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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

Tagged with , , , ,

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