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5 Ways Blogging Will Help Your Business

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So many small business owners and entrepreneurs don’t think they need a blog. Blogging takes time and energy that would be better spent focusing on operational concerns or building the business, right? Wrong! The fact is, blogging is one of the least expensive and most effective marketing tools at your disposal

Whether you are selling B2C goods or B2B services, blogging will help you build your business. If nothing else, blogging gives you focus. The blog can become a focal point for your entire marketing program, forcing you to consider brand positioning and customer commitment as you tell your story in each blog post. Blogging keeps your brand fresh for prospects, customers, and employees.

Here are just a few of the reasons your business needs a blog:

  1. Promote your online brand – You can use the company blog as the launch pad for your online marketing program. A well-thought-out blog can support your inbound marketing campaign and your SEO strategy. It also gives you content you can reuse to feed social media channels, LinkedIn groups, Pinterest, and other social media channels. You can even use it in company newsletters and other customer communications.
  2. Establish your market credentials – The company blog is the perfect forum to talk about issues relating to your business and your market, and show the world what you know and why they should do business with you and not the competition. The blog is a soap box you can use to show your expertise about trends, challenges, regulations, and other issues that are important to your customers.
  3. Offer customer support – The company blog also is your forum to engage with customers. You can use the blog to explain what’s going on with the company, share good news, and bad, or to apologize for a problem. It provides a place where you can talk to customers in a more personal way, and show that the company cares in a very public way.
  4. Lead generation – You never want to use a blog as an overt advertising platform, but you can use it to engage with customers and talk about innovations, new products, and new trends. If you can engage with customers without a sales pitch, they will continue to follow you until they are ready to become customers.
  5. Build brand trust – Blogging promotes engagement with customers and interaction builds familiarity, and trust. By talking to your target market regularly you are building an online relationship; you become familiar. So when the time comes to making a buying decision, consumers will remember that relationship when they buy. They think first about brands they know and trust.

We know that blogging can be time consuming, and many executives don’t like to write. So just outsource it – that’s why we’re here. We can help you create a warm and friendly blog that puts the right face forward for your company, and engages with consumers so they keep coming back. Let us help you tell your story and show you how to make the most of a corporate blog.

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Written by Tom Woolf

March 10th, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Best Practice,SEO,Tactics

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Repurpose your content to get more mileage

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Are you coming up short on ideas for your content strategy? Having a calendar of content about your company’s activities and products and services  – press releases, white papers, case studies, articles, videos – helps to fill the pipeline. Still to maintain an active presence on social media channels requires having content daily or at least several times a week to keep followers engaged. Let’s face it; it’s not easy to be brilliant, witty, insightful and interesting all the time – for most of us anyway.

So just how do you keep content following to all your necessary content channels without causing yourself undo stress? You could hire a muse (run an ad on LinkedIn), get some cats (seemed to work for Hemingway) or you could repurpose existing content and you should. You can get a lot of mileage by taking your best content and turning it into something new and different and fresh to use on your various social channels.

The benefits of repurposing, in addition to getting more out of your content investment, are:

Reach a broader audience. People absorb information differently. Some are more visual and like images and charts and graphs; others are auditory learners and respond better to videos or podcasts. And then of course there are those of who like the written word. By repurposing your content, you can appeal to a wide range of followers. You can take a white paper and turn it into an Infographic or turn a video into a blog post. The same message in different formats attracts a wider audience.

Improve your SEO: You have more content assets to attract more traffic from those who are searching for the information you provide. You help to boost SEO by cross-linking your content. For example, you can create a blog post and encourage your visitors to check out a podcast that provides more information on the topic or includes an interview with an industry authority.

Explore new angles: As you repurpose your content, you may find a new angle. A blog post on how to implement a flexible work policy could spawn a white paper on creating office policies for remote workers.

Repurposing best practices

· Research: Understand your audience and what is important to them. Choose a topic that has several angles that you can repurpose into different content assets.

· Evergreen: As you are developing your content, aim for topics that are evergreen – will never become dated – to drive traffic to your site for a long time.

· Get creative: Determine the platforms you plan to use – blog, social media posts, YouTube or email campaigns – and then repurpose the content to get the maximum results from each.

· Add value: As you repurpose your content for different platforms, aim to add value each time.

Good luck repurposing. And if you still have problems coming up with fresh content, see if getting a cat inspires you.

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 2nd, 2014 at 10:33 pm

My Content Marketing Resolutions for 2014

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The New Year is always a good time for new beginnings, including an assessment of what you can do to improve your content marketing program. Here is a short list of New Year’s Resolutions for your content campaign:

  1. Create Regular Content – This is one that we plan to adopt here at Write On Content. You will note we have been sporadic in our blogging (like the shoemaker’s children, we seem to leave our own marketing needs to deal with later). Resolve to create a schedule and feed your content channels regularly. Consistency is the only way to build a following.
  2. Engage – Be sure your content is not only compelling, but engages your followers and encourages interaction. Resolve to promote a dialogue with your followers through whatever channels you use. Content should be the conversation starter, but the dialogue shouldn’t’ stop there.
  3. Mind Your Channels – Using the right outlets to reach your target audience is an ongoing effort. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn are probably on your radar. But are you using Quora, Reddit, or Pinterest? Are you just posting, or are you monitoring and commenting as well? Make a resolution to be more active where it counts in the year to come.
  4. Measure – Don’t rely on “gut feel” alone to determine how well your content marketing program is doing. Measure the results. Keep track of comments, Likes, and clickthroughs. Determine what topics have appeal for your audience and which channels get the most traction.
  5. Innovate – Successful content marketing campaigns are built around the concept of “rinse and repeat”; determine what works, refine it, and then keep using it. That doesn’t mean you should stop there. Continue to push the envelope and experiment with new content ideas, new engagement strategies, and new channels. Experiment so you can expand your content marketing palette and have more resources to draw from in the future.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous and successful 2014 filled with lots of followers and lots of leads.

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Written by Tom Woolf

January 9th, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Follow Me! Converting Social Media Leads

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I have been receiving a lot of spam messages lately from hucksters offering to sell me Facebook “Likes.” The most common come-on is $60 for 600 Likes:

Addition of 600 REAL Worldwide Facebook Fans’ “Likes” for $60

- All Likes/Fans Will Be a Mix Of Male And Female Real random Worldwide People.

- Likes/Fans come from real active people from our Facebook applications(~400) and websites(~200).

So is your online loyalty worth a dime? I think it’s worth more than just $0.10.

True online followers want to read what you have to say, and comment. They are engaged because you have given them something interesting and informative and entertaining that keeps them coming back for more. Your followers are putting a degree of trust in the online experience they will get from following you, which means you need to work to honor that trust by providing content worth reading.

Of course, lead generation and revenue generation have to be a priority for any social media campaign, but if you use hard-selling content, you won’t attract many followers, and you won’t keep the ones you have already acquired. You need to give followers a reason to follow you; you want to attract prospects and nurture them until they are ready to buy from you. Remember that no one is sold a product, but they will buy a solution that solves their problem.

Why is social media so valuable for lead generation for a number of reasons:

  • It’s basically free
  • Your prospects are self-selecting; you are attracting pre-interested parties.
  • It’s viral. Like attracts like, so your followers are likely to share with their followers so you social media base could start growing geometrically (if you entice them with interesting content).
  • It’s intimate. Social media gives you an opportunity to get closer to your prospects than direct mail, advertising, or any other vehicle. You can see what they respond to, talk to them directly through comments and Likes, and get a true understanding of where their interest lie.

How do you convert social media fans into paying customers?

Not all Facebook followers are created equal. Some are qualified prospects who ultimately will buy from you. Others may know qualified customers. Still others are just interested fans, but you never know who they know. So how do you convert followers into customers?

  1. Understand where social media falls in your sales process. If you are using content correctly, then you are using Facebook and other channels to herd followers into your sales process. To do that you need to understand how social media generates leads. Do you need to offer a gift of coupon for a trial? Do you need to get them to a webinar? What mechanisms do you need to apply to incite your followers to become active prospects?
  2. Remove any obstacles to lead conversion. Don’t make it hard to go from social media to a more direct interaction. Use easy to complete landing pages, e-book downloads, white papers, case studies, and other mechanisms that make it easy to ask for more information, and ultimately a sales call.
  3. Offer baby steps for soft conversion. Don’t use a full-court press to convert followers. Let them get to know you better at their own pace. Offer softer conversion mechanisms, such as giving up an email and no more. Maintain the trust you nurtured through social media throughout the sales process.
  4. Treat your fans with greater respect than traditional leads. Your followers are used to valuable content from you. Respect that and continue to provide value and insightful information that directs them to a buying decision. Be prepared to engage, answer questions, overcome objections, and convert the fan to a lead, without hitting them over the head with a sales message. They will tell you when they are ready to migrate into the traditional sales channel.
  5. Measure the results and refine the program. Determine what content and social media channels are working for you. Specific messages and social media outlets will yield better quality results and remove barriers to entry into the sales process faster. Identify them and measure them.

Starting with quality content to help prospects make a decision to become followers is the first step. Once they become followers you have the opportunity to talk to them, nurture them, and persuade them to become customers. And no matter who your followers are, they all have value because you never know why they are following you, or who they might know. And treat your social media followers like gold, because that’s what they’re really worth, not just a measly dime.

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Written by Tom Woolf

September 20th, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Create engaging content from your offline events

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Looking for a great source of content? Don’t overlook offline events. That’s the suggestion of Mykel Nahorniak, CEO of online event calendar company Localist, He offers “8 Ways to Transform Events into Powerful Content Marketing” in a recent post on the Content Marketing Institute.

Among his suggestions:

  • Engage with attendees before and after your event: Start with a press release about your event. Create a blog post and a series of posts for your social media platforms. Create a hashtag specific to your event and use it to communicate with attendees ahead of the date
  • Keep the conversation going: Encourage attendees to blog about their experience and post photos of the event on their social media networks. On your part, re-tweet, like and share the content that your attendees create. Designate someone to monitor mentions of your event on social media platforms and engage with those who are posting.
  • Employ email: Develop engaging emails about the event as reminders. Also prominently place information about the event in your email content. From the information, direct readers to other event-related content such as your blog posts or hashtags.
  • Create an app: Create a mobile calendar app so that attendees can access event details.

Read all the Nahorniak’s suggestions to leverage your event into engaging content

Here are a few other things to keep in mind about leveraging your events for your content marketing program:

  • Plan your content: Identify certain aspects of the event to build content around. After the event, create a series of blog posts, articles, SlideShare presentations or white papers around these issues for posting on your website.
  • Plan something special: Apart from usual speeches, panel discussions or exhibits, plan something at your event that is fun or memorable to motivate attendees to get behind promoting your event.
  • Have reliable WiFi: Considering the explosion in the use of mobile devices, don’t be surprised if attendees show up with smartphones and tablets. That can put a lot of demand on a WiFi connection. Make sure to account for a potentially high volume of usage during your event planning.

How have you used an event as part of your content marketing campaign?

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Written by Barbara Kohn

May 9th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

“Excuse Me; May I Buy Your Product?” – The Inbound Marketing Payoff

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Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to promote your company and customers just beat a patch to your door? You don’t need to invent a better mousetrap to get that kind of customer attention. You just need to find a better way to communicate with them to get them to want to do business with you. That requires better content to attract them and better channels to reach them.

Thanks to the web, customers have become self-selecting and proactive in their search for new goods and services. Rather than responding to outbound marketing – advertisements, billboards, TV spots, etc. – they are more inclined to respond to inbound marketing – a two-way dialogue often empowered by social media. If you think about it another way, you are earning the trust of your inbound marketing prospects instead of shouting at them to get their attention.

Inbound marketing is all the rage for some obvious reasons:

  • 44 percent of direct mail is never opened.
  • 86 percent of viewers skip through commercials.
  • 84 percent of younger buyers (25 to 34 years old) have clicked out of a website because of an intrusive popup ad or an irrelevant ad.
  • The cost per lead in inbound marketing is substantially less than traditional outbound programs.

What drives inbound marketing programs is content – blogs, social media posts, white papers, videos, podcasts. You have to use informative content that entertains and adds value to create a positive connection with the consumer. Once you engage with the consumer, he or she is more likely to take a closer look at your products, feel a connection to your brand, and ultimately make a purchasing decision.

While this is a better mousetrap, it requires patience and persistence. Conversion doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it often never happens. But permission-based inbound marketing campaigns, where you invite participation, are always less expensive and promote greater customer loyalty than outbound programs.

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Written by Tom Woolf

April 29th, 2013 at 2:16 am

The Three Essential Steps to Killer Content

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No matter what your marketing program initiative – a social media campaign, blogging, direct email, a new web site – you need the right message to appeal to your target audience. That means going back to basics if you want to create killer content. You need to talk to your clients in a language that resonates with them, sharing content that is interesting and appealing. Remember that content marketing is all about engaging in an online exchange, and good conversation is driven by good content.

As we have said in the past, good content is like good storytelling – your objective is to tell your story in a way that engages your audience; that resonates with them so they learn to trust you, trust what you have to say, and they follow you. Building online trust as a credible source is what keeps your audience coming back for more. And if they trust you they will do business with you.

So how do you create awesome content that speaks to your clients? There are three essential steps:

1. Listen. Too often, organizations launch into an online marketing program without testing the waters first. They start posting without thinking, flooding their online channels with messages that basically say, “He, we’re here! Isn’t it cool being online! Want to buy our stuff?” Boring and obnoxious! No one will engage with you to hear a sales pitch. When creating content, your goal is to provide information that is both valuable and promotes your brand. You want to be seen as an expert with something interesting to share. To do that, you have to understand what your audience wants to hear. Listen before you leap.

  • Who are the influences in your market? Those are the people to follow. See what they are saying on their blog, on Twitter, and on their Facebook page. They probably have interesting subjects that you can talk about.
  • What are you peers talking about? What topics are hot in the Web in your market? You can use keywords and key phrases to uncover similar conversations? Search the webs, the news feeds, the blog feeds, and elsewhere to see what others are saying about those topics.
  • Where does your target audience hang out? If you want to reach consumers, are they on Facebook or Twitter? If they are professionals do they have their own blog, their own online forum, or are they on LinkedIn? Find relevant conversations and follow the thread. And remember to use those same online locations to share your own content.

2. Empathize. Every good writer has to make an emotional connection with his or her audience. Your content has to show empathy for your reader. Think like a reader; project yourself into his or her shoes and see what fits. What information do they want from you? What makes their lives easier? What obstacles prevent them from engaging with you?

Your value proposition, or if you prefer your brand promise, needs to align with your target market. To do that effectively, you have to understand what your clients want and how you can fulfill their needs and desires. That kind of empathy needs to be reflected in your content.

A proven marketing tool to help you understand your audience is creating a profile or “persona.” Create a portrait of your ideal client and use that persona or character to test assumptions about your product or service – what would your customer do? And don’t’ be shy about asking your customers and online followers what they think and what they want to hear from you.

3. Engage. Once you understand what makes them tick you are ready to engage. Be an information resource. Offer advice and answer questions about topics of interest and that are relevant to your brand. Be sure to approach your topics with confidence, as an expert, so your followers understand why you should be a trusted resource.

Remember that content is the tool you need to build an online rapport. Once your followers become comfortable with you and look to you for advice on your areas of expertise, they will seek you out when they need your help. That’s how you use content to build your business.

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Written by Tom Woolf

April 19th, 2013 at 4:28 pm

What’s in a Name? Tips About Naming Strategies

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In addition to providing content to drive our clients’ marketing programs, from time to time we also are called on to assist with naming conventions and branding strategies. Usually a client is trying to come up with something clever and memorable for a new webinar series or to make their latest service or product stand out, and we put on our wordsmithing hats and see what brainstorm we can come up with. There a number of rules about branding and product naming strategies that you want to apply.

First, however, understand what we mean by a “brand.” In the context of this blog, we are thinking about product or service “branding” as an extension of an established brand. A brand is not a logo or a product name. Rather, a brand is an attitude (ideally positive) that has been built up over time about a company and its products. A solid brand conveys an image, an identity that is characterized by a feeling or quality. Think of Volvo and the brand is about safety, not just cars. Think about Coca Cola and the brand speaks about refreshment, not just Coke the product.

So when we are tasked with creating a new name we want to make sure it reinforces the core brand. We also want to make sure it is clear, catchy, memorable, and searchable.

For example, iPhone, Droid, and Galaxy are more memorable and more in line with corporate image than, say, a Motorola XT886. The name speaks to cool – it’s easy to recall and easier to tweet, post, blog, and tell your friends. It creates an association that reinforces the mother brand.

Then there’s the practical stuff about product naming…

1. Is it trademarked? It’s amazing how many naming ideas are not original but actually someone else’s intellectual property. Make sure you are on solid legal ground before choosing a name. (There are rules about whether commonly used terms can be trademarked, and when, whether products have to be in competition, etc., so when in doubt, consult an expert.)

2. Simple is better. If you can, find a phrase or term that is descriptive and evocative, but not too complex. Simple one and two-syllable words tend to stand out and are more memorable.

3. Repurpose real words. You can take something that already exists and give it new meaning (Apple, Adobe, Yelp, Yahoo!) or come up with spelling variations (Digg, flickr).

4. Use obscure words or phrases. Break out your high school Latin dictionary or look for descriptive terms from an obscure source. Names like Plaxo have their roots in foreign languages.

5. Think about acronyms. Acronyms can be powerful and memorable, such as IBM and AOL. Bebo, for example, is both an Armenian name and also stands for “Blog Early Blog Often.”

6. Try puns and word play. I like to use puns and memorable phrases in headlines and descriptors, and they can work for product names as well (e.g. Write On Content Professionals).

7. Think about search. You know that it’s going to take a while for the new product to become a household name, even with your target business audience. If you incorporate common search terms in the product name, or in a product tagline or descriptor, chances are it will appear more frequently in online search results.

Don’t go overboard but try to create a name that can grow with your brand. And no matter how you approach naming of your next company or product, it’s best to apply the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

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Written by Tom Woolf

April 10th, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Using Content to Tap Key Motivators: Greed, Fear, and Risk

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I saw an article posted recently by the Content Marketing Institute entitled “2 Foolproof Methods for Getting Content Marketing Buy-In.” It got me thinking; what really motivates people to buy into to a content marketing campaign? There have to more than two motivators?

Before everything else, whether you are talking to chief executives, marketers, your peers, or anyone else you all have something in common – you are human. There are basic human motivators that date back to the Neolithic Age that still drive today. The big ones are greed, fear and risk, and most other motivators are subsets of greed, fear, and risk. If you understand how to apply these motivators as part of your content marketing strategy, then you will be able to get more buy in from your target audience.

Let’s consider greed for starters. Back in the days of the caveman, greed would be a great motivator to steal someone’s mammoth steak, but today it’s all about commanding market share and market dollars. If you can deliver content that outshines the competition and drives more business, then you have something compelling. If you can develop a campaign that minimizes cost and risk and provides a sure-fire sales opportunity, then you can get buy in.

How do you tap greed with content? Try offering sure-fire tips to solve a marketing problem. Create a white paper on sure-fire ways to build business. Offer success stories showing how someone else made a fortune with your problem or service. In short, make an offer that is too good to pass up. If you can create a compelling story using greed as a motivator, you will get a higher response.

Fear, however, can be an even more compelling motivator. Just as the caveman is motivated by fear to run from the saber-toothed tiger, you want to tap into fear to promote action. Use your content to address a dire problem. What about a new industry regulation that could cost your prospects a lot of money. Create a targeted message that uses fear as a motivator within a target group. For example, we did a white paper project for a technology company that solved social media compliance problems for financial service firms. The white paper was a big hit because the consequences for non-compliance could be millions of dollars in fines. Fear motivates like nothing else, so address well-defined problems with solutions that prevent big consequences.

And then there’s risk. In his article on “2 Foolproof Methods…,” author Joe Pulizzi says one method is using a pilot program is one way to get marketing buy-in. I think of this as a means to eliminate risk. A pilot program lets you test the waters before making a big fiscal commitment. Similarly, with content, if you can offer a “try before you buy” approach you are eliminating risk. Offering free tips and techniques means there is no commitment, which means a higher response rate. Reassure your audience that any information they offer won’t be shared. Be helpful without asking for too much in return. Eliminating risk, combined with something that promotes greed or fear, and you have content that will get a response.

So no matter how terrific a product or service you have to offer, and no matter how sweet the offer, remember that your respondents are still people. Use tactics that motivate people. Be sure to appeal to basic instincts and the logical arguments to close a sale follow. After all, we’re only human.

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Written by Tom Woolf

March 19th, 2013 at 4:24 pm