Content marketing is a journey, not a destination

Developing both – marketing and content strategies can be hard.

You need to re-evaluate your strategy through a fresh pair of eyes frequently. Couple of things I have learned:

1) Put Your Audience First

What do they want and need? Where do they hang out?

Consider personas, which describe the different customers you’re trying to reach. Personas should include the demographic elements such as age, income, and job title. Take into consideration personal fears and aspirations.

2) Talk to Your Prospects and Clients

This one is essential as you identify your audience and develop personas. The only way to nail down how to help your audience is to get to know them.

Your ideas need to be in sync with your audience’s reality. What are the biggest frustrations weighing them down?

3) Develop Content Themes

Creating a long-term strategy can seem difficult. If you’ve done your homework, this will be easy.

The more you chat with your customers, the more you’ll discover the same themes. You’ll recognize their pain points, problem areas, and resource gaps.

4) Establish Production Process

Have a framework. You may have many ideas, but they’re worth nothing if you don’t execute. The consistency of producing content that educates is also important.

Start small, then build on it.

5) Create a Plan for Every Piece

Choose a subject, headline, target audience, angle, pain points and a solution.

6) Focus on Providing Value

Your audience will only find your content relevant if they believe it provides value.

7) Showcase Your Expertise

Demonstrating this through examples and stories is the best way to serve both your audience and your goals. Look for unique stories and approach content as brand publishing.

Enjoy your content marketing journey!

Should You Focus on Social Media or Content Marketing?

Social networks are crucial to the success of content marketing efforts. Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare, YouTube and other platforms are used primarily as a distributor of links back to the content on the company’s, brand’s or organization’s website — not as containers of the content.

Social media can be effectively used for increasing brand awareness — generating discussions around the brand. Secondly, it is used for customer retention and satisfaction. Social channels can serve as an open forum for dialogues with customers, often around issues that they have.

The context of websites allows longer forms of content. Brands can publish blog posts, podcasts, infographics, videos, checklists and eBooks, etc.

The effectiveness of content marketing increases as the organization’s content marketing grows in maturity. Based on the B2B content marketing research, 64% percent in the sophisticated/mature phase state they are effective at content marketing, 23% in the adolescent phase say they are effective at content marketing, and 6% in the young phase say they are effective at content marketing. More information is provided on the Content Marketing Institute website.

Setting Priorities: Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization

Too many small business owners are too focused on increasing their website traffic and building links. I believe that business owners should refrain from any link building activity where the only reason is to build links for search engine rankings. Traffic that does not convert should not be the main focus of your web content optimization efforts.

It may be more beneficial to evaluate your existing customer base and step back thinking:

How did we gain our best customers? Did they find our company, product or service by searching the web or did we meet them face to face first?

Are we offering something that our website visitors can’t get anywhere else?

How can we get more web traffic to convert?

The first step to improving your website traffic should be writing relevant content for your site’s target audience and not ignoring any web platforms or hubs that Google owns such as Google+ or YouTube. In addition, use Pinterest or Instagram if you are in any business that can easily tell their story or showcase their products using visuals.

Optimize your site for mobile devices – people search a lot using their phones and tablets.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are alive and well, but these activities should align with your other goals.

Event Marketing 101

Two recent emails in my Inbox included questions about event marketing. In this blog post I’ll share some basic digital marketing tips. Hopefully your event website is up and running. If not, you could use Eventbrite to set up your website and sell tickets. You may also need an active PayPal account to accept payments. In addition, social media channels will help you amplify your message and engage with potential participants.

If for some reason you, your organization or business is still not active on social media, establish your:

Twitter presence (sample:
Facebook presence (sample:

Write a press release or an article about your upcoming event. Describe how this event is different from any other events and why people should pay attention / attend. Use descriptive images if you can. (Suggested platform: PRWeb)

Create a SlideShare channel for your organization or event – you can post PowerPoint presentations, and other documents (Sample).

Share links to your press release, articles and presentations on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) – engage with your followers. Create a tweet schedule – you could post tweets about different speakers and presentations.

Take and share photographs at your event (Eventsagram).

Social Media: Why Am I Here? What Are My Goals?

I had a chance to share my thoughts on social media and meaningful participation in social networking with some University of Montana students yesterday. It warmed my heart today to read the following Guest Speaker feedback:

“I felt our guest speaker really helped me understand how passion and
listening is the basis of social media. Her commentary on
understanding your personal social media strategy – why am I here?,
what am I planning?, what are my goals? – gave me a good basis for how
to start any project. Also, I felt like her advice to “listen!” was so
helpful. Although listening seems like an obvious part of the social
media world, I think it is often overshadowed by the “doing!” aspect.
We want our ideas to be heard, so there are so many people talking. By
stepping out of that and listening, you can better choose your message
to acknowledge the things people talk most about. Furthermore, I
learned a lot from her discussion on getting news to the masses.
Starting with a press release, then working your way down the social
media platform list, each time revising your message for the audience.
I had never looked at spreading the word in that way before. I really
enjoyed listening to her speak, thank you for giving us that

Thank you, Brittany!

What Happens in Vegas Does Not Have to Stay in Vegas

I am attending New Media Expo 2014 in Las Vegas. Enjoyed all keynotes and sessions today – posting some notes that may help other aspiring writers (bloggers).

Lee Ogden’s 10 Lessons Learned from 10 Years of Blogging:

1. Be specific – stand for something.
2. Know your readers / customers. Discover their pain points.
3. No plan = plan to fail.
4. Optimize and socialize the journey to your content. Validate. Think how your blog visitors find your content.
5. Great content isn’t great until it is discovered and shared. Be the best answer.
6. Use content to bond with your audience.
7. Look beyond yourself. Leverage community for content.
8. Whatever can be found in search can be optimized.
9. Your blog is as interesting / useful as your audience thinks. Ask. Recognize. Think.
10. Optimize for customer – attract, engage, convert.

Intentional Leadership Expert Michael Hyatt (5 Elements of a Powerful, Personal Brand): Make invisible visible, use descriptive images. Create a consistent experience. Have a compelling brand slogan that communicates what you do – how you solve problems.

Paula Pant (The Art of Crafting Jaw-Dropping Content): Use “sandwich model” for writing blog posts. Provide a close-up, then wide angle (data), and end with a close up (face of your story).

Great advice – keep learning.

Lessons Learned: Managing the Digital Marketing Beast

We all are constantly obtaining new skills and learning life lessons – often through challenges or failures. Here are some things I was reminded of in 2013.

If at all possible, small businesses should avoid the following:

  • Only one person assigned to marketing
  • Sales and marketing professionals not sharing information
  • Not addressing feedback received through social media channels
  • Lack of commitment and consistency.

Keys to success:

  • Be flexible, adapt to change
  • Listen and learn
  • Align social media and digital marketing goals with overall marketing goals
  • Review and frequently improve website content
  • Create a content development calendar
  • Assign priorities to creating content (high, medium, low)
  • Establish efficient workflows for content creation and sharing
  • Use social media wisely for sharing your news and  useful content
  • Commit to posting frequency / based on staff availability and skillset.

Things to remember:

  • Focus on impact and reaching your  marketing goals, not on the number of likes, followers and tools
  • Automated social media and e-mail marketing tools can make your digital marketing efforts look lazy, decrease authenticity.

Give and you will receive in 2014!


13 Tips for Building a Total Online Presence

Now as you are focused on your new year’s resolutions, here’s one more list:

1.   Use Quora to find questions people in your industry are asking.
2.   Create a listening station – read blogs and listen to podcasts to find great content ideas.
3.   Create landing pages and capture leads.
4.   Write good content that includes keyword phrases to improve SEO and network to get relevant sites linking back to your site.
5.   Email isn’t dead. Lead capture plays a big part in your email marketing efforts.
6.   Build a full Google+ profile and claim your +Local (Place) page. Focus on small circles in Google+. Promote with +1 button.
7.   Use online advertising and face-to-face networking to drive people to your website.
8.   Your audience will tell you if you are oversharing on social media. Make adjustments.
9.   Always use analytics (data) as a checkpoint for everything you do.
10. Use your e-newsletter to promote quality content.
11.  Schedule tweets to share them throughout the day (Buffer).
12.  Create Twitter lists of customers and add their social profiles to your CRM tool.
13.  Optimize your website for mobile devices.

Total Online Presence = Your Online Identity.


6 Ways to Grow Your Small Business

When Fortune magazine interviewed leaders of large and small firms, they received a few pieces of advice on how to grow a business. Perhaps some of their formulas could become growth-growing points in your small business.

* Find an edge over competition. Look at your industry’s biggest cost and time constraints and focus on those areas of your business.

* Describe your business in 1-2 words. Own a phrase that illustrates your product or service. Then Google it to see if you have chosen the right one. A beverage company used “enhanced waters” for example.

* Focus on one measurable priority for your company, not a dozen. For 90 days, focus on one problem area of your business.

* Control your cash flow. Construct a business model that fuels your growth without the need for outside financing.

* Use blogs, white papers, YouTube and Twitter to align your marketing materials with the phrase you own.

* Make changes faster. The fastest-moving companies huddle daily to drive their priorities.

What Can Small Business Marketers Learn From Obama?

1. Leadership skills – he put together a great team for his campaign and motivated his people all the way.

2. Never give up, believe in yourself, even if you have no reason to do so, polls did not always predict Obama as a winner.

3. Presentation skills – Obama is one of the most self-confident speakers I have seen. Practice!

4. Social marketing – get away from ads to building online communities, just like Obama did.

5. Viral marketing – get people talking about you.

6. If you can’t get to young consumers otherwise, send them a text message or an email- speak their “love language”.

7. Focus and create  technologically savvy email campaigns.

8. Don’t be afraid to make fun of yourself – Obama joked about his bad performance during the first debate.

9. Supportive spouse or partner is always a blessing – keep your spouse and partner happy.  Have you noticed the smile on Michelle Obama’s face?

10. Humble beginnings don’t always mean humble lives – with hard work, passion and dedication small business owners can beat the odds, just like Obama did.

Small businesses marketers need to keep learning – new technologies have changed the “game” of marketing.