marketing

Want to Generate More Leads? There Might be a Goldmine Right Under Your Nose.

lead gen

Remember those days when you were a kid? Playing hide-and-seek, you’d hide and wait, hoping not to be discovered? Or when it was your turn to be the seeker, you’d have a moment of despair, feeling absolutely certain that your playmates had disappeared into thin air, never to be found?

“Ready or not, here I come!” you’d call. And then came the work of turning over every square inch until you’d found each one of your pals.

You’re grown up now, but when it comes to the endless quests for leads and conversions, digital marketing can often make you feel a little like you’re trying to find the sneakiest hiders in the entire neighborhood.

You know what? Your leads might be hidden, but they’re not lost. In fact, they may be much closer than you think. You just have to know where to look.

Your Past Purchasers

It costs far less to retain a customer than it does to attract a new one, and it’s easier to convince a previous purchaser to press “buy now” again than it is to convert someone who has never bought from you before. Your past purchasers are already familiar with you, your products, and your services. And they were receptive to your messaging in the past. This means the hardest part of your job—earning someone’s trust—is already done!

Encouraging a past customer to buy again, often called remarketing, has impressive success rates. According to Salescycle, remarketing email open rates average 57 percent and a 30 percent conversion rate (versus a typical 21 percent open rate and 3 percent conversion rate).

All you need to do now is to do a little experimentation to figure out the best incentive to bring those customers back to purchase again.

Abandoned Shopping Carts

Research shows that although abandoned carts lost almost 4 trillion dollars, 63 percent of that total may be recoverable via the use of savvy email marketing.

Why do shoppers abandon purchases? According to Moz, an authority on inbound marketing and SEO, the top reasons include:

·      Unexpectedly high shipping costs

·      Not yet ready to make the purchase

·      Comparing prices between competitors

·      Price was too high

Did you know that, according to Salescycle, almost half of abandoned-cart emails are opened—and over 30 percent of clicks resulted in purchases? Even more exciting, the average value of these purchases was 19 percent higher than typical.

If you are selling online, abandoned shopping carts are not an issue you can afford to ignore. If the shopper added your product to their shopping cart, that’s a pretty strong indicator that they’re interested in what you have to offer—which means it would be worthwhile to follow up your abandoned carts with an email campaign. You don’t want to give up on these leads.

Your Social Media Followers

Your social media audience is likely the most engaged audience you have access to online, but it can be tough to move them from social media audience to sales prospect.

This is where you can implement social retargeting, which is when you target users who casually visited your site with ads on social platforms. This works because, after they visit your site and later log onto a social platform, there will be an ad for your product or service.

Social retargeting works when you place a special pixel on some or all parts of your website. Basically, you use cookies on them, and when they visit the social network you’re running the retargeting campaign on, they’ll see your ads.

It might sound confusing, but it’s actually pretty easy to set up. If you’re just starting out and want to learn more, you can check out this article from Moz, an inbound marketing and SEO firm, which explains what retargeting is.

The Spam Folder

Spam. It’s the bane of small business email marketers’ efforts. Even though you’d never intentionally send spam, sometimes your emails get filtered into spam folders anyway. So there’s a very good chance that you’ve got solid leads out there, leads who actually want to receive your emails, but they’re just not getting them.

Once your email is lost to spam it’s highly unlikely your lead will ever see it. So, it’s best to stay out of the reach of spam filters in the first place. Here are some handy tips on how to craft emails that avoid the marketing purgatory known as the spam folder:

Remember, words matter

Some spam is universally recognizable (Viagra ads, foreign princes, free iPads, etc.). Beware of sounding like that. Check your email against a list of common spam alert words and play it safe. 

Don’t get attached

Keep your content inside your email. Attached files are huge spam warning signs that will keep your email from reaching your lead. 

Keep it clean

No, we’re not talking about a PG rating; we’re talking about your code. Messages with too many images and overload of links or sloppy HTML coding can bounce you right to email purgatory. 

Monitor your score

Monitor your reputation through your sender score. If there are any issues, take care of them immediately. You can check your sender score on senderscore.org.

Ask recipients to whitelist you

When a lead joins your list, ask them to add you to as a contact or to add you to their safe sender list (you can even provide them with complete instructions for their email platform). This will tell your lead’s email client that they want to hear from you and significantly lower the chances that your email will end up flagged as junk.

5. Lagging at the bottom of your sales funnel

It turns out that adding new leads to your list is only half the battle. They may be interested now, but will need more time to make a buying decision. The real challenge is in keeping them engaged over the long term.

Many small business owners lose a significant chunk of their list each year to this very struggle, which hurts engagement rates and increases the danger of a spam report. 

If your leads are disengaged, you need a re-engagement campaign to rekindle the flame.

Litmus, an email building and design tool, lays out a quick three-step system for reengagement:

·      Determine whom you will re-engage. Is your campaign going to be aimed at people who haven’t opened your last five campaigns, or who haven’t engaged with your content by clicking through to your site in the past four months? Define the subset of your list that you’re working to reengage to make sure your campaign is on track.

·      Create your reengagement campaign. Design one that you believe will best resonate with your target segment. Be ready to make changes as you begin to get results, or consider split testing two campaigns. A quick Google Image search for the term “re-engagement campaign” turns up a ton of inspiring examples.

·      Say farewell to permanently inactive subscribers. It’s never easy to purposely make your email list smaller, but if these subscribers were not won over by your re-engagement campaign, keeping them on your list is only hurting you by lowering your engagement rates and making you vulnerable to spam complaints, all of which can impact deliverability.

And when your deliverability decreases now, it impacts your deliverability later. That means the people who want to see your content down the road will be less likely to see it. So bite the bullet and cull out those inactive subscribers.

Conclusion: don’t lose your leads!

It can be very much worth the effort of going through the exercise of finding lost leads. Of course, the most important takeaway from an exercise like this is that when you find where your lost leads are hiding, it’s your clue to tighten up that area of your marketing strategy.

Want to the best way to keep leads from slipping off your radar? Keep them engaged:

Practice progressive profiling

If you only ever collect your leads’ name and email address, your contact options are limited. Instead, consider implementing progressive profiling, where you request additional information incrementally as a lead engages with your content. This is great because:

·      Leads become more qualified over time

·      Conversions increase, as fewer fields are required on each web form

·      Additional tracking options in the case of a future hard bounce

Set your target correctly

A huge part of keeping your list active and engaged is attracting the right people to sign up in the first place. Have you done the background work of getting down to the nitty-gritty of understanding your target customer? An in-depth understanding of your ideal audience will help you create the content and products that they desire and that will keep them coming back for more. 

Lead Scoring

Not all leads are created equal, and it’s not always easy to know which leads you should spend time on.  Incorporate a system of lead scoring (usually available via your CRM or email software) to assign a score to each lead based on actions they take with your website, emails, or content. This enables you to quickly determine if a hard bounced lead is worth the extra effort to track down, helping you focus your future marketing efforts.

Segment and target

Your target market may be made up of recognizable groups (often called buyer personas) that have specific needs and requirements. Once you fully understand your target customer, use your campaign metrics and audience demographics (gender, time zone, etc.) to segment your list even more. Use this segmentation to send highly relevant emails that drive engagement and conversion. 

 

Ben Snedeker joined Infusionsoft in 2015 to do full time that which he loves most: writing the stories that inspire action. He holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. In his prior life, he was a freelance writer working days at MIT as a grant manager. After a decade of paper-pushing in academia, writing for a fast moving company like Infusionsoft is his dream come true.

Jeanette LeBlanc also contributed to this article.

 

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

 

Startup Lessons From the Force

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By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

You know about the blaster rifles, Jedi mind tricks, and dazzling special effects. You know about the Millennium Falcon, light sabers, and the green sage they call Yoda. But what you may not know, is the acute business lessons that lurk behind what has become one of the most successful movie franchises of all time. 

 

1. Taking Risks

via  Flickr

via Flickr

“Fear is the path to the dark side”  -Darth Vader

Okay, so maybe fear won’t turn you into a Sith Lord—but it can and will keep you from seeing the light. Businesses that aren’t taking risks are going to have a hard time separating themselves from the pack. A unique product or a stand-out marketing campaign both require risk—calculated risk.

Here are some examples Forbes provides of startup successes that hinged on calculated risk taking:

Co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors; founder of SpaceX

When I started SpaceX, dedicated to reducing the cost and increasing the reliability of space missions, I’d never been involved in designing anything and had no experience in the aerospace industry. I even ended up pouring in most of the capital from the sale of PayPal. (SpaceX’s annual revenue is now over $100 million. In December 2008, SpaceX won a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to re-supply the International Space Station, an international research facility.)

Founder and CEO of Zynga, an online social gaming company (creator of “FarmVille” and “Mafia Wars”)

Greatest risk? Saying no to my last chance at funding for my (first) company Freeloader in 1996. We had one month of cash left, and the investor I lined up wanted me to hire the CEO of his choice in exchange for the funding. I walked away. We got funded a few months later and sold the company for a good return. (On the success of Zynga, a public relations rep said: “A news report had us at $100 million for revenues in 2009, and we said it was conservative.”)

The term “calculated risk” has become a bit of a platitude, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold water. If you want to calculate risk, you must do lot’s of research including AB testing. Conducting AB testing on small segments will allow you to test the waters before allocating large amounts of funds on a flawed strategy. Once you find a positive trends, you put yourself in the position to make a calculated decision.

2. Playing to Your Strengths

One of the biggest startup lessons George Lucas teaches us, is his ability to play to his strengths. What interests does George Lucas (the man) have? Fast cars, mythology, sociology, and outer space. What interests does George Lucas (the director) have? Fast cars, mythology, sociology, and outer space. Do you see the pattern? Of course you do, they're one and the same!

If you study Lucas's background, his class choices, and his childhood—you will see that many of the things that interested him before his directorial debut—are the things that carry over into his work.

Whether it’s creating content or a new product—entrepreneurs need to form a strategy around their strengths. That’s not to say you can’t be successful otherwise, but going against the grain will undoubtedly be a more challenging up hill battle. 

If you find yourself getting bored with your core content or product—consider hybridizing. Hybridizing allows you to explore the boundaries of your niche without abandoning your core message or products. This can be done by finding intersecting points between niches.

For example—using a popular movie franchise to discuss business principles. Sound familiar?

Our core objective at #Booklyinsight is to be “Champions of Small Business.” Are we talking about business principles in this article? Yes. Are we also talking about Star Wars? Definitely. And by doing so we’re able to provide hardcore insight with a new twist and hopefully attract non-traditional readers to our site. In fact, one of our most popular articles of 2015,  4 Powerful Marketing Lessons from Willie Wonka's 'Golden Ticket' Campaign, is based on this very concept.

When it comes to products, the same principles apply. Nintendo for example, began as a simple card game company. They slowly moved their way into the consumer electronic space. Are they still a gaming company at their core? Yes. Have they learned to hybridize their product? Without a doubt. And good on them for doing so! If Nintendo to were remain a card making company, do you think they would have ever become a house-hold name worth $18.4 billion? 

3. What it Takes

Via  Flickr

Via Flickr

“Try Not. Do, or do not. There is no try." -Yoda

Effort is a valiant attribute, but how many businesses are remembered for making a good run at it? How many people can support their family on a “good try”?

Failure will happen a long the path to greatness, but what separates those who make it to the top are those who learn from their mistakes. This is Yoda’s council, this is doing.

Clinical Psychologist Guy Winch proposes four steps for learning from failure:

  • Reevaluate your planning
  • Reevaluate your preparation
  • Reevaluate your execution
  • Focus on variables in your control

4. Networking

via  Flickr

via Flickr

“Someone has to save our skins”  - Princess Leia

When George Lucas graduated from USC Film School, he made a pact with some of his schoolmates, that if one of them made it big—they would help the others do the same. Who were these friends? None other than Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, and Steven Spielberg. In fact, it was Coppola who produced George Lucas’s first two films THX 1138 and American Graffiti

It can be tempting (for a variety of reasons) to go the lone-wolf route. But being a solopreneuer means spreading yourself thin with less tools at your disposal. Networking allows you to develop strategic partnerships. It’s not bullish to say, that if George Lucas had not got his first two films off the ground, Star Wars might have never come to fruition. 

5. Foresight

star wars toys

There are many who can do just fine making money off side-hustles that generate a few hundred here and a few thousand there. But when it comes to building and sustaining a business—owners must have incredible patience and foresight. They must always have one foot in the present and one in the future. Generating funds for the present, while posturing for the future.

One of the most remarkable things about George Lucas besides his on-screen vision, is his off-screen prowess. At the time of Star Wars’ release, merchandising was not nearly as lucrative as it is now.  In 1973 he turned down the studios' offer of a $500,000 salary in exchange for $150,000, and merchandising/sequel rights. 

Many of us in George Lucas’s place would have taken the easy money and ran. But his ability to visualize the future is what makes him the richest man in Hollywood ($5.1 Billion Net Worth).

How to Neuromarket the Proper Way

neuromarketing

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

What is neuromarketing?

For the uninitiated, Neuromarketing is a field of research that studies the subconscious habits and responses of consumers. This is done through a mix of psychology and controlled experiments using machines like fMRI’s which scan the subject’s brain.

In his book Brainfluence (which we highly recommend), Roger Dooley cites that around 90% of consumer decisions are made at the subconscious level. That means that the “common sense” approach to marketing is not the most prudent strategy. In fact, many of these studies show how unpredictable we as consumers really are. 

NEuromarketing: Know the Data

It goes without saying that living in a data vacuum will not help you take advantage of the “90%.” Sites like Marketing Sherpa and books like Brainfluence or The Buying Brain are great places to start. A mix of psychology and quantitative data are the two ingredients required to concoct an elixir of marketing success. 

NEUROMARKETING: Apply and Monitor

Business does not occur in a controlled setting. Just because an experiment showed that consumers preferred water over juice, does not mean they will choose water over juice in your market setting. Variables are numerous and often unpredictable especially in a business environment.

What did they eat before the experiment? What was the temperature of the lab? Is your presentation the same as in the experiment’s? 

If you think a Neuromarketing statistic will help your business, try it out but monitor it closely. If things aren’t happening as planned, experiment with different variables. AB test in small samplings before choosing to overhaul your entire business strategy. Tamper with variables and find out what succeeds. Many email marketers for example, will experiment with changing just a couple of words to see how it affects engagement. If they find response trends, they will use those findings in their future email campaigns. 

Neuromarketing Application Tips:

In 2012 The New York Times published a piece by MP Mueller from the Ad Agency Door Number 3. Mueller sat down with the French researcher Christophe Morin who offered these six steps to extract pain from the marketing to sale process.

1. Don’t use the word “we” or start off your pitch with a corporate overview that lasts 10 minutes. Focus instead on how to relieve your customers’ pain. Our brains are extremely self-centered, and we care most about our own survival.
2. About 10,000 messages are sent to our brains daily, so get to the point. “When you sell to the lower brain structure, you must say, ‘This is your life with our product or service, this is your life without,’” Mr. Morin said. He cited a successful campaign that helped a client that was selling home flood remediation services to major insurance companies. The campaign featured a traveling exhibit that showed a flooded home and how the company had mastered the art of drying home interiors. “The reptilian brain gets very stimulated by this kind of disruption. Stay away from, “We are one of the leading providers.” It’s the marketing equivalent of sugar — empty calories.
3. Make your points visual. Remember the “See and Say” books from childhood? Don’t just tell; show. “We are visual people, and the eyes are directly connected to the reptilian brain,” he said.
4. Stay concrete and make it tangible. The primal brain isn’t able to understand complex language or metaphors. As much as we love word play, if it’s too complicated, it doesn’t get processed by the parts of us that make decisions. Creating ads with facial expressions is good. “Facial expressions help us decode what people’s intentions are,” he said.
5. Gain attention quickly in your advertising or marketing and make sure you have a strong close. The brain pays the most attention at the beginning and end of an event. It’s important because the brain needs to recap and store.
6. Use emotion. It creates disruption, a contrast with what we expect — surprise, laughter, fear, disgust, anger, it really doesn’t matter. If there is emotion, we are more likely to remember the message. Nothing happens in the brain unless some chemical process has found a code to create memories. To create a memorable brand, therefore, you have to use emotional connectors in your advertising. Don’t just give your audience the facts, tell them how it will make their lives better and solve their pain.

NEUROMARKETING: Use Your Compass

We don’t want to make you think that Neuromarketing is akin to Luke Skywalker’s use of the force. But it is and can be a powerful tool. Don’t use any types of tactics you wouldn’t want to be used on you. Remember your job is to provide value—not to deceive. After all value is the bridge builder of trust, and trusting your brand is the first step a consumer makes on the path to becoming a customer.

Is your inner nerd begging for more information about Neuromarketing?

For more answers to "What is neuromarketing?" and "How to apply neuromarketing principles?" check out Patrick Renvoise's Tedx Talk:

5 Ways to Promote Your E-Business Locally

local bar

Promoting Your E-business Locally

Marketers have been loudly banging the Social Media drum for years. Seth Godin even went as far as to say that "Content marketing is the only marketing left." And while the pundits' tend to ring true, they've got a lot of people looking for customers all over the web without ever checking out the gold-mine that is their own backyard. 

In this sense, local promotion is one of the most overlooked growth hacks available to entrepreneurs. And while local promotion might conjure up seemingly medieval marketing tactics—what many business owners don't realize is that promoting your business locally should include a hybrid-strategy of both physical and digital marketing tactics.

To help you out, we've created a simple 5 step guide to help your business carve out its share of the local promotion space.

1. Have a Physical Presence

One of the best ways to promote yourself locally is by having a physical presence. We’re not talking about expensive billboards or flyers that will most likely get tossed. We’re talking about collaborating with strategic business partners and retailers in your area. 

Make a list of local businesses that might be interested in carrying your product. If you’re a service-based business, think of ways you can collaborate with other brands. Giveaways can be an effective way to garner other businesses' interest.

2. Attend Business Events

By attending business events you can help form strategic partnerships and network with local businesses. Anytime you can integrate your service or product with another business, you have a chance to tap into their consumer base and reach a new audience.

KPMG Spark’s, Zach Olson, recently engaged in such an activity with his participation at Ontrapalooza

3. Repurpose Your Inventory

You’ve heard of repurposing your content, but what about repurposing your inventory? Taking a product you normally sell online and presenting it in a new way to unique customers can be a huge boost. After all, foot traffic and web traffic aren’t so different. Think of each walk-in or passerby as a “unique visitor.” 

Pop up shops and farmers markets are great ways to repurpose your inventory. When people go to farmers markets, they go with the intention of making a purchase. Capitalize on that emotion by presenting your product in an appetizing way.

Pop up shops have been an especially trendy businesses tactic these past few years. For the uninitiated, pop up shops are well, exactly what they sound like. They pop up out of nowhere and are only open for a limited time. The temporality of their nature is a built-in sales tactic, forcing the consumer to make quick decisions; knowing that your shop will only be open for a short period of time. 

4. Share Your Expertise

Look for opportunities to share your expertise in a local forum. Find a topic that your company’s an expert at and attend a business conference or host a training session. A food blogger for example, could hold a cooking class to teach people how to make a killer Chicken Pot Pie. This personal interaction provides value, builds trust, and creates an emotional bond. It also gives you a chance to make an organic sales pitch.

Even if you don’t think your industry has mass appeal, consider teaching general business principles. You can host classes on sales, marketing, and investment. Providing value to your audience will build trust which will make it easier for you to convert them into leads. 

5. Exploit the Local Digital Space

When you hear the word “local,” the digital space might not be the first thing to come to mind. But just as people are walking through local shopping centers, they’re also searching for local outlets like restaurants, concerts, events, and services (plumbing, electric etc.). Here are some practical tactics:

  • Create content tailored to local searches. (Google has started to reward locally focused SEO.)

  • Make sure you’re store is registered on Google Maps.

  • Create Facebook ads targeted at consumers within a 10-20 mile radius.

 

How to Leverage Research to Produce Meaningful Content

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As Gary Vee says, value is the key to converting readers into buyers. And while it’s easy to create fluff-filled articles in a world wide web drowning in the stuff—if a company truly hopes to create valuable content, they are going to have to do a lot more than rehash general business principles. Repurposing content or sharing links to other publications has it’s time and place—but it will only take your brand so far. True value requires innovation, and true innovation requires time and hard work. 

To stay relevant, brands have to produce numerous articles, posts, and videos a day. But due to limited resources, many small businesses find themselves at a crossroads. Should we produce lot’s of content at the risk of sacrificing quality? Or should we produce incredibly valuable content at the risk of losing relevancy? 

Leveraging Resources:

To avoid sacrificing relevancy or quality it’s imperative that your business learn the power of leveraging resources. For a content producer, this means finding original research and stories. There are numerous sites like academia.edu  or Marketing Sherpa (for business gurus) that contain databases full of research and data applicable to your niche. 

Right now you may be thinking—But hey, that’s not original content! And you’d be right. But where you can add originality and value is in your synthesis and application of this information. Most of these articles are written in dry and difficult language with the main points strung throughout. Many readers these days simply don’t have the time or attention span to read dense articles. 

What You Need to Consider:

  • Synthesize and format the takeaways in an easily digestible format i.e. bullet points, web copy, images. 
  • Apply the research and findings to your niche—Ask yourself: How do these findings affect my niche? and What would my audience want to learn from this study? 
  • Create infographics that repurpose the content for your various social media platforms. 

Unless your a news outlet, you will rarely be breaking the new and original stories. Instead, when it comes to hard data: it’s your job to add value by synthesizing, analyzing (opinions), applying, and repurposing information for your audience. Remember, personal experiences add personality and voice to your brand—but unless you add variety by producing fact-based content, you may run the risk of losing credibility. Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself if there’s potential to be creating unique and valuable content that your competitor’s are overlooking. 

From Brick and Mortar to 0's and 1's: The Importance of Social Media in the Digital Era

french botique

We’ve all heard how important it is for small businesses to connect with consumers. Anyone who’s seen a 90’s TV sitcom is familiar with the local café owner who knows the name of every Tom, Dick and Sally that comes through their doors. “Just the usual Bob?” “You betcha Sally.” This type of personal connection is one of the biggest competitive edges local small business owners have against larger competitors. But as you make the transition to digital, you’ll inevitably find yourself getting less and less face time with the consumer. When growing an online presence, you might not always have the chance nor the time to make the quality connections you can in a storefront—there’s content to produce, logistics to map out, inventory to stock, and books to keep (of course, we’d be more than happy to help you with the latter). But as you find yourself figuring out the in’s and out’s of your online storefront, social media will be there to help you recreate that intimate experience you’ve experienced during your personal interactions with customers. Social media is primarily a story telling platform, and it’s a chance for you to tell your story. 

How you choose to use social media will influence the emotions consumers feel when purchasing your products. What makes you unique? Are the things you share relevant to your niche? Are you highlighting your creative process? Are you showcasing products without becoming a spambot? And most importantly, is there a human element to the picture your painting? Of course you’ve heard about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But are you using Periscope, Snapchat, and RSS Feeds? And if so, are you tailoring unique content to each platform, or are you just shoving the same content through different pipelines? 

In today’s world, mastering social media is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. But before you start pumping out content you need to have a plan that includes a self assessment, the development of a brand voice, and a well thought out schedule. If you struggle finding things that make you unique, ask your customers what it is they like most about your business. Once you’ve come up with a plan and you’re ready to take the world by storm, you’ll arrive to what is for many the most difficult part—gaining followers. Social media and Marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuckpoints out that the most important step for a brick and mortar hoping to push foot traffic to the dot-com space, is to tap their in-store base. Using old school methods such as signs, word of mouth, and informative receipts—you can push some of your most loyal and share-friendly customers to your digital outlets. This will be your most plentiful well in terms of immediate followers. 

But even with an intelligent plan, creating an online community will take time. For many businesses this will mean 1-2 years of patient and consistent content production before they see a “brand cult” begin to form. Taking into account all of these considerations can be a daunting task. But as you learn what resonates with your new consumer base, you’ll come to realize that content is just as important as product. There is plenty of room in the digital space for the brick and mortar, but for you to succeed it will require a social media plan that brings that old fashion personal touch to new and exciting platforms.

How to Cultivate Your Brand's Voice

business branding

Cultivating Your Voice

Let’s face it, a Nike sweatband isn’t always so different from a Reebok sweatband, and a Ford isn’t always so different from a Chevy. But what is different, is the marketing team behind them and the stories they tell. It's precisely these narratives that appeal to our emotional side and eventually our wallets. 

Alright, alright, we know that our voice is important. But exactly how important is it?

Wordpress reports that on their platform alone, 52.4 million new posts are created monthly. With dozens of other blogging platforms, social networks, and media vehicles—a unique voice has never been more relevant to a brand’s success. 

When evaluating your brand’s unique voice, there are a couple of things you must ask yourself: 

Who’s Your audience? 

It’s much easier to convert consumers within your niche than converting and educating new ones. If you’re looking for fast returns, consider your audience carefully. Do your research, using tools like Google Analytics and questionnaires to find out who and where your customers are. Be sure to reward your customers for their time if you choose to use the latter method. 

What value does Your content provide?

Notice how we used the word value instead of difference? That’s because too many companies think being different means being unique without evaluating whether or not that difference adds value to the consumer. Research your competitor’s and find out what you offer that they don’t. Use that information to focus in on customer reviews and surveys to see if that’s a valuable difference you need to exploit—this will be the central focus of your brand’s voice. 

How should You convey that value?

How you convey your message can distinguish you just as much as the message itself. Sure you’re probably going to use many of the same platforms as your competitor’s, but you should also consider the avenues your competitor’s are not yet dominating. MacWorld for example, reports that there are only 250,000+ podcasts whereas according to Adweek there are 42 billion Facebook pages. As a business owner you need to evaluate the competition—less competitive platforms are not always better, but they have the potential to give you a solid edge. 

It’s also important to consider content length and digestabilibty. Does your audience prefer long form? Short form? Videos? Text? Again, use analytics to evaluate these things to see what content your audience is consuming, and the length of time they’re consuming it. Adjust accordingly. 

Takeaways: 

  • With market saturation, finding a unique voice is more essential than ever.
  • Consider your audience.
  • Consider your service/product.
  • Exploit the areas where you are strong and your competitors are weak. This will be the central focus of your brand voice. 
  • Tailor your content to your audience’s attention span, and mediums of choice.

How Your #SmallBiz Should be Using Hashtags

hashtag

Everyone is talking about hashtags, but do you know what they do and how you can use them for your business? Mastering the power of the hashtag can make your social media posts more popular and bring better visibility to your business. 

Create a Proper Hashtag 

Before you can become a hashtag master, you need to understand what they do. Some people who don't understand the use of hashtags think they are for expressing feelings, like #sobummedoutrightnow. While this may be a fun use for casual users, it won't work for someone who is promoting a business. Hashtags allow social media sites to categorize your post with other posts like it. Then, your post will appear when users search for that particular subject. So, useful hashtags are keywords that relate to your post. For example, if you post a link to your latest article about investing in overseas funds, a good hashtag would be #investing or #investingtips, not #thisarticleisinteresting. 

Use Hashtags Everywhere 

Hashtags aren't just for Twitter anymore. All large social media sites, like Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram are using hashtags to organize posts. 

Keep it Short 

You've probably run across hashtags that contain a lot of words, like #superfunfisharticle or #awesomesalestips. These tags don't work. Why? Because people won't search for ""super fun fish articles"" or ""awesome sales tips."" They will search for ""fish articles"" or ""sales tips."" Keep your hashtags short and use only keywords or terms people will actually search for. 

Use Hashtags to Get Followers Involved 

Another good way to use hashtags is by creating a memorable one and encouraging your followers to use the hashtag. For example, every week comedian Jimmy Fallon plays the hashtag game with his followers. He will give them a hashtag subject and ask them to write a tweet based on the subject. The followers then add the hashtag to their Tweet so that Fallon can find it. Each week, his hashtags become worldwide trending topics on Twitter. Some examples of his hashtag subjects have been: #momtexts#worstgiftever#myweirdwaiter#misheardlyrics 5. Use Hashtags to Market You

Want people to spread the word about your business or product? Come up with an interesting hashtag that people will want to repeat. For example, television shows will post silly words or catchphrases their characters say as hashtags. You can make up a hashtag that relates to your business in the same way. Make up a funny or catchy turn of phrase that relates to your product. Here are some examples other companies have used: 

Neosporin to Go- #NeoReady 

Ivory Soap- #SudLife 

Puffs- #PassThePuffs 

Once you start using hashtags the right way, you will find your social media becoming a much more effective marketing tool.

5 Tips to Grow Your Small Business Social Media Footprint

social media

Social media is one of the most powerful tools that small businesses have at their disposal. It allows them to directly reach customers for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.

But many businesses fail to utilize this tool, or worse – they waste a lot of time and energy doing it and posting the wrong things. As a small business, you can’t afford to burn limited resources on marketing without getting results.

Instead of spinning your wheels, follow these five steps to quickly and effectively grow your social media footprint.

1. Determine Which Metrics Matter

Before your first post, it’s important to understand what you want out of social media. For example, is your goal to generate clicks to your website (short term marketing) or market to customers directly on the platform to build your following (long term marketing)? Knowing which numbers matter to you means you can set benchmarks to determine if your strategy is working. 

2. Focus, Then Expand

There is a lot of real estate in social media and it’s easy to spread yourself too thin across multiple social media platforms. Rather than trying to juggle five or six at once, pick one or two and devote yourself to them. Once you start cultivating a following, branch out to new platforms one at a time. 

3. Follow the 80-20 Rule

No social media user wants their timeline or feed dominated by promotional material even if they’re big fans of your company. Finding the right balance between highlighting your business and keeping your followers entertained is crucial, and that’s where the 80-20 rule should be used. 

The 80-20 rule means only 20 percent of the content you post should be directly about your brand. The other 80 percent should be pictures, links to articles, and other content that relates to your industry. Followers are more likely to share and engage in this type of content which leads to a wider reach and more exposure. Always remember quality over quantity speaks louder when it comes to content. 

4. Be Shareable

Organic reach is the number of people who see your content without paid placement, and the fastest way to increase that number is by posting content that people want to share with their friends. 

Photos and videos are more likely to be shared than text posts. Memes are especially shareable and should be strongly considered if they fit your company’s personality and tone. Every post should have a call to action that encourages the user to like, share, retweet, or comment on the content. 

5. Don’t Take Shortcuts

One of the unfortunate side effects of social media’s business benefits is that opportunists can take advantage of desperate companies. 

It can be tempting to pay $50 to someone offering you 5,000 Facebook fans, but those ‘fans’ are usually dummy accounts in far-away countries that will never share or engage in your posts.

Have faith in your content and commit to the process and you will reap the rewards of having a growing, engaged fan base.