Going Native

Native advertising

A new buzz word has appeared over recent months into the small business lexicon: Native Advertising. Can it help you? Is it something that you should be leveraging is it a fad that you shouldn’t be a part of? It’s a decision that you must make for yourself, but here’s some thoughts to bear in mind if you are considering it.

First, what is ‘Native Advertising’? These days, as the net becomes more and more personalized, there are ways that advertisers place ads into online information aimed at the reader. They aren’t static ads, they change for each reader, dependent on what they have been searching for in the recent past. A recent crop of searches on – for instance – wedding rings made by a user in a particular geographic market will promote other wedding-service related ads in that market when they perform other searches for printed matter. A recent search on cut-price sporting event ticketing by another browser will result in a different set of targeted ads, even though they are reading the same articles.

As a small business, this sounds very good: especially if you are trying to corral Prospects with an informative log post on your own business ads. You are harnessing the power of someone’ else’s advertising to make your post, tweet, or social media bulletin to make your look better. The more you spread your message (and the more it is shared by others), the more people get to see what you say, and should pay your words more attention, because they include ads that are of interest to them. However, there are three things that we have learned that you should bear in mind that may temper your expectations, somewhat:

1 Looking for trees, not wood.

While it is a great tactic to become part of a community, how much is your message being diluted by sharing a page with unrelated ads Just because some is getting married, doesn’t mean that they are looking to buy a new house right now.

2 Having Fun in a serious way

We really believe that using an entertaining and funny sideways look at a subject can be a great tactic that shows you as a real person. Going through the same experiences as your prospects, and showing that you are doing so with a sense of humour has always been a great way to bring prospects to you, but what kind of Ads will this approach bring in? You have no control over them, so the words may well prove a mismatch with our goods or services.

3 Details, Details, Details

While you have to be relevant in the environment you’re in, don’t blend in too much. There are also legal ramifications for having someone’s ad show in your content that they may not like. If you are thinking of an advertorial piece, ensure that you tell people that your content is actually an ad. Label the piece as “sponsored by,” “in partnership with,” or “featured by”, and make sure it’s clear to readers who is behind the content.

If native advertising begins to make up a larger part of your marketing strategy (and budget), it’s important to make sure that you’re looking after your details, and that the right readers are looking at the right message for the right reasons. Of course, you should also optimize your work, and ensure that all printed advertising features all of your Branding Markers. Going Native may not be as straight forward as you first thought, but it can definitely work for many business and their marketing models.

Your Marketing Department needs Help for 2015

Some reports have marketers spending $135 billion in 2015 on digital marketing collateral, producing a combined volume of 73% more content than this year. With so much more content about to flood the Internet – and your mail box – marketers need to cut through the noise to generate revenue. Here’s how you can keep ahead of your competition, by treating your Marketing Department just like your Sales team.

Just as they build up a picture of the right prospect, the right value proposition, and how to answer their pain, your marketers can use the same techniques to define what your branding and messaging should be to both your existing customer base and to your prospecting avenues next year.

Here are three steering devices to sharpen the conversation between your marketing and sales teams, to ensure that the right message is in the right person’s eye-line when they need it.

Describe Customer Identities

Talk with your sales reps (and customers) to identify exactly who your different target customers are and what they’re looking for. How did the sales process move, what questions did they ask, and how long did it take to get through the decision making process, and how was the decision reached? You have answers to how your sales process works, but you may not have crystalized how that happened for the different corporate personas your customers represent. Once you know that your sales solution is not as ‘one-size-fits-all’ as you thought, you are breaking the code down to simple statements that your customers were attracted to. The Marketing department will welcome the opportunity to re-shape several, different, simple statements, instead of trying to find different angles of one simple Value Statement. Now, you can find the way of delivering the right content at the right time.

Chart Your Marketing Sled Run

Just as your sales department is accustomed to their own funnel, your marketers should be aware of their own conveyor belt – the way prospects move from awareness to sales, and beyond. People don’t move in a straight line from “top of the funnel” to “bottom of the funnel” anymore. They meander, compare prices, read reviews, check out social media, etc. So, what kind of platforms and media are they using to comparison shop?

We have called our Funnel the Sled Run, because it may be fast from beginning to end, but it also has many twists and turns. It is only researching how your customers progress from introduction to sale. You will come to understand the strengths and shortcomings of your current content. From there, you can deploy content resources where their impact will be greatest.

Create Strategic Campaigns

With a Customer ID’s in mind and a ‘lead sled run’ based on data, you can create tailored campaigns with different content elements to ensure engaging customers at the right time. Whether it is by press release, blog post, email campaign, or social network updates to bring people to your businesses’ site, with value-added content and offers to nurture your customers and capture the information you need to maintain interest, and show your expertise.

By treating your marketing department as you expect from your sales specialists, you are helping them do a better job aimed directly at the people you need to expand your business. An added benefit is that your Sales department will feel that Marketing is on their side, and they can count on informative marketing arriving at their prospect’s attention that will aid in the sales process as they move closer to conversion. Your Marketers will know the impact of marketing expenditure, and be able not only access the huge market in the coming year, but to dominate it in your niche.

Your Most Important Community – it doesn’t change.

GlobeWe speak a lot about ensuring that your all of your communities are aware of your company existence: To continue to look for new niches in which to market your company content, and that everyone in that community is aware of what you are doing, for whom, and why. A good example of this are your professional communities; those organisations that you are part of. You can get great traction from written content to people that are in the same business as you, and welcome hearing what you are going through. Is this letting ‘the competition’ know about your secrets? No, everyone that is in your business is struggling just like you. They would welcome hearing about changes that you have made in your business, and would pass your words over to others, if it is well written, engaging, and useful. By starting with the website of your professional organisation, you can be guaranteed to gain an audience for your marketing, and spread from there.The same can be said for your existing customers. Those that have bought from you in the past, and are happy to hear about what you can offer them next, as you cement your relationship. Likewise, your prospects: These people or companies have been interested in your service before. Just because they didn’t buy then, doesn’t mean they are not interested forever. This is a great way to continue your marketing to them at a low cost in finances and time. But which Community is it most important to advertise to? It’s your geographic location (Or the location where you make your sales.). it has never changed, your sales neighbourhood is the best place to ensure that you are talking to. This has never changed, so make sure that you are covering this area regularly with useful, well-written, and engaging content that reminds them of who you are, and what you do for them – be a good neighbour!

With that in mind, let’s point out some simple things you can do to ensure that this most important community is being broadcast to: The handful of tasks that you can do once that ensures maximum coverage:

Ensure that your physical location is noted in as many possible places your community is mentioned. Perform several Google searches on your city name, it’s geographical location, it’s events, and any other place that it is being broadcast. Be creative, and get your physical address in front of some eyes. Combine these searches with your existing customer base, or your projected perfect customer base, and see who is in that community and why.

Simplify your business. Make sure that you don’t become too creative with what you actually do. Be one thing, and be the best at it. Ensure that if there are any trade notifications, or codes that Government and other communities tag your business with are identical. Streamline this, and everyone coming to you will know exactly what you do.

Get an individual owner-verified Local Plus page. Google is still the boss, so ensure that any time that you are mentioned on it, it leads to the one comprehensive page on a google platform that is 100% correct. If your Local plus page is correct, Google knows exactly who and where you are. All other online paths that Google leads to, leads to this, and the spin-offs through the Google network multiply exponentially with the exactly correct information. It shows that you are real, close by, are proud to market your service, are full of real people, and can help others. People will already trust you, and this could lead to a sales lead.

Only use a handful of keywords. Don’t repeat them too much (Keyword Stuffing), and don’t use your company title. You are a (type of Business) in, or for, (Geographical location). You can use semantic terms to vary them slightly, but don’t try to cheat your way to more keywords. Everyone likes the statement: “Hi, I’m…..” as an introduction. No-one appreciates “Hi, I can help you with your….”, and excessive keywords send this message. Aim to be more creative, not adding business streams to your base.

Your local community is, literally, where you live. By using intelligent marketing techniques along easily recognisable avenues, you can show the most important community that you have exactly who you are. The results will be immediate and welcome.

Content Marketing, Semantic search, and other easy things to do online

hand-pressing-icon-10077915Another week and another ‘new’ online marketing task to learn: I know that things can get very confusing very quickly when you are new to online marketing. Sometimes, it’s enough to say simply: “I don’t have enough time to learn this.”, and give up. Without trying to add more details to your busy day, I believe that these two terms will be spoken about a lot in the near future, so they are worth explaining. It will help your business marketing, they work together, and they are easier to grasp than you may think. So give me five minutes, and we will see if you have an ‘Eureka’ moment.
Semantic Search, is the future of the Internet. At the moment, to attach two websites to each other, you link the two sites through information and content on your two sites. The more links you have that are trustworthy sites, and don’t peddle simply spam, then the better (more expert) your site becomes. In the very near future, all of the data that you as a person, you as a business owner, all of your business information holds can soon be looked at by ‘the ‘net’ as bits of information about you. This will also include all of those people that you are connected to. The current example is Pizza.

Perform a search on this in the morning, and you will get informational links. Perform the same search during the evening, and you will get different results: Those that show actual purchasing decisions, like delivery, special offers, and closest to you. Why? Because Google knows that if you are searching at this time of day, you are probably looking for something to eat.
Semantics can mean, simply, ‘like’, or ‘alike’. Google makes decisions based on all of the information that it knows about you to make that search as immediate as possible. The information you put online had better bear this in mind to ensure that you have the right information going to the right people at the right time.
Content Management simply means how you lay out the information you want to put out to your communities. What do they have in common with the sites you have linked, with the time of year, with the e-mail marketing you are doing. It is ensuring all of the marketing you are doing for your business is not only correct, it is aimed at your communities, based on what they will be searching for, not just what you want to promote about your company.
These two guidelines should be the basis of what you are trying to market, and make it easier for you to aim your correct message to the people you want to receive that message. So, how can you plan with this in mind? Simply approach it the same way you do with any other business decisions:
• Plan: Create a strategic structure for your content marketing: Look at the communities you are aiming your message at. What has worked before, what do they want to hear, and what do you need them to know?
• Team: This may be just you, but do others have some input into your businesses daily operations that have information that you need to add. Can they be added to the marketing loop, and how. What information are they supplying, and is anyone else in the corporation doing?
• Ideas: Generate a steady flow of ideas for your all of your blog posts, e-mails, social media posts and comments. A weekly meeting, or solo brainstorming session may be all that is required, if everyone comes prepared to expand on those ideas that are already doing well online.
• Production and Distribution: Put a marketing diary together that shows what message is going to whom, and when. Stick to it for a few cycles to note what changes take place to your audience figures, and to put natural spikes and valleys in their correct perspective.
• Audience Development: Who is reading, or accepting your message. Which community do they fit into, and do these communities change over a period of time. Do they grow? Do they splinter? Are you, actually, marketing to the communities that you thought you were. Are you aiming at the right communities?
• Convert & Nurture: How do your ‘touches’ with people grow? Do you have definite steps from introduction to purchase, and – if so – are they all following the plan? Where do you lose their interest, and why? Tweak the plan to take this into account.
• Measure & Optimize: Once tweaked, can the message be repeated? Are there more things to do with a more current marketplace? Ensure that your delivery vehicle (Signpost, website, written collateral) reflect these changes.
Most new additions to marketing – especially on the ‘net – are buzzwords based on age-old marketing foundations: Do you know your customers, how to grow that number and turn prospects into customers, and then keep them with you forever, always spending more. All the tools you need to do this are given to you, just plan to ensure you know what is about to happen.

Extending the Blog Conversation

Posted on September 29, 2011 by mahanjkIn the real estate industry, blogs have become more and more important. Any back-link check on realtors in geographic areas show a list og blog posts from different realtors that have been doing it for a long time. How do you come up with something new weekly?

Most importantly, you will go through a learning curve early in your copy writing ‘career’, when you will find it difficult to stick to one theme. You will always try to open a different paragraph with a different idea. If you start filling these ideas away (I.e. cut and paste them out of your current document ,and put them on the next available page.), you will find that all of these different ideas will become blog posts in their own right.

Secondly, you will learn to listen around the office and to your prospects in more detail, and will receive all kinds of ‘conversational gems’ that show how many people don’t know a fact, or how an upcoming ‘left turn’ in your industry, or your communities might change things in the future. These become blog posts, also.

Almost any new piece of information that come across your desk can be used as a starting point for your imagination to start a post with. You will soon be showcasing your knowledge (and becoming an expert to those that don’t know.), and your passion (which leads people to think that you like to help people. Everyone loves those people.)

The more you get used to promoting yourself, you will find ‘likes’, “+1’s”, and ‘follows’ from people that like what you write. Who are these people? What similarities and differences do you and those people have? How do they all connect together, who else can I attract. It is the sharing by other people that really matter to you, because they are doing what you want then to – sharing your news. So…return the favour, and grow your online community. Watch as it inevitably leads everyone back to your offline communities, and then watch howm many people you did’t knowl but wanted to, join the pack.

It’s not inevitable, but – if you are an expert – it will happen. You can then use them as a sounding board. I recently asked a group of realtors that I don’t personally know, what they are writing about right noew. Guess what – they told me!

  • Agents write about their pets
  • The answer to questions posed to them through e-mail
  • Recent conversations with other agents
  • Cover local events, and what they did in them.
  • Real-life sales pitfalls

There is an inexhaustible supply of subjects. I bet tat you have had some ideas from just using this. Give yourself a year, and start with one blog post a week. See how far you get and, in a year, count how many new ‘friends’ you have both online and in real-life.

The Real World

IMG_0244So let’s put all of these ideas into action! I have been writing for a little over a year on growing your business utilizing Internet Marketing, but it has all been somewhat theoretical until now. An opportunity came my way this past week that allows me to put all of these plans into action, so for Year Two, I shall concentrate on one project, and share with this blog all that goes on, on an ongoing basis. If you think that your business is tough to market for, then please check out ‘Walter’, and let me know if your problems can be helped.

I visited a local tailor last week. I have lost a fair bit of weight over the last couple of years, and decided to change my current wardrobe, rather than buy more. My wife was shocked, but I was serious: “By resizing all of the suits that I have, and donating what I don’t wear, I can gain wardrobe space, help someone out, and look good. Plus, I will never have to buy any more clothes ever again.” I have used Walter before, but it hasn’t been for a while, and while I don’t have the kind if money that he wants to do this job, I can pay him on an ongoing basis for two months, and build him a website, and try to get him more customers by getting him online as payment in kind.

Why? Because he is a talented artisan that will save me money. His work has been great for me before this. He needs more business, but doesn’t know how to get it. I can help someone, while he helps me. Perhaps this rings a bell with you, but he knows nothing about online business, doesn’t have a computer, still has a phone with a rotary dial, and depends on a sandwich board outside if his store – that is hidden away inside an inside mall. He’s like a great secret that I can help by spreading the word.

He also is in a sunset industry – one that has been taken over by quick fix stalls in the mall, and anonymous back room workers. No-one appears to appreciate his talents as a renewer, alterer, and tailor. My first suit is 20 years old, but hasn’t been worn very much over the last ten – you could say that it’s new. It was also expensive at the time, and wasn’t ‘off the rack’. In my first fitting, he has dropped it by 2 sizes, and I know have a waist, and pants that hang naturally on top of my shoes, not from my hips. I can find my waist, and I have a shape to me, now!

Today is my first sit down with him, where I explain about internet marketing, and how his business can grow. I’ll see how he reacts. Look out for the Walter the tailor website

Ring in the new, but not at the expense of the Old

Had enough of the never-ending ‘Hottest new ways to manage your Business’ advice that floods your inbox? While it’s true that the Internet, and the reach that it offers everyone, has been like a bomb under the desk of every business owner (no matter it’s size.), don’t fall into the trap of believing that everything that all businesses ever did to make their day-to-day work prior to 1985 no longer apply. If you have moved away from certain ‘old school’ management techniques, in favour of letting the ‘net do it, you may well be missing opportunities that your business rely on. After all, centuries of business practice won’t be completely swept away in less than a generation.

If the future of work depends on speed and nimbleness, there are certain paradigms that are required to help these systems work correctly. Keeping these paradigms in mind will oil the wheels of your business, keep it on the tracks, keep it steaming along, guided by its proactive marketing, taking the fuel it needs from its sales funnel, and everyone enjoying the trip of Customer Service.

  • If it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it? Let’s not reinvent the wheel

Take all you can from new media, better processes in warehousing and industrial practices, and the untimed working period, but don’t throw out everything you used to do in order to maximize your businesses’ future. After all, everything old becomes new again, and you may well be better served to use systems you already have in place, rather than blowing everything up in an attempt to be modern. Sometimes, things need to be overhauled, occasionally, they need to be helped along, but if your systems are working, then why change it?

  • You will get performance reviews once or twice a year

Reporting has gone the way of the Dodo in many companies. This is due to telecommuting, ever changing corporate roles, and other symptoms of the wired world. Just because many employees and contractors are working remotely, it is important for them, and you, to ascertain their goals, and how close they are to getting them. Even if – in the case of a remote sales force – you can access software that shows where they are, and what they are doing at any time you choose, the opportunity to talk to them on an ongoing basis – even if it’s only seasonally – to sit with them face-to-face and ask how business is will always impress on them that you are listening. If you have hired the right person to work for you, and you have given them goals, a fast, regular and ongoing conversation about how close everyone is will help you keep a tab on your businesses’ everyday operation, and teach you some new tricks that these talented people have found. It will also cut down on your workload.

  • Must create status reports

With everyone’s reliance on AI to complete tasks, how hard is it to e-mail you and let you know what is close to completion, only half-way there, or behind schedule. It doesn’t have to be every Friday afternoon, but if your business runs on a tight schedule, you have to have some way of knowing how that schedule is going. Talented employees can be entrepreneurial and excited by taking control over their area. This is a great way to expand the business, but it could also slow up projects that have a Critical Path-type of operating history. Keeping them on their own schedules, as well as encouraging them to do what they have to in order to move the project forward, allows for the best of both worlds.

By moulding your existing practices that work, and changing those that can be managed better, you can have the best of both worlds in your business, but don’t throw out the rules that have managed businesses for centuries, just because it’s not ‘modern’.

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