose something people ask you about all the time – in fact choose about 50 of these, one for every week. Introduce the topic and then give your answer or demonstration in less than 2 minutes or so. Upload the video to YouTube, cut the lead in and trailing parts. Embed on your site in a blog post. Embed in your email newsletter. Download the cut version from YouTube and upload it directly to your Facebook page as a post. That’s video content marketing in a nutshell! Now you’re a pro! Once you do this 4 times, you’ll realize how easy this is and wonder why you ever had all those objections before. Let me know how it goes. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Marketing Automation has added some powerful leverage to attracting, identifying, and qualifying potential new customers through a variety of online and email tools working together to track activity. However, for many businesses, marketing automation tools are a nightmare for their organization and they are probably better off taking advantage of some of the features companies like Constant Contact offer. Why is that the case? Building Skill As with any sophisticated set of tools, they require some education about how to use them: like when certain features are best employed, how to pick the right one for the challenge, and how do you actually put it into place. In the case of marketing automation, that education is about building skill: you really need to be using the tools on a regular basis to remember what you’ve learned and to build on that knowledge. It’s a little like learning a new language – use it or lose it. Creating Content Much has been written about creating content. Marketing has changed and for any marketing done online, content is a requirement. That includes blog posts, infographics, plain graphics, quotes, diagrams, tweets, Facebook posts, photos, articles, and case studies to name just a few. Marketing automation requires even more content that’s fresh to entice people to click through emails and download content pieces they wouldn’t otherwise get. That’s so the marketing automation tools can track their activities to determine if they are the right kind of customer for you to take action in selling them something (that’s a VERY basic explanation of what can become an extremely sophisticated process). So, you’ll need to have the resources to both create content for your blog and social media, but also additional valuable content to put into your marketing automation campaign. Setting Up the Funnel Marketing automation at its most basic level is really just a series of emails with links that send people to web pages with links. Every time someone clicks on a link, that sends a signal to a list about what that person is clicking on. That’s all it is at the core. Then you can add all kinds of bells and whistles to track activities, to score them, to kick off new emails and offers based on the scores, etc. Think about all that – it takes some time to figure out what sequence to create (called a campaign) and for how long (some people set up sequences that last a year with a few branches off them in addition to the main sequence). Not only that, you need to think about what offers or content to put in front of people so that if they click on it you have some idea of what that might mean about their interest (both the level of interest and the topic). That takes time to do that for just one email, one piece of content, in one campaign. Now add that up so you have 12 main pieces (if you’re only making an offer via email once a month) PLUS you have other branches off that main sequence if people are interested in different topics related to other products or services you might be qualifying them for. Scoring and Following Up If and when you’re successful with getting people interested in your offers by using marketing automation, you will need to follow up to actually earn revenue. That may mean just making a purchase offer as part of your campaign – that’s what Amazon does when it makes suggestions based on your past purchases or sends you an email about something you might be interested in. If you’ve got an ecommerce business like that, marketing automation may be a good choice. However, if your business is about in person sales, then all the automation in the world is still going to require a way to follow up in person or on the phone to get the sale. That means making sure your scoring highlights the best lead prospects over time so you’re focusing on the best ones when you call them. Scoring is another challenge in assessing what it means when someone clicks on something or if they don’t click on something. How important was that action in categorizing them as a lead? Do they get 1 point? 2 points? More? Do you take 1 point away? Or 2? Then you will need to be tracking all this so you can follow up – the faster you follow up, the more likely you are to close a sale. How fast? An hour is good. I’m betting that’s a big shift for a lot of small businesses that aren’t just waiting around for good scores to come in from online activity so that someone can take some action. Probably you’re business running the business. Bottom Line Marketing automation is pretty cool – a fabulous tool for all kinds of businesses to dramatically increase your leads or purchases. The problem is all the time, resources, focus, and people required to really become expert, feed content into it, develop campaign strategies, set up the funnels for the campaigns, and track the statistics to take advantage of the results. While the monthly cost to a marketing automation vendor may be only a couple hundred dollars per month, the cost in people resources to make it produce value for you can easily be 10x that cost, per month! In contrast, a simple email strategy still has one of the highest conversion rates of all our current marketing tools. (Email is a centerpiece of marketing automation for that reason.) Using a provider like Constant Contact to make offers, deliver valuable content, track links, and follow up can be a significantly more cost-effective way to engage with your market and nurture people into becoming customers. AND you are far more likely to develop expertise with a simple email interface and actually get the content and offers out to your customers than most marketing automation customers are. This is a big problem for marketing automation suppliers: their customers get excited about the service, sign up, and then get completely overwhelmed by the effort their organization has to make to produce results. It’s a LOT of work. So, until you’re ready to devote a day a week to your marketing automation efforts, stick to simple and effective email marketing to get your content out there to people who are interested. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Facebook, over the last year, has made a lot of changes to what shows up in people’s news feed. And more are coming… These changes have been especially challenging to small businesses. The Facebook changes include: Far less visibility for business page posts generally Location of ads: mobile vs. sidebar vs. news feed Increased focus on boosting posts from the page Extensive ad targeting options Shifting importance of links vs. photos vs. videos vs. status updates Visibility of YouTube videos vs. native Facebook videos This can all be summarized as a general, consistent, and pervasive shift by Facebook to monetize business pages. That means as businesses we must pay to play, and that means ads. Facebook has improved the targeting options: there are a LOT of them available to each of us. And the better you target, the more cost effective your ad is – meaning it costs less AND brings in more of the people that will buy from your business. I recently tried out how effective Facebook would be for a local health practitioner using a native video post. First a little background about past campaigns. About two years ago I ran 4-5 ad campaigns using videos this person had created. The videos were on YouTube and the ads were basically links to the videos via a Facebook post for each video. I ran these campaigns over the course of 6 months. Each campaign had one video post, via YouTube, that I boosted and it ran in the sidebar. I targeted the local area, with specific demographics of the types of people this person wanted to have come for appointments. At that time (no longer though) Facebook actually allowed the videos to play INSIDE the ad on the sidebar when someone clicked on the arrow. These ads got hundreds, and in one case over a thousand views. And the ads only ran for about two weeks each. My client also added a lot of new people in this new demographic to the practice. The videos that I used in these ads are great because of the content, not the production value: these are videos you could create with decent lighting and a phone camera. They each contain a 1 minute to 2 minute stretch or exercise someone can do to relieve pain or help recover from a minor injury. The key: the content is VALUABLE. Some people might charge for the information in the videos. My client gives it away as proof about the value she delivers in person. And people really love it. Every business has some value it can give away that creates desire in the consumer to come get even greater value on a consistent basis – and become a loyal customer. Why? Because you’ve created clarity around the exchange and that includes a demonstration of how much you care about your customers. The recent Facebook Ads and their success. My client was experiencing a significant downturn in business starting near the end of October and through November. They finally let me know about it in November. Given our past success with video, I thought about how to use that. Facebook will give almost 0 results doing it the way I did it before with a YouTube link (I know, I tried it). Knowing that Facebook was now emphasizing native video (having the video loaded directly onto Facebook), I came up with a scheme to use that information. I downloaded my client’s video from YouTube, uploaded it directly to the Facebook business page, and wrote some copy about how this was a quick tip to help relieve stress or pain from a certain condition (which it is). Then I boosted the post to the local audience with the right age and other demographics and ran the ad for 4 days for $20. The results. The video got over 200 plays in those 4 days. The reach was almost 2,000 organic, and 2,750 paid – that’s a pretty darn good ratio! Basically a ½ price ad. The post got 53 likes and 25 shares which is what made for the great reach numbers. You can run an ad and pay for every eyeball on it if you don’t put good content into the ad – good enough that people voluntarily SHARE it! Plus we responded to all the comments – creating engagement and increasing the underlying score of the post and thereby increasing how frequently it showed up in the feed. The best news? My client is now booked solid with a waiting list! At a time of year that’s usually slow and was already slowing down. Now that situation is completely turned around. The bottom line. Good content that has intrinsic value, used effectively and creatively, with a good call to action, can cause great local business results using Facebook for not very much money. Let me know what your success story is! Or if you have any questions Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Marketing today is all about content for: Your blog so you can have good search results with regular new content. Social media sites to keep your name and value in front of customers and prospects. Email marketing for new connections or continuing to build relationships with your market. But creating all that content can take away from the actual value you’re creating with your business: delivering your service or product to paying customers. So how do you fit content creation into your busy schedule? Interviews You can both build connections and create content by interviewing people in your field or allied fields. Choose people that have some influence and you’ll increase your own visibility when you turn this into content. An interview done as a written piece for your blog or email news can be handled a couple ways: You can send your questions to the person you’d like to interview (after you’ve already gotten their agreement). Then they can respond, you edit, and then publish. Or if you want to go through another review with them, great! You can also create questions and respond to them yourself – voila! You have your own content. You can also meet with them via phone or in person, ask the questions and take notes. Then draft the interview for review. Any of these are just fine to leave in the question/answer format. That makes it easy to read and takes advantage of the other person’s name recognition or known expertise. Video and Audio Self-Interview You can, of course, just create video. But here’s another way to use video or audio: sometimes it’s easier to say what you want to get across than it is to write it. Set up either your phone or a camera or your laptop to record yourself. Then respond to your own questions for about ½ hour. I usually send the audio or video to a transcriber to get a written version so then I have multiple formats to put online if I want. Or I can create a regular article from the written version of what I said. Video and Audio Interviews of Other People You can set up interviews with people you want to connect with or already know. Create a set of questions for them to answer. The easiest way I’ve used to create the content is to do a video or audio conference call and record the call. Sometimes the video is good enough to use, sometimes the audio may be, but ALWAYS the transcription is really good. This is a great way to reduce the amount of time you’re asking the other person to spend helping you create content. You can then modify the transcript and go through a quick review process. This is the best method I’ve found for capturing insights from busy people who are influential. Give it a try! You’ll find this saves time AND produces really great content. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Marketing can be easy! Marketing basically comes down to letting people who have a particular problem know that your product or service solves their problem really well in a certain, unique way. That’s all there is… so what makes it feel like marketing is so hard? While marketing and fishing are in many ways VERY different (important and fundamental ways, like when we’re marketing we aren’t trying to eat our customers), in some ways the approach can be the same. And depending on the approach, fishing or marketing can either be fun or too much work. Making Marketing Easy... Let’s think about how fishing can be easy – and maybe it’s even easier to think about how fishing can be hard, lots of work, no fun, and gets no results. Suppose you were taking the day off to go fishing. And also imagine that you were going to a lake nearby but weren’t sure what kind of fish were in the lake. To be prepared, you go out and get all different kinds of bait for the fish – just in case. But then you have the problem of choosing which bait to put on the line – so you decide you’ll take a few poles so you can rig them up simultaneously with different bait – then you’ll be ready! By the time you’ve collected up all you gear to head out to the boat, you’ve got quite a load to manage. Then you have to get it all set up in the boat: bait every hook, set up every pole. Then keep an eye on every one of them – just in case. Pretty soon this isn’t about enjoying a beautiful time on a quiet lake just fishing, but it’s about managing a lot of activities, and turning it into a numbers game. Is that starting to sound like marketing metrics just a little bit? Turning Hard into Easy How could that be turned around into fun? Well, you could do just a little bit of checking into what type of fish are in the lake! And what kind of bait do they like THE BEST? And also, where do the fish hang out at which times of day? Are they morning fish? Afternoon fish? Do they hang out near the rocks? Under the tree trunks at the edge? What are their habits? And of course you definitely want to know if they’re only the kind of fish that require fly fishing – because sticking you’re pole in the water with bait on the end just hanging there definitely isn’t going to be fun if that’s the case. With all the information, you are MUCH more likely to go out fishing with the right equipment at the right time in the right place and actually have a chance at catching a fish that day! And it’s probably going to be more fun since you won’t have to manage a bunch of equipment and remember what worked and what didn’t across all the many combinations and permutations you created with all that stuff. Translating Easy Fishing into Easy Marketing How does this relate to marketing? Taking the time to really understand your potential customer, their habits, their needs, their wants, where they hang out, what they love, what the exact problem is that you’re helping to solve – understanding that THOROUGHLY helps you have just the right information to tell them in just the right way at just the right time so they can become a customer. That is when marketing is fun. Much of the time, people try to make up for this lack of thorough understanding by creating TONS of metrics. Basically, they’ve got 20 fishing poles in the water and they’re monitoring them at regular intervals and collecting lots of data on the type of bait, time of day, and location. Then they analyze the data later to determine which worked better so that next time they can narrow this all down to fewer choices (or maybe just different choices) and then repeat the process. This is ridiculous! If you understand your potential customer well, you already know that 80% of that stuff is irrelevant and all you have to do is use a few key metrics to REFINE your activities for the best results, instead of using metrics to discover what even works at all. Know Your Customer Like Your Best Friend When you understand your customer like they’re your best friend, then you can have fun engaging with them and letting the know the cool stuff you’re doing that you KNOW they WANT to hear about. That’s when the fun happens! Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Tweetchats are a great way to generate original, high value content at the same time you’re building visibility, a following, and credibility. They are also the best way I’ve found for meeting like-minded people around the world. Content Creation Tweetchats produce content for you to use in blog posts, social media, infographics, and on your website. The conversation you create will have both your contribution as well as other ideas, facts, opinions, and commentary from your participants. You’ll develop a set of topics to further explore – each of which can be a blog post – and you’ll have valuable content inside of the tweets that are part of the conversation. Twitter Visibility, Followers, Credibility Hosting a Tweetchat puts you in the position of creating topics that allow you to showcase your competence as well as invite other experts to contribute value in the dialog. This isn’t all about you – Tweetchats are about bringing valuable information through collaboration – crowdsourced – to anyone who wants to access it through the hashtag. That conversation is accessible both during the Tweetchat event, and after by searching on the hashtag. And when the conversation is found, YOU will be recognized as both a contributor and a leader in making the conversation possible. If your Tweetchat discusses a topic that’s of value to people, your hashtag for your Tweetchat (and any additional hashtags you use to label the content) is relevant AND you’ve been persistent over time in creating a community involved in the Tweetchat, then you’ll get lots of retweets, favorites, and new followers. I guarantee it. Building Connections and Expanding Your Network You’ll want to find a time that works to have your Tweetchat every week. That builds a habit for you (very important) and for your participants. Once that starts happening regularly and people find you and your Tweetchat, you’ll start to see some of the same participants each week. Go out of your way to connect with them. Thank them by following them, retweet some of the contributions, and favoriting a few. And engage in a dialog with them directly by responding to their tweets. This takes the conversation forward and deeper. AND you start to develop a relationship. Over the weeks, this can mean you’ll have a connection with someone who appreciates your knowledge, feels appreciated themselves, and may be interested in looking for other ways to connect. That’s pure gold for you – not necessarily or just financially, but it’s a connection that is there because of what YOU KNOW and what you’re doing. Treat them well. Basics About Creating and Running Tweetchats What is a Tweetchat? A tweetchat is a hashtag-driven conversation on Twitter. That means you’re following a conversation that’s using a specific hashtag, and participating by using the hashtag. This is different from a trending hashtag – it’s not just using a hashtag to be part of a movement or commentary. Your Tweetchat hashtag will be the SAME every time you have a Tweetchat. That’s the way to build your community around the Tweetchat. So pick it wisely. Tweetchats are events with scheduled times, announcements of the event topic, and facilitated by someone on a twitter account. And all of this is EASY to setup and run. How do you create a hashtag for your Tweetchat? You can create whatever you want for your hashtag: just pick a word and put a # in front of it. However, you want to make sure to check out your choices before you settle on the hashtag you’re going to use every week: Someone else might already be using that hashtag. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But it would be if their use of the hashtag conflicts with yours in either focus or timing. Using the same hashtag as someone else may be a win for both of you in building a community around a topic. To check this out, search on Twitter for your hashtag choices. Do some checking on the following: Is there a Tweetchat associated with the hashtag? Does that Tweetchat have a similar audience to yours? Exactly the same topics? Is it a good complement to yours? You may not want to duplicate the same topics as the hashtag is already used to discuss. Is the hashtag self-explanatory? If it is, it’ll make getting the word out much easier – and people will remember the hashtag when the time comes to join the conversation. Is the hashtag already a highly used one for describing profiles or included in tweets? If so, then you may not be able to actually create a conversation around it. I suggest you choose something else you can build traction around. Tools for Choosing Hashtags Twitter search is the best place to start to learn more about how people are using various hashtags you may be interested in for your Tweetchat. Dive into the search: track the conversations, look at people’s profiles, really research the hashtag to make sure it’s going to work for you. The hashtag is your identity. http://hashtagify.me will help you find which hashtags are popular. This can help you figure out whether something is too popular or too obscure to use as your main Tweetchat hashtag. This tool is really great for putting additional hashtags in your tweets during the Tweetchat so they can be found by more people later, as well as in your promotions. keyhole.co helps you understand the reach and use of a hashtag. You can track these over time to understand how a hashtag is used already and then how successful you’re being in getting reach and engaging influencers. Tweetreach.com shows you how much reach your hashtag is getting and which tweets are getting the most reach. http://www.marketingtechblog.com/hashtag-research-tools/ has a list of hashtag tools for metrics, research, definitions, reach, and geolocation. Choosing the Time of Day for Your Tweetchat http://www.tweriod.com is an easy to use tool that will tell you when your audience is most likely to be online. This requires research to find hashtags that are about your content, but not your Tweetchat hashtag. You’re looking for the audience that’s already online and talking about the information you want to create your Tweetchat conversation about. This isn’t for checking out when people are using your Tweetchat hashtag. Managing and Participating in the TweetChat You can actually run your Tweetchat from any Twitter tool. You can use a client tool like TweetDeck or Hootsuite to participate in real time and track your conversation by the hashtag. You can also do this directly on Twitter, but it’s more difficult to participate because while Twitter allows a hashtag search, it doesn’t automatically add the hashtag to tweets. Nurph.com is a platform for managing, participating in, and promoting your Tweetchat. They only trick is that you must have a Twitter account that’s the same as the hashtag you’ll be using. That can be limiting… Twubs.com also facilitates managing, participating in and promoting your Tweetchat – using whatever account you want and whatever hashtag you want. Tweetchat.com and tchat.io both create streams that track the hashtag and you can tweet into the hashtag stream – great for participants. Collecting Your Tweets Storify.com is a great tool for collecting your tweets to either share on a profile you create on storify or to use a research for your future blog posts or Tweetchat topics. You can share your profile as a place where you have content for people to consume. The same is also true for nurph.com. Joining My Tweetchat Tweetchats are a great way to take advantage of all the value you can get from Twitter. So get going and create your own! I also invite you to join one I'm in every week to discuss all kinds of topics related to entrepreneurship: #startupchat on Tuesdays at 9am Pacific/ 12pm Eastern time. Twitter.com/MonstRpreneur leads the Tweetchat every week! Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva or @kagorges Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Contests are a great way to engage people – to get their attention and to reward them for participating. And they can be pretty easy to put together – you just put up an awesome prize, figure out some scheme for people to compete, invite people to participate, run it for a while, and then pick a winner! Right? Well, they are easy, but to do a really great contest takes a little preparation. Turns out, the experience someone has in participating in a contest is just as important, and sometimes more important, than a fabulous prize. So, creating a great experience will help make your contest more successful. Why is that? Because people already have stuff to do in their lives – and they don’t generally need another project. But what they do need and want is some fun, the opportunity to engage in a social activity, and a chance to win something cool or something they wouldn’t otherwise have. Putting together a contest that meets those needs isn’t hard, but it does require some advanced thinking and preparation. So here are 5 key features of a successful video contest: 1. Make it incredibly easy for people to participate. Twitter contests are great for this – usually the most successful contests require you to retweet something and you’re entered. The more you retweet, the more entries. A win-win for everyone. And a very low hurdle to get over for someone to participate. You can do this for video contests, too! Make it so easy to participate that it’s something someone can do in a moment. Like a video upload they’ve already got on file, or a new video they’re likely to make because they do it all the time anyway. Examples are the endless videos people take of their kids and their pets, or a video of them doing some sport they’ve mastered, or a video of a silly activity. And then make it easy for people to share – which takes us to the next recommendation… 2. Make people look good! Ask them to do something that will more than likely be flattering or engaging – showing off something they love to do or wear, or saying something cute or funny or inspiring. Have their entry be something they love creating and feel proud of when it’s done – then they’ll want to share it with everyone they know! Which makes your contest visibility increase dramatically – and you get more participants because who doesn’t want to look good. 3. Try making the theme of your video something funny. Funny is viral (so is something deeply moving, but that may be a harder video contest to create). Funny is easier to do. So create your video contest around people entering something crazy, silly, or funny. People love to be entertained. If it’s silly enough, then looking silly becomes the ‘looking good’. And that means you get people sharing. 4. Ask people to enter something they already have or they create in their normal lives. Choose topics like pet videos, or kid videos, or something they took at a weekend event, or something from the beach. The more you play into what people already have, the easier it is for them to participate. Look for the natural fit between your contest idea and the people you want to have as participants. Which leads us to our final point… 5. Know your audience! Make sure you’ve thought out who would be entering, why, what they normal do, and what’s important to them in their lives. What is their idea of looking good? What kind of entertainment do they want? What would be a prize that would be fun to try for? And what experience will you create for them in entering the contest that they would love to have? Adding all this together will make your contest fun, engaging, and easy to love. Try it! Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Let’s talk about how to hand out gold nuggets to your audience: your customers and prospective customers. Because in today’s world of marketing, you have some great opportunities to really grow your business when you’re willing to be real: and that’s worth its weight in gold. So what do I mean by ‘be real’? Marketing today is all about being in a conversation. That conversation takes place on social media, blogs, in video, even in ads. Conversation is defined by ‘the informal exchange of ideas’. (Dictionary.com) That means you have an opportunity to learn something about your market as well as give them an important piece of information that relates. Or, offer them something by initiating the conversation and learn what they think by how they respond. The best way you can initiate a conversation is by telling a story. Base your story on the truth as you know it in your area of expertise, AND make a hero out of your audience. My friend Kathy Klotz-Guest recently wrote about this in a short and sweet eBook about using humor to woo your customers: The Marketing Executives Bedtime Guide to Better Content and Storytelling at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KPIPVGU. She talks about how truth in humor builds trust and connects. And telling the truth means being transparent. And your truth means you’re being real. And that’s gold. You may ask: what ‘truth’ should I be telling? The truth you tell is directly connected to why you are in the business you’re in. What difference did you hope to make? Either great or small, what was it? What is it? What do you care about that’s related to your service or product? That truth forms a path from what inspires or moves you to how to make your audience a hero. Here’s an example – it’s happens to be part of my truth. I deeply care about people easily discovering those things in life that may solve a problem or make life more enjoyable for them as a person. Those are products, services, organizations, events, and opportunities. I believe that’s the role of marketing: to help people find the closest match possible to fit exactly what they’re looking for. It’s a win – win scenario – that means it’s good all around. So the truth is that I want everyone to be able to reveal the underlying special contribution their offering makes in a way to make it easy to understand and find. I want everyone to be GREAT at marketing – as naturally as having a conversation. And the ‘hero’ part? Your story makes your audience a hero when you highlight a common struggle that you’ve felt, and you give insight into what actions can be taken to overcome the struggle. And you end with a vision of what happens when your audience takes action. Then you invite them to step into that vision. My example: Coming up with content to satisfy the marketing machine in today’s online world of social media, video, and blogging, is REALLY hard. We’re all busy actually doing the business of serving our customers by creating or selling products, delivering services, organizing events, etc. And, turns out that we all love to be surprised, to hear a story about something that turned out well. And those stories happen every day, in small ways, in the course of our lives and the lives of our customers. They happen with you! They happen when you say something or offer something and a customer has a moment of delight! And you remember why you’re doing this work. You have those stories – and THOSE are the gold. You encounter the gold nuggets everyday – all you need to do is capture them and share them with the rest of us. What was the moment? How did it happen? What caused it to happen? And what difference did that moment make for that customer? My challenge to you is to take some time each day and jot down some notes about someone’s win from your work. A teeny moment of relief or happiness – or an AHA moment about a problem they’ve been struggling with. Those are YOUR gold nuggets. Then, write it up and share it with us. I can’t wait to hear about it. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Let’s say you’re going out on the town with one of some of your friends. Suppose at the same time in the back of your mind you’ll be thinking about that important appointment you have tomorrow – you haven’t worked out all the details of what you’re going to do or say at that event. So…… what if you had the capability to schedule in advance some fun things to say to your friends during the evening so you had some free time to prep for tomorrow. What do you think? How would that work out with you and your friends? My guess is that it would be a while before they invite you to join them again. That’s not to say that the stuff you scheduled wasn’t funny, or cool, or interesting – it could have been the best set of comments of the entire evening! Your scheduled comments could have had your friends rolling in the aisles! Or your comments could have been completely off track – like if one of your friends suddenly felt safe enough to reveal that they were facing a bout with cancer or something like that. Your commentary would completely miss the boat on that one. This scenario may sound pretty far-fetched, but it happens all the time in social media. Most of us create these situations regularly by overusing our fabulous social media timesaving tools to post ahead of time – we can post a year in advance! And then we’re suddenly out of sync with the present. Not only does our commentary no longer match up with what’s happening in the world, but we disengage from the conversation. Just like with a night out, when we’re present to what others are saying, we’re able to really engage with our friends, or our customers. We can’t hear if we’re not there listening. And we’re irrelevant if we aren’t responding to what we hear. The real problem here is that we frequently use technology tools because they are there, they’re fun, and they’re cool, not to improve our results or impact in a thoughtful way. We often assume that this technology improves our productivity and results, but most of the time we haven’t really thought deeply about that – I mean really deeply. In the case of social media, the most incredible part about it all is the ability to have a conversation in real time with almost anyone in the world! And, depending on the platform, real time can mean right now as it would if we were face to face, or it can mean that it’s a bit asynchronous: I post and you get the message later today when you check in at your convenience. And for businesses it’s that interaction PLUS transparency – something much of our market may appreciate. Transparency can build trust, loyalty, connection, and repeat business. The more people know the story of the business, the more likely they are to feel an attachment or affinity. Revealing the personality, values, commitments, and culture of a business in the course of a conversation is just like getting to know a person – it all happens in the moment, in the interaction, not in declarations. We reveal ourselves through our actions, not by just our words. And being present is a powerful action. We can still use the fabulous technology that helps us stay in the conversation even if we’re away from the business or our desk. We can monitor what’s happening with a dashboard, we can find out what our favorite people are saying, we can see if what we’ve said was well-received – wouldn’t you like to know that about the latest party you were at?! And we can, on a very limited, well-considered basis, use pre-scheduled posting to speak to our friends. Maybe like sending a birthday card ahead of time so you know it’s going to arrive on the right day, in the right moment to be meaningful to that particular person’s life. That would be a great use of technology. But blasting out on a regular basis our commentary in hopes people will like it, without being present to the conversation… that’s creating a lot of noise and no connection. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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“Did you see how much traffic that blog post got us?!” “I’ve had 3 clients this week mention they appreciated my latest blog post!!” “I can’t believe how many people have looked at that blog I wrote!” That’s the sound of my clients realizing that blogging actually does produce results. None of them believed it at first. They discounted it, pooh poohed it as a waste of time, couldn’t think of why anyone would want to read it, and generally dragged their feet. That’s all changed now… because NOW they see that people find them, then get value from the content, and then come to see them. Yes, blogging really can work to get more customers for your business. The challenge for a lot of small business owners is not just the amount of time creating blog post content seems like it will take (it actually takes less than we all think), but that this is a completely different way of marketing than how it used to be so long ago – like 5 years ago maybe. So what’s different? The biggest difference today is how people learn about businesses and then how they begin to develop trust and a relationship. Even if your business is purely transactional (if it is, you might want to consider adding a little more value so you can win more business…) your potential customers still need to find out about you AND be confident you are not going to cheat them – and that maybe you’re great to do business with! The need for prospective customers to know that about the businesses they patronize hasn’t changed. What has changed is the process. How businesses used to be discovered and vetted People used to find out about businesses a few ways: Neighbors and friends Referrals from other businesses Walking or driving by Ads in multiple places: Yellow Pages, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio People would ask others about whether the business was reputable, how the products or services were, and whether they would recommend it. How businesses are primarily found now People find businesses today a few ways that are similar to before, but a different process: Asking neighbors and friends Seeing what neighbors and friends say about businesses online Searching on the web – this is when your blog can help out a lot! Both in search and in social media. Reading reviews Online ads: search ads, social media ads Since most of the discovery is online, potential customers are naturally taking the steps to check out your business by going to your website. This is another place where your blog really makes a difference! How do customers check you out? Your potential customers want to know if you really know your business – more to the point, do you understand their problem and how to fix it? So they’re going to look around for evidence of that – and your blog can be the most important element in that equation. If you are writing blog posts about your area of expertise, how you solve people’s problems, and the experiences people have with your services or products, then that’s the perfect evidence of your credibility. Your blog is the cornerstone of building your credibility. Using your blog posts to communicate the value your business creates will help people trust you and they’ll understand how your business might fit in their lives. Your blog creates transparency about the commitments and values your business has as they relate to the reader: your potential customer. Your blog is not an advertisement. To be clear, blog posts contain advice, insights, tips, experiences, valuable information, and suggested actions the reader can take. They are NOT valuable if they are full of promotional information about your business. Your credibility is built by demonstration through the blog: not through telling via the blog. You demonstrate that you understand their problem by writing, talking, or showing something about it and then some information about how to solve the problem: options, tools, products, or services (and not necessarily yours). My customers’ quotes at the beginning of this blog post were because they had written about situations their clients really cared about. And those blog posts made a difference ALL BY THEMSELVES in that person’s life. People remember that and they naturally want more. That’s why those customers of mine have all the business they want right now – people are finding them and by reading their blog posts they experience a small taste of the value that’s possible if they actually do business with them. You can have that too! All you have to do is try a little blogging.
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Local businesses all over have a love hate relationship with public review site Yelp. And if they don’t, it’s probably because they haven’t received enough reviews to see both sides of the coin. At the center of most of the issues businesses have with Yelp is the virtual anonymity of the reviewers. A case being considered by the Virginia Supreme Court takes issue with this: in July 2012, Hadeed (the business owner) sued the seven reviewers for defamation, and demanded that Yelp turn over their true identities. First, let’s talk about the 4 perspectives that Yelp is attempting to balance with reviews, reviewers, and businesses, then we’ll end with 5 tips to consider. Business Perspective Local businesses get more customers when they have positive reviews – measurably more business. However, businesses have two motivations that can be in conflict with one another when it comes to anonymity of the reviewer: The easier it is for someone to review the business, the better for the business, if it’s a positive review. So if reviewers are anonymous and that makes it easier, great. And generally speaking, anonymity makes a difference with reviewers – more on that below from the reviewer’s perspective. More reviews are also a win for everyone – the information creates transparency for the greater community. On the other hand, if a review is negative, the business owner is frequently personally offended (the business for many business owners is their life’s work and personal legacy – no one likes someone else expressing upset, disappointment, or negativity of any kind towards something that means so much). The personal affront, or even the business-oriented objection to the negative review, prompts the owner to figure out who the reviewer is, how the problem happened, and how they can fix it. Or, if that doesn’t seem to match up to records, who the person is so they know who’s creating a bad reputation for their business. In some cases this can be a competitor or an unhappy employee or someone that’s a personal enemy – all situations that are possible with the anonymous system. To summarize – anonymity can be a bonus in getting lots of good reviews but becomes a problem when the reviews are negative – a case of ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’. Reviewer’s Perspective Customers are happy to give reviews if everything went well for them and it’s easy to post the review – that’s why so many reviews are 5 stars. However, when things don’t go well, the situation gets messy. Anonymous reviews allow someone to post exactly what they experienced and what they think of the business – without fearing any retribution by the community or the business. This allows the truth to get out about what happened. That truth can be good for everyone – including the business – if it raises awareness of something that wasn’t apparent and happens consistently although not constantly. This is a big part of why Yelp is successful. And businesses could respond negatively to a real customer posting about a real situation that was not good – the fear of retribution impacts individual reviewers, even when they can post anonymously, although less so. On the other hand, anonymity isn’t always what the reviewer really wants. They may appreciate an acknowledgement from the community or the business for taking the time to post a thoughtful review. On Yelp, they may choose a screen name that’s actually their name because of this. The downside for that person is they’re less likely to post negative reviews because of #1 above – retribution. Essentially, Yelp’s success relies on high quality positive and negative reviews. Unfortunately, the scenarios described above make it clear that there’s potentially a lot more going on than just straightforward positive and negative reviews – all kinds of complexity, assumptions, fears, and unknown motivations. This is, of course, true of all human activities, but we’re fooled by Yelp’s simple interface of stars and comments into thinking it’s just about transparency. Yelp is, I believe, here to stay – or something similar to it since Google and Facebook are trying to incorporate reviews as well. I don’t think the Virginia case is going to have a sweeping effect – and it probably shouldn’t given the problems with having reviews require positive personal identification (the retribution problem, not the technical problem). So what is a business to do… Yelp Tips: Thank your reviewers for positive reviews – a simple thank you as a response to their review. Yelp discourages a lot of commenting back by the owners, but when I see these responses on a business page, I’m impressed, what about you? When you get a negative review, reflect first. Then wait. Try to get someone else to write your response. This is your ‘baby’ and you are likely to be defensive. That’s the worst reaction you can have publicly. Put yourself in their shoes; assume the best; take responsibility in some way; and then figure out if you really can do better. Then post a responsive response, reflecting back that you understand what they’re saying, and your intention is such and such. And thank them for letting you know. You may invite them to come back in, but don’t push. If the reviewer brings something up that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with your business and you suspect they’re not a customer, then pause again to reflect. Whatever you say is as if you will be saying it on a giant billboard on the busiest highway in your community. Think what you want those words to be on that billboard. What is the best representation of you and your business that could be up there? You might say something to clarify your service or product or location or anything that’s obviously incorrect in the review. Or you might write a similar type of review as suggested in #2 above – just take responsibility and soldier on. The review isn’t going to go away and the more contentious you are, the more Yelp will feature it prominently because it has caused ‘engagement’. So don’t engage, just respond. While you shouldn’t ask people to review you on Yelp specifically, you can let them know you are on Yelp if they have something nice to say about your business to you in person. And that if they said that on Yelp, it would be helpful to the community as well. Always do that – having the customers who love you posting their positive reviews creates some resiliency for when you have a negative review. Stay in the game for the long run. You might have all 5 star reviews right now. Make sure your business doesn’t depend on that as the major source of attracting customers. Why? Because you’ll end up getting customers who are looking for why you’re not a 5 star place – then they’ll post a review about how disappointed they were. It’s just human nature. So diversify: Google reviews, website testimonials, Facebook reviews, case studies, and your own valuable content on your website and social media. Keep your fan based engaged and you can weather any storm. Otherwise, if you live by the sword you’ll die by the sword. Good luck and good yelping! Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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Are you wondering how social media can do anything for your business? Are you tired of learning about the tactics of using social media without any idea how to put them together for a campaign? One that works for YOUR business? Let’s talk about the most important factors to putting a social media campaign together that can: Increase the calls you're getting Bring more people to an event or your business Broaden your market to a younger audience Grow your business First, a reminder of what a campaign is. People live mostly in routines around their life activities. Generally, they deviate from routines when an outside event occurs: if they get sick, they go to the doctor; if they’re invited to a party, they may go; if they need more clothes, they’ll go shopping. A campaign is driven by a business to get people to operate outside this pattern: to come to your business because YOU want them to. Maybe you want to bring them in for the first time, maybe you want to increase the frequency they do business with you or decrease the time between sales, maybe you want them to buy more from you. In summary, you’re creating an external event to attract your customers into your business. You’re essentially trying to interrupt the flow of their lives to do something different – and spend money with you. The central pieces to all this – the first, second, and third factors to your success – are to: Know yourself or your business or your organization, Know your customer, and Thoroughly understand why they buy from you. That means you need to understand how buying from you relates to the rest of their life. How does your product or service make a positive difference in how their life works? In how they feel – both generally and about themselves? What is the emotional hook for them in buying your product or service? And in buying it from YOU? Once you understand in depth the relationship and investment your customers have in you and your product or service, then you’re in a position to understand what the sweet spot would be in creating a campaign that will bring more revenue into your business. The sweet spot is the intersection of: Fun Value Relevance Fun If what you’re offering doesn’t move the needle of your customer’s life in a positive direction, then you’ve got an uphill battle. That means whatever special offer you have or event you’ve created, or invitation you’ve make or request – any call to action that you’re building the campaign around – must either alleviate a pain point or create lots of entertainment or someplace along that continuum that’s important. Otherwise they’re not going to be interested in deviating from the flow of their lives. The fun element is the trigger for them to be aware of you in the midst of whatever they’re currently doing that doesn’t involve thinking about you. Relevance Once you have a clear understanding of the role you play in your current customers’ lives, you can translate that into the role for new customers as well as leverage it in communicating to existing customers. For example, if you’re a personal trainer and it’s March then you can guess that there will be people out there interested in gearing up for outdoor sports for the summer time. If those are your ideal customers (the kind of people who are active in the summer, not so much in the winter, and actually are interested in preparing in advance), then you can have calls to action that remind them it’s time to start training. That’s context and when you use that you’re relevant to them in their lives. Another example, if you sell dresses, you can remind your customers or potential customers it’s time to start looking for the dress you’ll need for prom, or for your friend’s wedding, or for your graduation celebration – that’s all part of being relevant. Another part to being relevant is to understand the larger picture of what’s happening in the community, in the region, in the nation, and in the world. You don’t want to make light of people’s real challenges or tragedies, like American Apparel’s campaign during Hurricane Sandy. Value This is the bottom line, the value that’s exchanged when someone takes the time to engage with you, comes to your business or finds it online or makes an appointment, goes through the process of discovering what they want, and then pays you for it. That’s all accumulated value – time and money and good will – they’re will to offer in exchange for the value you deliver. Your campaign also has an element of value in it – the intrinsic value of participating in something fun as well as the extrinsic value of whatever you’re offering. This is the closing element of the equation – if the value is clear and worth the customer’s time and energy, then they’ll participate. Note: creating intrinsic value in your campaign does not require offering a discount. Discounts are problematic in many ways. The value of your campaign can be the care you show, the tip you’re offering as part of the campaign, the gentle reminder that you’re available and it’s time for them to take care of the problem, or just the value you always deliver. If you’re offering fun as part of participating in the campaign (like in a sharing contest of some kind), then that could be value (or if it’s not fun, then it's a cost to your customer). Marketing Campaigns Summary Campaigns live or die on this equation: Trigger someone with fun or the solution to the problem, demonstrate relevance by being within the context of their lives, and deliver value at every stage. Campaigns have all kinds of other success factors: goals, metrics, building your audience, specific focal points, partners, budget, and consistent execution. But fun, relevance, and value are the heart and soul of the campaign. Do you agree?
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You're a business owner – how can you possibly find the time to write a blog entry? You know you need to: for SEO, to communicate with your customers, to demonstrate credibility. You’ve gone to seminars and you’ve heard all the reasons why it’s important – and you can even understand most of them. But, when it comes right down to it, you are just too busy making the business happen to figure out what to write about. So, what are the options? 1. Have someone else write it. I actually don’t recommend this unless the person is a full time employee or managed by a marketing department – that means your business is big enough to support a marketing function that’s integrated into your business. Why? Because valuable content that’s going to make a difference for your business in all directions (SEO, value to your customers, credibility, thought leadership) has at its foundation subject matter expertise. That subject matter expertise is intelligence about your customer, your value, your business. Someone you hire, outside your business, doesn’t have that kind of subject matter expertise, generally. Their expertise is in writing or marketing or PR. YOU are the subject matter expert, or some of your employees. So, if you want to hire this out, you will likely get shallow content or expensive content because research was required. Neither one is sustainable for most businesses. 2. Choose a medium that reflects how you usually communicate. Create an audio format if you’re a verbal person. Take photos that exemplify your message with captions. Use video if that’s easiest and natural for you. You don’t have to write to have an effective business blog. You just need to have content your customers or prospective customers would find useful and interesting. 3. Use your blog to answer questions that your clients ask. Pay attention to how your day goes. How many times in a day or a week do you get a certain question from customers? Instead of answering that question 30 times a week, answer it fully and completely, with details and suggestions, once in a blog entry and then refer people to it as a resource for them to go beyond just the quick answer to get a bigger picture. I suggested this to a dentist I had for a client – he started jotting down the questions he got during the day. Then he wrote short blog entries to answer the questions – his patients loved it and the process made writing his blog incredibly easy. 4. Develop a rhythm about the types of topics you’ll cover. Make sure the rhythm relates to your business. In the food and clothing business, it’s about seasons. In the travel business it’s about seasons – but also places and experiences (food, language, tours, attractions, etc.). In the health business, it’s about regions of the body and different types of activities. Identify your rhythms then match them up to the calendar. Then use audio, photos, cartoons, text, videos, art, or any other medium to communicate about the topics in your business. I know there are other ways of developing content. These are the simplest that I’ve found that produce worthwhile blog entries. The techniques for capturing the information differ: the media, or using an interview approach, or talking into a voice recorder then transcribing – you can be as creative as you want in getting the content ready. The bottom line... The bottom line is that, just like anything, you need to get in the game, try some different tactics, and then commit to something that works for you. If you do, then your effort will pay off. Kathryn Gorges, Marketing Consulting Follow me on Twitter @SocialMktgDiva Find me on Facebook at SocialMarketingDiva Read more on my blog at www.SocialMarketingDiva.com
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