What did you do this Summer, and can it help you now?

beach_in_summerSo, summer is over, and we are back to the busiest months of the business year. Do you feel rested? Are you ready to face the challenges to come? Here are five points that a lot of effective business leaders spend time doing during the warm, slower months to ensure they are ready to go. If you haven’t had the opportunity to perform these tasks, perhaps there is time for you to start them before things get really busy:

1) Inspire Yourself. Are you still following the same online experts? Reading the same blogs? Everyone has their favourites, or gurus, but change things up occasionally. Perform a couple of Google searches to see who else is out there that you aren’t following, or a different business subject, and see if these newer experts can inspire you.

2) Get ready for next year now: You are about to get busy, so being proactive about changes you want to see completed by 2016, had better be approached now. If you have projects to complete this year, make up an action plan, and see if they can be completed in 30 days. Three of these take you into Christmas (What?), so get started on these tasks to clear the decks.

3) Sort out your contacts: Who have you added to a contact list this year, and are you learning more about them? Sometimes we make so many contacts over the course of a year, we never get the opportunity to see where those relationships go if we deepen them. Cut the dead wood, meet some new people, and learn more about your contacts that ‘make the cut’.

4) Try something new: When you are busy with the day-to-day, and running your usual routines, you don’t have time to try something different. Have you read or heard about something you want to try? Make a brief steps list on how to implement these – and do it! No prevaricating. Your window to add different routines are closing.

5) Look after yourself: Most Summers you get out and do something different; walking, Yoga, less phone calls, gardening. How can you still give yourself these mini-breaks over the winter? The weather may be against you, but I know someone that takes a turn around a shopping mall, when the weather is too bad to walk around the park. Giving yourself the opportunity to blow some stress off will give you a much more relaxed busy season.

These are simple things to implement, but they become more successful if they are part of a plan in May or June. However, you can start them in September at least from a planning point of view. Enjoy your Winter, and inject into it some of what you did this Summer.

How to Successfully Publish Online

WritingAlthough we always tell you that ‘Content is King’, nothing trumps the story that you tell, the information that you share, and how you showcase your expert status, a recent ‘Linked In’ publishing survey shows some very interesting facts about what people like to read.

Think about how many blog posts and articles are published on Linked In, the business-based social media site. Of course, we are following a lot of writers here, as part of our online branding exercises, and the amount of published work is truly enormous: Think of how many people you are following, and groups you belong to, and how many articles are you notified of daily? Now multiply that by a factor of twenty for writers and publishers such as us – not including the articles we ourselves are adding to the number.

Any kind of survey based on the amount of written and published work that this site emanates is worth looking at, after all these are great business writers with a lot of fans, right? Well a recent survey on thirty thousand ‘liked’ articles on Linked In show some very interesting trends that you would be good to run your next article through. If they do well on such a widely read and respected community such as this, these points will obviously add to the impact of your posts on other sites, too – including your own.

Your title should contain 40 – 49 characters, and you should include 8 images. Those articles with this number of images in them are shared almost three times more than those with less. Don’t rely on video-pictures produce more shares, and the optimal amount of Headings you should use is five. Also, don’t rely on a question in your title – they perform worse than straight statement headings.

Your article length should be between 1900 and 2000 words, and you should remain neutral: Just report the facts, don’t come down on one side of an argument – let the reader read what they need to. These two points together guarantee you over 100% more views than any other article length, and by staying neutral you have almost a 75% chance of more shares.

Don’t get too technical, because the most shared articles are easily read: in fact you just need to be eleven years old to understand the best shared posts – and also, you need to be liked. Simply put, the more likes you have, the more your article will be shared by others. Finally, publish on a Thursday. More posts are read from Thursday through Sunday than any other combination of days of the week, and this is consistently proven.

Not only trying to match these facts and figures, but testing your favourite writers’ articles through these filters probably shows the same things: Successful posts ‘look’ and ‘feel’ a certain way to readers, before they even start reading them. It’s time to ensure that yours fall into this category, too – and these points prove what you need to do!

Content Marketing lessons from ‘The Big Boys’

BrandsThe amazing growth of blog site aggregators such as Digg over the last few years have given us some incredibly valuable figures on what actually makes a successful post. These sites have average daily site visits measured in the tens of Millions to a variety of content, and these figures can be mined to show the current state of the Blogosphere, and what is being not only looked at, but studied and shared by readers across the Globe. By asking questions of those that produce content on their own sites, and always seem to appear on these aggregator sites, we can find out not only what works now, but also the road taken to get this far.

Here are some of the most popular answers we have received from our questions:

1. Try, try again, and re-brand your posts.

Just like any other business, you have to ‘use your elbows’ and find yourself space online. Publishers like you to have a strong track record of successful posting and sharing, and they will trust these tried and trusted writers, rather than a newbie with a good one-off idea. The bad news, here, is that you have to persist and keep on persisting to create your own space with Publishers. A more positive way of thinking of it is that this job is getting easier with every post you write.

Why, because every completed post adds to your online Resume, so this year will be easier than last year to be heard. Remember that every writer started with their first post, it’s just that the online stars have continued to write, edit, and market, until their posts are shared as a matter of course.

A great way to do this is to maximize your exposure with different headlines. Your headline is the reason that people are reading you. Sure, the graphic you chose to accompany your piece helps, but your headline is the open door that people will walk through, if they like what they see. So, who are you talking to, what do they want to hear, how can you help them, and how can put that in multiple headlines? Sometimes over 20 headlines can be use with the same post to ensure that you are reaching as many readers as possible. Try and knock it out of the park with every headline, and then re-write them for multiple audiences.

2. Large Listicles, and proper testing

Buzzfeed features large list articles and picture collections known as ‘Listicles’. An example, that we have all seen all over the ‘net is. “100 Tips to Make Your business grow”.

Break this down: Here is a subject that you can use. It has so much information promised, that you should be able to use at least some of it. A list promises lots of one-line information that you can access without too much work. In other words, you won’t be here long, and you will end the exercise with new, fresh information. Finally, the subject matter is vague enough to help everyone, from the one-man tailor business around the corner, to the Marketing Manager of a Multi-National company.

Now, you have to test it. Think of a popularity contest, and there can only be one winner. Take your best five headlines, and re-word, re-work, and re-publish them, until you get a clear winner. In the past, I have let a headline ‘go’, because I felt it was the best I could do. Within a week, I had re-written them ,and re-published them, and the difference in Analytics was three- or four-fold. This may not mean much if your post gets ten views, but if you get it on a huge aggregator site that receives 10,000 views, then the total is eye-popping. Look at online tools to help you with Headline Testing – there are a few out there.

3. Stack images, and make your article shareable.

If a picture or graphic works, how do multiple pictures work? Think of infographics. They are extremely popular, because – just as I wrote above – they promise more of what the reader likes: Information in a fast, easy format that is good to look at. One of the most popular posts of 2014 on Buzzworthy  with ‘stacking images’ has been shared over 15 Million times! How’s that for an engaged audience?

This also shows the power of re-sharing. How many times have you seen a shared item on Twitter , for instance, that has been re-tweeted, and is just a collection or list of pictures? It promises something that can be done quickly, and the reader will learn something from it. Don’t forget – of course – to add a share button, or CTA.

These are just some of the writing, testing and sharing possibilities open to you. They work, because those writers already streets ahead of you are doing them. It’s time to add these ideas to your writing, so that you can become one of ‘the Big Boys.’

The Value of online, off-topic, Communities.

Crowd Of PeopleSo we’ve all read a million articles about social media marketing, but can you build a brand online? Better yet, should you build a brand online, and why is branding more important than marketing?

Marketing is great, but if no one likes what you have to offer, then your marketing efforts are worthless! Building an identity for a product, service, or content, and instilling a recurring image in prospects will pay off in multiple ways. To show this more clearly, here’s an example of building the brand online, rather than just promoting it.

A gaming company wanted to spread the word about their brand, and realized that their customer base was always online. While your prospects may not be there at present, they are there for some reason, so the following Case Study still applies.

Our gaming company started its own community on Google +. If most prospects are online anyway, keywords that they use will attract these consumers that want to keep up with new products, gossip, graphics, etc. Don’t think that your prospects aren’t like gamers. Look at the success of the social site Instagram. People like looking at pictures and information of what they like. By starting an online community, it is your choice what to add to it, but you know that you will attract those that enjoy the subject (Which should be your Unique Sales Proposal), and you can find out more about them from their own profiles and posting history. Facebook and Linked In also offer the same opportunity, but – of course – they come to the industry with different viewpoints: Either fun, or professional.

Your own brand, your online communities are, and should be, named differently but your plan should be to make both names recognizable to those that will become members of that community. You do not want to link the two names, but you do want to place the idea that the moderator of these communities may be a brand name, but it is also a fan of the product, or service, and its power. Even if your brand name isn’t well known, yet, you want to place these ideas into the experience of your prospects.

You are going to share information with your communities, but not sell your brand. To become trustworthy, the last thing anyone wants is to be sold to. There is nothing wrong with accepting some of your competition into the community, in fact you can learn from them, if they do. You are there to listen to your communities, what they feel, and what they want.

Be the Writer you want, by Thinking like a Publisher

tired authorWhile we often say that sharing your blog posts is vital to maximizing spreading your message, we now have access to figures that prove this in the most bald-faced way. People like to learn, and the invention if the 500 word+ bulletin, leads to more people reading these posts. In turn, this has led to Blog Aggregators that collect the most popular posts around, and repeat them on their site. In a virtually exponential way that almost defies logic, some of these aggregators have grown their own sites to unbelievable levels of support that, in turn, prove to everyone that wants to be published that theirs are the sites to go to.

How incredible are these figures? Well, some if these repeated content sites now have readership figures that outdo newspaper print figures.  The world has definitely changed, and sites like Buzzfeed received almost 155 Million unique visits and over 100 Million in the USA alone in one month earlier this year. Not only do these figures beat every newspaper figure in the world, they also beat other online aggregators that are way more famous.

Everyone now has the ability to be a publisher, and imagine what these readership figures can do for your written content! But, how do you get your posts on these sites? You must market your content like a Publisher, not a writer. You must think like the people that have the opportunity to re-post your content, and the links that go with it.

Firstly, follow the tips that everyone recommends you make: the headline, the prose style, the use of pictures, grammar and verbs – all of these may take some time to master, but they are the launching pad for your posts. Without them you won’t get published anywhere.

Secondly, bear in mind that you must have a body of work. Just like writers of all stripes, those that can be relied upon to come up with their style of unique, readable copy will always be first in line. You need to have a writing history behind you, before you can start being ‘an expert’. Luckily, the more you write, the closer you are coming to that elite level. Every publisher will want to know what else you have written, and where it has been published, so stick to it, and keep going. Practice on Social media for the right headline, the right picture, the correct length, and watch how your visit figures change.

Remember that the only true ‘warriors’ of writing are those that keep on going, no matter what. Even sites like Buzzfeed will tell you that under half of their posts reach 10,000 views. Even if that figure is unheard of for you, it gives you a target to aim for. By the way, only 0.3% of total posts reach over 1 Million, so there is definitely an elite level, here.

Next, find out who these writers are, and follow them in Social media. Read everything they write, and try to break down their posts to find out what it is about their writing that makes them so readable: Similar detective work on the publishers that publish their work will how who they like to publish and what style and subject matter they like. You can find these large-scale aggregators in all business areas, so a lot of digging will need to be done. Thankfully, of course, they will be easy to find – they all be on top of Google searches!

So, think like a publisher, do the right thing, and become a most readable writer – it will make you the expert that everyone wants to follow.

Power Editing your Facebook Marketing

FV ViagraFacebook has, over the last few years, shed its ‘Cute Cat Video’ image to the small business community, and has become a big marketing avenue. In fact, in 2013, they released figures that showed that retail businesses advertising on the platform experienced a rise in ROI of over 150%. Even if you are not in a store-front type concern, the fact that there are over 1.2 Billion users on Facebook means that someone connected with someone else interested in your business are probably there.

What is overlooked by most business marketers is the incredibly targeting code used by Facebook. The addition of Facebook Places recently, has now super-charged this marketing avenue: Especially for the small business relying on a local community for its exposure. Targeting now not only aims at individuals, based on their ad browsing history, they can now be combined with geographic locations that give you a ever growing, dynamic platform that offers you an ever-evolving set of Analytics to study at all stages of your prospecting.

So, do you use Facebook and, if so, are you maximizing your exposure to your marketplace? Many businesses don’t, so check the following to see if you are using this avenue to its full potential. Looking beyond Click-through rates, and Cost Per click basics you can optimize your Marketing campaigns, and gain incredibly detailed information on both your current advertising, and future branding attempts.

Look at using Power Editor as a launch-pad for your advertisements. This is a Facebook plugin that acts as an extension of the self-serve ad platform. You can only download it through Google Chrome Browser. Facebook’s help center has a thorough FAQs section that will guide you through the installation and execution aspects if you are not using it at present. It allows you to access resources that are not currently available in the self-serve ad platform, such as Custom Audience .

Last February, Facebook introduced a new targeting feature called Core Audiences, only available in Power Editor. This feature includes improved demographic, interest, and behavior-based targeting, allowing you to target very specific aspects of your target audience such as income or specific positions within their workplace.

Lookalike Audiences can be one of the most powerful tools on offer.  It is an extension of Facebook’s Custom Audience tool, and allows marketers to upload contacts via phone numbers, emails, Facebook IDs, or Mobile advertiser IDs and send them over to Facebook. Facebook will then analyze them against their database, returning to you more contacts that appear similar to the ones you uploaded, based on their figures. Any time you can get one of the World’s most powerful brands working for you, this obviously is a plus.

Besides effective targeting, another important factor is, of course, effective testing: Both t A/B or multivariate tests must be acted on to continually optimize the campaign. Of course, Facebook marketers do this all the time with their “Like” ads. But, how do you A/B test your promoted posts without having to publish all the posts to your wall? Your answer is dark posts. Through Power Editor, you are able to create posts that exist within your page’s backend, but are not published for all your fans to see.  By creating dark posts you are able to launch and end all of your test ads at the exact same time, giving you a more accurate representation of what worked and what didn’t.

Of course, the more complex your campaigning, monitoring and testing becomes, your reports need to be somewhat customized to your own needs. Power Editor offers this, and now points to statistical breakdown such as gender, age, location, and placement. In addition to Facebook Places, your geographic successes will give your Facebook marketing a definite boost.

Don’t Think Big, when you need to Act Small

Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer (35) reaches second ahead of the throw to Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) on a double in the third inning during Friday's baseball game on May 1, 2015 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

We have all heard the old business saw: “Think Global, Act Local”, But how can we take this lesson into our own businesses? Simply studying the Big Guys, and taking their most successful ideas to help your business may not be right when trying to get further into your own, local, Prospect Communities.

Big business includes constant change and turnover. Fortune 500 clients that have outgrown their own Marketing Departments simply employ agencies to do it for them. However, they also change their agencies often, so everyone is in constant pitch mode, planning the next campaign and trying to sell it to the client. It has become normal, therefore for these pitches to excite at a ‘gut level’, and feature metrics that don’t have too much based in reality. These agencies, therefore, compete on the boldest, biggest ideas that move a brand or company in huge leaps – they have to be different so there is no time to be timid. These client companies trust that the agencies are looking after all of the metrics, and are doing it right, but most often the budget is taken up by large-scale items that overlook many details.

Who is to say, therefore, that these brands and their marketing agencies are doing it right? While we applaud social Marketing campaigns that receive incredible numbers of likes, shares, and Plus-One’s, who is to say they couldn’t have done more if they had done it right? Who says the major, one-off, Home Run is the only place to go? Last Year’s World Series has shown that a small ball, good fielding, single hit Kansas City Royals can be successful, too. Just be like them, and make sure that your fundamentals are correct. The big boy’s job is to ‘reach eyeballs’. Yours is to sell your business.

You can’t just create one sales pitch and marketing material created for one platform, throw it up on another one, and then be surprised that people don’t engage with your efforts. You have to take the time to understand each platform, what it is best used for, and take a long-term approach to developing a community. If you want to become influential on that platform, you need to act like the consumer. Of course, your content also has to be amazing. Effective social media marketing is about engaging your audience in compelling stories. Do it right, and continue doing it over a long period of time if your engagement numbers grow.

Your number one job is to tell a story. No matter who you are or what you do, your only job is to tell your story to the consumer wherever they are, and preferably at the moment when they are making decisions. Social media can help, especially if your SEO is done well. Social media is overtaking the search engines the same way TV overtook radio and the Internet overtook the newspaper. From now on, everything you do should have a social component. Of course, you can also look at those these broadcast channels, too.

There is only the 365-day marketing campaign, in which you produce content daily. Do not do something just because a large Big Box store does it, they are doing it for different reasons that may not be good for you. If you really want to start understanding your audience, you need to know what drives them and what their buying behaviors are.  A great storyteller thinks like, and is tuned in to, his audience. He knows when to slow down and when to speed up for the best effect. A story is at its best when it’s non-intrusive. On social media, the only story that can achieve business goals is one told with native content. If you want to talk to people when they consume entertainment, you need to be entertainment.  Content for the sake of content is pointless. Businesses are on social media because they want to be relevant and engaged, but if their content is banal and unimaginative, it only makes them look like amateurs.

So, you could learn what to do properly, by not doing what the big boys are doing!

How to make your website ‘Engage’ people

We hear it a lot: Why doesn’t my website do what I want. This usually means: ”Why don’t Prospects do what I want them to when they visit my site?” The answer could be buried in all kinds of small details that are stopping your prospects finding the interesting facts they are expecting to find. After all, many large Corporations have time to test their websites, and go through an ongoing diagnostic set of exercise that ‘tweak’ these tiny details. You probably don’t have the time or expense to do this, so here’s some basic ideas that will help you get your site up to the standard that these large Companies take for granted.

Create Great content with Google Trends.  If you could only use one SEO tool to develop an Internet marketing campaign, this product would be a serious contender. Google Trends is a search tool that allows you to search and connect your keywords and search terms through four basic parameters: Web search, Worldwide or Country specific, time (from the present to multiple year-range), and by category. You are immediately focussing attention through Google based on exactly what you are promoting on your site.

Upgrade your hosting, if required: Everyone hates slow upload time on a website – get yours to open as soon as possible, and you will ensure that more visitors find what they are looking for.

Study your Bounce Rate: Which pages just aren’t of interest to anyone? Use Analytics to discover your quietest pages, and change them.

Mould your headlines: What are your top five visited pages? Change their headlines and keywords to focus in on exactly what you want people to do. Concentrate on Benefits, not details.

Correctly place our Call To Action: Use SERP snippets and e-mail forms to entice people to see their interest almost immediately, and contact you about it as soon as they can.

Make sure your contact form is Mobile-Friendly. Everyone is on their mobile devices, and are more accustomed every day to get the information they want. Make sure they can contact you from their devices.

Get a 3rd Party checking tool. Don’t trust people with a vested interest in seeing your site do well to do your analytics (Especially you!), get someone that will give you cold, hard facts.

Images work: Ensure that your images entice visitors by being all about your Goods or Services, and make sure they are linked to information that visitors want. Upgrade those photographs and graphics to ensure they stand out, and are inviting.

It’s worth paying the money now, so that you don’t launch a ‘dud’ site that no-one likes. By following these steps, you will ensure that your site does what it is being built to do, to engage people in an entertaining way that results in business for you. The extra outlay will soon be recouped, and you will be ahead of your competition.


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