Trouble Losing Readers? Trim the Fat from Your Blog Content

    One of the most important aspects of your content marketing strategy is going to be the content.  We often talk about the merits of strong, enganging content that helps you connect to the reader but there are many pieces of the puzzle that go into developing a relationship with a customer.  Unfortunately connection is never as simple as plugging something in.
    When you want people to stick around and read your content, you have to make sure that the content you’re offering is valuable.  Even then, you need to make sure that the content is readable.  Not from a grammatical standpoint (though that’s important) but also from a time and attention span standpoint.
    What I’m trying to get at… is that you need to stop with the 1000+ word blog posts.
    It’s great if you have enough expert authority and experience to produce that much relevant content in a blog post but you’re handling it wrong when you try to pack that much information into a single blog post.  You’re also wasting an opportunity to create a string or series that could keep people coming back to your blog over the course of a few days or weeks.
    Is any informational or educational blog post so important that you absolutely have to get it online (and all of it) right this second?  What are the benefits of that vs breaking the topic up?
    The average person online reads at an 8-9th grade reading level with an attention span that runs about 500 words (some more, some less).  Granted the content could dictate whether or not you can go longer (funny, great info, riveting, etc) that doesn’t apply to all content and you shouldn’t assume that you can run on and on… and on.
    Write from a position of Brevity, and consider that if you’re trying to teach within your content that it doesn’t need to be as thorough as a textbook.  Only enough so to get the point across.
    Don’t bore your readers into submission – write brief, powerful content that will give you the upper hand during the connection and engagement process.
    One of the latest articles from social media examiner is a good example.  While the article is great, much like the rest of the content on their site, there is a lot of benefit to be had from trimming posts down.  Not that they necessarily half to trim the example down, but if all of your posts run that length then you should consider the benefits of breaking the content up, trimming the fat and making it easier for all the members of your target audience to benefit from your content marketing – not just the ones with a lot of stamina.


    Is Your Business Hiding In Plain Sight?

    I’m trying to figure out why so many organizations, individual marketers and businesses that boast an online presence make it so very difficult to get in touch and contact them.
    Across my medium of business interests and places where I hang my hat I don’t try to hide – it’s actually quite the opposite.  I believe that people should be able to contact me, and I want them to.  It’s just good business.  That’s why I share my business contact information where I’m able to do, and that’s why I have a social media iPhone widget that throws out all the places where people can network with me.  It’s all right there in one spot.
    If that’s not enough, there’s always the comment section.  The important thing is that you don’t have to click through dozens of pages just to get a single point of reference that gives out an obscure 800 number that may or may not lead you to a dead end automated electronic number.
    There are a lot of bloggers and plenty of businesses online that don’t offer a clue as to how someone can get a hold of them; call, write, whatever.  Nothing.  Not even snail mail.  When I see that, I often get the feeling that these individuals are operating from home and they’re just ashamed and trying to hide the fact.  Either that or they’re terrified someone is going to come and “get them”.
    Perhaps they’re just a small operation and they’re trying to give the impression otherwise.  I don’t know why.  There are a thousand and one assumptions and no one theory applies to all.
    For any company that is trying to step into the age of transparency with social media marketing, where they’re striving for a better and stronger brand image, not having direct contact information on a website is just suicide -especially if you get someone that wants more information from you because they want to do business.
    For the record, a contact form on a website is a cop-out.  If all you have is a contact form with no email addresses, no phone numbers and no snail mail then all that says is that you don’t want to be bothered or interrupted by someone who wants to do business with you.  It says that you want to do business on your own terms, when you feel like it, and that’s just not OK.
    Small businesses aren’t the only ones to blame for this, there are plenty of larger companies that are dipping into the “stealth ninja” pool by hiding contact information – or at least not making it readily know.  Have you ever tried to contact anyone at Google in order to get more information on a particular service?  For a company that is geared toward sharing a lot of information, Google is one of the most most closed off companies I’ve ever seen on the web.
    No numbers, no hints of whom to contact for specific divisions, or even how to reach those divisions.
    Businesses want to gain the benefit of connecting with consumers and engaging them in order to build a brand, but they stifle their own efforts when they start shutting down channels through which people can actively connect with them.  If you don’t have direct contact information available for your consumers to reach you, then I urge you to fix that and open yourself up to more engagement with your marketing.


    Hugging The 800lb Guerrilla – Marketing At Its Finest

    There are a lot of people out there trying to crack the code to successful viral marketing, but I think the formula is more complex than the human genome.  I think you have a better chance of reading someone’s full DNA code in your lifetime.
    I’ve seen uncountable people attempting to create something viral, often through entertainment or something that (loosely) resembles it.  What I notice though is that a lot of those attempts tend to be too big.  They’re trying to be something that they’re not.  It’s a chimp grunting loudly trying to be a “Gorilla”.  Guerrilla marketing they are not.
    The term Guerrilla Marketing was coined Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing. The concept is that the marketing and promotion of a given company, product or service is more focused on time, energy and imagination rather than anything that involves a massive budget.  Guerrilla marketing sets out to achieve something huge from something very small.  They are unconventional and generally unexpected, frequently interactive and found in unexpected placed.
    The entire point?  Go for unusual approaches such as intercepts in public, PR stunts and other unconventional means outside of standard marketing channels in order to gain to get max results with minimal output.
    Levinson identifies the following principles as the foundation of guerrilla marketing:

    • Guerrilla Marketing is geared for the small business, where the tsunami can be generated to produce a massive impact from a small tremor, thus saving the initial marketing investment.  Does that limit it to small business?  Certainly not.  Big companies can create a massive wave with a single cannonball as well.
    • It’s based on the psychology of people as opposed to guesswork and “Experience” in any given market.  It actually targets people.
    • It centers on time, energy and imagination – not money.
    • The focus on ROI is to measure the actual profits of the business and not just sales numbers.
    • Guerrilla marketing also pushes a focus on the number of new customers that are acquired in the wake of a campaign each month.
    • It requires a focus on a specific product or service, as opposed  to marketing that offers too many products or services.
    • Drop thoughts on competition and focus on cooperation with other businesses
    • Leverage current technology to build a brand and a business.
    • The message should target people on an individual level – Guerrilla Marketing is not intended for truly large groups.  It picks out the individuals in the group.

    There are just a few principles from his book, but take a look at the following images and you can see how companies have followed the guidelines to create something truly unique that draws a lot of attention and publicity.


    Conversion Killer – Your Site Is Destroying Your Marketing Efforts

    We talk a lot about content marketing and the herculean effort we put into making sure that our social media marketing efforts reach the right audience with the right message – but rarely do we focus on things that are equally (if not more) important.

    Our websites.

    The web presence you have online is the largest part of your marketing process.  You can do everything in your power to suck customers in with your marketing, and even if it’s extremely effective, you’ll lose the majority of your leads if they hit a website that doesn’t create a spark with them.
    This is where a lot of individuals and organizations start running into barriers that ruin conversion.  They throw everything including the kitchen sink into putting together a winning content marketing strategy, which they often pull of well, yet they neglect their landing pages.  Unfortunately the conversion process only begins out in the broad playing field of the net and social media. That’s simply where you hook them.  There’s a long way to go before they’re reeled in and you’re able to land them in the boat.
    Customers in the current market are beyond simple static pages.  It just doesn’t work anymore.  You may very well get them to come once, but it’s not likely that they’re going to buy the first time around, and who says they’ll even come back if your static content is lame.  That’s why it is so vital to create an interactive and engaging website that resonates with people who land on it.
    There are a  lot of components that come together and all of them have to do with the quick decision someone makes to either stay and play or bounce right out of your site.

    • The content needs to be fresh and engaging
    • The design needs to be professional
    • The content must be easy to navigate
    • The user has to find to be able to relate to it
    • The user should be able to immerse themselves in the content.

    The points to really focus on here have to do with engaging, immersive content.  You have to generate an interactive and almost 3D experience for the user so that they feel like they’re in the thick of your site, completely enveloped in your content.  When you create this level of engagement then you’re emulating the natural and very organic experience that someone feels when they’re personally shopping in a brick and mortar storefront. We can’t specifically replicate that experience for customers, but we can get extremely close by creating an environment that inspires comfort.
    Engagement is only a part of the equation.  Slap someone across the face, and shake the hand of another person.  Both are forms of engagement, one is more effective than the other in creating a positive situation that inspired relationship building.  Your content needs to help you achieve that virtual handshake.  You want your visitors to be inspired by your content, where they find real value and decide to stay.
    The last thing you want to do is create content that assaults your visitor and leaves them feeling mugged and robbed of their time.  Make sure the content on your site is fit to recieve the traffic that your content marketing and social media marketing is sending to it.
    What kind of attention are you giving your site?


    SYNND Software Will Revolutionize Online Marketing

    I found a radically different tool that I’m sure is going to shake things up in the Internet marketing world. Consider this…
    Content (1), Inbound Links (2) and Traffic (3) are the 3 major ranking factors for the search engines (especially Google). this tool promotes content (1) and then initiates natural inbound links (2) and produces immediate traffic (3). When all 3 of these elements combine you have a recipe for high search engine ranking and visibility.
    Synnd is a tool which helps you to focus more of your time on Content (1) by automating Inbound Links (2) and Traffic (3). Synnd is a simple way to outsource your marketing to hundreds in a matter of minutes. Get your TIME back. Synnd is driven by a network of hundreds of members utilizing the latest in task automation to laser focus powerful marketing tasks on each piece of content that you publish (text, video, audio, PDF, etc.). If your content has a URL then it can be promoted with the Synnd network.
    The Synnd software is a powerful engine that keeps everyone on task with your promotions… Automatically. Synnd is over 4 years in development with over 1 million lines of software code. You simply have to try Synnd to experience the raw power that hundreds of people can make on your search engine visibility and social network exposure.
    Imagine having hundreds of people promoting your content through votes, bookmarks, comments, ratings and article distribution. Imagine having the ability to automatically create thousands of references to your content. It only takes a few minutes to set up a campaign but the net effect is up to 360+ man hours of promotion on every piece of content you publish.
    Imagine the power of 800+ computers owned by people from around the world working in concert on the promotion of your content, your video, your website and you’ll have a hint of what Synnd can do for you… Check out the Synnd network now.


    B2B Marketing: Thought Leadership Rules All

    Top B2B marketers know that there are a couple primary objectives:  Building new business and becoming a thought leader.
    According a recent Economics Intelligence Unit study, 56% of B2B marketing execs state that “positioning our company as a thought leader is a top objective”.  1/3 of those who responded also stated that they felt thought leadership was the key to marketing their services over the next 5 years.
    So why is thought leadership becoming so popular to the point of domination in B2B Marketing?  Some cite that it’s more important to focus on lead generation and nurturing of those leads, however many take the position that thought leadership does just that.  If you’re swaying between the two, here are some things to keep in mind:
    1) In B2B marketing, you’re no longer the one that is hunting, but instead you’re being hunted.  In the past, the marketer had to go out and actively engage, or market to, CEO’s and other company reps in order to make business contacts and generate leads. A recent study by Forbes and Google actually reveals that over 60% of senior executives are clicking “search” as much as 1/2 dozen times each day while looking for business related information.  Thanks to the web, marketers are now having those leads come to them.  This puts a lot of emphasis on being a thought leader and proving authority, credibility and knowledge.
    2) There’s a marriage going on between social media and thought leadership.  B2B social media marketing is in place to build brands, and create momentum for awareness as well as loyalty and credibility – all of which strengthen lead generation efforts.  Since prospects within social media are always on the prowl for good information, this makes social media an excellent channel for thought leadership. Couple that with the fact that over 70% of B2B buyers utilize social networks for either personal or businesses communication (or both) and you have opportunity for massive lead generation over the long-term.
    If social media is becoming the dominant channel for B2B marketing, then thought leadership is dominating B2B marketing.
    3) Customers also want to know “how” among other things.  Before social media exploded as a means of disseminating information to the mass markets, public information about a company was centered on what the company did and little else.  Now, people involved with or connected to that company through networking also want to know how they’re doing it and why.  Not only that, people want to see personality and they want to know what sets each company apart.
    Companies are no longer untouchable brands, out of arms reach like a red carpet celebrity.  They are living breathing things, and people want to interact.  This is a point where a brand has to prove they are “sentient” and capable of thoughtful, engaging interaction.  Otherwise they’re just another hamster in the cage.
    Thought leadership should be the focus of every company that is engaging in B2B marketing, especially through social media.  It is through that process and marketing strategy that business will generate more leads and connect with those leads on a deeper and more meaningful level.


    Are You Hiding Your Social Networking Profiles?

    What your audience can’t see can hurt you.
    Here’s some proof – I had a recent conversation with a long time client who had been discussing social media marketing with me, and was curious how he could invest more into Twitter to gain a larger following.  We discussed a few tidbits of information and common tactics before I looked through their current marketing strategy, including the website – I was a little amazed that nothing I saw indicated that they even had a company Twitter account.
    It boils down to simplicity at this point - If you’re inadvertently hiding your social networking profiles, personal or business, then the market isn’t going to be able to locate you easily – if at all.
    With that said, you don’t need to just showcase the network profile links on your company site and hope for the best.  There are a number of places you can leverage to get more traffic, and that includes offline marketing.  Just look at the billboard Ashton Kutcher put up.  You just need to get creative with your offline marketing.  If you can put words on something, then you can put your twitter ID there as well.
    Make it visible on your website: Aim for optimal placement on your site or blog – preferably somewhere above the fold.  Upper navigation, the sidebar or as a simple signature in your posts are optimal choices because the eyes of your visitors are naturally in those places.
    Encourage sharing: There are a number of tools you can utilize to encourage sharing that point back to you and utilize your own Twitter ID.  Start with the TweetMeMe button for your content, as well as the Facebook “like” button integration.  Sharing plugins like Sociable or Sexy Bookmarks can help bring traffic back to you where you can generate new interests for your social networks.
    Bribe people: You can use additional methods to bribe users into following you by letting them know that your social network consists of VIP’s.  Those VIP’s get special info, value, discounts, special offers, limited products, pre-launch info, etc.  Give them a reason to want to follow you.
    Use directories: You can submit your Twitter identity to Twitter directories to push more eyeballs toward your social networking profile.  Utilize lists like WeFollow to get targeted followers whom are interested in what you post about.
    It takes time to gain traction using Twitter, and unless you can pull of a sweet viral trick (like the recent Old Spice Guy vids) it’ll take continual networking and engagement to get people on your side following you.
    Placing strategic links, sharing insightful content and engaging your current audience will help you to continually grow that following base – not with just warm bodies, but with targeted traffic that brings you results.


    Creating Value In Social Media – Knowing What To Do & When

    There is a vast difference between simply deciding to do something and knowing what to do.  That difference separates the winning team from the losing team.  There are simply too many people and organizations that jump on the social media wagon simply because everyone else is doing it.
    If you simply do what others are doing then you move from being a strategic thought leader to a lemming.  By coping and following the herd, you have the potential to get a bit of what everyone else is getting but you’re not likely to get anything new.
    It’s also rather simple to mimic the words of another as well as their actions but you just don’t get the deeper meaning and value of what’s being said and offered.  You can mimic everything except for what they know.
    That knowledge is reflected in how well you do that which you know and understand.
    If you do something you know nothing about, the results show poor results that reflect directly on you.  You can’t point at the people you’re following for your own mistakes.  They’re yours, you own them.
    With that said, would you continue to follow?
    Knowledge is an Art
    Call science all you like but the practical application of knowledge throughout each day begins to look less like scientific calculation and more like an art form as decisions are strategically played and plans are built.  Gaining the knowledge to make that happen takes time.  We don’t create masterpieces overnight, and rarely in youth.  We certainly don’t create a masterpiece through replication.
    At least not one that we can own.
    Progress in social media and marketing will often follow learning curves where that learning is gained from the observation and focus of what is happening as a result of current developments in and around a certain strategy or project.
    The art comes into play by understanding and knowing what to do with the information and knowledge you’ve gained from observing and learning.  Observation isn’t intended to breed replication. It’s intended to help you understand the whitherto’s and they whyfor’s.  To foster growth in your own knowledge as a marketer or a business trying to break into social media.
    In essence, knowledge and the application thereof is about creating new value for people as opposed to smearing garbage in their face.  Peddling copied content does nothing to create new value.  You’re just reheating old value.
    Eventually it loses its flavor and goes bland.
    The Social Media Melting Pot
    So many people have turned social media into a factor for replication.  They’re trying to apply old methods that no longer carry any value to a system that demands real value and it’s breaking that system.
    Social networking and the technology that we’re playing with, when used correctly, provides people with a channel for new value where they can pick up and run with the escalation of knowledge.  This new knowledge should help solve problems and create a magnetic stir around important brands.  Old, stale communication methods, outdated marketed and blatant advertising do absolutely nothing to propel the escalation of knowledge.
    A large portion of people and organizations aren’t using social media to its true potential.  Instead of pushing new value, over 70% of users are simply pushing messages that have been recycled instead of trying to create something new that can be helpful.  This isn’t just everyday users, it’s organizations as well.  If anyone wants to see results, then that requires they do something completely different. That different take or different action requires that you know what to do at any given moment as opposed to simply “doing” because someone else is doing it
    It might seem like you need to read minds and predict the future but it’s not as difficult as it might appear.  You simply need to observe and learn what people want, then apply that knowledge so that you know what to do in order to provide the solution.


    Social Media Marketing: “Why Should I Do Business With You?”

    If you want to survive in social media marketing, you have to stand out among your competitors.  In order to do that, you need make sure that you’re doing things differently.  If you want to make sure that your marketing within social media is different then you obviously need to know what they’re doing.
    There are countless businesses that are ready to tell the world about all the ways that they’re unique – how they stand out from the herd.  Low prices, excellent customer service, superior and rapid shipping, awesome staff…
    Those aren’t qualities that make you stand apart.  Those are standard expectations.  You have to deliver on those or else you sink.  Since most businesses in operation right now aren’t sunk, it’s safe to say that they’re all hitting those marks most (if not all of) the time
    There’s a question that consumers are asking about your business, especially when they start spotting you through your social media marketing efforts.
    “Why should I do business with you?”
    If you want to answer that question, you need to know your business.  Included in knowing your “business”, you know your market as well as your competition.
    If you want to better understand who you are in relation to your competition start asking these questions.  Not just about yourself but about your competition.  With a little investigative work you can get all the answers you need:

    • You may be using social media for marketing, but are you in deep?  Are you engaging people in a manner that makes you stand out in a positive light?
    • Are you marketing differently than the industry norm?  Everyone has a Facebook page and they talk to people on the wall.  What are you doing differently on Facebook?
    • Are there new leads, comments, dialogues and questions filtering down the pipe more… or less?  Why?
    • Do the prospects you meet with your social media marketing efforts have a reason to pick up the phone and contact you?  Do you give them reason to take ANY action?
    • Do you know why your existing customers like to do business with you?  It might be something unique – are you leveraging it?

    Unique is the focal word here.  That’s why businesses online strive to develop a Unique Selling Point (USP).  It’s a marker that makes them stand out within their niche.  It’s the unique spin they put on everything they’re doing.  They may very well be selling the same blue widgets that everyone else is peddling but what they have to say about their widgets has consumers salivating for them.
    Most of them don’t even know what a blue widget is but it sounds interesting enough.
    Our blue widgets have proven to actually help B2B companies sell more X without the added expense of Y.”
    That’s the kind of USP that gets people interested
    When you fail to establish any clear indicator on why the prospective customer should do business with you as opposed to the competition then the only remaining variable left for that customer to base their decision on is the price.
    It might seem like a good idea, but price competition alone does nothing but destroy value.  In the end, you lose overall because you’re not gaining loyal customers.
    If you want customers to do business with you for reasons other than the fact that you’ve distributed a lot of coupons and slashed prices, then give them a reason to do so.  If you can create the perception of real value, customers will attach to you and come knocking in droves.


    Reinforce Your Social Marketing With Patience and Consistency

    I’m a rather big fan of consistency, along with patience.  Regardless of the situation, I’ve learned that those two things can see me through to the end whether it be bitter or prosperous.  Most often it’s prosperous.  This is important for any kind of social media campaign.
    These traits cannot be bargained away or shut off when it comes time to connect with people.  If you want to represent yourself correctly, you have to greet people through them whether that’s online or offline.
    You have to be honest with yourself when it comes to your business.  You simply can’t expect to build a huge network of people in a matter of days.  If you want to have a network of targeted prospects and customers you have to invest time. You must patiently choose those people you connect with.  There is no end to this game, it’s something that will go on forever.
    Marketing online is never a short-term tactic. It requires long term effort based on strategic moves.  Essentially, it’s a chess game with an unlimited number of pieces to be taken with no chance of a check-mate.
    As that network grows over time and you connect with people interested in your business then some will become customers, others may even become friends.  You may even connect with a few people that become major players in how you do business. This should be an enjoyable process for you, something that you can look back on and relish. 
    Networking and social media marketing has significant value to you and your business, so be patient.
    The other point to hit on – consistency.  This tends to be a bit more difficult for some people and that’s entirely understandable.  To be consistent is to be boring.  The repetition, the monotony.  It’s not at all fun, and certainly not entertaining.  The whole novelty wears off after a while doesn’t it?
    Unfortunately there are things that you need to do on a regular basis.  Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly.  Yes, those tasks all seem to be draining and menial but they’re important.  If you were to stop doing your menial tasks, think of the consequences.  Garbage builds up, paperwork isn’t filed, payroll doesn’t get done, etc.  laundry?  yeah that can back up on your pretty fast.
    Building a network through social media marketing is something that takes consistency. Trying to connect with just 1 person each day is far more effective than grabbing a mass following over the course of two days then doing nothing for weeks on end.  Imagine if you added 3 people per working day over the course of a year.  Without getting into the gritty details of people leaving or joining on their own you’d potentially be networked with nearly a thousand people by the end of a year – and that’s not even factoring in other people following you because they found you and took interest.
    Don’t feel like doing anything spectacular today?  That’s fine.  You don’t have to be a superstar marketer every day, you just need to be consistand and patient.  Everything else will follow.