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Well, here we are . . . one day after Hurricane Sandy left our area (NY/NJ/CT) but only after leaving a trail of destruction and tragedy behind her.

During this difficult time, I have received several emails that sought to ride-the-coat-tails of this significant weather event.  Most were sad attempts to be cute but, in the end, were either horrifically boorish or downright cloddish and insensitive.

A high-visibility news event offers you an opportunity to leverage the heightened focus of existing media coverage to make your message relevant by relating your message to the ‘news’ factor of the event.

Unfortunately, when a news event is a disaster — natural or man-made — there’s a significant risk you’ll be seen as ‘crass and insensitive’ if you seek to relate your message to it.  One email I received today said, “Like hurricane Sandy, our sale prices will BLOW YOU AWAY!”

Obviously, there’s a fine line between relating your message to a major news event in a positive manner and ‘going too far’ with your message.  But it can be done.

Here’s another email I received today from American Express:

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, it’s very much about their interest in the well-being of myself and my family.

It’s sensitive to the potential difficulty this hurricane may have created for people living in my area.  It’s not selling.  It is a sincere reflection of regard . . . for my well-being.

It is the way you can safely piggy-back on a major news event that has the distinction of being a ‘disaster’.

KEY POINT:
Promoting yourself around a news event that is also a serious disaster is best done by focusing on your clients’ well-being and not your ‘Storm Special’ offer! 

What would you type to find firms like ours on GOOGLE?

As you probably know, it’s 2011 and marketing is increasingly less about interrupting potential clients to share your messages and more about being found by prospects when they are searching for an answer or solution you have to offer.

That’s the basis of Inbound Marketing — being find-able when people are searching online for what you offer.  The way you get found, of course, is to have content on your website that’s based on the very phrases (i.e. keywords) that people are searching for on Google.

So asking your Ideal Client, “What would you type into Google to find firms like ours / that do what we do?” is going to really help you create content that is going to increase your attraction and traffic levels.  Nice!

KEY POINT:
Learning WHAT people would use to find a firm like yours makes it easier for you to create content that will make them find you . . . rather than your competitors 

Media is a very important part of your marketing.

In days gone by, that term meant mass media — radio, TV and print media.  Today though, that’s all changed.  Radically!

Modern Media Means . . . The Internet
There’s some good news here.  Especially if you don’t have a lot funding for a ‘massive media’ campaign.

It’s the online media that you’ll find is increasingly important in helping you get your Message to your Market and it’s a key to attracting new prospective clients to you, as well.

I just received an email today and it said, “Bill, every time I search anything business related on Google somewhere on my first search page I see you have posted or commented a relevant article thru Google +. However last night I was searching “extra long retractable dog leashes” and there you were again!  Bill get off the computer and spend some time with your family”.

I replied, “It’s the fact that I have an active BLOG (modern media, right?) that causes me to get that kind of media exposure.  I don’t spend time away from my family.  I just blog consistently and that . . . is paying off in increased traffic and conversions on my site.”

KEY POINT:
Media is increasingly online and that makes it effective and very affordable.  Learn to harness the internet and you’ll be glad you did! 

In Marketing, there’s an expression for content that converts unknown website visitors into known ‘people of interest’ — ‘bait-piece’.  Yep.  Just like putting ‘bait’ on a hook when you were fishing as a kid — it attracts people who are interested in what you do . . . and invites them to take an action you want.

Every Client Starts Somewhere . . .
In marketing, especially online marketing, you want a prospect to ‘raise their hand’ and tell you who they are.  Why?  So you can begin or more deeply develop a marketing dialog with them that provides the information and creates the opportunity needed to turn a casual visitor into a paying client.

The Ultimate Bait-piece . . . is Yours For The Asking
Kip Bodnar over at HubSpot — the leader in online, inbound marketing services (did I mention we’re a reseller for them, too?) has just released the ultimate ‘bait-piece’ on the topic of how to create e-books that attract traffic to your website and generate leads you can develop into productive and profitable clients.

DOWNLOAD Kip’s e-book . . . just click the image in this post.  See?  This really works!

KEY POINT:
You catch more visitors with ‘bait’ than without it . . . and an e-book is great bait!

There’s a real shift in the way marketing is being done in 2011.

Outbound Marketing = ‘Old School’
Some marketers advocate what is called “Interruption” marketing — because your marketing messages are interrupting the attention of people who may (rebuttable presumption!!) be interested in hearing about you and your products and services.

Inbound Marketing = ‘New School’
In contrast, thanks to the proliferation of online social media — not just social networking sites — it’s very possible to engage with people on a topic and at a time when they’re interested in what you do or could do . . . for them — i.e. ‘NO Interruptions!”

Which Is Better?
Both kinds of marketing have their place.  Like life, few things are pure black or pure white.

Outbound marketing . . . cold calling, direct mailings, advertising on mass media, etc. are still valid for many businesses.  But, the shift is underway in how big a role and how much of a value the ‘Old School’ ways may be for companies like yours in the future.

Inbound marketing . . . using your blog with relevant and quality content to attract interested ‘eyeballs’ to your site, offering whitepapers, videos, etc. to motivate visitors to identify themselves to you and give you permission to cultivate a relationship with them, over time, until they are ready to make a buying decision . . . is growing in stature, importance, value and acceptance.

KEY POINT:
The world of marketing is changing . . . and the digital world is the ‘sandbox’ you want to be playing in! 

Google, the internet information mogul, is getting a lot of press lately.  It’s latest creation, Google+ is still in beta and early prognosticators are suggesting it poses a competitive alternative to facebook and LinkedIn.  Perhaps that’s why it is attracting a lot of attention.  Not all nice.

I’m not a Google zealot nor am I a detractor. But I do recognize the enormous player they are in the online information dissemination business. For that reason, I looked at their TOS and Code of Conduct to see, for myself, what may (or, may not) be a source of concern as many allege these days.

Google’s TOS (Terms of Service) says:
“You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” I’m no lawyer, but that’s pretty darned clear that content providers are recognized as retaining their rights by Google. It then goes on to state:
By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”

At first glance the ‘You give Google license to reproduce . . .” seems disconcerting. BUT . . . if you look at the last sentence, it provides a rationale . . . and a reasonable explanation: This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services”.

While I appreciate the concern people have upon hearing, ‘You grant Google a license to reproduce, adapt, modify, etc.” I don’t think it’s part of a Machiavellian plot to rule the content of the people (you and me) who make the Google service possible.

Finally, and this is more pragmatic than anything else . . .

KEY POINT:
“If not Google, Who?”

Of all the low-cost-to-use marketing media that a small business or professional practitioner can use today, a blog must surely be one of the best ways to promote your business to the marketplace you seek to attract and position you as an expert in your field.

But there are ‘right’ ways and ‘wrong’ ways to blog (like anything).

I just read a thought-full article that cites 30 ways to blog the ‘wrong’ way.  It’s insightful. Two of the 30 ways to screw up a blog include the following:

#13:  write 1,000 word plus text-dump posts without any paragraphs or formatting.
#29: fail to use social media like facebook, Twitter or Stumbleupon to help spread the awareness of your blog.

The other 28 great ideas are worth the time and effort it takes to click on this link and read the rest.

KEY POINT:
Blogging is (still) one of the best media for marketing you and your services around!

Andy Sernovitz is a genius.

He’s also the author of this great book (revised) that’s truly ‘New and Improved’.

What I like about Andy and his company (Gaspedal — is that cool or what!) is that he’s got a SINGULAR focus.

You never wonder, “What does Andy do?”.  It’s clear as a bell.  He helps his client companies generate and leverage Word-Of-Mouth as a means of promoting their business, products, services, brand and . . . as a result . . . generating more business and profits for his clients after they spend time and money with Andy.

This is a good guy, folks.  He’s got great ideas.

Do yourself a favor and buy this book.  It will change your business.  And only for the better.

KEY POINT:
Buy this book!

So often in marketing we hear the word MEDIA and images of TV, radio and print publications spring into our mind’s eye.  And those are all legitimate media for communicating with your marketplace.

But as Robert Frost, the Vermont poet, wrote about in his famous poem “The Road Less Traveled . . .” there are many media which are ‘less obvious’ but no less effective.  Actually, they may be even more effective in some ways and for some practitioners.

What any medium of communication must do is help you connect with people in the market/s you seek to attract and serve.  When you frame the issue that way, suddenly you realize that maybe ‘mass’ media not only isn’t effective for you but it’s very expensive relative to the results you might see from it.

Consider offering less ‘advertising’ that’s about you and more ‘helpful information’ that’s more about your prospective client.  A well-written report on ‘How To . . .” do something your prospects want to do but don’t know how (like how to hire the right firm in your field!) will not only be attractive but differentiates you as a possibly ‘Trust-worthy Advisor’.

KEY POINT:
Choosing media for your marketing is a key element in your overall marketing planning and activities

I was just reminded of how BUSY we all are.

A friend asked me to post / re-post on my facebook page about a great little audio on “How To Craft a Simple and Compelling Sales Message”.  I did.

Unfortunately, I almost immediately got a response back from another colleague on my facebook wall with a not-so-thinly veiled complaint that, “I’ve listened to this guy for 6 minutes and he STILL has not addressed the topic!”.

We live in an age of microwave mentality.  The internet has both expanded our horizons and contracted our patience.  Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, if you ignore this reality, it will cost you dearly in terms of your prospects’ attention, goodwill and revenues.

KEY POINT:
With online media, make your point . . . quickly, succinctly and effectively!