Category Archives: Publishing

Always be closing

Sign of a 21st century sales jerk: Always be closing

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

We’ve heard this warning from every corner of the social selling world: drop the ABC or Always be Closing style of sales; it’s over. Instead, develop this new method of ABC: Always be Connecting, as coined by Jill Rowley. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jillrowley

The old mantra was based on a satirical speech delivered by Alec Baldwin in the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross, pictured above.  It contributed to the reason we have such a jaundiced view of selling said Inc.com contributing editor Jeoffrey James. http://www.inc.com/author/geoffrey-james  He and sales trainer Todd Duncan were interviewed last month by Darren Hardy, that wildly successful publisher of Success magazine.

I’ve followed Hardy since 2010 when he appeared with Brendon Burchard in San Francisco. He inspired me with The Compound Effect, a book describing the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices; a copy remains in clear view on my desk. I also identified with him because of the shared experience in magazine publishing. http://darrenhardy.success.com

His empire now includes a magazine that reaches 2 million readers, a social media following with 216K followers on Twitter, 289K on Facebook, and over 17K on LinkedIn. Plus he’s extracted the best strategies around for creating new media that include blogs, email marketing, CDs and DVDs, digital downloads, and ebooks.

Yes, I’m a fan. So many traditional print publishers have not transitioned so fast—or so well –when it comes to modern marketing.

Sales and The Internet of Things 

Hardy’s interview with Duncan and James dealt with how the “Internet of Things” affected sales over recent years. There was no surprise when Duncan said these fundamentals had not altered:

  • acquire new customers;
  • optimize the experience;
  • retain and cultivate existing clients;
  • increase the value of each customer.

What sales people need to change, says Duncan:

  • see customers as real people;
  • strive to find a noble purpose as it relates to your product or service;
  • accept how social media gives your customers a megaphone when it comes to relaying good or bad experiences;
  • avoid non-performing activities. Take advantage of automation tools for email marketing and social media;
  • focus on taking care of those clients who love you the most;
  • follow up.

The new sales model

What will sales look like in five years? Here’s Darren Hardy’s take and, I believe, we’ve already started to see the shift.

  1. There will be fewer traditional sales people for these three reasons:
  • outdated prospecting methods will have lower yields—since direct sales will become cost prohibitive;
  • fewer client meetings take place because clients have less time for face-to-face relationships;
  • a preference to eliminate the middle person. Buyers will look for ways to go direct to manufacturers leading to fewer sales people on the road.

2. More ways to connect means the days of the big whale sales hunter are over. The sales farmer gains momentum with in-house support from account managers or client relations people. Teams edge out the lone game hunter.

3. Compensation models change. Given the collaborative way of sales management, commissions will be shared among all team members.

Things that won’t change.

 1. Urgency trumps process: Customers want to solve their problems now, so companies positioned for rapid response will be able to capitalize on opportunities while others get left behind. Think about fast-tracking signatures using automated sales proposals and e-signatures which the Aberdeen Group advocates.

2. Qualification of high-value prospects drives faster growth. Effective target filters will be required to sort through a dearth of leads. This means targeting prospects using tools such as Socedo http://www.socedo.com to scan for leads that fill the pipeline.

3. Communications skills increase in importance.  The need to improve writing, speaking, and publishing skills increases in importance at all levels. Companies, please take note: If your sales people don’t have strong writing skills, it’s your job to provide editing assistance or to supply content for distribution by your teams.

4. Trust trumps facts. Much of the need for speed-to-results will be based on good listening skills and trust over the delivery of factual information. Read soft skills: social graces, interpersonal relationships, attitudes that make someone a good employee to work with, managing people, and leadership.

5. Proven speed-to-results will earn higher prices than those that take longer periods of time. This requires focus, skills with automation tools, and flat-line management.

Glengarry Glenn Ross is long gone.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com.

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

Kyle Wong and Influencer Marketing

The influential world of blogging and influencer marketing

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

We know now that creating content, especially blogs, tops the list of every how-to strategy for marketing online.

You’ve got a few choices: You can publish your own blog, infographic, video or podcast, to name a few methods. Or you can distribute content acquired from other sources.

Another option is to find people with influence to help share your story through the clout they’ve built up across the different platforms.

We call this influence marketing. It’s the practice of working with prominent people online to spread the word about your products and services through social media.

I keep reflecting on how traditional publishers previously owned the influencer market. No more. Today, an assembly of bloggers can do the same thing—maybe better.

Here’s how Kraft foods recently handled a promotion for Christmas. Kraft cherry-picked 180 bloggers with verified fans and readers who fit the right customer profile. Each influencer wrote an original recipe that featured a Kraft ingredient and each recipe drove readers to a redeemable coupon at Target.

The national brand spent $43,000 to generate nearly 760,000 blog post views from around 180 recipes. Kraft engaged a snappy new platform called TapInfluence and the campaign was less expensive than traditional advertising.

Small and medium-sized business can do the same thing with sweat equity on a smaller scale by building their own lists of bloggers and developing relationships with them.

Influencers help with everything from increasing sales to public education campaigns, event promotions, fundraising, and new product introductions.

Yet, where do you even begin to find influencers?

Start within your own networks and move out from there. Build a database to keep track of these elements:

  • Name of influencer
  • Preferred network
  • Audience size
  • Age group
  • Engagement: Clicks, comments, shares, likes, retweets, pins, re-pins
  • Advertisers represented
  • Notes from conversations to remember what you heard them last say

Of course, there are hundreds of directories for over 250 million bloggers on the planet. When you run out of names from your personal circles of influence, try expanding your search of these directories:

Be prepared to give ideas about your audience to prospective influencers, as well:

  1. Topics important to your audience
  2. Background information for your clients who are considering making a purchase
  3. Answers to questions that your customers have not  thought to ask
  4. Online sources that customers research for information on similar products and services

What flummoxed me, though, was a way to rank bloggers with whom to develop relationships. Below is  what Kyle Wong, founder and CEO of www.pixlee.com pictured above, figured out. I love it.

 Influence = Audience reach (#of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers.

Here’s 8 more points to remember:

  1. Don’t confuse volume of contacts with influence.
  2. Set objectives: Know what you want to achieve and make sure that you reach your targets.
  3. Think long term. Invest your time, attention and interest in the other person. Be careful not to be seen as only making contact when you want something from an influencer.
  4. Spot opportunities. Are you able to introduce the blogger to people within your network? Do you see potential partnerships or sponsorships to involve the blogger?
  5. Don’t forget your “everyday” customers and brand advocates. More than celebrities in your niche, this type of influencer/follower can boost small no-name companies to higher profiles.
  6. Mention the blogger on your own website or blog.
  7. Link to them – both hyperlink and other social media channels. Follow them on Twitter and retweet their best tweets. Suggest involving them in other more interactive ways – e.g. interviews or video
  8. Remember that bloggers are legally required to disclose if they are being compensated much in the way that traditional media must identify advertorials as paid messages.

In addition, when a blogger writes about your story and receives compensation, it is deemed a “sponsored post”. This means any hyperlink must be classified as ‘no-follow’ links which means they are not counted by search engines when calculating page rank.

Establishing presence in the digital world can seem overwhelming. Publishing a blog and identifying 10 influential bloggers to form relationships is a good place to start.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

 

Chris Anderson and The Long Tail

Pitching your story to bloggers and journalists: Both just want respect

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

You have a story about your new pet-tracking device, your mission to Africa, your latest software that saves time on social media. People need to hear about your amazing idea.

Who you gonna tell?

Certain bloggers like to say how easy it was to get coverage in traditional media. Grab some quotes, hire a photographer for professional photos, compose a media release and send it out through the wires. Newspaper and magazine editors would run the copy carte blanche and you’d have your story told.

Huh? That never happened on my watch during the 20 years I published a business magazine. Nor for my late husband, a long-time newspaper man and magazine entrepreneur.

On the other hand, we hear journalists complain that bloggers don’t subscribe to the same scrutiny of their facts, verify quotes, or back up statements with credible sources. Journalists typically work under a few layers of editorial filters before publication of their copy compared to the blogger who retains absolute control of their content.

I find that both types of correspondent want the same thing: respect for well-researched, unbiased commentary. Neither wants to be bought off. It’s called earned media and it means you might get your story covered by appreciating a writer’s skill and knowledge of a relevant topic.

In my previous life as a magazine publisher, we also turned down blatant gifts in exchange for coverage. It was even more stringent at the major media outlets. Yet, the provision of videos, books, pictures, and event invites are accepted in order to do the job. Today, bloggers typically accept early access to private betas for products, discount codes, or competitions to make available to their audience.

The key difference today for reaching out to journalist or blogger is technology and the culture of how that’s done.

Blogger outreach looks for either long-tail or A-lister. The A-lister approach will get you more attention for your initial post if you happen to grab their attention. The long tail, by the way, was coined in 2004 by Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief at Wired Magazine, and pictured above. The theory of The Long Tail is that our economy moved away from mainstream products to a huge number of niche products or niches in the tail. You benefit from Google algorithms when a blogger writes on a long-tail topic that boosts your SEO rankings.

Both the blogger and the journalist are important for your story. Copyblogger offers these guidelines to which I’ve added my own comments for you to prepare a social media release.

Optimize headlines

There are three types of readers that you can optimize for:

  1. Regular readers
  2. Search engines
  3. Socially driven sites

Let’s look at each category.

Writing headlines for regular readers

Writing headlines for readers requires the same skill from journalists and online writers. It’s the ability to capture readers’ attention by using imaginative and clever captions. Boring or misleading headlines lose readers in every medium.

You also want to make your title as short as possible because readers don’t have a lot of patience and you have mere seconds to get their attention.

Writing captions for search engines

What’s new is that puns and plays on words have gone by the wayside. We used to have more fun writing headlines but search engines rule here. Search engines also like compelling words to gain click through—especially since Google’s algorithms have become more responsive to get the most clicks. Keep these guidelines in mind for writing good post titles as well as subsections:

  1. Title lengths should average between 60 and 80 characters;
  2. Use keywords in your title but keep it captivating;
  3. If possible, start with key words for readers who scan for those words.

Subtitles have always been used because it’s easer for readers to consume all the text. They’re even more important in the digital world because subheads are indexed by a search engine.

Diagonal reading, skimming, and scanning  

CopyBlogger described the diagonal reader as someone “who gives the content a first pass by reading an article passively—just like one would browse a magazine, look at photographs, or watch television.”

New? Not so much– city columnists for daily newspapers and, well, for all traditional media have used these tactics forever.  Many people consider skimming and scanning search techniques rather than reading strategies. As readers, we consume about 240 words per minute or skim and scan about 900 words per minute by reading these 5 sections:

  1. The title or headline of an article;
  2. The subtitles;
  3. Any bold, underlined, quoted, or otherwise highlighted text;
  4. Pictures, graphs, charts, or images of any nature;
  5. A summary of the article.

What font type should you use?

We experimented with fonts all the time at the magazine. When websites first emerged with regularity in the early 90s, all the hipsters moved to the sans serif font. My editor liked to keep text in a serif to help with ease of reading. She had studied font styles forever and she was right. The “story” or main body should be in serif fonts such as Times New Roman, while titles, subtitles, and captions can more easily adapt to a font like Arial. Easier to read. (In the case of this blog, I’ve reversed the format because this WP doesn’t seem to allow me a choice.)

 How about font size?

I made a mistake with early automated email campaigns and blogs. We were accustomed to using a 10 to 12 point font in print but I received complaints from online readers. In general, 12-point font is a good size but I’ve moved to 14-point and also give the reader an ability to increase the size of page text.

The technical reason for this is because different operating systems display text at different resolution so no matter what size you choose, it will be difficult to enforce so that everyone sees the text in the same way. The common sense reason is that people’s eyes need as much relief as possible when reading the computer all day long. Our eyes get tired –and, I suspect, eyesight will be deteriorating at a faster rate than previous generations.

A 12-step program to creating a social media release

Here’s a list of to-dos when preparing your next social media release.

  1. Write a headline with 60 to 80 characters.
  2. Use a keyword in the headline.
  3. Sign up and publish royalty-free stock images that enhance your story.
  4. Use keywords for your lead paragraph but aim to write naturally as possible.
  5. Use bullet points to convey a list of facts.
  6. Attribute statements of fact to credible sources. Add links to any supporting information.
  7. Obtain approved quotes from CEOs, customers, and experts.
  8. Provide the URL of your media release.
  9. Supply embed code. Preferable hosted on your site with a branded video player.
  10. Offer whitepapers, charts, and graphics for the reader who wants more.
  11. Provide contact information with website, social signature, and telephone.
  12. Share this buttons make it easier to share the content.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

 

Sharon Romank

How to get a 49% email open rate

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

I’ve been thinking a lot about newsletters and automated email marketing that evolved from direct mail in the 80s.  Both methods have been used diligently in my career.

Newsletters certainly offer a solid tool for staying in touch with clients. My blog titled, “We still revere newsletters with a twist” remains the highest read among missives this year. I still love the medium.

A really good example of a newsletter program developed for Affordable Storage Sherwood Park  that included a personalized email letter averaged the highest open rate: 49.6%. Yes, you read that correctly. Company President Sharon Romank is pictured above and I’ll tell you how we achieved results that exceeded the industry average of 16% a bit later.

It makes sense.

We like to feel as if a company from which we receive email is speaking directly to us. Email expert Karen Talavera backs this up: “Those one-to-one email messages are the key to revenue and response optimization, because they convert at 10 to 20 times higher than generalized broadcast campaigns.” And, according to Epsilon, triggered email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than traditional bulk messages.

Everyone craves personal attention, especially in a world so reliant on technology for relationships. It might sound ironic that it’s possible to automate your email messages for a more personal connection with each each customer. That is company gold.

What’s the first step? Forget using Outlook or Gmail; they’re too cumbersome. Standard email services just don’t give you enough flexibility or information to study results. It’s more useful to discover how many emails were opened and how many links were clicked for more detailed analysis and follow up. Certain Email Service Providers (ESP) can also add photos, short videos or landing pages which are like flyers that lead to a certain action.

Companies that use marketing automation have 53% higher conversion rates than non-users, and an annualized revenue growth rate 3.1% higher than non-users, according to the Aberdeen Group. And B2C marketers who take advantage of automation for everything from cart abandonment programs to birthday emails have conversion rates as high as 50%, eMarketer reports. As mentioned earlier, Affordable Storage Sherwood Park averaged 49%.

It’s true that installing email automation needs some time to get off the ground. But automation doesn’t need to be complicated—and it shouldn’t be daunting. The decision is to select software to carry out the task of automating your email campaigns such as Instant Customer, which I use, Infusionsoft on the high end or Mail Chimp on the low end. These services automate marketing communications with customers on a regular basis.

ESPs help with monitoring your email deliverability and bounce-backs and ensuring your compliance with anti-spam regulations. When you send your email campaign through an ESP, it will include a standard opt-out and global opt-out link as well. If you have no design experience, ESPs can help provide templates to make email campaigns look professional.

We now know that email tops marketing preferences. This is because not everyone is always logged into Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. But most people constantly check their email, even when they are not at their computers.

Here’s an example of how email marketing automation can work in a campaign:

  1. A potential customer registers to download a free white paper;
  2. The customer’s email is captured via the download form;
  3. After the download, a follow-up thank-you note is sent introducing the company and sales contact;
  4. A series of emails (a 3-part how-to for example) is triggered to this potential customer over time);
  5. If the prospect engages with the other mails, as well, the prospective customer will be considered to be more sales ready;
  6. You can now assign the leads by quality and buying stage. For instance, points are allocated to leads that requested download reports. Higher points are allocated when a price sheet is downloaded. The demographic of the lead is captured and weighted;
  7. Someone whose title is Vice President is given higher weight than someone with a designation like Office Manager if the VP is responsible for those decisions.

Now, leads are weighed and scored, with only the effective leads sent to business development. It doesn’t have to be a follow up; many companies just want to know better timing to present an offer.

Companies also need to set realistic expectations—based on past performance—of what a successful email campaign looks like.These are some of the reasons why a company will adopt marketing automation:

  • Save time. Multiple campaigns can be scheduled way ahead of time and released when you’re ready. This gives you time to work on something else—like your golf swing;
  • Efficiency. Time and resources can be reduced, therefore costs can be reduced too;
  • CRM integration.  Automation helps you keep track of those leads, so they don’t drop off the radar after a couple of unsuccessful contacts;
  • Data collection. Modern marketing isn’t always sales driven. Additional information can be used to collect specific details to improve future campaigns or communication;
  • Multi-channel management. So many channels, not enough time.  Marketing automation can help you keep tabs on any channel;
  • Personalization. The goal is to be warm, welcoming, and relevant in this mechanized world. They will be more open to you.

It’s also helpful to understand the various personas or target audiences that make up your customer base. Put yourself in their shoes and identify where the customer experience falls short as they interact with your brand.

I promised to tell you how Affordable achieved a 49% open rate. Here’s what we did:

  1. Clarified the company’s vision, mission, and values statements that informed all methods of communication for existing clients and prospective customers;
  2. Identified personas. These personas represented 3 different buying personalities that helped us write specifically to their lifestyle;
  3. Combined a warm and inviting covering letter from the general manager with a quarterly newsletter or landing page in the intervening months for product promotions;
  4. Introduced staff members and their responsibilities and invited clients to say hello or stop by the store for a draw to win monthly door prizes;
  5. Ensured that customers could easily reply through text messages, email, social  media or telephone while staff were geared up to respond immediately.

Newsletters combined with automated email marketing is a beautiful combination.  You save time while keeping your customers up-to-date on important developments with your company.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

Jay Abraham

Email is your endgame in business– every time

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

Last week’s blog confirmed that email isn’t going away anytime soon and blogs top the list of social selling tactics.

The findings arose from Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner when they surveyed 2800 marketers on how social media grows and promotes business. It’s vital to know when asking yourself, “Where do I start?”

This blog looks at your endgame: the email list.

Yes, social media is sexy today. Everywhere you turn, there are offers to sell you the latest shiny, new tool. Except, it’s easy to get caught up in the million-dollar promises without knowing the foundation of an effective marketing strategy. It’s like the small business owner I met last week who wanted to host a client appreciation night without knowing her clients other than their names, their vague buying habits, and that they had been her customers for over 15 years. She wanted a social media campaign–yet, to what end?

It’s important to know the facts on email:  By 2018, there will be 2.8 billion email users, up from 2.5 billion this year. This number compares to:

  • LinkedIn: 300 million
  • Facebook: 1.23 billion
  • Twitter: 271 million
  • YouTube: 1 billion
  • People send an average of 121 emails each day
  • Business sends 108 billion emails annually

Remember Jay Abraham? He’s the guy that best-selling authors Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, and Brian Tracy quote for his marketing genius. The business visionary is known for his strategies in direct response marketing from the 1970s that apply today to email marketing. I started using his counsel during my fundraising days in the 1980s which meant learning about the power of lifetime clients in three ways:

  • increasing the number of donors
  • growing the size of the donation
  • leveraging the frequency of contribution

The strategy applied to my businesses, too. We started with a well-designed list every time. The challenge we had growing the house list in those days was that we didn’t have great funnels from which to keep filling the pipeline. Our only sources were lists we bought, rented or traded from other like-minded organizations.

So, a Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook following is good because the networking contributes to the email list where your lifelong clients live. The other reason for keeping an email list clean is when/if a network dies out like Myspace. E-mail will always be there and you won’t lose the list. That’s what’s so powerful about email.

By the way, when is it safe to buy lists? “NEVER buy an email list,” says the Email Experience Council in the U.S.  Lists that are available for purchase are full of dead addresses that ISPs use to identify spammers. “Sending to a bought list is a sure-fire way to get blacklisted by ISPs.” However, the Council doesn’t have a problem renting lists from reputable vendor. I say, “Don’t do it,” to be safe here, too.

Yet, according to a new report from Folio sponsored by Lyris, many publishers are still struggling with the basics of email marketing. The survey of 175 publishing professionals revealed the following pain points:

  • List growth (55%)
  • Dynamic content/personalization (42%)
  • List maintenance (41%)
  • Mobile optimization (33%)
  • Analytics (33%)
  • Segmentation (30%)
  • Content automation (29%).

Need good ideas to stay focused on your endgame? Here are 7 for you.

1. Start with clean-list-building practices. New anti-spam legislation reminds us to build lists with people who have expressed an interest in hearing about your product or service. When you have consent or the proper permission to send an email to someone, success rates and deliverability go way up. You want the sender to recognize you when you send them an email.

Build email sign-up opportunities into your website. Consider using a pop-up form to collect new subscribers and leverage loyal subscribers by including “send to a friend” or “refer to a colleague” options in outbound messaging.

2. Keep lists current. Clean your list regularly by sending a campaign at least every three months. Believe me, you don’t want to risk getting blacklisted or blocked. I’ve seen it take as long as nine months before the search engines allow a company back in business online. Not worth the risk.

3. Figure out your data fields. This is worth repeating: It’s always best to start with good habits when you’re building a list; otherwise, there’s much pain involved in cleaning it up. The Email Experience Council says those companies that keep their lists clean generate 7  times the number of inquiries and 4 times  the number of leads.

Try to clean up multiple titles for the same person. To create a solid foundation for effective email marketing, consider standardizing the title data by using the fields of “Function” and “Role” rather than highly variable fields like “Job Title.”

4. Segment your audience and define your personas. Segmenting is all about understanding your different customer groups. Separate the groups based on job function, buying habits, online preferences, and geography. Identifying your personas gives you an edge in crafting a blog, for example, that speaks comfortably to that specific group.

5. Create lots of content… as long as it’s relevant. Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than general e-blasts, according to Jupiter Research. Keep content simple with a good balance of text and images. Spammers don’t usually “waste” time doing so, whereas some marketers want to dazzle with too many images. Emails with JavaScript and attachments also send a red flag.

6. Welcoming email. An Experian study found that welcome emails have 4 times the open rate and 5 times the click rate of traditional newsletters.  A welcome email establishes trust and helps you establish a relationship with your customer.

7. Establish your online brand. Your logo, brand images, and positioning statements can be designed for each platform. Social networks differ slightly which means your artwork should be changed and sized to suit each audience.

8. Track performance over time. Gaining a window into your campaign’s open rates and click-through rates will help with tracking growth and success over time. This data helps you to get insights into what content and subject lines are successful and how to improve your approach

Email is your endgame. We’ll look at how you can save time with email automation next time.

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Need help with modern marketing? Co8ntact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

 

Jay Baer and Utility

Want to market online? Think like a publisher.

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

I can feel the agony on the part of my clients when it comes to marketing themselves online. Especially when I talk about the need for creating content. Many of them prefer a dentist’s drill to writing a regular blog or producing enough video to establish social authority.

It was the same reaction I received during my years as a magazine publisher covering business.  We had persistent offers from business people eager to see their name in 42 point bold. They were keen until I asked them to flesh out a calendar of 12 ideas for the upcoming year. That’s where we lost the eager beavers.

A few years later while working in the online world, the same unease surfaced as I read the 200 to 300-word blogs written by everyone who discovered how to click. They just weren’t worth the time.

The most common challenges reported in 2013 by respondents to a TechValidate survey of 213 marketing professionals were time, labour, and getting customers to talk. Compared to their last survey in 2011, lack of time and the cost of content creation were the two challenges that grew the most.

No kidding.

It takes time to research a subject, think about the context, and compose words combined with intriguing images that will make your audience stop to read your precious copy.

Here’s a few more stats that describe challenges that marketers face:

  • Time Intensive (61%)
  • Labour intensive (38%)
  • Can’t get customers to talk (38%)
  • Expensive (28%)
  • Lack the expertise (15%)
  • Can’t get specific stats/metrics (32%)
  • Need additional content types (35%)

People also like to read stories about a company and their products that come from customers. This underscores a common refrain says TechValidate that social proof lends a great deal of credibility to a company’s marketing message.  Read: they believe your customers’ testimonials more than your self-promotional twaddle.

Despite these comparisons, less than 10% of people surveyed said they were not using customer testimonials, case studies or product descriptions which represented their best return-on-investment.

On the topic of social media? At 94.5%, it’s wide spread because relevant platforms promote content. Otherwise, that same content is dead in the water.

LinkedIn and Twitter are the most used social platform for business, but others are close.

  •  LinkedIn 89.3%
  • Twitter 87.8%
  • Facebook 80.2%
  • YouTube 72.5%
  • Google+ 43.5%

I’m definitely a fan of blogging. Yet, I’ve also found different sources with polarized opinions.  TechValidate, for example, promotes testimonials and white papers over the  blog while Ian Cleary of RazorSocial and HubSpot advocate for the blog. Says HopSpot: “Blog frequency impacts customer acquisition. 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)

The other key to blogging, in my opinion, is they should contribute to your database. Your database is the only piece of real estate you own when it comes to connecting directly with your customers.

So, here are a few tips from experts in this field.

From Ian Cleary, RazorSocial

  1. Plan

-Build up a back-lock of ideas for posts

-Plan ahead for a list of good ideas

2.   Get longer life out of existing content

Write more evergreen content

-Promote older content to bring more life

Promote now…the same thing in 3 months’ time…and in 6 months’ time since less than 5% of people see your content at any given time

3.   Republish guest posts

-Write a guest post on a high authority site

-Get permission to republish

-Change the title and content

-Republish on your site

4.  Write great content

-make it really detailed

-research similar content

-get quotes

5.   Optimize your content

-Include keywords in the meta title

-meta descriptions

-related keywords

From Darren Rowse, founder of ProBlogger

Love the readers you already have. A lot of bloggers get quite obsessed with finding new readers – to the point that they ignore the ones they already have. Yes – do try to find new readers but spend time each day showing your current readers that you value them too and you’ll find that they will help you grow your blog.

From Neil Patel, founder of KISSmetrics

Consistency is one of the most important things that bloggers tend to forget. It’s much easier to lose your traffic than it is to build it up, so make sure you consistently blog.

A study by Hubspot showed that consistent blogging actually leads to higher subscriber growth rates.

From Jay Baer, author of Youtility

Over a two-month span, businesses that published blog entries on a regular basis (more than once a week) added subscribers over twice as fast as those companies that added content once a month.

Don’t be afraid to showcase what you know. Too many bloggers hold back the good stuff out of fear of giving away the “secret sauce.” There is no secret sauce in a world where everyone has high speed Internet access at all times. Today, you want to give away information snacks to sell knowledge meals.

Plan to invest in blogging for a long time before you see a return. The web is a big, noisy place and unless you’re willing to invest more over a greater period of time than others, you’ll find success nearly impossible. If you’re seeking short-term ROI, or a quick path to recognition, blogging is the wrong path. But if you can stick it out for years without results and constantly learn, iterate, and improve, you can achieve something remarkable.

From Rand Fishkin, CEO of Moz

No matter how great your content is, it won’t matter unless you have an amazing headline. People have a split second to decide if they should click on your post, and your headline will make them decide. The headline is also essential in making it easy and desirable for people to share your post. Keep your headlines SPUB: simple, powerful, useful and bold.

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Need help with your strategic content? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

Social selling needs CEO Champions

Where’s the evidence for social selling? Look here!

By Sharon A.M. MacLean
Still not convinced that social enterprise adds to your bottom line? You’re not alone.
“Only 52% of companies say that executives are informed, engaged, and aligned with their company’s social strategy,” reports the Altimeter Group on the state of social enterprise. Altimeter was founded by New York Times best-selling author Charlene Li who penned Leadership and Groundswell. Her group says the path to social enterprise is being limited by a dearth of executive buy-in.
Too bad.
CEOs might take social action more seriously if they knew that modern marketers deliver on average 20 percent more revenue and 60 percent higher profit growth. McKinsey & Company—named in the top 10 of Fortune magazine’s World’s Best Companies for Leaders—adds to the fuel by noting that leaders must champion social change if it’s ever going to happen for an organization.
The bottom line on social selling, asks LinkedIn powerhouse Melonie Dodaro: Can you afford to be beaten by competitors?
Hubspot hands us these stats: 72.6% of salespeople who use social media outperform their colleagues who aren’t using it…that includes your competitors.  Dodaro asks business leaders if they can afford to be outperformed by their competitors by 70%. If you want to pick up speed, here’s a few steps to take.
From Nataly Kelly, MarketingProfs
1. Establish a social business program with goals that reflect the realistic value of building relationships online. Next, apply the social framework to departmental goals that include a number of new leads.
2. Take some training. This may include social media boot camps to get your leadership team on the same song page. You are going to need resources for training and tools to get employees on board with your social media strategy, new technology, and new social workflow. 
From Melonie Dodaro, Top Dog Social Media
3.  Optimize your online presence for the company and for sales reps. This means producing profiles with strong copy, including professional head shots, and ensuring that unique aspects of each social network are taken into account. 77% of B2B buyers do not speak with a salesperson until after they have performed independent research notes HubSpot. So, it’s important for prospects to be impressed when they look for you. There’s no point in losing a potential sale even before you get out of the starting gate.
4.  Current statistics show that 1 in 3 business professionals around the world are on LinkedIn. This makes LinkedIn an amazing tool that you can use to gain access to potential prospects in your target market. If you understand how to operate within the LinkedIn environment, social selling can be a powerful tool for your business and will only continue to get stronger with each passing year.
5. Therefore, take the initiative. Social selling combines the age-old skills of relationship selling with the modern practise of online engagement. Create (or find) high-quality content that is valuable to your prospects and relevant to the services you offer before using it as a way to open up dialogue via private messages.
6. Join relevant LinkedIn groups that attract your target market. Share valuable content daily through your LinkedIn status update to stay top-of-mind with your network. A common mistake, I see, is where LinkedIn professionals join their professional groups and spend time commenting in those groups instead of building relationships in their client  groups. I made this mistake during my early days on LinkedIn; the turn-a-round made a big difference in my own business. 
From Jesse Noyes, Kapost 
7. Marketers need to practise accountability and answer these questions:

  • Who are the key content players and what role will they play?
  • How will topics be prioritized?
  • What resources are needed to create content? What resources will need to be added?
  • How will tasks be tracked to get content out the door?
  • What can be done to ensure content gets seen externally and internally?
  • How is success measured?

 

From Nick Johnson, Incite Marketing and Communication

8. I have a lot of time for this global enterprise which  recently polled their network of big brand marketers on “The Future of Content”. They asked how much more total potential audience could content reach. They answered this way.

3% not much more
18% more than half
54% less than half
24% not sure

Only 21% of respondents felt they were even approaching audience saturation. There’s still a lot of room to grow.

9. The value of negative comments. Recently, a business owner asked for my recommendation on how to deal with a negative comment they’d experienced. The CEO felt it was completely unfair to his family-run business. The comment was bogus, yet, nonetheless it existed.

If  you can help an unhappy customer, you will benefit from the good will generated. Even better, others will see that you took the extra time to care for a slagger who took a swing at you.  Chris Krohn, CMO at Restaurant.com, thinks it’s more valuable for your customer to leave a negative comment on social media than to leave no comment at all. He says to cherish every Tweet that says your brand “sux”, because at least now, you have the chance to prove that your brand does not, in fact, “sux”.

10.  Leave room for creativity. I like this story from Toni Jones, U-Haul International, not least because of experiences with my own client, Sharon Romank of Affordable Storage Sherwood Park. They are completely different businesses but come from a similar genre: moving and self-storage.

Jones came up with an innovative social media-based campaign for the iconic brand. Her social listening found that, while U-Haul was associated with a high amount of negative sentiment online around the stress of moving, lots of people were taking pictures of themselves posing inside or outside the trucks on moving day. In the case of Affordable Storage Sherwood Park, Romank thought self storage might not be interesting enough to warrant publication of a newsletter.

U-Haul invited their customers to send in pictures of themselves with their trucks. They did –-thousands of them. These pictures were  placed among a collage on the trucks themselves, creating another frenzy on social media as people tried to find themselves, then took pictures of themselves with themselves.

In the case of Affordable, the newsletter with stories from renters and ideas about self storage generated a 50% opening rate; typical opening rates that are considered good hover around 16%  to 18% .  Customers store their precious goods with Affordable and are very keen to stay connected with the company looking after their property long-term. The U-Haul campaign was a roaring success. What was the key, according to Jones?  The project let consumers be creative. Nothing crazy, nothing involved. Just the act of staging and taking a picture was enough to inspire connection.

Business owners will become convinced that social enterprise is good for their bottom line when they start to see similar irresistible evidence.  It won’t be long.

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Need help with your strategic content? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

 

8 steps +1 more to navigating the media maze  

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

Most leaders of commerce and the community want media coverage for their organizations. They understand the power of journalistic exposure for their mission and recognize that space in traditional media is at a premium.  Invariably, these influencers also want reporting only under these conditions:

  • If it’s positive
  • If the message is controlled
  • If they look good

A veteran broadcaster who, as journalists are fond of saying, moved to the “dark side” of public affairs published a new book this summer on his perspective from both sides of the microphone.

The Honest Spin Doctor is a 93-page account by Grant Ainsley for people who want to pitch the media on covering their story. That’s his photo above this blog. It’s also for those who want to avoid deeper scrutiny by journalists and find themselves in a news maelstrom. Either way, he says it’s possible for CEOs, politicians, and spokespeople to be honest in their relationships with reporters.

What’s captivating is Ainsley’s recall of names and details throughout his career. He’s also candid about his fear of the unknown, especially when Ainsley decides to move out of the broadcast booth and into the world of corporate communications.

The award-winning journalist uses breezy story-telling to deliver his lessons. Yet, don’t underestimate the modest approach. Ainsley describes several real-world examples of how miscalculations by poorly prepared spokespeople went terribly wrong. Anyone remember former chairman of BP Tony Hayward and the blown-out well of Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico? Or Lululemon Athletica Founder Chip Wilson and the stupid comments he made about women’s thighs?

Edmontonian Grant Ainsley started his radio life in 1977 as a disc jockey at CKSA Lloydminster before moving that same year for a job in the newsroom at CFQC Saskatoon. He returned to Edmonton in ’78 for news posts at CHQT followed by 96 K-Lite as news and public affairs director for 10 years. The guy paid his dues.

The move in 1992 by the CRTC to allow radio stations to cut back on the spoken word prompted Ainsley to change his profession. He joined the City of Edmonton’s public works department in communications before taking on The Alberta Home Builder’s Association as CEO for 12 years.

The Internet was just starting to take hold in business life in those years and much change was afoot in the world of media.

This book comes at a time when employees also want to see their leaders become more vocal in sharing their perspectives about the future. They want their chief to alert them to what’s coming down the pike so they can prepare themselves, as well. Increasingly, employees want to know more about the values espoused by their executives and understand who they are as people and what really drives their thinking.

These precepts make a leader today and applying Ainsley’s ideas for getting along with the media make good sense, too.

Here’s some of his notions that stood out for me. But you can get this book for yourself at www.grantainsley.com to find more.

1. Build a long trap-line

This is the foundation for any solid media plan—heck, any marketing plan. Ainsley encourages readers to build a database with these details:

  • Names of reporters and outlets
  • E-mail addresses for reporters as well as assignment editors in print, radio, and television
  • Contact details for relevant bloggers
  • Contact information for weekly newspapers
  • The B list of names for people who are not members of the media but who are relevant to the story.

2.  The media release is king

  • Develop an announcement in the way a reporter might tackle the story. Find out the W5: who, what, where, when and why. And how.
  • Learn the position of a reporter by following their by-lines or Twitter feed
  • Keep the media release to one page
  • Include a quote from a spokesperson

I would add that media names be organized into separate tiers, based on their social authority and influence.

There are many social tools to help you find influencers, including Followerwonk, Klout, Topsy, Commun.it, and Group High.

3. Timing is everything

Ainsley likes Monday morning announcements at 11 am because reporters generally are thirsty for news at the start of the week. He also likes to schedule television news conferences at 11.30 am.

He doesn’t talk that much about the print media, so I recommend becoming aware of daily and weekly newspaper deadlines as well as magazine closing dates. Reporters and opinion columnists also have different writing styles and cut-off-dates.

4. Supply a variety of content formats

Develop a complete media kit with these contents:

  • Media release
  • Fact sheet
  • DVD with a memory stick
  • High resolution photo of key players

5. Embrace social media

There’s every opportunity today for organizers to cover their own special events, says Ainsley. If a reporter or assignment editor won’t respond, organizers can try doing it themselves by building up social media contact lists to receive messages and postings. Campaigns centres also can be set up during the event to distribute live content.

Yet, the latest social media industry report from Social Media Examiner tells us that a big concern for organizers in 2014 is figuring out how to find their online target audiences—journalists and reporters, in this case. How to connect also remains high on the list of questions.  More attention is required here.

6. Develop a communications policy

I like this one, a lot, and Ainsley includes a sample policy in his book. He recommends that company spokespeople be identified in advance, reveals how go-to people might conduct themselves, and explains the rules for non-spokespeople. A safe way to get started? Take them all for training.

7. Develop a social media policy

There is no escaping the increasing momentum that social media has on business every year. The same industry report from Social Media Examiner tell us that 92% of business indicates social media is important for their business, up from 86% in 2013.

Here, again, Ainsley addresses salient points that will keep organizations in front of any potential for a media crisis. His chapter 3 title says it well: “Companies need to deal with social media, or a lot of things will start crawling out.”

Ainsley gives his readers a sample policy in the book and suggests that companies explain what employees can and cannot say in social media when talking about the company.

He also recommends that someone be assigned to check to see if employees are following policies from time to time.  Don’t have a policy? Don’t count on the courts to see it your way if the company is slammed.

8. Grant’s 4 steps to a great interview

Readers will gain tremendous insights by scouring The Honest Spin Doctor and adapting ideas for their place of business. Here’s just a few tips in summary from a clear, crisp read:

  • Learn everything possible about the subject and the announcement
  • Develop key messages
  • Practice until every possible question and answer turns easily inside the head
  • Executive with confidence

9. Follow-ups are crucial, but don’t stalk

I’m adding this final point on follow ups with the media using email. Top influencers may not acknowledge every mention or tweet in social media but followers must respond when they do.

When making contact via email, be clear how the email address was obtained (if it’s not readily available to everyone) and also remind the person of the social media relationship. If the influencer replies, great. If not, do not keep sending emails. Continue the outreach via social media instead.

I liked this book.  If you want to navigate the media maze, you will, too.

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Need help with your strategic content? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

 

PR interviews

Event promotions: New vs old ways

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

You have a big event planned seven months down the road. The inspiration for hosting the occasion is genius, hundreds of people are expected, and you have confidence the media will cover it like a blanket.

Oh, really?

Working with assignment editors, journalists, and bloggers today is considerably different compared to just a few years ago. These changes have escaped the attention of some traditional organizers and it’s heart-breaking when a good cause loses out on valuable coverage, especially in the social sphere.

Back in the day, a plan may have included a media conference to announce an event, phone calls to pitch stories to favoured reporters or columnists, and public service announcements (PSAs) to catch free time available on radio or TV.

I’ve been fortunate to see how media works from both sides of the fence: first, as a PR hack before joining my late husband–a hard newsman–to start up a magazine that covered the business community for  21 years. I discovered that publishing decisions were difficult to make because so many requests for coverage were valid. It’s even worse, today. Available space has been cut back further at the big dailies unless there’s cash attached while TV stations—often run from major hubs thousands of miles away—don’t appreciate local priorities.

Here’s how a campaign usually rolled out back in the day.

  1. Create a list of reporters to pitch stories in print, radio, and television with street address and phone number. Usually ignored the assignments editors and producers who assigned stories to reporters.
  2. Prepare a one-page advance media release for distribution about one month before the event. The pros attached photos and bios of key people associated with the event with hopes of scoring advance coverage.
  3. Place  -30- at the end of a release to convey they were in the know.
  4. Send out 25-word PSAs about 60 days in advance with hopes the radio stations would run them during air time not purchased by paying advertisers. The pros knew stations were governed by law to dedicate PSA time for non-profits.
  5. Host a media conference six weeks before the event, so media outlets had equal opportunity to hear and write about the announcement at the same time. Considered only fair by organizers; reporters didn’t care.
  6. Schedule a promotional lead-up event to announce the real event. See if any media would come out to write an advance for the story. Reporters usually knew it was a non-story and didn’t show, so the guests got all the free food and beer.
  7. Call the reporters to see if they had any interest in attending the real event because it was considered to be irresistible. Reporters preferred hearing stories about the birth of two-headed calves on farms.
  8. Hand deliver news releases to local media and couriered news releases to national media in hopes that media would cover their event 3,000 miles away. Paid big courier bill at the end of the month.
  9. Deliver cute gifts or food to on-air personalities on the day of the event with hopes that broadcasters might say something nice about their event, even score an interview.  Better food sometimes worked.
  10. Post a PR guard at the door to the event with prepared background materials for reporters, in case they had more than two inches of space to fill in print or air time on late, late news.

Compare the old ways to these new ways of getting out your story—including to the media.

  1.  Understand who you are speaking to and figure out the relevance.
  2. Think like a reporter and answer the important questions: who, what, when, where and why. Help the writers by connecting the dots for them; they often don’t have time to research the topic enough to see the angle.
  3. Formal is out. Be relaxed and genuine in your conversations; people call that being authentic today. This style helps differentiate you from distribution houses using a template email to blast hundreds of reporters.
  4.  Remember that most people read emails on mobile devices with smaller screens. Avoid attachments, including news releases. Reporters rarely open them.
  5.  Before you ask for something, ask and answer questions posed by the reporter or blogger on social media; retweet and share their content, and then finally share a unique spin on your own story. If you can distill your message down to an elevator pitch with 140 characters, you might have the heart of a good story.
  6.  Like all of us, journalists’ ears perk up around a well-known-name or if you’ve done something remarkable. If you can’t spark their interest immediately, this is where you spend time building a relationship with the journalists you’re trying to reach through social media.
  7.  Become your own publisher. Build up the special event’s database for an email marketing campaign to reach those who really care about the organization and its issue. Send them content such as your blog, short video series, podcast.
  8.  Build up the event organizations’ own fan bases on Twitter, Facebook and relevant networks. Do this several months in advance to allow for traction.
  9.  Follow the scribes in their respective social networks to determine their preferred medium for communication, the topics they relish writing about, and how they develop their story angles.
  10. Create a list of journalists, reporters and bloggers in all media with addresses for email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Calculate their social footprint meaning how many and what type of followers they have.
  11. In the case of a PR pitch, your audience is the reporter and her or his readers. Craft the message so that it matters to the particular writer and the topics they cover.
  12.  Have you got publishers on your list? This group of people differs from journalists as they are responsible for revenue streams. Think how the publisher might build a special edition with relevant advertisers around your proposed theme. They will become fans.
  13.  Did you secure a story, interview or media mention? Share it on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. If it makes sense, share it on Pinterest and Instagram, too. The inherent nature of social makes it easy to multiply the effects of great publicity. Make sure to @message the reporter’s handle or username when sharing on social. A recent survey from Vocus, a leading cloud-based PR software, found that sharing their work was the number one reason journalists are using social media.
  14.  Sure, it’s more work, but make each pitch a separate email and customize it to speak specifically to each journalist. Make them feel special.

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Need help with your strategic content? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

Kim Garst and Ian Cleary

Build a Profitable Blog

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

You’ve written 52 blogs, so far. You sat down every Sunday to faithfully compose your best thoughts that illustrate the advantages of your whatsit.

Does anybody care? How do you even rank among the 101.7 million blogs posted by Tumblr.com this year or the 44.6 million posted by WordPress?  Are any influential people sharing your content?

These are the real-world questions that most scribes ask when it comes to carrying on business in the digital world. Interesting for me because these were the same types of questions that writers asked me about when writing for my print magazine.

The big difference? There’s a lot more people asking the same questions.

The answer is yes—if certain steps are taken. U.S.-based Kim Garst and Ian Cleary of Ireland recently hosted a webinar to tell us how. It’s worth listening to Kim’s been named by Forbes among the top 20 bloggers in the world and top 50 social media influencers in the world. Ian writes for VentureBeat with 6 million unique monthly users, The Huffington Post, and Social Media Examiner. He guest authors on the topic of social media tools.

Why do we labour over our blogs? Well, because traditional advertising is too expensive say the social media purists. They do have a point. My advertising rates were priced to publish a monthly edition for 21 years while regular advertising in the dailies, radio or television could be formidable for all but those with healthy budgets. Small business could barely afford advertising space and knew that face-to-face networking was their best form of marketing.

Ian also emphasized that every new piece of content helps Google to index pages. Bingo. That is a very important message because content enables search engine crawlers to find your business online.  A crawler is a program that visits Web sites to read pages and other information in order to create entries for an index. It’s how your website gets placed at the top of a Google search without paying for advertising.

Finally, Ian says that writing a blog contributes to the overall development of a business. It’s more than writing for the sake of driving traffic. I can vouch for that, too, from the traditional side of publishing. Most business writers filed their column as part of a marketing plan to build their brand. We had ongoing pitches from business people who wanted to get published but we could only bring on the best of the best; space was at a premium.

Bloggers don’t have to deal with space.

Where do these two social superstars make their money? At speaking events, delivering training courses, consulting, and building affiliate partnerships. Their blogs brand them as much-sought after experts. Affiliate marketers, by the way, pay a commission on sales when their partners refer a product or service obtained through their website, email campaign or webinar. I learned about affiliate marketing from Todd Farmer who’s heavily involved with the Affiliate Summit in New York City, August 10-12, 2014 and at Salt Lake City, September 30th. (Note: this blog is not written by an Affiliate Partner.)

Now, on to 4 building blocks that Kim and Ian described for a profitable blog.

Make a list and research your top competitors

  • Research their marketing online but don’t forget to learn about their offline activities, as well;
  • Discover the type of content they write about;
  • Investigate if there’s an area that nobody else has focused on in your business space;
  • Determine if your content can be delivered in a different way. For example, has anybody done a podcast to stand out;

Publish regularly

  • Produce quality content with posts that are better than your competitors;
  • Answer the questions asked by your customers;
  • Think about detailed posts greater than 1,000 words; this post is about 1002;
  • Know your key words;
  • Include imagery and infographics in your posts.

3. Promote your content

  • Automate the sharing of your content. My own preference is for Mike Koenig’s Instant Customer but there’s Buffer, dlvr.it, and Swayy to consider, as well;
  • Share to communities such as Tribrr, Scoop.it, and Twitter.  Kim shares her evergreen (long shelf life) blog on Twitter and her powerful connection with 266 thousand followers;
  • Use a repetitive sharing strategy. This means that you can post the same content on Twitter, for example, at several times during the same day.

Online sharing of content beats traditional publishing any day. Bloggers have so many more opportunities to expand their reach through direct and indirect ways.

My collaborators use Traffic Geyser to distribute videos to over 50 video sites on cients’ behalf.

Direct methods also allow you to connect with influencers, support other people’s blogs, tweet and retweet, and meet your peers face-to-face at conferences. You might even arrange to meet your contacts after engaging online.

“There are way more lurkers on social media than engagers,” notes Kim Garst.  “But just because they are not engaging with you does not mean they are ignoring your content; you still are valuable to them.” Amen, sister. We saw this all the time at the magazine. Readers may not have communicated directly with a writer but, we knew they regularly followed the columnist because of the details they talked about months, sometimes, years later.

In either case, you are able to attract potential customers to a sales funnel ranging from free content to  high-ticket services or products. Free products might include ebooks, white papers, and trial offers. Interest in these free items lead to low-ticket items that include video and audio training while mid-level items are detailed training courses, webinar series, and group trainings. High ticket? Think Done For You Services.

Content is the core of your business model. And a blog is absolutely essential to build a sales funnel that generates traffic, gets visitors to take action, and converts visitors to making a sale.

Bottom line? People buy from those they know like and trust.

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Need help with your strategic content? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.