Posts Tagged ‘online marketing’

7 Steps For Building An Audience-Focused Marketing Strategy For 2018

marketing strategy for 2018Every business should be working on their audience-focused marketing strategy for 2018 if they have not done so already. Gone are the days when you just relied on spitting out some information pertaining to your industry filled with keywords you think that people are using during their searches. You must up your game if you are going to reach your audience in a meaningful way, and then convert them into sales. So let’s start at the beginning:

Who Is Your Target Market?

Specifically. The more specific the better. Then ask yourself, “What is their woe? What is their pain point?” Typically your target market has urgent needs –  things they are trying to move away from. They will have compelling desires – things they are trying to move toward. Now take that information and tell them the #1 biggest result that you provide that will address these issues and partner it with the benefits that it will give them.

Set Your Goals

Start at the end and work your way backwards. Do you want to increase leads? Is there a specific dollar amount you have in mind as it pertains to sales? Are you wanting to increase YouTube followers, blog subscribers, social media followers? Once you know what it is you want, this will allow you to create better quality content that has a more specific call-to-action, thus helping you achieve these goals.

Develop A List of Potential Topics Your Target Market Is Interested In

Brainstorm time. Once you dive in and figure out their urgent needs and compelling desires, it should be easy to come up with a list of topics that you know your audience cares about. A great tool that can help you is HubsSpots Blog Topic Generator. This handy tool wants you to enter three different nouns and then it will come back to you with five different topics that will get your mind working. The best part, you can enter the same three nouns again and hit enter and will give you five more ideas if you don’t like the first round!

Do A Keyword Search

Yes, this is still important. People are still using search phrases to find you. But again, do go it alone. A great free tool to use is Ubersuggest.io. Just type in your keyword and this handy tool gives a ton of ideas to choose from.

Create A Calendar So It Makes Sense

What I mean by this is that certain topics may make more sense depending on the time of year you are sharing them. This post, for example, would not make as much sense if I had ran it in May. HubSpot offers free editorial calendar templates for you to use. You can also go extra simple and just open a spreadsheet. Don’t make your life any harder than it needs to be.

Get It Done

You’ve got your topics, you’ve got your keywords, and you’ve got your timeframe. Now sit down and write! Not a writer? Hire one. Seriously, stop dragging your feet and stop whining about it. Don’t waste time on something that is not your strong suit. Share your research with a great copywriter and spend your time elsewhere. Don’t let the writing part hold you up.

Track Your Success

I wrote an entire article on this topic called, If You Don’t Track, You Don’t Have Jack. If you are not testing and measuring, or paying attention to what is resonating with your audience, then everything you are doing here is just a complete waste of time.

Diligently working on an audience-focused marketing strategy will not only help you convert people into customers, it also helps your SEO since you are providing quality content out there on the internet. So this is a win win. Get started – because there is still time. 2017 isn’t over yet! If you need help – I am happy to help you! 

 

How To Prepare Blog and Marketing Content For 2018

marketing content for 2018My mind has already been on 2018. What did I learn this year? What can I do better? What did my marketing efforts of 2017 actually accomplish? I ask myself, and my clients, all of these questions as I sit down to prepare what I plan to take on for my marketing content for 2018.

First step: Get your calendar ready. I prefer to keep things simple. I have a very simple spreadsheet that outlines the twelve months of the year and I brainstorm different events or anniversaries that make sense for me to comment on.  It is basically a “big picture” approach about the kind of content I feel would be relevant to my readers and clients. I take that information and formulate the various blog posts I want to write about that make sense with certain times of year. I am always open to move topics around to adjust to current events and moments in time that have events where the need for a little shuffling is in order. Always remain flexible and have the ability to capitalize on current events.

If you are not into spreadsheets or documents, another great place to organize your calendar is on Trello. I have mentioned Trello in the past. It is a FABULOUS online tool that multiple people can log onto and all of your team members can brainstorm content for the following year. This is a great one if you have a team, or if you want to share it with your business coach. **hint hint***

A lot of my clients – and other business owners – like to put their topics and ideas on their actual calendar. Having your due dates in front of you when you can glance at it and prepare for it weeks in advance allows you to prepare for it so you are not running around at the eleventh hour trying to meet a deadline.  You can either color code your online calendar, but quite often it is even very useful to do it the old fashioned way – with post its and stickers! Below is a the folks at CoSchedule who make a WordPress plugin for an editorial calendar, and they are still using sticky notes! Whatever works for you – do it!

But what does one do when they sit down to a calendar and come up with nothing but a blank piece of paper? One resource is from Authority Hacker entitled 13 Creative Ways To Find Blog Post Ideas.

Another list I will highlight my favorites from is a great resource called CopyBlogger, and their article “50 Can’t Fail Techniques for finding Great Blog Topics” but make sure you click here for a the full list.

1. Google alerts – setting an alert with some of your industry’s key words. This can give you an endless supply.

2. Riff on a popular post. Post your reaction and thoughts to a popular blogger’s thoughts and a hot topic and you can gain some power packed link benefit!

3. Try a new medium. Check out YouTube videos, podcasts, or one of MY personal favorites: watch some TV for inspiration. Shark Tank is one of my favorites!

4. Do an interview. Do you have a favorite person you like to follow online or connect with at networking groups? The answer is no unless you ask them for an interview! I am sure they won’t mind the free publicity!

5. Take an entire day off.  I love this one. Recharge your brain for a whole day by doing something you love. Go focus on your hobby and enjoy yourself. Giving your brain a break may be just what you need!

6. Do a product review. Is there something in your business you use every day that you just LOVE? Write about it and spread the love with your readers! My husband, who runs an IT company, does a great post every December on his picks for  Holiday Technology Toys as an example.

7. Recruit a guest. When all else fails, call for back up and schedule a post of someone you respect that you can feature on your blog. Make sure their content is what your readers are looking for and it makes sense with the overall feel of your blog. But don’t get lazy and rely on them every month!

Lastly, you will want to set some sort of alert and an accountability system in place so this task actually gets completed. If alarms work for you, wonderful. If you need an accountability partner to make sure it gets done, then set that up. You will be amazed how much you get done when someone else is watching!

So I want to hear from you! What is your preferred calendar method and where do you get most of your blog topics?

How To Speak With Substance, Sizzle & Soul

Substance, Sizzle & SoulI had a meeting with a new client this week to discuss leaving her job to open her own agency and become an entrepreneur. In the midst of all her excitement, the only glimmer of fear I saw was when she was asking if I would help her learn how to promote herself when she was talking to people. The answer is of course, but how will I do that? By teaching her to have a real conversation with someone that will have substance, sizzle and soul. What in the world is substance, sizzle and soul? What does that have to do with running a business?

Everything.

To understand substance, sizzle and soul, let me introduce you to a new mindset. Years ago I was awarded a great opportunity to work with Dr. Kathy Cramer. Kathy was the founder of ABT Action Coaching, which stands for Asset Based Thinking. This type of thinking helps you change the way you see yourself – so you can change anything. By transforming the way you see your own influence and thoughts, you can improve your leadership and your performance exponentially. Incorporating ABT into EVERYTHING you do with your business will help you move farther and faster to your goals. This is a technique that every entrepreneur should employ in their day to day tasks. A big piece of ABT mindset is learning all about your substance, sizzle, and soul, and how it relates to you spreading your message, and therefore closing more business.

According to research, your potential client or audience member will know in the first 20 seconds if they like you or not. That’s right. You have twenty seconds. If you have not grabbed their attention in some way, then you really have your work cut out for you moving forward. So you need to make your message count. Start to follow these steps when you are out networking or trying to close a deal with a potential client:

  1. Substance – What is your message in one sentence? What do you want to happen? Your substance is essentially the basic content of what you say, meaning facts or steps to take. This should be short, and very easy to understand. It should let people know exactly who you help and what you help them do. It’s that simple.
  2. Sizzle – How will you engage? How will you make it happen? Your sizzle should have some vivid sensory detail. It should resonate with your audience so they start to believe in you and trust you. It should be the part of spreading your message that makes you memorable.
  3. Soul – Why is this so important to me? What will be the significant difference this will make? This is the part where people start to assess your integrity and credibility. Clients will start to identify if they connect with you on some emotional level.

Another way to look at this method is what I learned from my training as a Book Yourself Solid Coach and it is called your “Who and Do What Statement” and the “Why You Do It” statement.  Who and Do What should be perfectly clear – anyone should understand it. Your Why You Do It is your opportunity to connect with them on a personal level to establish trust. These are all key elements when you are speaking to people.

So whether you are on stage selling yourself, working the room at a networking event, or you are sitting across the table one on one with someone, you have to structure your message with substance, sizzle and soul.

Are you going to be amazing at this right out of the gate? No. This is going to take a lot of practice. Focus on the steps, but at the same time speak from your heart. When you are coming from a place of authenticity, you will begin to attract the people you are meant to work with. Isn’t that really what this is all about anyway?

 

Video – Why It Is Becoming The Most Effective Form of Marketing Your Business

video marketingI recently wrote several posts on how to utilize video to market your company. Already in 2017 we are seeing massive strides in the way companies are using video to market their business, as well as the platforms making changes allowing you to take your video to the next level.

Just last week, Facebook announced new ways to watch videos on Facebook that include bringing sound to the videos in the news feed as you scroll, adjustments to make the videos shot vertically look better on mobile devices, a new watch and scroll feature that allows you to keep watching the video but allowing you to keep scrolling through your feed, and a new app for watching Facebook videos on TV with the use of an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV.

YouTube traffic expanded more than 40% since last year, and continues to have a billion users watching millions of hours every single day. The thing you have to remember is that these are not super high quality edited videos by professionals. These are quick and easy videos that people are simply using cell phones to shoot in many cases. But that is getting it done. The content is out there, you are creating a relationship by being in front of them and it is increasing your credibility.

It is also rumored that Google and Bing are both testing video incorporation into their search results – meaning your Google ad or other content will get better results if it is a video. That is awesome!

Video is really leveling the playing field when it comes to marketing your company. For a small business, video is an inexpensive and relatively quick way to get in front of your target market. It allows you to connect with your audience in ways you never could before. You can answer frequently asked questions, showcase new products, interview happy customers, demonstrate your products, the list goes on and on.

So what are some more ways you can use video to market your business?

  1. Add video to your marketing emails. Studies show it will boost your click through rate by 200-300%
  2. Embed videos on landing pages of your website. This will help boost your website’s SEO. Sixty-five percent of people will visit a website after viewing a branded video they find online or via social media channels.
  3. Start utilizing the Facebook Live video feature. Facebook gives more attention to live video and will therefore make sure it shows up in a person’s feed. For those of you using this feature already, you may have noticed a recent spike in views thanks to this change in their algorithm. Don’t forget to save it to your camera roll on your phone so you can upload it to YouTube for additional exposure.

I recently read a quote that said “To not have any kind of video support and/or strategy that lives with and/or complements your existing communications would be a fool’s errand. It’s time to learn to love video.”

I completely agree. The age of using video to market your business is definitely here and I am sure we will see a lot more this year in technological advances that will make it even more simple to do. Time to quit dragging your feet and get started.

 

 

 

 

Lessons 2016 Taught Us – And What To Do About It

key-to-success2It is safe to say that 2016 was quite the year for everyone. Whether you are focusing on politics, pop culture, the economy or simply your own life, I am sure if you take the time to take a look back at your calendar or some of your emails you could refresh your memory on some major events and life lessons that help to make you who you are today. For entrepreneurs, this is a very important task. If we are not learning – we are not growing. We must do what makes us uncomfortable in order to grow and thrive in our business. So I did just that. I took a look at my emails, and my social media posts and here are some great reminders – that I often say to myself – that I think everyone should say to themselves as they embark on the New Year.

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. — Abraham Lincoln

This is so true. All too often we get caught in a routine or the new normal. We are stuck in a rut of just doing what is on the schedule and and we lose sight of a goal or a dream. A lot of people have ideas or vision – but not nearly as many actually take the time to get out there and find out what it takes to accomplish that vision. My advice? Time will pass regardless, so why wait on achieving your vision? Right them down your goals and post them in your office. Start at the end and work your way backwards. Get help. Ask questions. Study those who have done something similar. Hustle means, well HUSTLE.

Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it. – Dr. Laura Schlessinger

I think a lot of entrepreneurs are guilty of this one, including myself. I know it is easy to become gun shy when you mess up. All of the sudden that is the only thing you can focus on and then you spend all of your time focusing on how not to do THAT again. I am here to tell you – don’t waste your time with that. Mistakes are an important part of learning. It is just as important to learn what NOT to do as it is what TO do. When you start to focus on the negative, all you are doing is putting the energy out there that will attract more negativity. Mistakes are simply part of life. Don’t let them hold you back.

A strong spirit transcends rules. — Prince     OR      Either I will find a way or I’ll make one. — Philip Sidney

This one is one of my favorites. I have built my entire company on finding a way. When my husband and I first started helping people with their technology back in 1995, very few people even knew what the Internet was. We had to make up the rules as we went along. We were literally learning as we went. Think about how far technology has come in the last twenty years and you can understand why we were flying by the seat of our pants most of the time. We had to learn as went, come up with programs and packages based on what our clients needed, and find a way to make money at it. Was it scary? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. I have written about this before: the answer is always yes, and then you find a way.

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow. – Carrie Fisher

Courage and confidence does not mean there is an absence of fear, but rather there is something more important than the fear. Heard that somewhere, but it is very true. My coach Michael Port always said “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” A little fear never hurt anyone, and I am certain that many successful people still operate with an element of fear. But this quote could not be any more poignant. Just do it. Confidence will follow or possibly a mistake –  but you will learn and grow.

You can reach your goals a hell of a lot faster when you have help. — Lou Bortone

Love this one from my friend Lou. And he is so right. I, myself, was once afraid to ask questions. I was scared to reach out for help. Once I signed up with my first coach, all of that disappeared. If you are waiting to ask someone for help – then STOP IT. Not one person on this earth can possibly know everything, but for some reason I continually see entrepreneurs trying to do everything themselves. INVEST IN YOURSELF. Invest in your education. Whatever it is you need help with, then go get it. Maybe it is mapping out the steps to your next big thing. Maybe you just need some motivation or a slap across the face. Whatever it is  – just do it. This is exactly why I created my Accountability Program. Contact me to learn more. Even if it is not me – just contact someone.

The key to success is learning how to monetize what you had to learn the hard way. — Danelle Brown

Every entrepreneur I know has to learn something the hard way. There is no definitive map to success. It is full of twists and turns that you have to overcome and learn from. Whether it is figuring out how to launch a new product to the masses, writing a book, coming up with a new program, or simply paving the way on something that does not exist yet – if you have the knowledge, then figure out a way to package it and sell it to people that want to do the same thing. Life is full of mentors who went on to teach others how to do what they had to struggle to learn. You could be next.

I could go on and on with inspiring quotes, but I believe you get the idea. 2017 needs to be a game changer for you. I am excited for all of us. So share with me and my readers – what is the next big thing for you? Post it in the comments and let’s all cheer each other on.

 

 

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part Two: Equipment

using video to promote your businessLast month I got all of you thinking about using video to promote your business. We tackled the first elephant in the room – What do I even talk about in my video? Now that we have that squared away, let’s move on to the number two question that comes up:

What Equipment Do I Need To Make Videos For My Business?

This particular piece can easily get out of hand. I am not here to tell you to go out and start spending a lot of money buying equipment that could possibly scare you and therefore prevent you from following through. So let’s just start with the basics, and then move up from there.

  1. Phones/Mobile Devices: Yes, your smart phone or tablet, as most of you know, is perfectly capable of taking an excellent video. I am a Mac girl, so my experience comes from using an iPhone or an iPad. With all the latest upgrades, especially with the iPhone 7, your phone is VERY capable of taking a high quality video. Once it is on your phone, you can save it or immediately publish it to a social media platform. (We will cover this in more detail in part three.)
  2. Laptop Built In Camera – if you have a Mac, they already come with a built in “iSight Camera.” You can utilize this to record a video to your desktop which you can then publish multiple places, or to go live on Facebook or YouTube. Simple, easy, and right from the comfort of your desk chair. If you have a PC, models will vary, so check to see if you have one.
  3. Video Camera – these are the types you can buy at stores or on Amazon. My camera that I use a lot is an Everio, but you can use a multitude of cameras such as an Olympus, Sony, Panasonic or GoPro. Keep in mind you make sure whatever you buy is compatible with the video software you will need to edit your video and get it ready to publish. These cameras start out at $250 and go up from there depending on the features.
  4. Tripods – If you are using a camera or phone, I definitely recommend getting one of these. No one wants to watch a shaky video. If you are starting small – as I would recommend – you can get a tripod for your iPhone or iPad from caddiebuddy.com. If you have a separate camera, I use the AmazonBasics 60″ Lightweight. It is very versatile and comes with a bag to carry it in.
  5. Microphones – I find when using my iPhone or iPad a microphone is needed. Especially for videos that are done outside. I recommend the Lavalier Microphone. They are small, lightweight, and work with iPhones, Androids or Windows Smartphones. You simply plug it into the headphone jack and you are ready to go.
    If you are doing video from your desktop, my good friend and video guru, Lou Bortone, recommends the Blue Snowball microphone. This is mainly for recording podcasts, or another use would be live videos to YouTube or Facebook.

Do I need any special software to produce these videos now that I have taken them?

Depending on what type of computer you have, chances are you already have the software you need. In my case, I use iMovie which comes standard on every Mac. iMovie allows you to play with the sounds, adjust the brightness, add subtitles, and so on to make your video awesome. If you have a PC, Microsoft has made it difficult for their users since they no longer include Windows Movie Maker. It is possible that your computer may have come with a third party software, but there are so many varieties of movie editing software there are no standards.

I would also encourage you to check out Animoto. Especially if you own a PC. This is a monthly subscription service that is VERY versatile. You can upload pictures, videos, choose your captions, add music and really create a great video that can easily be shared to all your networks with the click of a button. They just last week rolled out new features that include voice-over controls, new customized text controls and more options to create collages and layouts. You can also do a lot of these features with iMovie for free. If you need help with that, fortunately the Apple Store has classes on iMovie that are very inexpensive, and they offer one-on-one training so you can ask as many questions as you want.

Once you become more advanced you can buy more complex video editing software, more advanced cameras, a green screen, you name it. But the reality is – most business owners don’t need all of that. You will do fine just by getting your face and voice out there on a consistent basis while providing good content relevant to your audience.

My advice? Start with your phone and a tripod of choice. From there you can choose to share it to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or just save it in your phone and then export it to whichever video software you have on your computer.

Got questions? You can contact me here. Good luck and feel free to share your videos with me!

 

 

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part One

using video to promote your businessIt seems using video to promote your business is all you see anymore when it comes to fresh ideas for marketing. And with good reason. Video is completely exploding. Just the new features of video inside Facebook alone can make your head swim. Video is really escalating your ability to connect with your followers and fans in ways we weren’t even thinking about as little as a year ago. But you cannot ignore the facts:

  • Videos have a 135% greater organic reach compared to photos.
  • Between April and November of 2015, the amount of daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion to 8 billion.
  • Videos used in emails lead to 200 – 300% increase in click through rates
  • YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises 100% EVERY year.
  • After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy the product they just watched about.

But enough about that. We know we need to do it, but there are several reasons holding most entrepreneurs back.

They don’t know what to talk about. They think it is hard. They think they don’t have time. They don’t know how to begin.

It is time to change that way of thinking. So I have put together a series of articles that will give you the information you need to start chipping away at this beast one step at a time. I have broken this down into three digestible parts so hopefully you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Today we are focusing on Part 1: What do I talk about in my videos?

Think of videos the same as a blog. Brainstorm relevant topics that your customers or clients want to learn more about. Every video should be educating your audience somehow on either how you can help, or giving valuable answers that will help them accomplish something, thereby painting you as the expert. Below is a list of topics to get you started:

  1. Instructional Videos
    This one is always helpful and typically the most sought after on YouTube. I know everyone reading this article has looked up a video on YouTube to learn how to do something. It is the same with what you do for a living. Show people various ways you can help them, or they can help themselves, by doing a quick instructional video.
  2. Introduce Your Staff
    The best way to get people to know, like and trust you is to get in front of them. Introductory videos to yourself and your staff will help people feel like they already know you, hence feeling like they are your friend. People like to do business with their friends.
  3. Testimonials Of Happy Customers
    EVERYONE reads the reviews on something, so why not put a review in video form? Ask one of your raving fans to let you record them giving a testimonial.
  4. New product announcements
    If your business is constantly getting in new merchandise, stop and take a quick 30 second video about the latest and greatest product available at your store! This works great for restaurants too!
  5. Question & Answer Videos
    This one is super easy. It is just you, sitting in front of the camera, answering commonly asked questions. End each of those videos by giving your viewers opportunities to contact you with more questions. This not only helps your viewers, but it really establishes you as the category authority.

My suggestions is to not jump into something that will overwhelm you. Start with doing a quick video once a week. You can either film four videos in one sitting and release them once a week, or you can make the time to sit in front of the camera weekly. Either way, you are delivering great content on a weekly basis that your followers will come to love and expect. The key here is consistency. Decide how often you will do it and stick to it. I promise – the results you will get will be worth it.

So now that a HUGE piece of what holds people back (the whole, “what do I talk about thing”) is out of the way, the next article in my series will be the next big stumbling block: equipment. I will go over simple ways to get you started – that you probably already own.

Are you feeling better about taking on video? If not, give me a shout and we will figure this out together. 

How To Make The Most Out Of Your Email Marketing

email marketingEmail marketing used to be the only online method a business owner had to keep in touch with their clients and potential clients. When social media came along and made things easier, email marketing started to get somewhat of a bad rap. However, everyone should keep in mind – and this is the one thing I tell all my clients – email is never going anywhere. It is also the thing you have total control over, meaning you own your list – you do not own Facebook. It is imperative that you continue to keep in touch via email. Even if your email is not officially “opened”, the chances are it is seen anyway in the preview section of most people’s email accounts. Seeing your name keeps you top of mind. But how does a business owner make the most of their email marketing? Here are some helpful tips that will assist you in getting the most out of your email marketing.

  1. Send more than just a monthly newsletter
    Most email programs do not limit the amount of times you can reach out to your list in a month. So why not mix it up a bit? You can use your software to welcome new clients each month, send appointment reminders, birthday greetings, holiday wishes or even special events that your company is having. Think outside of email: what would you reach out to your clients and send them if you were mailing something via snail mail? The sky is the limit on thoughtful emails that could lead to your next sale.
  2. Segment Your Lists
    This is especially true if you are very specific with certain emails. For example, the topic of your blog you are promoting may be targeted to a specific group of people. Take a technology company for example. Maybe they are giving tips on something that is Windows related. That company should have at least two lists: one for Windows users and one for Mac users. That way you are sharing relevant content to your list and not annoying some of your clients with information they don’t care about.
  3. Utilize the AutoResponder feature
    This is the most under-utilized feature of most email programs. Typically there is a thank you email once someone signs up to be on your list and that is it. Take the time to set up several follow up emails. For instance if the first one is a welcome, the second auto-responder could go out a week or two later asking a specific question related to why they signed up. For example if you were selling a product, you could set up several auto-responders to go out to make sure the customer is satisfied or to see if they have any questions. Perhaps even asking for feedback can be an option. This keeps you top of mind, as well as provides good customer service.
  4. Make sure it is mobile friendly
    More and more people check their email on mobile devices. I have seen stats that range anywhere from 50% up to 80% on my clients’ reports that show mobile devices are how the emails are being opened and read. With that in mind, you want to make sure you select a mobile friendly template, or if you are making your own make sure it is easily read on a mobile device. We are all guilty of not reading an entire email if it is cumbersome and just moving on from frustration. If it is hard to read, you will lose the attention of your audience.
  5. Re-engage the users that did not open
    I know that Constant Contact provides detailed reports on who opened and who didn’t open your email campaign. You can run a report and select all the unopened email addresses, change the subject line to see if that helps to get their attention, and send it again. The important thing is to try. People get a lot of email, so it is important to try sending it again to see if it helps your open rate – which hopefully leads to more sales!
  6. Actually use it!
    This one seems simple, but it is sadly true. Everyone knows they need to send emails, but they get bogged down with what to put in them, not enjoying the process, or a myriad of excuses of why they don’t have time to get it done. Let me be clear – if you are not emailing your audience you are missing multiple opportunities to connect with them. Email is a MUST. So if you need help getting it done, then find help.

In full disclosure, I am a Constant Contact fan. I have been a faithful user since 2007. I have seen a lot of changes in the way the email programs work in the last nine years. But one thing remains the same – people still check their email, and people are definitely influenced by great subject lines and dramatic images. So stop putting your email marketing on the back burner and make the most of the most precious asset your business has – your list.

So  tell me about your email plan. What system do you use and why?

Website Advice – For Real

website adviceI really struggled with the topic of website advice as we sit here in 2016. I pretty much figured everyone was well versed on this topic. I mean, there are a million articles about this already and multiple sources you can utilize, right? But – I was wrong. Just in the last two weeks alone, my company has encountered every single issue I am about to address with a client or prospective client – so I thought it would be a good idea to cover some basics as well as some things that were not so basic. Let’s face it: websites, like all of technology, continue to evolve. We must evolve with it to stay caught up. So below are the top five issues we are seeing currently:

  1. YES – you still need a website. A prospective client reached out to me with this question last week. She wanted to know if a website was even necessary now since she could load everything on Facebook and get started for free. Let me very clear on this point: YES – you need a website. You DO NOT own Facebook. You can be shut down at any time based on the opinion or some sort of red flag at FB that will shut you down immediately. Even the famous Social Media Examiner was shut down by FB. Thankfully, it was only temporary in their case – but I am sure the reason it came back up so quickly had to do with the fact tons of FB powerhouses are involved in that entity. Needless to say, they carry a lot of weight to get the attention of someone to turn their page back on. Do you? Think about it – if you based your entire operation on FB and then one day they shut you down, what would you do? You should use FB as a tool to lead people to your website. Plain and simple.
  2. KNOW your passwords.  A lot of business owners hire someone to get their website all set up and blindly give permission and freedom to register their domain, set up their site, maintain it. However, once it is all set up, a lot of business owners have no idea how to log in to a system that controls their entire livelihood. You need to know your passwords and how to get into the basic framework that controls your website. YOU need to have control. In the early days, this was much more difficult since websites were basically a bunch of files filled with cryptic code. But no more. Today, it is very easy to have a site that looks complex, but is as simple to log into and change as a Word document. If your web site isn’t simple to manage, it is time you upgrade your site.
  3. CONTROL your domain name.  This is re-emphasizing the second point. As long as you have control of the account where your domain name is registered, you can fix most other things down the line. Time and again, my husband’s company gets calls from people in a panic that have no idea who is in control of their domain name, or when it is due to renew, or who to contact if they have questions. This is the very beginning, the basic piece, of everything you are creating online. Again, know your passwords, know when your domain name is due to renew. If you lose your domain name, it could lead to catastrophic results.
  4. BACKUP your website. Your website is essentially no different that any other precious data out there. Don’t assume just because it is on the Internet means it is backed up – it’s NOT! The company that is hosting/creating your site should be talking to you about backing up your site. However, we have run into several situations where this was not the case. Data was not backed up – and data was lost. In a case we encountered recently – six years worth of data. That is not only heartbreaking, but catastrophic to a business. So make sure your website is being backed up.
  5. MAKE IT MOBILE FRIENDLY. If you have not updated your site in the last three to four years, chances are your site is not mobile friendly. Recently, Google made it known to everyone that they were giving preferential treatment to mobile friendly sites. Research shows that the VAST majority of people check their email and social media accounts via their smartphone, so it goes without saying that your site needs to be prepared for your mobile visitors. Think about you and your friends: you are out at a restaurant and start talking about something you want to look up. Are you going to waste your time on a site that is not mobile friendly and hard to read? No. You will move on to the next site that will give you the information you are looking for. So make sure your site is up to date AND definitely mobile friendly.

Websites continue to be what I call the “mother ship.” All points of your marketing should be leading to home – your website. Your website is your little corner of the Internet world. You have complete control of all things happening on your website – or at least you SHOULD. Make sure you have the ability to collect emails, answer questions, tell your story, interact, and most importantly educate your customers on why they should be doing business with you. Email marketing, social media, direct mail – everything you do should lead back to the mother ship where you have control. Websites are DEFINITELY not going away. So the real question is – how much do you know about your website?

If you don’t know, it is time to call for help.

4 Ways To Get Blog Topic Ideas

ConfusedMonkeyWhen I am coaching my clients on marketing their businesses online, the one thing that they voice the most frustration over is not knowing what to write about in their blog. They are constantly coming up with reasons why they cannot think of any topics. I realize this is hard, and often struggle with the same problem. But blogging is VERY important. Not only does it help your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but it establishes you as the category authority in your business or field. If you are blogging constantly, people will remember that you are the go-to person on that subject when they need to hire someone. It also establishes great relationships and builds your tribe.

But enough about why – we all know we need to do it. But what do you do when you are stuck? I recently came across a great article that highlighted eight different blog topic generators for blog post ideas. I looked through all of them and picked out my favorites below, but I encourage you to read the entire article because it was very informative and helpful.

 

1. HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

HubsSpots Blog Topic Generator wants you to enter three different nouns and then it will come back to you with five different topics that will get your mind working. The best part, you can enter the same three nouns again and hit enter and will give you five more ideas if you don’t like the first round!

 

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I put in networking, online and offline. Check out the topics they gave me! I will definitely be using this tool again. How easy was this?

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2. Portent’s Content Idea Generator

If the thought of three words is more than you can handle, then Portent’s Content Idea Generator is for you. It DOES NOT get any more simple than this. You only have to enter one keyword and then let her rip. This one is actually a little more entertaining since it gives jokes along with the titles. I entered the word “blogging” and this is what it gave me:

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As with before, if you don’t like what they first suggest, you can enter the same word again and give it another try. Don’t be afraid to try similar words.

 

3. Link Bait Title Generator

Link Bait Title Generator is not flashy at all but gives the most topic ideas in one sitting that I have seen. It gives titles and ideas that focus the gamete of informative, controversial, or just plain fun to read suggestions. I simply entered “blogging” and look what I got. My screen shot could not even fit all the suggestions!

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What’s else is helpful with this tool is if you click on their logo, you will be taken to other tools that will help with the content portion like the Hashtag Finder option. This will help you find an already current and trending hashtag to put in your posts that will help with your SEO and share-ability on social media.

 

4. Buzzsumo

This is for the people that are wanting to dive in a little deeper. If you are wanting to see what your competition is doing, or what the most popular existing articles are on the topic you want to write about, you can use the Buzzsumo tool. You can enter in your topic and it will tell you what is getting the most attention: like how many Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ shares. You can also play around with the filters on the side to get more specific information on your topic. This is really helpful if what you are blogging about is in a crowded space and you want to stand out with your article. Below I am showing what I got when I entered: blogging ideas for small businesses.

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Final Thoughts On Blogging

Don’t drag your feet coming up with ideas. The end of the year is approaching and now is the best time to start working on your 2016 marketing content calendar. It is so much easier to sit down and write about something when you know what your topic is rather that have to figure that out first before you even start the writing process. Yes, planning takes some time but you will be so happy when it is all finished and then you simply produce the article. Need help? That is why I am here! Contact me about sitting down and getting your 2016 Marketing Calendar all set before the end of the year busyness gets in the way!