Hello! It’s been a minute (or over six months) since we’ve published new content, so I wanted to jump on with an update. Watch the video below, or scroll down for more.
While we haven’t been publishing new content, we have been updating a lot of our older content. It’s so important to do that to make sure that your content is continuing to deliver value to your audience. Remember to keep an eye on your older content, especially if you see posts generating traffic or you plan to share an older post on social media. Revisit the post to see if it needs updated to continue to be relevant.
Part of the reason we’ve been focusing on updating our older content is one of our goals for 2020—to focus more on distribution while reusing and repurposing our content. It’s time-consuming to create quality content, so we wanted to focus on the distribution and promotion of our content even more, which we accomplished. So, we’ve been going back and resharing a lot of older content, which is still relevant, or updating it in order to still be relevant.
You can share older content in its entirety or take individual tips out of it to share. For example, pull a key point out of a blog article to tweet to your community or share in an Instagram Story. This tactic will allow you to continue to promote and share your content long after you initially create it.
Updating older content on your blog will help your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, too. Refreshing older articles and posts will draw search engine crawlers to your site.
We are going to publish new content on the CCC blog while continuing to update our older content. Catch all of our new posts by subscribing via the signup box on top of the sidebar on the righthand side of the screen. Scroll down the sidebar to check out recent posts, popular content, categories and keywords. The latter two options will help you find content on a specific topic in addition to the search box in the top righthand corner.
As we create new content, we’d love to hear from you. What topics would you like covered in marketing, writing, social media or small business/entrepreneurship? Maybe you’d like to see a fresh take on a topic we covered previously, or you may be interested in something new. Comment on this post or contact us with topics you’d like to see!
We’re also looking for guest bloggers. We would love to hear your ideas on marketing, writing or social media-related posts, or you could share your small business or entrepreneurial experience for our audience. Reach out, so we can share your story!
Thanks for stopping by. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
While most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines or newspapers with feature articles, ads, sports box scores and all.
In college, I majored in Journalism and Mass Communication, but I took every writing class I could—business writing, media writing, creative writing, copywriting. I wanted to be well versed in nearly any writing discipline, so I could pursue numerous avenues in my career.
I Jumped at Every Opportunity to Write
As I started my career, I jumped at the opportunity to handle any writing opportunity. While I was pursuing my love of writing, I was also gaining more attention at work and building my portfolio (unknowingly at first).
Before long I was ghost writing for my manager and members of our executive team. As I continued to write, I developed a reputation throughout our company (a $350 million company with around 115 employees) as a go-to writer and editor. Eventually, I was published under my own byline in our company newsletter, which was a thrill.
You Can Pick Up a Lot By Asking Questions and Listening
As my career progressed, I started to think about my future. What did I want out of my career? A corner office and impressive title? Or something else?
I worked at the corporate headquarters of a franchising company, so my job involved interacting with and supporting small business owners around North America.
Every day, I was learning more about running a business, even subconsciously. I’m naturally curious, so I would ask questions while communicating with our franchise owners. People like to talk, especially about themselves, their businesses, and their accomplishments, so you can pick up a lot by paying attention, asking questions and listening.
Guess Who Some of My First Clients Were?
While I was helping our owners, I noticed some of them were looking for affordable marketing and writing services beyond what our company offered. They knew they needed help in these areas but couldn’t afford to hire large marketing agencies.
After nine years of honing my skills and building a professional network in corporate America, I left that company and struck out on my own. Guess who some of my first clients were? The same people I had been helping.
Starting My Own Business Seemed Like a Crazy Dream
While it was a long road, the idea to start my own business came during an aha moment 15 years in the making. (I realized I wanted to write for a living while I was in high school, although I couldn’t see myself—a country kid from an unincorporated village—as a writer.)
One day at work, I realized that so many small business owners don’t know how to market themselves and couldn’t afford traditional agency fees. With my diverse background in marketing, I could start a business offering professional marketing services and experience at affordable rates.
I could give brands a voice via marketing, writing and social media services, so business owners could focus on the reason they’re in business, and not struggle with marketing decisions, writing copy and developing social media strategies.
After I realized I could start my own business, it still seemed like a crazy dream. But I did start thinking about it a lot. The next day, I began thinking about business names and what would make my business unique. The more I thought about it and talked about it, the more it became a real possibility.
At a company event, I finally made the decision: I had to go out on my own. A year later, I left and never looked back. On May 15, 2012, Clearly Conveyed Communications (CCC) was born.
You Learn a Lot About Running a Business When You Jump Out On Your Own
When I started my business, I never dreamed of today—eight years down the road. I was just trying to get through each day. Eight years later, I’m still trying to get through each day, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.
You learn so much about running a business when you jump out on your own. (I know I did!) As much as I researched and planned (and you should research and plan), at some point you have to jump in and learn as you go. (Here’s some lessons we’ve learned over the years.)
To get started, I focused on the professional network I had spent the previous nine years building. I reached out to contacts I had made and relationships I had built over time to let them know I was in business. Not only were these people potential customers, but they were also connectors.
In addition, I worked out an extensive transition plan with my former employer. It helped them maintain their services as we hired and trained my replacement, and they were my first paying client. It was nice to have income as I was building my business and looking for more clients.
I Didn’t Foresee that Businesses Would Want to Outsource Their Social Media Management
While I planned on starting a marketing company that focused heavily on writing services, I didn’t foresee the interest in businesses outsourcing their social media management. I started receiving so much interest in this area that I added a new page to my website.
Today, social media management and content creation is a significant part of my business. In turn, they’ve led to additional writing opportunities.
Offering an array of services as a marketing company allows me to present a full-service front to my audience.
For example: We partnered with a fellow marketing company, owned by a volunteer firefighter, to handle FDIC’s (Fire Department Instructors Conference) social media for six years. (See picture above.) We developed a year round social media presence for them, so firefighters could connect, learn and train virtually, too.
A Trend in Content Marketing: Long-Form Content
While my company creates a variety of content, we’ve noticed a trend in content marketing for long-form content, and we’ve jumped on it. It seems counterintuitive to our short attention spans and the constant state of information overload we live in today. However, quality long-form content performs well online, draws traffic and gives you a lot of content to repurpose.
The key is to make it readable (and skimmable) with appropriate visuals, short paragraphs and different sections, or headings. White space and proper formatting are your friends on screen.
SEO is important, but remember to write for people, not search engines, because they’re the ones actually reading it. You can still include keywords and appropriate tags and code while making your writing readable—by humans.
While we enjoy creating long-form content, CCC pursues all types of project-based work and programs. For example, we love writing all the copy for a new website or managing a company’s entire social media presence (as opposed to only creating content). These projects and programs pay more, so we can devote the time and resources to producing our best work. They’re also easier to schedule in advance, so we can utilize our time as effectively as possible.
Putting Our Clients First Helps Us Grow Our Business
Having said that, we will take on small programs, including minor content editing and distribution, or some one-off projects, to make more contacts and build more relationships.
Doing good work for people and helping them with their needs, however minor, can result in referrals.
We’ve been fortunate to be referred several times, resulting in new customers and opportunities.
That’s why we always put current clients first. It may seem better to focus more on business development, because small business owners usually don’t have the resources to wait for new customers.
However, we’ve found that by putting current clients first, we’re their first call—for any marketing activity. As we continue to help them with their needs, they continue to come back and refer us to their clients, business associates and friends.
In fact, we work with some businesses through our clients. They can expand the services they offer without hiring full-time employees or making a significant investment.
For example, a company who sells branded merchandise and printing services can add writing, social media and additional marketing services to their service offering to truly become a full-service marketing agency. As long as we work closely together, it’s a win for all three companies—CCC, our client and our client’s client.
Marketing: What to Consider Before Expanding Social Media Platforms
How do we market our marketing and writing services? We practice what we preach—although sometimes we’re a little slow to take our own advice.
We always advise clients to consider their resources before jumping into social media. It takes time and dedication to build an active, engaged community on a social platform. You don’t need to be on every social platform available or jump on the latest trend.
While social platforms all have their own strengths, they tend to copy each other. Has a new platform grabbed your attention? What features do you like? Wait a minute, and they may appear on a platform where you already have an engaged community.
For example, Snapchat become a darling in the social media world, and then Instagram (and later Facebook) added ephemeral content, or Stories. TikTok has exploded in popularity over the past year, but Instagram has recently announced that it’s rolling out a new TikTok-like feature, Reels, to new markets and expanding its capabilities.
This feature isn’t available in the U.S. yet, but we’ll probably see it eventually. There may be reasons you want to expand to new social platforms, but think about it first and make sure you have a strategy.
When CCC started, we jumped on numerous social media platforms and overextended our resources. Slowly, we reassessed and cut back to where we are today. That has allowed us to focus more on original content creation and distribution for ourselves instead of mainly curation.
Curation is important, because it introduces you to new people and delivers a wider range of voices to your social media communities. However, original content will help you stand out and bring on new clients.
Why Writers Should Have a Blog
If you’re a writer, you probably have a blog, or at least you should. Your blog serves as a place to showcase your writing, and it can lead to partnerships or business opportunities.
Try to set up a consistent publishing schedule based on when the most readers are stopping by your blog. While it’s important to be active, only commit to what you can do. If you’re on your own and spend a lot of time on client work, then you may only be able to publish once a week or twice a month. Don’t try to publish too often for the sake of publishing; your content will likely suffer.
House your blog on your website. It will be easy for your readers to learn more about your services, and your fresh blog content will help optimize your site’s search performance. While I’m not a big fan of consistently removing content (which is a trend today), updating older content helps boost your blog’s performance. Fix any broken links or missing videos you come across, and add any relevant, new information on the post topic to inform your readers.
Don’t Publish Your Content and Wait for People to Find It
Producing quality blog content can be time-consuming, but there’s even more work ahead after you publish. Distributing your content is important, so it’s seen by a larger number of potential readers.
Don’t publish content and wait for people to find it. You have to actively and consistently promote your content, because there’s such an overload of content today.
Don’t just blast your content across various social platforms in one format at the same time. Share each article in a format best suited for each platform. Repurpose your content so you get as much mileage as possible out of it.
Write a long-form article? Share bite-sized tidbits on Twitter, each time driving more traffic back to your article.
Record a video sharing highlights of the article, and post it on your LinkedIn profile or Page.
Share your article as a link preview post to your Facebook Page or group.
Share behind-the-scenes content while you’re writing to tease a new blog article in your Stories and to let your audience know when it will publish.
Content is king, but distribution is queen—and she rules the roost.
Meet Your Readers Where They Are
Some readers will prefer to read your content on these distribution channels instead of subscribing to your blog. We’re living in the age of assistance, so you need to meet people in the moment—where they are.
Building active, engaged communities on social media takes time, but these communities are full of potential readers and people who will share your work.
Use your social presences to interact with your audience and request their feedback. Instagram Stories has numerous stickers you can use to interact, while Twitter offers polls and the ability to have conversations with people around the world.
Facebook Groups have become increasingly popular, as you can offer a smaller part of your community first access to your projects, advice in a specific area (i.e. non-fiction writing tips) or a community of peers for fellow writers to bounce ideas off of. Depending on how you utilize Facebook Groups, you may be able to monetize them.
While CCC receives most of our work through referrals, social media and content creation are crucial in our marketing efforts. Even when you are referred for an opportunity, people will often look you up online first.
Do you have a strong presence on LinkedIn? Is your website up-to-date? What comes up when people Google you? Make sure you have a strong digital presence, so people actually contact you when you are referred to them.
What To Do When Your Writing Business Slows Down
If business has slowed down, spend more time creating and distributing content. Be even more active in your social media communities and work on growing them. Genuinely engaging with others will help you grow your community and may lead to new opportunities.
One of our larger clients watched our social efforts for some time before reaching out to us. Everything you do online is visible, so make sure you’re being your best self. Setting aside 10-15 minutes per day on a platform, including reading and commenting on other blogs, will help you make new connections and grow your communities.
We’ve had success utilizing these tactics, even though they take time. Social media is a long-term game; don’t expect success overnight. Instead of trying to create content that will go viral, focus on building and delivering value to your audience one day at a time.
This year, we’ve focused on creating more original content and distributing it more. By cutting back our overall social presence, we have more time to focus on our current communities and how we can help them.
By doing so, we’ve landed a few new, smaller clients. We’re excited to continue helping them, so we can grow these accounts into larger ones. You never know where an account or new opportunity might lead.
How Writers Can Expand Their Services
Speaking of opportunities, expanding your services or collaborating with fellow writers, editors and marketing agencies (or even fellow small or local businesses) can help you grow your business as well.
Are there additional services you can offer that make sense with your current business? Or maybe you already offer them, but people don’t realize that you do. If you see a trend in your industry or notice interest in a particular service, highlight it on your website and social channels.
Working with other companies who complement your services can help you land larger clients and opportunities. If you write copy for the web, look for a designer to partner with so you can offer complete website solutions.
Or look for companies that you can refer your clients to for related services, so they always come to you first. Building relationships with fellow business professionals and owners will make them more comfortable referring business to you, too.
This has been a stressful and trying year, so we hope everyone is pulling through it as well as you can. It may be the time to try a new idea, launch a related service or partner with another company. We wish everyone the best of luck moving forward in 2020 and beyond.
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A version of this post was first published on WriterCEO.com. Thank you to Colleen M. Story for sharing our writing and marketing tips!
Struggling with how to stay engaged with your employees and clients during this unsettling time? Keep these tips in mind while creating your communications.
How to Stay Engaged with Your Employees During a Crisis
First, reassure your employees regarding their pay. During a crisis, consistent income is vital to helping people stay calm and positive. If there are any changes, be transparent and communicate them as soon as possible. While everyone is frazzled, try not to make a knee-jerk reaction to a crisis. Can you implement smaller changes now to avoid laying someone off? Try to protect your employees’ pay as long as possible.
Along these lines, be transparent with your employees about the current state of your business. Don’t paint a rosy picture if you’re struggling or the crisis is impacting your operations. Your employees are adults, so they want you to be straight with them. Remember, you’re a team and you’re all in this situation together.
If your operations have been impacted, set expectations for your new reality but offer flexibility. Change scares people, so try to work with employees while you’re implementing new procedures and workflows. Are your employees working from home for the first time? Help them feel comfortable in their new environment, so they can be productive and contribute to the business.
Employees need to believe that their organization is able to handle the crisis. Here are some tips to make that happen: How to lead in times of crisis | Fast Company
While you’re adjusting to your new normal, communicate changes and updates to your team so everyone’s on the same page. However, let your employees do their job. It’s easy to over-communicate during stressful times, but bombarding your staff with emails ultimately won’t solve anything. It can actually hurt your operations and make your team less productive.
In addition to communicating changes and updates, help your employees through this unsettling time however you can. Change can be hard, so reach out to your team and offer your help to navigate their new reality. Whether it’s tech support or upgrades while working from home or sending a care package to show your appreciation, remind your employees that you’ll get through this challenging time together.
One way that you may be able to streamline your operations and help your staff work through changes is to utilize cloud-based collaboration tools, such as Trello or Basecamp. Find a solution that fits your needs, so your team can work together wherever they may be. Video calls and Google Hangouts can also facilitate connection and help your employees work together on projects.
Finally, encourage your team to take care of themselves during this stressful time, including their physical, mental and emotional health. They’ll be much more productive if they’re in sound mind, body and spirit, so do what you can to assist them with their efforts—especially during a crisis when people are stressed out.
Whether you surprise and delight staff members with a delivery to their home or give them a day off, show them that you care about them as people and how they’re coping with the crisis. Besides being the right thing to do, it will help cement employee loyalty when things return to normal (or your new normal).
How to Stay Engaged with Your Clients During a Crisis
A crisis hits—your company, your industry or the world. Should you continue to engage with your clients? Yes, and here’s how.
First, communicate any changes or updates that affect your clients. You don’t need to email them every day or every time you update a workflow unless it specifically affects them. While your clients will appreciate your transparency during this tough time, they won’t appreciate spam at any time.
If a crisis has affected your community, country or the world (like the novel coronavirus), respect that your customers may be working from home with different availability and preferences, especially communication. While they may have been happy to jump on a call before, now they may prefer an email or message on Facebook. A Zoom call may need to be scheduled, so your customers can ensure their children are entertained or dogs are in another room. Listen to your customer’s current needs, so you can continue to deliver an impressive customer experience.
You can remain in touch by offering relevant, valuable resources, tools and tips based on what you do. Don’t feel the need to provide a play-by-play update of what’s happening. Stick with providing information your customers can use during the crisis. For example, during the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people are working from home—many for the first time. Are you a veteran at working from home? Share tips to help your customers new to this environment adjust and feel more comfortable. Remind your customers that we’ll get through this unsettling time together.
Should you still market your products and services? Yes, as long as they are relevant and you use good taste. Don’t joke about a crisis, or try to take advantage of people during a time of need. (You should never try to take advantage of people, but it’s an especially bad idea during a time of crisis.) Any short-term gain is more than offset by the long-term fallout. Base your marketing efforts on what your customers (or prospects) are asking for during this time.
Finally, make sure your tone is empathetic and appropriate. When people are scared or hurting, they’re less likely to think jokes are funny or appreciate your sarcasm. Let your customers know that you’re ready to support them through this crisis however you can. And by however you can, insert actual ways you’re supporting them that make sense for your business. If you’re in a position to host a fundraiser for your community, put one together. If you can donate goods or services, do it. If you can stay open to serve your community or audience, do that. Remember to review all communications, including scheduled content, to make sure it’s appropriate during a crisis.
We hope these tips help you navigate the uncertain times we find ourselves in or a future crisis. Want to download our tips in a single presentation?
Still unsure? We’re here to help with all of your employee and client engagement needs. Contact us to discuss your needs, or leave your questions or additional tips in the comments. We hope you’re staying safe and following the guidelines issued in your area. Remember, we’re all in this together.
Your Communications Captain,
Let’s chat (about your communications, your marketing needs or work from home tips):
How does inbound marketing work? Watch a coneflower.
On a recent visit to the Akron Art Museum and its beautiful garden, I stopped to watch some butterflies flying around a coneflower. Coneflowers attract butterflies with their sweet nectar, so people love to plant them in their gardens. Plus, they don’t require much attention, withstand colder temperatures and can be divided every few years to attract even more butterflies to your garden.
So, let’s compare this process to your inbound marketing efforts. You can attract butterflies (your target audience) to your coneflower (product or service) with sweet nectar (compelling content). While your inbound marketing efforts do require attention, they’re worth the effort—and help is available. Plus, these efforts can help you withstand a cold spell in your business and can be replicated to help you grow your business.
Create and share content your target audience wants. Are you a lawn care company? Share lawn maintenance tips, including seasonal activities people should be doing throughout the year (i.e. applying fertilizer, weeding). Help people care for their lawnmower and other yard maintenance tools. When they’re ready to buy, they’ll turn to you—because you’ve built trust by giving them the information they need when they needed it.
When you do mention your products or services, educate your target audience on how you’ll improve their lives. Go beyond listing features to share benefits your customers will receive from your product or service. What pain point(s) does it address? How will it make their lives better?
No matter what you do for a living, you’re probably looking for customers. That’s where Inbound marketing comes in. It helps you attract the right customers, not more empty leads. The Inbound methodology turns strangers into promoters or evangelists for your brand. It takes time but produces results.
Ready to see how Inbound marketing can help you? Let’s talk. As an Inbound Certified company, we’re positioned to help you navigate the ins and outs of the Buyer’s Journey.
We’re living in the age of assistance. What does that mean for marketers?
Customers have more options than ever before today, thanks to technology. Therefore, each buyer’s journey is unique and customers are looking for valuable content to educate themselves before making a purchase.
“Focus on the user and all else will follow.”
Your marketing strategy needs to be focused on your customer or prospect. Where do they look for information? How do they like to shop? How do they like to interact with brands?
If people need help, they usually start with Google. (While the search giant reaches 93% of US consumers, note that your customer base or target audience may use Bing or another search engine. It’s important to know where your customers go.) We’re busy, distracted and always on the go, so people are searching on mobile, including reviews, for information to make decisions in the moment.
Consider this example… Jon is working at home when he hears water running. The problem is that he’s not running any water. After heading upstairs, he realizes that his toilet is overflowing. He lives in an older home, so there’s no shut-off for the toilet; he needs to turn off his water at the main shut-off. Quickly, he Googles shut off water main and finds a YouTube video showing him how to locate his main water valve and shut it off. Jon follows the directions and shuts off his water before suffering any damage. Who does he call to fix the toilet? The local plumbing company who provided the video, of course.
Note that this local company gave Jon the information he needed first. He didn’t have to dig through their website or sit through a sales pitch beforehand. Educating consumers before you ask for a purchase or deliver a call-to-action (CTA) drives business.
Meet People in the Moment
People are living in the moment today, so they rarely plan in advance. Jon probably should have known where his main water shut-off valve was, but he had recently moved in and hadn’t gotten around to finding it yet. He’s not alone.
Mobile searches for today, tomorrow or now are up 900%. Our phones are never out of reach, so it’s always convenient to find the information we need—in a traffic jam, at the doctor’s office or at your kid’s ballet recital.
How can you meet your customers or prospects in the moment?
Start where they start: Google yourself.
Google yourself, your category and your business (in incognito mode, if you prefer). Do you like what you see? Are you providing valuable content to help your customers and prospects educate themselves and move along the buyer’s journey? Or are you only asking for the buy? Be a part of the conversation along the entire journey, so consumers can get to know your company and form an emotional connection with you. If you just show up at the end when consumers are ready to buy, they’re likely to go with another company who has been there all along the way.
While we’re on this subject, does your business have a Google My Business listing? If not, set one up. This free resource helps you connect with customers across Google Search and Maps, boosting your SEO efforts. Remember to include a phone number too. It allows people to quickly call you, which could be the difference between you getting an opportunity or your competitor.
While Google My Business is an important starting point, don’t stop there. Tracking how your customers first found you is important, but so is measuring every moment that matters to your business. Each buyer’s journey is unique today, so you need to track every interaction with your customer and map out their individual customer journey.
Your customer may have found your company through Google, but then she visited your website, read a few blog articles to learn more about a subject that interested her and connected with you on your Facebook Page. After those steps, she contacted you to discuss a project. If she hadn’t made all of those steps, she may not have ever contacted you to do business. That’s why it’s so important to measure every interaction or touch point with your customers, so you understand how they want to be communicated with and helped along their unique buyer’s journey.
Make an Emotional Connection
People are looking for more from brands and businesses today. They don’t want to just buy stuff; they want to support companies who have similar values to theirs and are good corporate citizens.
Tell your brand’s story: how you got started, why you’re in business and the faces behind the brand name. Talk about your charitable efforts and community involvement, so customers can see your values in action. They want to know where their hard-earned dollars are going and what kind of company they’re supporting. Tell your founder’s story and shine the spotlight on your employees with behind-the-scenes content, including how your product is made, a day in the life or following employees outside the office.
While customers want to get to know your business or brand, they also want to be entertained. Most people make decisions emotionally and then look for rational reasons to support their decisions—especially when we’re making so many decisions today in the moment.
So, your content needs to educate, entertain and connect with your customer on an emotional level. In fact, advertising campaigns are twice as likely to perform well if they contain emotional content instead of rational content. Buyers consuming your content want to feel a connection with your brand—not think about how your brand will help them.
In 2019, we average a 3-second attention span online, so you need to grab a viewer’s attention quickly. Create joy or surprise right away to keep viewers engaged with your content. Consumers get distracted every 10 minutes, on average, and take three minutes to refocus, so you’ll need to keep them engaged the entire time they’re consuming your content. If you lose them, they may jump to something else and never come back.
3 Key Principles in the Age of Assistance
Be There—Connect with the right people during key moments of intent.
Be Valuable—Give consumers the information they need where they are.
Be Quick—Automatically act on intent. Consumers expect quick responses today!
As marketing professionals, how can you deliver on these three key principles?
Know Your Audience—Go beyond demographics to target consumers effectively. Detailed buyer personas are important!
Know Your Brand’s Story—Tell your story, so your audience can understand your values and connect with your business on an emotional level.
Conceptualize the Space—Understand the marketing domains your customers are operating in so well that you know the best ways to connect and communicate with them in those areas.
Self-Educate—Marketing knowledge is constantly updating today, so you need to always be learning.
Understanding your customers (beyond simple demographics) is so important today, because you need to meet them where they are when they need you. What data do you have on your customers (that you’re protecting)? How can you leverage that data to better serve them (not to sell to them)?
Knowing how your customers first heard of you is no longer enough. Go beyond the first click to measure every interaction or touch point with your buyer. It will change your understanding of how each customer wants to be communicated with and helped along the way.
Follow your customers across social media platforms (however they use them) to email and messaging services to brick and mortar locations. We’re living in the age of assistance where micro-moments and individual interactions matter for your business. How are you making the most of every single one?
Questions? Comments? Leave your feedback We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Are you struggling to connect with your customers in the age of assistance? Let’s discuss how we can help you with your marketing efforts!
The 45-minute discussion on content creation and content marketing sizzled with smart advice from a variety of digital marketing professionals.
Gail Gardner, founder of GrowMap.com, delivered outstanding advice right off the bat. Always focus on creating quality content tailored to your target audience’s interests. You should only produce enough content that allows you to maintain a high level of quality and personalization. Remember, quality beats quantity every time.
Gail also mentions interacting with other content. This is so important! You’ll build relationships with fellow professionals in your field and drive engagement on your own content when you share it. Remember to share outside content at least 80% of the time and your own content only 20% of the time. Adhering to this best practice will help you curate a mix of view points on topics relevant to your audience and keep your feed fresh.
“Promoting your content is just as important as creating it. You need a content distribution plan as part of your overall content marketing strategy. “
Aligning Your Content Marketing to Your Business Goals
Meanwhile, Goldie Chan, a LinkedIn Top Voice and personal branding strategist, brought up a great point: your content marketing efforts should be aligned with your business goals. How do you measure its effectiveness? Engagement, engagement, engagement. Keep in mind your engagement should reflect the types of Calls-to-Action (CTAs) you extend to your audience. Do you want visitors to click through to a landing page to claim a special offer? Or do you want readers to message you on Facebook to schedule a free demo? In the first example, your goal should be to drive interested traffic to your landing page while the second would be to move prospects and customers into the privacy of Messenger.
Eventually, we moved into the future of content marketing. Where are we heading?
The Future of Content Marketing
Chat participants gave insightful answers based on their experiences and expertise, including Lisa Shomo, a marketing professional who specializes in customer marketing, growth and retention.
I recorded this video the day after a massive Facebook and Instagram outage, but its message is relevant whenever you’re watching it. Social media is a powerful marketing tool for your business, but you still need a website today.
Your website is the hub of all your digital marketing activities.
Your website is your home on the internet, your front door to customers and prospects everywhere. It helps visitors learn more about your company and how you can help them. They can find your website via search engines, social media platforms, advertising campaigns and even offline marketing efforts.
A well-designed, updated website improves your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and works with social media to enhance your online presence and give your business credibility.
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you have BIG ideas for your business. But do you have the budget to match?
Don’t let a tight budget keep you from marketing your business and showing your tremendous products or services to potential new customers. These three tips will help you market your business in a big way without blowing the budget.
Think Big on a Short-Term Scale
Would you love to shoot drone footage of your landscape projects? Rent a drone for a day and capture footage for your website, blog and social channels. If you’re interested in high-priced equipment or technology, see if you can rent it. You’ll stay on budget and test the equipment, so you’ll know what you want if you can buy one in the future.
You can also rent big-ticket items for occasional needs to keep capital free for other purchases. Looking for designer clothing for a photo shoot? Rent styles that fit your project if you don’t plan on using them regularly. There’s no need to buy them to use one or two times.
Along with renting big ticket or low use items, barter goods and services with fellow small business owners or professionals. Perhaps a graphic designer will design a marketing piece for you in exchange for you writing copy for her website. If you go this route, be honest about the value of your services, so it’s a win-win for both parties involved. You don’t want to damage your reputation by shortchanging a fellow small business owner or business professional and losing potential business.
Stock photos and other tools draw a bad rap, but they are lifesavers to small business owners everywhere. Search sites such as Pixabay or Creative Commons to find photos you can legally use in your marketing efforts. (Note any citations required and follow any stipulations mandated by the photo owner.) Then, modify these photos to fit your needs with tools such as Canva or PicMonkey. Canva offers free and low cost stock photos as well.
You can use PowerPoint to remove backgrounds from images (if you have permission to do so), add text to images and add filters. Create a visual for a specific social platform by changing your slide size to the preferred size of the platform, and then save your design as an image file (JPEG or PNG) to share. Screenshots are another visual option, depending on what you’re trying to show.
Don’t forget about social platforms when editing photos! Most platforms offer an array of filters, stickers, text options and more to add personality to your photos and make them stand out. Keep your brand in mind when modifying photos or editing visuals. Does it fit your brand image? Do you stick with a certain aesthetic on social? Have fun and show your brand’s personality, but don’t use a filter, sticker or other edit that doesn’t fit your brand.
Build a WordPress site (or pay someone to build you one) instead of having a custom website designed from scratch. WordPress offers hundreds of themes, both free and paid, that allow you to find a look that fits your business. You can customize your site extensively, even if you don’t know how to code. Build a beautiful, user-friendly site on a much smaller budget that will serve your customers and potential new customers well.
With the internet, there is more information and tools at your fingertips then ever before. You can handle a lot of tasks for your business yourself, but be honest about your capabilities. Don’t try to DIY something that ends up looking cheap or unprofessional and hurts your brand.
Take photos of interesting sights when you’re out and about to use for future content. It’s nice to be able to use your own photos and not have to worry about finding stock photos like we mentioned earlier. If something captures your eye, take a photo. You never know what will be a good fit for a future blog article or social post.
Can’t afford a professional video crew or photographer? Ask a friend with a steady hand to film a short video of you talking about your business or take some pictures of you in action. The cameras on most smartphones today are high tech, so you can still look professional while staying in budget.
While we’re on the subject of creating content, there are a number of free, online tools to help you create a variety of content types. Create GIFs, convert videos to GIFs and edit images with EZGIF.com. Find out what colors are on a website or in an image with Color Combos or ImageColorPicker.com. View vector art, find free fonts and much more at PRISM. Create videos with Adobe Spark or Animoto.
Know Your Tools, Capabilities and Limitations
We’re not trying to dissuade you from hiring a professional. At some point, you’ll come across a situation or project where you need professional skills and expertise. However, we understand that budgets can be tight for small businesses and startups. It may make sense to handle as much as you can internally for now until you can afford to outsource tasks and free up your time to focus on why you’re in business.
If that time has come for you or you’ve hit your limits with your marketing efforts, let’s talk. We offer professional services and experience at affordable rates, so that time may come sooner than you think. Have a question or looking for a specific tool? Ready to recommend another affordable tool? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
A small business owner thinking big (on a budget), Jaime
Let’s connect! Say hello on social, share your favorite affordable business tools or ask us a marketing question on the platforms below.
What a game! I had no rooting interest on the field this year, so I was happy to enjoy the back-and-forth action that went down to the wire. Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on the franchise’s first championship! Now let’s move on to the competitors who paid big bucks to catch a piece of the action — and the audience’s purchasing power.
The Ram Trucks commercial had it all: natural product integration, a journey to the Super Bowl, a compelling story, great music and a not-so-subtle jab at the home team. It even contained a strong call-to-action (CTA), inviting viewers to watch the full story on its website.
“It’s a Tide ad.” A laundry detergent company won the Super Bowl. Tide ran a commercial in every quarter telling viewers how every other ad was actually a Tide ad. Its efforts spilled over to social media, as other brands started to join the conversation, realizing their own ads were actually Tide ads. What’s even better than telling a great story? Other people (and brands) telling your story for you. Plus, Tide’s dominance helped take attention off the ridiculous Tide Pod Challenge, which the company only mentioned on social (smart move).
Doritos and Mountain Dew joined forces in the rap battle to end all rap battles. Peter Dinklage (Doritos Blaze) and Morgan Freeman (Mountain Dew Ice) showcased two new products in a joint 60-second spot, inviting viewers to vote for their favorite (#SPITFIRE or #ICECOLD) on social. And vote they did! The two PepsiCo brands won Twitter’s inaugural BrandBowl by driving the highest velocity of most-tweets-per-minute. The spot was entertaining, introduced new products to a receptive audience, integrated well with social and contained a strong CTA. Who did you vote for: #SPITFIRE or #ICECOLD?
Wendy’s roasted its main competitor with McDonald’s own website. If you follow the fast food brand on Twitter, its commercial continued the same sassy tone that the brand is known for. Brand voice needs to be consistent across all platforms and marketing vehicles, and Wendy’s is all in. Now millions of Super Bowl viewers know where to go for fresh, never frozen beef — and it’s not the Frozen, er Golden Arches.
The NFL had a long and controversial season, but the league was a big winner on Super Bowl Sunday with a thrilling game and epic commercial. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. have big plans in Touchdown Celebrations to Come. The league teased the commercial throughout the game, piquing the audience’s interest, and then nailed its moment (just like Eli and OBJ did). This campaign had it all: nostalgia, a big market team, two popular stars, an iconic movie and a reminder there are more touchdowns to come next season, which isn’t that far away.
Verizon answered the call by dedicating its Super Bowl spot to first responders. The telecommunications company connected survivors with first responders who saved their lives, so they could say thanks. It was a powerful ad that highlighted often unsung heroes and had a strong connection to the brand. (This is important with any ad to avoid a disconnect with the viewing audience.) Listening to the phone calls between survivors and first responders made us smile, and we join with Verizon in offering #AllOurThanks to first responders everywhere.
Budweiser highlighted its corporate responsibility efforts by showcasing its water donation program. The King of Beers has delivered cans of water to areas hit by natural disasters for 30 years and is adding another brewery to its program by the end of 2018. The company’s social platforms carried the message further, inviting visitors to learn more about its program and donate to relief efforts. The initial notes of Stand By You grabbed viewers’ attention and the heart-warming (and timely) message made us feel good, even without its famous Clydesdales. (Don’t worry, the famous Clydesdales did appear in Beer Country online.)
How does a company win and lose in the same game? Ask Ram Trucks. The company’s Icelandic Vikings commercial was a hit, but its Built to Serve ad fell flat — and offended many. We appreciate the brand’s attempt to create a sense of community among its customers and highlighting their call to serve, but using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech was not the way to go. The brand’s 2013 Super Bowl commercial utilized Paul Harvey’s So God Made a Farmer speech in a similar format, which made sense — and was a hit with the audience. It’s tempting to try to recreate the past, but that’s a risky proposition, especially when you fail the second time around.
Ditto, T-Mobile. The mobile company likes to be seen as disrupting its industry, but missed the mark with its Super Bowl ad, Little Ones. I was surprised when the logo appeared at the end of the commercial and saw no connection to the brand or what it does. (Note the contrast with Verizon’s ad, which utilized its capabilities to do good and won with viewers.)
The all-new Chevy Traverse is a well-designed family car, and its commercial does a fantastic job of highlighting that. Unfortunately, this ad has been running for at least a month. Why spend $5 million on a media buy to run regular content?
Best Continuation of Overall Campaign: Toyota, Good Odds (Mobility for All)
The success of your influencer marketing efforts will hinge on who you partner with. Is this individual or group a good fit for your brand? Will your audience — and theirs — believe the influencer uses your product or service? If not, you’re unlikely to see any real return on investment (ROI) from your efforts. The influencer’s posts or ads may draw high engagement due to his or her star power, but it won’t carry over to your brand.
Who Is An Influencer?
When you think of an influencer, you may think celebrity, but that’s not always the case. Especially in B2B marketing, it helps if your influencer has clout or expertise in your area or some type of tie-in. For example, uni-ball® partnered with legendary identity theft expert, Frank Abagnale, to promote the tamper-resistant ink in its pens. Abagnale’s story was told in Catch Me If You Can, and he now works with the FBI to help them catch identity theft criminals.
Micro-Influencers May Deliver A Big Win
When you’re looking for the right influencer to partner with, look closely at your loyal supporters or key personalities in your niche. This person may not have a massive following on social, but you’ve noticed he or she has an active audience interested in what you do — and this micro-influencer’s opinion on the subject. You may have found yourself a partner who can help drive your digital marketing efforts even though he or she has fewer than 10,000 followers and no celebrity status.
You may find the perfect influencer for your brand in-house. Do any of your employees have a special relationship with your audience? Whether through a memorable personality or exceptional service with a smile, one or more of your employees may be an ideal influencer. In addition, an employee advocacy program can help your employees become more comfortable sharing your content on social and promoting your brand.
“In an average company, only 3% of employees share company-related content, but they are responsible for driving a 30% increase in the content’s total likes, shares, and comments.” -Katie Levinson, LinkedIn
Integration Is Key
Wherever you find an ideal influencer, integration into your brand messaging is key. It’s not enough to pay someone — famous or not — to post about your products and services. The partnership needs to “fit” and feel right to both audiences. Launching a new product or refreshing your brand? Bring in an influencer early on and integrate him or her into your marketing plans. True integration brings authenticity and better results.
Influencer marketing can drive your digital marketing efforts — and sales — to new heights, but take the time to plan your strategy before jumping into a relationship. Don’t get wooed by a trendy celebrity or hot fad that doesn’t make sense for your brand. Do your research to find the right fit, whether it’s a micro-influencer, employee or thought leader in your field, and remember to integrate your influencer into your marketing efforts and overall brand message to increase your chances of success.
What celebrity/brand partnership works well? Is a bad fit?
Has a micro-influencer helped boost your sales or encouraged you to buy?
What employees influence your purchasing behavior at a company?
What brands do a great job of integrating influencers into their overall marketing efforts?