Tag Archive | business

2019 Business Online Marketing Trends

Device-popularity

No, I haven’t forgotten what year it is. I saved one of those “Crystal Ball’ articles a year ago stating the Top 5 Business Marketing Trends for 2019 for comparison purposes as to what actually happened within the year. The note I made next to it was ‘No, No, NO…Be A Real Person’, so I revisited it this week to see what that actually meant.

The major audience for this blog is the same as my clientele in the Real World – small businesses not accustomed to marketing for their business and leveraging simple online tools to grow their businesses’ footprint. I realized that the article in question was aimed at larger companies, perhaps with a Marketing Department, and they fell into some of the traps I council against, straight away. Mainly not to sacrifice the actual work you do within advertising and become inauthentic.

Larger companies in any business space have the luxury of buying tools that automate what they do to ensure they Tweet (for instance) 18 times per day, because everyone else is doing it. This may be fine for these large companies, but – as a small business owner – it doesn’t do you much good, and I’ll explain why.

Articles such as this one may make you question what and how you are doing things, but there is confusion around ‘What To Do’ and ‘How To Do It.’ Take Video for instance. Having a suite of videos to creatively show who you are and what you do can be a great marketing tool, because it graphically shows your Services or Goods and introduces you to people that may not notice you anywhere else. They may also be a wonderful sales tool when added to your website.

However, if you are in competition with large multi-national, big box stores that also use video, you don’t want to come off as cheap or amateur made. These guys will have Video departments manned by experts with access to actors, music and state-of the-art editing capabilities. If you can’t compete with that, then I would always suggest staying away from video. We have all seen TV advertising for small, neighbourhood businesses and those made by huge companies. The local Furniture store’s ad pales in comparison, and suffers in the process.

The question, therefore, of what do I need, should be answered by ‘What Can I do Well?’, and what shows your business in the best possible light. Our ‘Top 5 trends’ article mentioned Artificial Intelligence (Siri?), Voice Search and Automated Marketing along with Video but do you really need these?

The most important part of your messages is you. The authentic, real you that people want to meet. That takes time to care about his community and is in business to help, not to make money. Being authentic is the most important part of your marketing, be it online or in person. The question isn’t ‘What should I be doing’, it is ‘Am I Marketing with an authentic voice?’  Those 18 tweets per day obviously aren’t being published by a local business, they don’t have time. You will post something of interest to your Prospect Marketplace and use your own voice to do so.

Of course, the greatest lesson you can learn about these kinds of aggregate posts is that people read them. My job is this blog, so by seeing this article last year, saving it, referring to it, linking to it here , is all an SEO exercise that helps my ranking – it isn’t something that will help your business – however it’s a great way to blog. What are the Top Trends for your business in 2020?

Getting the Word out – Part Two

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In Part One of this post, I showed how being included in online posts by journalists can help your business, your SEO figures, their viewing figures (So they will return to you for even more views in the future) and your own prospects’ marketing efforts.

When you extend a welcome to those that write for your industry to print your answers to their questions, you are not only gaining a friend, you are offering assistance, promotion and information to them. You are also recruiting a specialist to help you out with your own outreach: Definitely a ‘Win, Win’ situation for all.

So, once again, this is a year’s end thanks to everyone for reaching out to me and including my ideas into their posts. Here are some more ideas from the last year – I hope that your small business marketing can benefit from the following. The over-riding theme this month is creative Social Media hacks:

Instagram Hashtag Marketing:

“Hashtags can be easily tracked for popularity, just as individuals can. In fact, many influential posters rely on the same hashtags, so you can also track down those you want to be associated with via their hashtags. There are online tools available (for all platforms, not just Instagram) that help you find new hashtags, and track your current hashtags. In addition to showing important hashtag data, these tools help you find the best possible hashtags for your text and images.”

Examples of creative use of Facebook for Small Business Marketing:

“Although it’s obvious, my favorite is still ‘How much is your House Worth?’ complemented by a picture of your local city. It fulfills the marketing line of making something look free, that will offer value to you, will have a good value proposal, and even makes you feel safe enough to add your zip/postcode on the next landing page. It’s only after that you realize that this is simply outreach from a local Realtor trawling for information and introductions: Very clever.”

Social Media for small Businesses:

“Position yourself as an expert in your niche. Drill down to what your history shows you are best at and what your prospects want. You can then concentrate on that within your prospect/customer community. Use social media to show you are part of your community, are a real person, and that your knowledge can help your prospects’ lives.”

Content Marketing Hacks:

“Zero in on what you do best, what has been most profitable for you in the past, and build the persona of a ‘perfect client’. Then market to them, directly. Marketing is an ongoing exercise, so ensure that your content speaks to that Perfect Customer, and show how you can fill their possible future needs better than your competition.”

A New Year – and Decade – beckons. If you have reached this section of the post, I wanted to wish you even more success in 2020 and I hope that the ideas I’ve shared over 2019 have been useful for you. If you have enjoyed these posts, or have any feedback on how you have used these tips, please let me know. I would love to print them in a future post.

Of course, I’ll also be linking back to your own businesses’ website, so you can get some more of that good old ‘Google Juice’ that this blog benefits from by answering these reporter’s questions!

Have a great Festive Season !

The Secrets to Successful Social Media Marketing

Gas StationPerhaps the most important ‘Five W’s’ journalists are always taught to ask questions about, are Who and Where? This is especially true where Social media is concerned – because of entrepreneurs’ basic misunderstanding about their marketing. The concept of your product or service being known by as many possible purchasers as possible is a very worthy target. The thought that there are so many people on line, that there is a probability that many more people will see your marketing appears to be a logical step. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Imagine that you are a Gas station in a small, rural village. You aren’t on a highway, or even a major busy road. The vast majority of your business comes from locals when they pass your pumps. The marketing you do is face-to-face with the same people every week. Looking at the prospect of running a gas station on a busy down-town street in a city, you salivate at the thought of the heavy traffic that will pass your station every hour of every day. You believe that, because there are more cars, there will be more business. This is wrong. You think that you can market the same way. This also is wrong. You don’t have time to talk to drivers as you used to. They are impatient to get back on the road. Your marketing now has to be seen from a distance, and your prospects are strangers. How can you stop them gassing up close to home, and see you on their way through the rush hour? Has your clientele changed? Are they now truck drivers?

Who and Where changes your business marketing, and online Social Media Marketing offers you a multi-pronged approach to do this. Unfortunately this goes right over a lot of people’s heads. Most Entrepreneurs have been taught that everything they do surrounding their business should be about marketing and advertising. How can you take this thought process and translate it to social media, and Who are you actually marketing to? The locals in the cars you usually see, or a constant stream of strangers in trucks?

Firstly, remove the bulletin board mentality from your social media efforts. This is not about advertising or one-line promotion. Social media is about building relationships! If you want to blog, a successful blogger not only shares good information but they also reciprocate and communicate well with others. This same kind of interaction should also take place at other networks as well whether it is WhatsApp?, Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. Here, even if you are a company, you are saying things that people want to hear, and you want to attract the right kind of people. These are those that understand and want to hear your message, will pass it on to others. Likewise, you have to be interested in them, and want to read and share their ideas and messages. So, now you know what you are promoting and how, who are the people you are talking to?

Firstly, identify exactly who your customer or client is, then focus exclusively on them. Then take a closer look at the other community members that you are close to, and identify those contacts as someone you would like to get closer to in a business sense. In order for your marketing to work, you need to determine exactly who you want to provide products or services to. These people are your insiders. They are the ones you need to focus all your time and effort on. They are the people you need to have in mind, whenever you make a marketing decision. Don’t think of trying to please all of the people, all of the time, but hone your messages down to those that would be interested, and those that interest you. If someone doesn’t live close to your gas station, or who need your gas when they are passing your station, then why are you talking to them? It’s great if they are receiving your messages from a trusted contact of theirs, but their relationship is different to yours.

So, use your prospect’s language, and write with them in mind. Study what matters to them, and ‘be where they are’. If you know problems that they are experiencing, how did you – or would you – get over them? Most of all become an expert in your field to all of these people. They will all become contacts, if you do, and your creative online writing will make you more attractive. They will look forward to what you are writing, and help you share that message. It’s a massively more effective way to grow your business than the vague alternative that most of your competition is doing.

Top Ten Twitter Tips

My-Top-10-Twitter-Tips-for-BloggersBeginners to Social Marketing often overlook Twitter, dismissing it as too ‘short hand’. This is wrong on a number of levels. For instance, if you can teach yourself to cut down on your marketing verbiage to the point where you are promoting your message in 280 characters, you are on the way to making your own one-line slogans for branding purposes; a very important – and marketable – talent. However, Twitter is also a great way to connect with other businesses, followers and industries that you are involved with.  It’s an excellent way to engage audiences about upcoming promotions and events, in a ‘headline’ kind of way, and colour your observations. You should, therefore optimize the way that you utilize this tool, and be ready to use it in various ways to make everything an introduction that leads readers to a deeper meaning via an attached document. Here are the Top 10 tips to bear in mind when you want to use Twitter to spread your message:

  1. it’s not ‘All Business’. Tweet daily, if you wish, but it’s not all about you. It’s about your prospect marketplace, and it’s about people. As a rule of thumb, tweet about your business about one-third of the time. For the rest, talk about you, your people, share informative information: Give before you take. The more you interact with others, the more you will gain from your Twitter experience, and your prospects.
  2. Keep your tweets upbeat and informative. Everyone is online to escape their day.
  3. When is it too much? If you are tweeting multiple times per day (and you will find lots of material to do so within a few days.), know when you are going overboard. A sudden drop in interaction will show you where you are going wrong.
  4. Jump on Relevant Trending Topics. A simple way to get started is to join in on trending topics. Take a look at the trending topics on Twitter, which typically have an accompanying hashtags. Then join in on the conversations when it’s relevant.
  5. Be an Industry Resource. Show that you are an expert in your field, by sharing popular information from other sources. Your followers will appreciate your expertise more than note who your competitor’s tweets come from.
  6. Use Analytics. Your Twitter account comes with its own analytics display, so get accustomed to checking this to find the most popular tweets, and note how you can grow your interactions to other subjects.
  7. Don’t copy what other brands are doing. The major business plus of Social Media is that you can tell your own stories. Don’t get lazy and simply copy what another business is doing because it gets lots of likes and re-tweets. Let these successes inspire you to tell your own message to differentiate you from others.
  8. Be You. Just like the last point, don’t try to be something you are not and make sure your marketplace understands what you are saying. See the chart below fromSprout Social for frequent negative reviews about what Brands do to turn people off. Be open, positive, don’t try to entertain, and don’t be too ‘inside’ with jargon and slang.graph-annoying-actions@2x-19. Be Professional. This is a business marketing avenue. By all means connect your own twitter feed to your Businesses, and highlight your people but don’t turn it into a personal account. Work-Life balance works online, too. You are here to talk about your business, not your own life.

    10. Remember that everything you tweet is public! Think first, and if you have the slightest worry about your content – don’t do it. Don’t get into arguments, and remember the old saying about polite conversation: It doesn’t involve politics, religion, or sexuality.

Twitter is very simple to use, and is an extremely fast, immediate way to find people, and engage them in conversations.  Unlike Facebook, every person with a Twitter profile is public and reachable.   The possibilities are really endless.  You can use Twitter to reach out to people you admire, show appreciation for a service you use, connect with people you’re attending an event with or just start the conversation yourself!  You will soon get into the swing of multiple tweets per day, and you’ll soon see how those 280 characters will do wonders for your business messaging.

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

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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.