Marketing Tip of the Week: Word-of-Mouth Isn’t A Strategy

It’s an easy trap to fall into. Maybe you feel like things are already going well with your business. Maybe you live in a small town. Maybe you feel that you have a solid base of loyal customers who tell you that they sing your praises to everyone who will listen. So why not let the power of word-of-mouth carry you?

It’s An End, Not A Means

In short, word-of-mouth is not how you build a successful business, it’s but one way to know your business is successful. It isn’t the strategy, it’s the result of the strategy. You build interest through social media and content driven marketing. You close with excellent customer service, delivering on your promises and exceeding customer expectations. At that point, you begin to see a groundswell of word-of-mouth.

But even once you’ve achieved it, it isn’t enough to sustain you.

Bad News Sells

Ultimately that’s because bad news is much more popular than good news. For every customer who says good things about your store, there will be many more who find something to complain about. It’s a fact of human nature, and as such, relying on word-of-mouth is unreliable at best. Of course, we’d all like to think that we catch any disgruntled customers and make them happy before they leave, but the reality is that for every vocal customer we help, there are far more who never let their displeasure be known … to you.

Don’t rely on the kindness of strangers to promote your business, make your own strategy and watch your company soar!

Marketing Tip of the Week: How to Handle Those Idea Dry Spells

Content marketing relies almost exclusively on your ideas. After all, you can’t wow your customers with impressive content if you don’t actually have new content. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll have an idea exactly when you need one. Creative dry spells come so make sure you take advantage of days when the ideas flow.

Don’t Limit Yourself

When you sit down to think up your next marketing idea, your brain doesn’t always limit itself to only one. Often, you’ll come up with several different options, though not all are workable. But what then? Do you choose the best and leave the others behind? Why limit yourself to only one successful idea at a time?

Having a deep bench is a personnel staple, but it applies to marketing ideas just as strongly. Not every idea is equal, but all of them have merit. Writing them down, even the ones that feel weak, can have a lot of future value. You may reject an idea today, but when you are struggling to find something for your next post, a list of previous ideas can not only give you decent fodder but can also offer a base to spark you toward your next big idea. Even if you would never use the idea as it sits on your notepad, never underestimate its ability to lead you to the next one you would use.

Use Your People

Okay, so that takes care of future dry spells, but what if you need an idea now?

Involve your staff! Nobody understands the day-to-day customer like the people you employ to serve them. Bringing those folks into your brainstorm sessions can bring a new and potentially exciting perspective. And just like your discarded ideas, even if you don’t get an idea that is workable as is, you may find one that pushes you toward new concepts that you can use.

It’s true that our minds may not always cooperate with our creative needs, but surviving those idea dry spells is a simple task when we use a little forethought.

Marketing Tip of the Week: Facebook Marketing Beyond the Like

Your Facebook page is growing daily. You see the number of “Like”s you’ve received increasing daily so you know your content is getting in the hands of more and more people all the time. And yet, even with all this exposure, you aren’t seeing a significant increase in business. Why?

Identify Your Best Posts

The first thing you want to do is check your metrics. If you have been experimenting with a variety of different approaches, check your posts to see which ones caught the most traction. Facebook is helpful in this regard as it will let you know when you have a post outperforming your standard. They do that in an attempt to get you to pay to promote that post, but it’s helpful to let you know what customers are keying on and what YOUR audience finds the most interesting.

Why is that important? Because it’s not just about getting people to come to your page, it’s about getting them to like and share your content. Everyone’s news feed is full and prioritized by Facebook to show the things they are most interested in seeing. That means that if they don’t actively interact with your page on a regular basis, they run an increasingly large chance of missing your future posts.

Cater To Your Audience

So now you know what content gets the most attention, what do you do with that information? You pander. You create more content in a similar vein. Getting the Like is important, but engaging your customers after the Like is even more important. Engagment keeps them involved with your business and keeps your brand in the front of their minds. And more customers thinking about your business means more visits and more sales!

Customer interaction is the entire point of social media. And their interaction with your page shows their desire to see your content. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to seek them out on other social media. Someone Likes your page on Facebook? Reach out to them on Twitter or Instagram.

When customers express an interest in you, don’t be afraid to express an interest in them.


Marketing Tip of the Week: Find A Topic!

When your focus is content marketing, one of the most difficult things to do is come up with interesting topics. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Topics are everywhere, and here are a few great ways to tease them out!

Google Alerts

Did you know that you can set up Google to tell you what other people in your industry are doing and have it email that information to you? It’s true. Talk about taking the legwork out of hunting down relevant topics! Just open your web browser, navigate to Google (where else) and type in Google Alerts. It will bring you to a page that lists all alerts you have set up (If you weren’t previously aware of this service, that would be zero.) and will allow you to set up new ones.

So how does this work? You type in the keyword you are most interested in, how often you’d like the alert and how many listings you’d like to receive and presto! Google will search the web as often as you want for the topics you specify. Instant topic ideas for your content! (And no, you don’t want to copy someone else’s material, but you can take someone else’s idea and make it your own.)

Pick 5

Look for the leaders in your industry who also blog, and pick 5 to follow. They will blog about relevant topics, and you can choose to cover the same topic with your personal slant, or disagree with part or all of their conclusions in a related post that links back to their’s. Interactive content like this is great as it increases the traffic to both blogs, and if they choose to respond to your assessment, can greatly increase the hits on your own!

Personal Experience

The draw of personal experience cannot be overstated. You may think that your story is boring and not worth retelling, but people like to know who they’re doing business with. People are becoming disenchanted with the faceless corporations. As such, any opportunity you have to put a personal face on your business is an opportunity you should seize! Blog about how you got started in the industry. Blog about the biggest challenges you faced in the early years and how you overcame them.

In other words, blog about how you became successful. People are naturally drawn to success (it’s in our DNA), and your story can actually build confidence in your brand!

Don’t let the pressure of new topics keep you from focusing on content. Topics are everywhere, and finding them has never been easier!

Marketing Tip of the Week: Dynamic Headlines!

Quality content. Is there any more important topic in marketing? Is there any more important aspect to your marketing strategy? I would say no, but perhaps there is something equally important. After all, what does your customer see before they see your amazing content? What item draws them into your site and convinces them to read the nuggets you’ve mined out for their viewing pleasure? Your headline, of course!

The Importance of A Good Headline

The headline is there to entice your readers to invest their time in the content you’ve created. That makes its value directly proportional to the value of the content you’ve created. After all, getting the customer to read your content only matters if you’ve provided content worth reading. But having quality content doesn’t matter one whit if no one ever decides to read it. Therefore, your headline and your content are of equal importance and should be treated with equal care.

The Power of Curiosity

A good headline will grab your reader’s attention and entice them to read more. This can be accomplished in many ways, but one of the most popular involves piquing their curiosity with vague text or giving them just enough information that they feel compelled to learn more. An example would be just about any headline you see written for Buzzfeed or UpWorthy. These companies have made their bones using vague intros that draw the reader in. There’s no debate that this method works. Human beings are curious creatures after all, but just because it’s effective for them doesn’t mean that it will work for your needs.

Bringing in the maximum number of readers may sound good on the surface, but with every reward comes risk, and this is no different. Using the curiosity angle will increase your views for sure, but it can also increase your bounce rate. Customers who are enticed to open content they don’t really want to read may be less inclined to come back, and that’s never a good thing. These large companies use this method because they are casting a very wide net. They are willing to lose large percentages of the customers they reach because those that stay more than make it worth it. Most likely, your business caters to a much more select market and may not find that the benefit outweighs the potential cost.

Generating Excitement

Another way to get your customers to click on your content is to use headlines as excitement generators for your topic. That simply means to approach the headline as an opportunity to get your customers hyped up about your content. Use the title of this article for an example. I could have titled it “A discussion of headlines and their importance for your content”, but I didn’t want to put you to sleep before you ever read the first line.

As you can see, there is an art to writing headlines, and it is best learned through practice. There’s no one method that works for everyone, so feel free to experiment, but track the traffic on your content and see how different approaches work for you and your audience.

Marketing Tip of the Week: 3 Social Media Marketing Tips

A few weeks ago I talked about a few specific social media platforms and how best to determine which is best for you and your marketing strategy. (If you missed those posts, they are part 1, part 2, and part 3.) This week I’d like to focus on some general social media tips to improve your footprint on whichever platform you’ve chosen to use.

Social Media Marketing Tips

  1. Images are Your Friend - Using images with your posts is proven to be an extremely effective way to increase clicks, reposts and general interest overall. It’s as true on social media as in any other walk of life, a picture is certainly worth a thousand words.
  2. Post More than Once – What I mean by that is to post the same content multiple times a day. Why? Because your audience may check their site at different times of the day. Posting once in the morning, at midday and again in the evening will garner you the largest audience, and if you cater to a customer base from different time-zones, you have the best opportunity to reach your entire base.
  3. Don’t be Afraid to Re-post – As you build your readership, you may find that information you’ve posted in the past can be relevant to your new audience. You’ll want to avoid posting the same thing within a short period of time, but pulling information you’ve posted 6 months or a year ago and reposting it is more than acceptable, it’s smart. It allows you to reuse material and reduce the amount of new material you have to create while also providing your new audience with information they may find helpful.

Use these tips to help increase your footprint with Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform of your choice. Join me next Friday for yet another Marketing Tip of the Week!

Marketing Tip of the Week: 3 Tips For Using Google+

If you’re looking to improve your online visibility, it might be a good idea to use the social media site hosted by the web’s most popular search engine. Not because they give more weight to their own site, but because it is so seamlessly integrated into their processes that there is no need to game the system any further. And it is that seamless integration that makes it an invaluable tool for being recognized online.

3 Google+ Marketing Tips

  1. Complete Your Google+ Page – I put this first because it is by far the most important step. Fill out your profile completely, link to your product and web pages, and find and use key words to promote your business. This completed profile is what your customers and potential customers will use to find you in other places on the web.
  2. Circle the Competition - Google+ allows you to circle (or follow) your competitors. This is valuable because it allows you to see their marketing strategies, ad concepts, etc. You can determine how successful these strategies are and use them to inspire ideas of your own!
  3. Use Large Images and Catchy Headlines - The key to having your ads and other content viewed is in not giving the reader a choice about whether or not to view it. Large images will stand out when scrolling through a news feed, and once that draws the eye, a catchy headline will pull them in the rest of the way. Remember the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Don’t go text heavy when a nicely placed image will do your talking for you.

So if you aren’t already on Google+, now’s the time to start, and if you are, allow these tips to help you be more successful!


Marketing Tip of the Week: Is Your Website Streamlined?

We’ve all been there. The website discovered after following an interesting link that immediately caused a headache. The splash page was nonsensical and didn’t give any idea of what the site was for. It was necessary to click a series of links to get to any merchandise at all, and when something interesting was located, there was no indication as to what to do next!

If you’re like me, you clicked away from that site about 2 steps ago. But it’s true that even though they are becoming more and more rare as websites become easier to use and set up these sites still exist. Whether your page is as bad as the one described above or not, here are 3 ways to ensure your content is accessible and valuable.

3 Steps to Streamline Your Website

  1. Brief and to the point - This applies to all the copy on your page, but especially your splash page. When a customer arrives at your page, they should immediately know what you do and how to access what you do.If you sell a certain kind of merchandise, say so and include a call-to-action that tells the customer what they should do next.
  2. With links, less is more - There is only one way to navigate a website, and that’s through clicking links whether they be on the navigation bar or embedded in the text. If you have too many links on your nav bar, the customer can become confused and not know where to go next!
    You don’t want your customer to have to “drill down” through too many steps to get to your product, but your main navigation needs to be simple and uncluttered. If you have more than seven links in your primary navigation, you might want to rethink your categories.
  3. Put Your Most Important Content First - Your call-to-action needs to be front and center on every page. Your customer should never find themselves ignorant of where to go next, and they should always be heading in the direction you want them to go: to your products and services!

Don’t confuse your customers! Make your site accessible and easy to navigate and you are sure to see an uptick in traffic.

Marketing Tip of the Week: Plan Your Content

It’s not easy to create excellent marketing content on a day to day basis. It doesn’t take long before the blank screen and blinking cursor leave you wondering what you could possible write about next. Yet as difficult as consistent content can be, it is not negotiable. If you want to have a valuable online presence, you’ve got to deliver marketing content your audience will want to read. So how do you keep the words flowing? How do you roll from one good idea to the next? Have a plan!

Think Thematically

Everything is easier when you plan ahead, and the easiest way to generate compelling content is by thinking about your topic in advance. You should sit down and choose a weekly or monthly theme, and then write to match. This method not only gives you a broad topic about which to write, it can also help you to focus your writing so that you don’t find yourself wandering off topic.

If your business benefits from holidays, you have ready-made themes being handed to you on a regular basis! Just use the big holiday for the month and structure your content around it. Even if your business is not directly related to holidays, you could still use them in a secondary capacity or farm them for ideas that DO relate to your business.

Promote Yourself

Another great way to generate content is to shape it around what you are creating or highlighting on the business side. Do you sell DIY supplies? Perhaps do a blog explaining how to create something that uses a product you currently have on sale. Do you manufacture goods? Do a series of posts that detail your product and potential uses for it!

Marketing content doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little thought and planning ahead, it might even become enjoyable!

Marketing Tip of the Week: Social Media and the Art of Listening

Last week’s post focused on listening to your customers, but that doesn’t stop at the people who enter your store. You have many customers (and potential customers) in the social media realm that need your time and attention as well. It’s no secret that social media is the future of marketing, and effectively navigating its waters requires attention to your followers and those you want to be your followers.

How to Listen on Social Media

Listening through social media is less about asking direct questions (though you can do that too) and more about reading what your followers have to say.

Companies have long understood that people with similar interests in a particular product or brand often have other similar interests. If they model their marketing campaigns after one of those other interests, they can appeal to a certain demographic. You can easily do the same thing with your own marketing strategies.

By paying attention to the posts of your followers, you will quickly begin to garner a sense of where their interests lie and how best to approach them. It truly is as simple as paying attention.

Focus Your Attention

But what if you believe you’ve fully harvested your current crop of followers? Where then do you turn?

Again, listening to your current followers is the key. If a majority of your followers are also interested in another market, it would stand to reason that people in that market could be interested in your business. Rather than just going out and following a lot of random people on Twitter in the hopes they’ll follow you back, it would be better to focus your attentions and socialize within the group or #hashtag that you see popping up most often among your current followers. By doing this, you could potentially discover an entirely new pool of customers!

Listening is an important part of owning a business, and listening to your customers is always a good idea. The secret is in knowing what to do with what you hear.