January 14, 2016

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A Starters Guide to Content Marketing By Nicola Heath

Content, it's at the centre of your inbound marketing

How does content help your marketing?

Content is at the heart of the marketing strategy of many businesses and small businesses should be no different. Businesses use content marketing to generate awareness for their brand and demonstrate expertise in their industry. Well produced content can makes a vital connection between your brand and your target audience, whether this be existing customers or prospects. Determining the right messaging for the right people, and delivering this in the right medium at the right time, is the fundamental key to successful content marketing.

The goal is to offer tips, help and education that will be insightful and beneficial to your audience and draw them towards your business. In order to do so, your content needs to be meaningful, relevant and deliver real benefits to your recipients. Once you’ve determined the right messaging, you’ll need to consider where best to publish your content. The online environment offers many opportunities for the publication of content from your own social media channels to third party websites, so most marketers choose just a few channels to focus on.

When choosing where to put your focus, it’s critical to pick the channels that’ll offer the most value or the best access to potential customers. In other words, the goal should be to be ‘fish where the fish are’ that is, go where your prospects go. Your information can be shared in many forms including blog posts, web articles, white papers, infographics, webinars, videos or social posts. Repurposing content to enable publication in different formats and different mediums is crucial to delivering an improved return on investment as you’ll reach a wider audience with reduced additional cost.

How do you start?

First, start by revisiting your business goals, who you are targeting, what value you will offer the customer and what value you’ll deliver back to the business. Then consider what information you can provide that will truly be of benefit your customer.

To do this, you need to build a real understanding of the needs of your target audience to appreciate where and how you can help them. Start by talking to your frontline staff, reviewing email and phone queries and speaking directly with your customers. Identify some common demographics and common needs and focus your content accordingly.

Some options for content could include educating your clients, offering advice on best practice in your industry, warning them of common pitfalls, sharing valuable tips for achieving success, answering their questions, opening their eyes to new trends and innovations or sharing relevant case studies of other customers’ success.   Creating and distributing relevant, valuable and compelling information will help you to reach prospects, turn prospects into buyers and buyers into long-term supporters.

 

October 6, 2015

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Will your website cut through the clutter?

How will you make your website stand out in 2018?

If you have ever looked up how many websites are currently online, you might find Internet Stats Live’s counter which records new sites at around 3per second, hovering around the 1 Billion mark since September last year. With 4.6Billion indexed pages, it’s little wonder that Google has to keep improving its algorithms to ensure that you can find the absolute most relevant and most up to date source of information for your needs.  With approximately 3Billion people with access to the internet, that’s around 1 website for every 3 people.

Webstats

 

In marketing we talk a great deal about Relevancy – right message, right audience, right time. In the days of traditional media it was easy to control the clutter because there were a finite number of tv and radio channels – and if you wanted to get more people to pay attention to you, you simply bought media during prime time viewing or listening and you had a captive audience. Even so, your message needed to be crafted to ensure that it stuck in the minds of the viewer, or else they could simply switch off and make a cup of tea.

But our challenge with new age technology is much much harder.  At a recent Google conference we were told that

the average consumer looks at their phone 250 times per day.

250 times.

It means that the traditional means we marketers had to capture your attention has been reduced from 3 seconds to less than one.

So how do you cut through the clutter and grab attention for your site?  If you are planning a re-vamp or to finally get your business up on line in 2018, here are some things you need to know about trends that will save you from the clutter:

1) Trend from cookie cutter sites

You can get a site built almost for free – in NZ, if you are a Spark customer, they can build you a website as part of your internet package.  Alternatively there is a proliferation of D-I-Y web builder platforms where you can create your own site from a template in an evening over a glass of wine and some nibbles.  Yet one thing that will count against you here is that all these sites will start to overcrowd the market, and it will be those who break from the mould, do something different and create something engaging that will capture those eyeballs.

2) Every page is a homepage

If google is indexing pages based on key word search and relevancy, then you have to imagine that someone could come into and go out of your site from any page – maybe never seeing your beautifully crafted introduction on your homepage. Make sure every page can stand alone if it has to, and that it tells the users exactly what you want them to do – very quickly.

3) Layouts like journalism

Newspapers were the internet of yesterday. They had to grab your attention with strongly, well-written headlines and pull your attention through copy line by line, paragraph by paragraph, always assuming that you would eventually be distracted by something else – their trick? Distract you with something else on their page – an idea, concept or offer that was placed specifically due to its relevancy to the article you were reading.  Newspapers relied on eyes travelling from headline to headline, not left to right, top to bottom like a book. your site needs to do the same – plot and plan where you want to take the reader and lead them there.

4) Short, regular, timely updates

The world wide web is growing faster than many nations, if you stay still, you are simply going backwards at an alarming rate.  Since the new MaxMarketing website went live in May 2013, there have been 295 million additional sites join the web. You need to ensure that you are keeping yours fresh and up to date and giving people, and Google, new news to rate and rank.  It is a vicious circle of attention – the more you get, the more traffic gets sent to your site, but it needs to stay on your site and engage with your site in order for Google to think that it is a site worth sending people to.

5) Integrate with your Off-line

Finally – don’t abandon your other marketing channels.  Whilst it may seem cost effective for you to take the ‘Field of Dreams’ approach  – ‘if you build it, they will come’; the chances are they won’t. You need to point people to your site, have a really great reason for them going there, and ensure that you manage their experience whilst they are there, otherwise you risk throwing the doors open to a party that no one knows about. And with 1 Billion other invitations to attend, they actually may never show up at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 11, 2015

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Should I be on Facebook?

To be or not to be – that is the question.

 

socialmedia

If I’m at an event and announce to new acquaintances that I am a marketer, the first question that typically follows is

‘Do you think I should be on Facebook?’

‘Yes,’  Is my reply.

‘…if you want to chat with other people on Facebook. Do you?’

Back in the olden days when FB was new, many organisations, including the big corporate I worked for had a ‘listening’ vs a ‘diving-in’ approach to Facebook. Nowadays there is this FOMO (fear of missing out) that organisations go through, wondering if Facebook is like some kind of party that all their friends go to, but they missed out on the invitation to.

Well, in many ways Facebook is exactly like that.  Imagine that the world of virtual reality could for a moment become real – and you (as the representative for your business) were suddenly transported into a room of people from Facebook – all connected by the same motivating criteria (Mums with Newborns, or People who love Star Wars or Beauty-queen Wannabes).  Let’s imagine in the scenario you had the floor and a microphone and could talk to all of them about your business. What would you say?

If you are thinking – those people would throw things at me, or heckle me out of the room, then think again about Facebook being for you.  Or perhaps, think about the types of groups and people who could be on Facebook that you would be more comfortable to speak in front of.

Social media is a great tool for businesses if you know who you want to talk to and what you want to say. And don’t be limited to Facebook either.  If your products or services are Business to Business (B2B) you will find that fishing in a Linkedin pond of similar like-minded people could be perfect for you.

As with all marketing it comes back to the golden number 1 rule

WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?

What is it about your products or services that unites one group of people to need to engage with you.  Don’t just think about demographics here – a 50year old man in the US may have just as much need for baby products as a 30-something first time mum.  What problem are you solving for this group?  Know that – know who you are relevant for, and then seek them out.

Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest and GooglePlus all have filters that will bring more relevant messages to the customer audience they serve.  As long as you know the audience your products are relevant for, these social media networks can help you find those people within their walls.

The thing to remember with social media is that it is two-way.  Unlike traditional media where you broadcast your message out to the world and hope your audience is listening, social media allows people to tell you what they think, and to tell their friends too.  That way it can be an incredibly powerful tool in your arsenal if you use it correctly (talk to the right people about something that is relevant to them).  However, get it wrong and you can end up pointing that big gun at yourself.

Facebook is a media that takes work – if you are going to build a group of people (Facebook likes) that want to hear from you, you have to regularly post information that will be useful and will push that relationship with you forward.  If you fail to do this, they will simply stop liking you.

So, essentially, Facebook is no different from any other promotional channel.  If you want customers to engage, then engage them – either on Facebook, on the phone, via email, face to face or with an entertaining and stimulating tv commercial.  Get them to like you, get them to be interested and want to hear more – and then, only then, will they buy your products or service.

Face book is a means to an end.  Don’t lose sight of that.

 

October 22, 2014

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The difference between design and advertising

Graphic design is the creation of visual order and meaning. It’s about bringing harmony and consistent principles to bear on the many different ways an organisation expresses itself.  It’s about rules.

Advertising is about disruption. It’s about standing in the marketplace and making everyone stop and turn their heads. Once you have their attention, you can deliver your message (which probably involves selling something).

These are two very different tasks.

Complicating matters is the fact that graphic designers often work as advertising art directors, and vice versa. Their technical skillsets – typography, image creation, page layout and art buying – are the same. They often graduated from the same courses and learned a lot about brand identity in the course of their training. Where they differ is in the way they work.

Read full article here

April 28, 2013

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A bit of small-business inspiration

It’s your marathon – run it!

People say to me starting a business is hard.

Starting a business isn’t hard at all – you get an idea, a shop and you put your clever hat on and you build a business. Starting a business is fun, it lifts your energy and you create something that is all your own.

Staying in business is the hard part. Once the creative piece is done, once you have your fabulous products and services and your doors are open and your friends and family have patted you on the back for a job well done, then the hard part begins.

Someone one said to me that running a business should be approached like a marathon, rather than a sprint. Having never moved my perfectly rounded self 42 kilometers in anything other than a car, I did have to speak to a qualified and experienced marathon runner to explain.

He said ‘You just keep going through the couple of km’s that is tough because the fatigue drops away, the pain disappears and then you are enjoying it again. You just push through it. It is a mental game more than anything – your mind controls how successful you are.’

I think the analogy is perfect. What keeps me going for my business is inspiration – the people on the sidelines shouting at me to push through the fatigue and get back to the exciting part of the journey again, or inspiring stories from people who had trodden that path before.

Of all those people, there could not be one more powerful for me than the late Steve Jobs. Here is what he says about being in business, and I hope it provides some inspiration for everyone at whatever stage of business they are in.

written by Louise Maxwell