How to spend your Social Budget.

socialmediabudgetThey say you learn something new every day…How about a new Business oxymoron: A Social Media Budget? In most companies, it simply doesn’t exist. They expect Fans, Followers, Likes and Pins to fall from the sky. However, it isn’t that simple.

The ‘plus’ of being visible on Social Media is that visitors choose to look at your posts, meaning it is their decision to do so, and they aren’t being sold to do it. This leads to more trust in your business. To do this, however, takes investment in either time or funds in order to be this open to everyone.

But, how should a social media budget be spent, if they have one? You do not want to spend hard earned money, simply to get ‘vanity metrics’, or fast-to-disappear trends. Let’s start with not doing something that is all too prevalent: Taking the HIPPO’s opinion: The HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion), is also (usually) the least knowledgeable and furthest away from the front-lines. If you need ammunition to curb the HIPPO, try these ideas:

One of the best ways to successfully grow a social network is to funnel people from existing sources. This could mean your existing website traffic or e-mail database – wherever you have contacts.  Or it could simply mean your existing, off line contacts (i.e. customers that come to your business). You will need a ‘base’ of contacts in order to attract more. Don’t forget your work colleagues, and existing customers – these are fans of yours. The larger base you can call on, the more possible contacts you can add in the shortest time.

Now, make sure that your Call To Action is strong enough.

Concentrate on one message, and one call to action for prospects to follow. Large corporations and big ad agencies do this all the time on commercials. Next time you’re interrupted during your favorite television show, count how many commercials show a Facebook icon, and nothing else. No Facebook page URL, no direct call-to-action, and no reason or incentive to actually get-off-the-couch and take action. All they’re doing is promoting Facebook.

If you have customers that enjoy being in your store, give them a reason to return to it with your Call to Action. Have them experience something they enjoy, and cull their contact details from them. In turn, they will pass this information on, automatically funneling both themselves and those that come after them into your system: A ‘hearer’ of your business, becomes a follower to learn more, then a visitor to your experience, then a ‘passer on information’ to others that, in turn become hearers, and so on….

It takes approximately seven times longer or seven times the introductions to acquire new followers – something that HIPPOS usually forget. Better to keep in touch with those that you have already, and invite them to join your promotional network, helping others to be introduced. If you have a social media budget, in either funds or time, use it to show your present fans multiple aspects of your experience, and let them bring more in.

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Make Sure your Voice is Heard.

silver desk microphone

Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

I have a wonderful surprise for you: My voice!

I recently guested on Andy Curry’s Podcast: “Crazy, Cheap Marketing: Innovative Marketing Tactics For Instant Growth.” and spoke about small business digital marketing including, social media marketing, blogging, community outreach and customer retention.

Andy’s approach to marketing a ‘neighborhood business’ was forged by running his own Hardware store for over 30 years. He offers in- the- trenches, first-hand knowledge of the pitfalls of marketing and the best use of advertising dollars for all businesses.

A few years ago, he started sharing this knowledge online via a web blog, a matching podcast and, more recently, books. He invites marketers, educators, business owners and other specialists to speak about different aspects of marketing that any entrepreneur can do to promote their business better, most of which are ‘crazy cheap’. I heartily recommend signing up for his podcasts and newsletters for free, and gain some expert knowledge on your business’ growth.

Although the main topic of our conversation was about Business blogging, a couple of other points of interest that have come up since the interview’s publication: I had the opportunity to ‘plug’ this blog, and had a link added to the website itself. The result has been the third-best month of readership figures since I began this blog. I also picked up more followers – in fact my total is now almost 30% bigger than it was in December 2018!

I have written before about the ‘waterfall’ effect of good marketing, and the above is a great example of this: More opportunities to talk about your business leads to more interest in your other marketing, which leads to more ‘fans’ that want to learn more. Additionally, people have learned something more about me as a business owner. My Voice is a give-away to my background. Despite spending over 30 years in North America, I never added to my birth dialect, so now I get lots of comments along the lines of: “I never knew you were English!”

This not only shows interest as me as a marketing expert, it also highlights interest in me as an authentic person – something that this blog has constantly highlighted as a ‘must do’ for any small business looking to grow.

Here is the direct link to the Podcast, so enjoy 25 minutes of marketing tips, and I do recommend you listen to some more interviews on the website for great tips on how to expand your digital footprint, turn more prospects in customers and make those customers evangelists for your business to others.

Of course, you can also start searching for opportunities to speak on behalf of your own specialty and business, creating your own waterfall effect of interest, growing both your name and your business!

You haven’t got just One Audience, so why treat them like you do?

segmentation2How do you approach your e-mail inbox every day? What do you save, read, or delete without looking?

Chances are that if you aren’t being enticed by e-mail subject lines, or author’s name, you won’t be opening that e-mail. If that’s true for you, why wouldn’t it be true for your e-mail marketing? If you are not communicating with both Customers and Prospects on an ongoing, successful basis, you aren’t getting through to them. Once you have an automated system in place to keep in touch with the life-blood of your business, don’t take for granted that it will work. You still have to put the work in to ensure that what you are writing is being read.

While you have read a lot about the power of glistening copy that sticks in people’s minds, sometimes the message you are sending out simply isn’t being read. If the gross amount of sales you are making thanks to automated e-mail communication, do not equal the amount you are paying for it, it still isn’t worth it: Start looking closer at your audience, and ensuring that they open that e-mail, at least. How? Segment your audience into handy groups that you can send a more personalized message to – not just by ensuring that it is a personalized e-mail greeting, but that the message itself is more attractive to them, personally. So, how can you achieve the Holy Grail of branding: Mass personalization? By segmenting your audience into different groups based on more direct information that you have about them.

Look at what social media successfully does: It ensures that you, personally, are being addressed.  Social Media platforms have discovered that getting sales messages that align with all of the interests you have noted in the past is the best way for them to sell their client’s goods and services. Perhaps you, in your own way, you can do this too. It is the same with your e-mail opening habits, and all of your customers and prospects. How can you achieve this? Here are five easy points to point you in the right direction:

  1. By Persona. 
What are their professional responsibilities, job description, department, and which demographic they inhabit? Ask yourself what is it in your message that they would feel attracted to?
  2. By historical Buying Patterns and Frequency
. You can actually increase your followers by offering special terms, or offers. You don’t want to make your sales arguments about budget, but perhaps you can do it by size, payment schedule, geographic location? Find out who has bought what and when in the past, and tailor your messages to refer to these past purchases at the time and rate their sales’ history denotes. Any kind of feedback you receive will give you more information on past customers, so what do you want to find out, and how can you tie that in to what and when was purchased before?
  3. By Geography. Get accustomed to finding out what happens where? Every area has different holidays, or perhaps different, predictive weather patterns. Show your customers and prospects that you know them, and offer items especially aimed at them. Of course, this will also take a little extra work, but the rewards will be worth it.
  4. By Industry or Vertical. If you are a B2B seller, what do these contacts want at what times of year? Do they have a purchasing and sales cycle? Do their past purchases, or even growth pattern, conform to a predictive pattern? Similarly with business verticals: Are they buying something small, or huge? You can deliver personalised messages based on their contact data. Get into their conversations just before you know they are buying and when.
  5. By Channel Usage. For those of us branding in a B2C marketplace, HOW do people like to interact with you, mobile, social, or E-mail? At times of the day, week, or year? Once again, you can pre-empt their purchasing patterns with the right message at the right time, to the right people – via the right delivery channel.

The more you learn about your customers, the more successful you will be in ensuring that your message gets through, and the next one will be eagerly awaited. Of course, this kind of detective work is not only fun, you may learn way more about the intricacies of your own product or service array, and how you can get even more focused messages out. It will take some testing, nothing is perfect out of the box, but when you segment your audience and talk directly to them, your marketing will be way more successful.

But I don’t know how to write ‘Copy’ – Part Two

best copywriting

Thanks to ABC Copywriting for the Perfect Pic !

Following the feedback I received after publishing Part One of “How To Write Copy”, I thought it best to get back to it as soon as possible, and offer another list of tips. These may be a little more advanced than the original list I offered but, according to the messages I have received, many of you have already made it through the first list – or perhaps you use those guidelines on a daily basis already. Whatever the reason, here are some more points to ponder. Of course, as always, have fun with it! You can always tell the Sales Copy that was fun to come up with – it shines in the prose. See if you can have fun with these ideas:

  1. Overwhelm with Testimonials.

Why does Social Marketing work? Because people see what their friends like, and that makes them want to try it, too. They trust other user’s advice. So get as many testimonials as you can: The more specific, of course, the more convincing. In short, deliver proof that your claim is for real.

  1. Remove the Risk!

Give a guarantee that something works. Less than 2% of your customers will ever ask for their money back, so offering a guarantee is a safe risk. We have all seen the thirty day challenge, when most customers are so busy, they don’t remember to ask for their refund. The fact that you are offering to pay their money back makes you successful.

  1. Ask for the Order.

Too much copy these days never asks anyone to buy anything. Sales copy should SELL, so remember your target point. What do you want them to do: Buy, sign up, or subscribe? Ask the reader to do it! Use a coupon as a way to signal readers that you want their business and to remind yourself to always ask for the order (or at least to ask people to contact you or remember you).

  1. Use Magic Words.

There are certain words which have been proven to help get attention. If you just string these words together, they sound like fluff. But weave them into your sentences, along with your facts, and they become powerful:

Announcing, astonishing, exciting, exclusive, fantastic, fascinating, first, free, guaranteed, incredible, initial, improved, love, limited offer, powerful, phenomenal, revealing, revolutionary, special, successful, super, time-sensitive, unique, urgent, wonderful, you, breakthrough, introducing, new, and how-to.

And consider the connotations of the words you use: workshop sounds like hard work while seminar sounds easier. Read sounds hard while look over sounds easy. Write sounds difficult while jot down sounds easy. Be aware of the psychological implications of the words and phrases you use. How words sound and look are just as important as what they mean.

  1. Get Pumped Up!

Show your excitement for your product: If you aren’t pumped up about it, why not? Enthusiasm sells. This should be important to you. Look at successful TV Ads, and how actors portray everyday essential products with such glee and excitement. It works for viewers that instinctively like these people more, because of how they look, and what they say. Your copy should act the same way.

  1. Rewrite and Test Ruthlessly.

Test. Test. Test. A change of one word can increase response 250%. Most copy isn’t written in one day, it is a work in progress. You have to write, rewrite, edit, rewrite, test, and test again. And record how business looks with each ad. Run two concurrently, so that you can A/B test.

Just as all fish aren’t attracted by the same bait, there is no single Ad that works for everyone. You should educate yourself on what works for you, when, and keep on testing.

  1. State a Believable Deadline.

Most people won’t take any immediate action unless there is a sound reason to do so. Deadlines help, as long as your deadline sounds credible. Don’t put multiple dates into an ad or offer, either. It will confuse your audience. Be wary about what you want the reader to do and stick to that one thing, Make it easier for them to do!

  1. Instantaneous Satisfaction!

Everything should be nearly instantaneous because we want instant gratification. Toll-free numbers and e-mail addresses help. If you’re marketing on the Web, include a link or a “Buy Now” button that makes it easy for your readers to order. If it’s easy for them to hit a button, it’s easy for them to enjoy your product faster. Is this your product?

  1. Sincerity Sells.

Don’t offer fluff, mislead, or lie to your prospects. Tell them the truth. While rarely done, it actually helps sales to admit a weakness or a fault. Tell the truth in a fascinating way, as a story or a moral. People like to be entertained, but keep it honest and useful, and they will love you for it.

  1. Copy your copy from the Best.

What are your favorite ads? Why? Look at them from a distance, and try to figure out what hit’s your buttons. The fact is, these ads were designed to do just that so they are working. Why not copy them in the terms of the points above, and see how your product looks in others’ eyes?

BONUS TIP: The Easiest Way to Write Anything

After you have decided what you want to accomplish with your writing, and you have completed your research, then write in 33-minute non-stop blasts. Then take a 10-minute breather, do some push-ups, get some air, dance, drink some coffee. Then write in another 33-minute spurt. This helps your left and right sides of your brain work in harmony. It’s true – compare the results of the two ‘spurts’ and they will appear different!

It’s Never Too Late to Start your Blogging Empire.

blog-new-blog-ideas-for-business-websiteA recent LinkedIn article asked: ‘Are you thinking of starting a blog? Don’t!’ Why? Because there are so many online today, it’s going to be almost impossible to make any kind of mark. How many? The figures are truly mind-blowing. According to Website Designer, The U.S. alone has over 30 million bloggers in 2018, which captures almost 30 percent of the market. To give some perspective, the next biggest blogging country is the UK with 7 percent of the world’s bloggers. That means there are over 60 Million blogs now online from the rest of the World! Why are they still popular?

People blog about their passions: Pets, clothes, movie gossip, and recipes. Their popularity is due to the passion of the writer, not for the genre they are written about. If you are blogging about your business, your customers, your community, and ensure that your passion for your subject comes out, your readership that have been looking for the information you give out specifically, will continue to read your words, because of the feelings they are written with. If you are excited about an idea, you really want to find others that share your passion. Be that writer.

Look at the amount of Fortune 500 companies, high street mega-chains, and Big Box retailers that have blogs on their websites. From a business point of view, everyone is doing it, so therefore it must show value to companies that have ‘bean counters’ for every single cent moving through the company. I wonder if these accounting geniuses have worked out that it is the passion that works and not so much the items headlined for sales? According to this research, business owners see a 126 percent increase in lead generation if they blog about their industry.

But are there still guidelines to follow among this written-word universe out there? There are, so if your passion requires some guidelines, consider these 2018 blogging facts:

The average blog post length is 1,050 words, and the average word count of top ranked content in Google is between 1,140-1285 words. Longer, in-depth blog posts generate 9x more leads than short ones however, the median average time spent reading an article is 37 seconds, so make that first paragraph count – especially as the average blog post takes 3 hours 16 minutes to write! Did you know that Blog titles with 6-13 words get the most consistent amount of traffic and hits?

However, your blogging work is never a waste of time. Consider that Marketers who prioritize blogging efforts are 13x more likely to see positive ROI, and Companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month get nearly 3.5x more traffic than those that publish 0-4 monthly.

It is usually the planning of posts that many writers don’t fashion into their blogging, and having no forward plan about what they are writing means they will soon drop out of regular posting. The majority of these blogs haven’t had a post in the last three months, many in the last six, and almost 20% in the year immediately following their last post. If you are looking forward to a post as a reader, you will soon lose interest if you haven’t seen a post in a few months. I wonder how many posts start off with: “I know that it has been a while since my last post…” Too late – your readership have moved on.

Blogging will always have a future but remember that it isn’t your content as much as the feelings that it is written with. It is the writing that brings people back, sets you apart from others, both in your niche, and the Blogosphere as a whole. It isn’t the act of blogging that is at question, only your passion, content and frequency. Make your feelings ‘long’, and tour Wordsmith skills ‘short’. Use the above 2018 facts to fashion your posts for 2019, and post at least once per week. To completely disagree with LinkedIn – ‘DO!’

But I Don’t Know How to Write ‘Copy’ – Part One

copywritingAdvertising ‘Copy’ (Script) is your major sales vehicle. It tells people who you are, what you do, when, where, and why (The ‘5 W’s’ of Journalism.). Everyone does it, but not everyone does it well. As a beginner in business marketing, it is a major chore that everyone would like to to do well, but often don’t think hard enough about what it means, or what is involved.

Learning a few simple tips, though, will make your writing not only easier, but more enjoyable and successful. As you get more successful at it, the further you will sprint ahead of the pack that is merely adding words to their pictures. In turn, proper Content Marketing will turn more strangers into prospects, prospects into customers and customers into evangelists.

The answer to all advertising is a simple, although a long one. All Advertising ‘copy’ fits into certain rules, and although there may be lots of ‘rules’ to try to learn out there, when you research, the same points come up repeatedly. To save your time in searching for The Secret Formula, I have boiled it down to twenty easy to understand rules, and will use two posts to list them all. Not all of them should be used at the same time, but it will give beginners a check-list to follow to hit as many points as possible that will help you.

Most importantly, anything you write should be personal. It has to come from you. Write as one person, addressing one person: Here are some more ingredients to bear in mind:

  1. Know your UVP.

A UVP is a Unique Value Proposition: A one line statement that explains how your product or service differs from the competition. Think Coca-Cola, or Dove Soap. What comes to mind is their USP.

  1. Use layout.

Everyone puts a picture on top of their blog post, but if you don’t have one that supports what you are writing about, don’t use one. Don’t divert a reader’s attention from your USP. Layouts may include graphs, infograms, photos, but they don’t have to. Your layout should support your USP, and that’s all.

  1. Create a relevant headline.

This is the hook that makes readers read the first line. Make it about the entire piece, make it ask a question, but – again – stay on topic. What are you saying when you ‘open the door’ to fire that message?

  1. Write to your Prospects.

Who are you writing for? What do they want? Do some research on your perfect reader, and aim the piece at them: In layout, language or pictures, make sure that they understand it.

  1. Benefits, not Features.

It doesn’t matter what your ‘widget’ does, what matters is how it will benefit the reader. No-one is interested in how clever you are, what matters is how your product or service will positively affect those that you are writing for.

  1. Use Aspirational Appeal.

You can appeal to someone’s emotional side, no matter who you are writing for. Even business purchases are made from an emotional point of view: “You will feel better, because…”

  1. Dispel Myths.

When prospects say: “I don’t have enough time.”, or “I don’t have enough money.”, do they mean, I’m not thinking about this now? Are they saying “It won’t work for me.”, or “I don’t need it.”, or are they saying: “I don’t believe you.” This is your chance to take on any or all of these myths.

  1. Fire up your prose.

“The meeting is tonight” sounds informative, but; “The Meeting starts at 7 PM – Don’t Miss It!” sounds direct, and exciting. How can you re-write what you do to make this piece riveting? Keep your prospects reading to the end. Use questions, unfinished sentences, lists. What makes you read on, instead of closing the document?

  1. Be an Expert.

‘The more you tell, the more you sell’. Keep your piece short enough to be exciting, but in it, the reader learns something.

  1. Be Specific.

Whenever you write something vague, such as ‘in the future’, or ‘many people’, you create a question in the reader’s mind: “When, exactly”, they will say, or “How many people, exactly.” If you are talking about a group of people, find out how many, or when you have a target in the future, state it. “We expect that over 1,000 companies will be using our product by December 1st.” is way better than: “be one of our customers with many others in the next few months.

Everything you write should be aimed at your prospects and be about your business. I suggest you keep some kind of note-keeping device close to you, be it a notebook, or Phone App. Ideas will start coming to you at the oddest times, so be ready to note them down.

In Part Two, I’ll have another 10 points that you should be addressing.

Blocked while Blogging? Here’s how to get out of it.

Writers-BlockEarlier this year, I offered “6 tips for the perfect blog post“. However, there will be times when – despite the hints of lay out and content given in this post – you won’t know what to write. Everyone goes through it, despite your best efforts, the dreaded ‘writer’s block’ hits you and you can’t think of a single topic for your business blog. Here’s a list of ideas to fall back on.

Customer success stories.

Has someone told you how your good or service has made a positive impact on them or their life? Write about it to help others.

Industry tips.

You are part of an industry, so what have you discovered lately about that industry. Search for already printed bulletins from larger suppliers, or economic circles, and describe how it could affect your future. Don’t forget to thank the original writer and give them a link.

New products/services.

Are you planning an upgrade, or a new product? Tell everyone about it as a ‘sneak preview’.

Upcoming small business events.

Even if it’s just a Sale, write about it. In fact, if someone else is reaching out, share the news and look like a supporter to your community.

Customer feedback.

You can generate real customer comments about the industry in general. It could be useful for your prospects, and makes you look as if you care about customers and their observations to others.

Educate Your Customers.

Do your prospects truly understand how your product should be used or enjoyed? Take the opportunity to educate them, without selling them. This kind of free instruction places you as an expert, and someone that goes the extra mile for your prospects.

“Warning” Posts.

Is the World of prospects going to change because of something that is happening in your industry? Perhaps you can see the ‘Big Picture’, and help them to look ahead?

Related interests.

Spread the word about the world at large as it is affected by your product. Business tools, for instance, can relate to automation in the office, or freeing up employees’ time. Stepping away from your own product occasionally to look at the world at large reminds your prospects to do the same.

Product explanations.

What are the nuts and bolts of your business, your product, why you are here? Explain in detail how it comes together, and where it is from. The logic behind your businesses’ process will show what you do from a different angle.

Even with all of the writing you are doing on an ongoing basis, we all face a blank wall sometimes. Use one or more of these ideas to enliven your Businesses’ story, and get the word out to your prospects from a different angle.

Try them out and let me know your Successes !