Posts Tagged ‘Content’

Crock Pot Marketing: A fix to and forget it appraoch to online marketing

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Marketing is the bane of most entrepreneurs existence. On one hand it is necessary to communicate with your potential customer base while on the other hand it can be an incredible time suck taking you away from the business of running your business. It needs to be done and as the business owner you are the ideal person to get potential customers the info they need, so what is the answer? I can name that tune in one note…Automation.

Marketing, Marketing, Will Robinson

Ok, so maybe Robbie the robot is not exactly the type of automation we are talking about here but a factory analogy is not too far off. Think about it, the key to marketing (once you have figured out your message and the best way to present it of course) is messaging consistently over time to your potential customer base. The problem that most entrepreneurs face is the same issue that plagued the manufacturing industry in years past, volume. And how did manufacturers resolve the issue? Automation. So why not apply a similar principle to your marketing efforts? I know I am not making an apples-to-apples comparison here but you get the idea. It is all about having the time to generate the appropriate volume whether it be physical product or marketing content. We have established that the key to marketing is the number of touches (and no, not bad touches) you make with a potential client over time but just because you want to connect with them on an ongoing basis does not mean that you have to come back next week at the same bat-time and same bat-channel to bang out more brilliant insights. It is hard enough for entrepreneurs to get into a marketing frame of mind for their own business (even if that is what they do for others) so why not maximize that time when lightning strikes and begin filling a crock pot with marketing gems so you can set it to cook slowly, releasing your brilliance as it heats over the course of an automated campaign?

Recipes for Success

Ok, now you are sold. You know you can count on one or two good days each quarter when you can not only concentrate on marketing your company but you are actually interested in doing it. You have the ingredients, now all that is left is to find the right appliance to turn your marketing recipe into the culinary masterpiece you know it to be. So what are the Consumer Reports best buys for automated marketing:

Blog
One of the easiest ways to automate your marketing efforts is through Scheduled blog posting.  Blog platforms often allow you to set a date and time for your postings to go live. WordPress is especially good at this. You can hack out 10 blog draft blog postings and then schedule them to go live at the date and time of your choosing. This allows you to sit down on that one day a quarter and get it all out, all of the industry innovations, customer epiphanies and other nuggets of brilliance related to your business that have been building up but you had not been able to release to the wild. Then once you have extracted every last drop of insight, you can go through and set your wisdom to a slow drip so its magic fingers will touch your clients as regularly as possible. So then you can get back to the business of running your business secure in the knowledge that even though you are not even thinking about marketing anymore, your clients are receiving the benefit of your experience. And once your marketing build up reaches a critical level again you can just rinse and repeat to reset the circle of life.

Email
Email can work in much the same way with the added benefit of your appliance restarting itself for each new subscription so each individual feels the magic fingers at the exact same rate and in the exact same order no matter when they turned on the heat. How does this miracle appliance work you ask? The simple answer is “AutoResponder”. Now I know what you are thinking, “hey, wait a minute, that is what I set when I go on vacation, how can that possible fulfill the promise that you have laid out?” But worry not, the name might be the same but the function is drastically different. Email providers like MailChimp, aWeber or even a more involved service like 1ShoppingCart allow you to set up serialized  autoresponders that run as a result of a subscription to a given email list. These autoresponders generally allow you to set up multiple emails as well as a time delay from the initial subscription so that they can be sent in the order you want them received and with the appropriate time delay between each so your touches can trickle out at the proper rate.

Social Media
Social Media content distribution can also be automated  as an additional prong in your email and/or blogging efforts. Most blogging platforms and email providers offer options for direct social media integration so as soon as your blast of radiance hits your blog or email system, the same information can be immediately distributed to your different social media outlets like Facebook, and Twitter allowing you to magnify your audience all while you are focusing your time on servicing existing customer and business needs.

The bottom line is that through small time commitments and simple automation, entrepreneurs can effectively market themselves without sacrificing the business they are trying to build in the process.

5 Easy ways to Stress Free business blogging

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Everyone who has a business blog (and whose business is not blogging) has the same issue, content. You got into business to do what you do best not write about it but in order for others to know about it, you need to get them to your site. To get them to your site you need to enhance your SEO. The best way to enhance your SEO is regular content updates and the easiest way to regularly update your content is with your blog. Everyone knows they should be blogging but figuring out what to write about is not only a huge source of stress, but sometimes the bane of an entrepreneur’s existence. But it does not have to be that way. In fact if you look hard enough you will find that half of your work is already done.

So with that in mind I offer you these 5 easy content sources for your business blog (Ginsu Carving knives not included).

  1. Customer questions
    When it comes to content the first and best place to go (which is where most of my most polished gems emanate) is right to your customers. Those questions you answer time and time again with each new client. Those things that you take for granted and just roll off your tongue without a thought. Those are perfect fodder for new posts. And if you play your cards right, you can take one common question and turn it into a series of posts. Just think of all of the great material you have at your finger tips. No, seriously, think about it…NOW….See, there is a lot of stuff in there that you did not realize you had. No mater how run of the mill you think it is, if it is a question you answer regularly or information you routinely provide to new customers, then as Jeff Foxworthy might say “iiiit might be a blog post”.
  2. Competition
    Another great place to look is back to your old school motto, “When in doubt, plagiarise”. OK, well not exactly but stay with me. One of the best sources for information for your blog can be your competition. Yep, you heard me, competition. I know what you are thinking, “I don’t want to copy what they are doing, I am different”. Well true as that may be, they can still be a good source of ideas. Take a look at the information your competitors provide about their products and services and no matter how different you are, it will give you ideas that are all your own. And sometimes you might just find content that could be helpful to your clients on its own. In those cases you don’t actually want to copy what they have but take that idea and create your own version of it that is tailored specifically to your business and your clients. And you don’t have to limit yourself to direct competitors, you can look around the net and see who is doing what in your space and jot down some topics because, “iiit might be a blog post”.
  3. Webinars or other marketing materials
    When sourcing content for your blog you should never overlook existing materials especially things like webinars. Many companies put webinars on a regular basis to keep clients up to speed on products or services and with each new one you do you can be sure to find at least one posts-worth of information. Even if you have already covered the content in a cursory way on your site or in a brochure make sure to look closely because, “iiit might be a blog post”.
  4. Industry changes
    Changes in your industry are another no-brainer for content. When new reports come out that have any bearing on what you do, its time to play telephone and repeat what you’ve heard. You should try not to lose any meaning in the translation but you understand what I mean. First make sure that the information is potentially valuable to your clients and potential clients. Then all you have to do is take the information you have received and put it in your own words and,  “iiit might be a blog post”.
  5. Customer success
    When it comes to blogging, customer success is often overlooked but your blog is a perfect forum for sharing this information with current and potential clients. Think about it. You can keep it simple and just explain how Company X is making use of your product or service. Other clients or potential clients can see that and put themselves into the story. No matter how specific a product or service is, every company that uses it will use it slightly differently. This differentiation opens up the possibilities for existing customers to see new ways of making use of what they already have or why they might need something else from you. So when it comes to customers, no matter what you are doing for them, you can now look at them with fresh eyes and realize that, “iiit might be a blog post”.

There is a virtual plethora of other simple sources out there just waiting to make your life easier. So get out there and let them be discovered because you never know,  “iiit might be a blog post”.

The best things in life are FREE…Now including publicity

Friday, November 30th, 2012

You’ve all heard the song and it is true that the best things in life are FREE but now that old adage has been updated to include publicity. Yep, you heard me right, publicity. How much time do you spend each year trying to get exposure for your company or products using regular marketing channels just to get lost in the minutiae that is the internet? How would you like to get some of that much needed exposure, possibly even in national media like ABC and AP? Well…wait for it…NOW YOU CAN!

You may not be the inventor of the exciting new Miracle Wrench that tightens bolts, loosens bolts and even takes bolts all the way off. And in all likelihood you will not get your very own nuclear submarine absolutely FREE so that you can be the first person on your block to Level Cleveland. What you can do though is Help A Reporter Out and possibly help yourself out at the same time. So how can you make those kind of connections, you ask? Easy! All you need to do is become a  HARO Hero.

So what exactly is HARO and how do you become a hero? HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out and it is the easiest way to FREE publicity. HARO is a new type of social media service that helps pair reporters with sources for their stories and it is free for everyone involved. All you have to do is follow these three steps:

  1. Visit HARO’s site and register to become a source.
  2. Watch for emails for PR opportunities that are sent out three times a day.
  3. Respond to inquiries that you feel will benefit from your insights on the subject.

If your response fits the need you will be contacted by the reporter to follow up and you could find yourself with anything from some additional search engine links for contribution to a bloggers post all the way up to some national exposure for your expertise on a certain subject. You could be one of many sources on a subject or you could find yourself as the subject of the article altogether like our sister company Virtual Technique did when it responded to questions about hiring a bookkeeper.

You may have heard that “The Truth is Out There”, you just may not have realized that you could be the source. So put your knowledge to work to Help a Reporter Out and who knows you may find yourself with a whole new pool of potential clients.

Spicing up your boring website text

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Differentiation is always at the forefront of marketers minds but until recently the only way that could be done on the web (outside of stellar content that everyone wants to read) was through the use of flashy designs and creating graphics for all of the headings you wanted to use your logo font. Sure the @font-face CSS tag was added to the CSS2 spec back in the late 90’s but only in the last few years have all of the major browsers begun supporting it.

So what does that mean exactly, you ask? It means that you might finally be able to escape the same old boring Times, Arial, Georgia, Helvetica loop you have been stuck in since 1993 without having a degree in graphic design. Or if you are happy with your existing San-Serif choice, perhaps you will just be freed up to bring some Holiday Cheer to your otherwise dreary website.

There are a great many ways to achieve this new level of style but for the purposes of this post I will stick with the two easiest:

@font-face

As I stated above, this CSS tag has been available since the late 90’s and is the most basic implementation. All you do is upload the necessary font files to your web server and then link to them using the appropriate CSS code. But don’t go wild and upload all of the fonts on your system thinking that you will make a tapestry of crazy on your site because most fonts are NOT licensed for this type of public distribution. As time goes on, more and more will open up but be very careful before implementing this method.

So how do you know what fonts you can use? Well, to be safe, stick to sites like this one when looking to trick out your site using this method..

 

Google Web Fonts

Like with everything else you need on the web, Google is there for you again with their Web Fonts API. With hundreds of fonts to choose from and simple search features Google does it for you with probably the easiest method for implementing this new found font freedom on your boring site. They even go so far as to give you the code you need to simply copy and paste into your style sheets and pages. What could be simpler?

Don’t believe me? Check it out for your self.

As with everything there are pros and cons to any method you choose. Most methods for spicing up your fonts differ slightly in the pros but the main con is the same for them all: limited selection. But don’t let that dampen your creativity! As long as you have a little time and some patience, chances are you will find either the exact font you want or something close enough for government work to get the intended result.

 

3 simple ways to increase Facebook engagement…

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

You have your Facebook page setup just the way you want it and you are beginning to accumulate those ever elusive “likes”. Now the big question becomes how do you go about increasing the level of engagement you have with your new “fans”? You got them commit and say they like you as a friend but how do you get them to show you they “like you” like you? There are a great many ways to get your fans to show the love but here are three simple ones that you can start implementing right away:

  1. Pictures – Everyone has heard the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” but what it did not tell you is that it can be just as valuable when trying to interact with your new social media peeps. Facebook, like life, moves pretty fast and photos are much harder to miss whether you are looking around once in a while or not. People on Facebook do not always have time to read the latest and greatest bits brilliance you feel compelled to share with your ever-increasing audience but they will always scan their news feed for any interesting images even if those images showed up hours or days earlier. So if you are posting images to anchor the info it will be more likely to be seen by the masses.
  2. Captions –  Keeping with the pictures theme, the next best way to entice weary Facebook pilgrims into your web of marketing brilliance is to let them write the copy. Post an interesting photo and ask your social media minions to come up with a good caption for it. The photo can be of anything and it gives your fans an opportunity to be creative and gives you yet another opportunity for interaction that is separate from business that helps build a rapport with clients and potential clients.
  3. Questions – for those of you who just want to write and don’t want to be bothered with photos, another good engagement inroad is post questions for your Fans to answer. The questions can be about anything you like but usually the less formal the better because it opens up the field to more potential connections.

So what fits your personality best? Pictures, Captions, Questions or maybe a combination of the three? The ideas are simple but they all have the potential of new interactions at very least and the potential of going viral at most. So why are you still reading this, other than the fact that this entire blog is chock full of brilliance? Head on over to Facebook and start making some magic happen.

5 Easy ways to Stress Free business blogging

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Everyone who has a business blog (and whose business is not blogging) has the same issue, content. You got into business to do what you do best not write about it but in order for others to know about it, you need to get them to your site. To get them to your site you need to enhance your SEO. The best way to enhance your SEO is regular content updates and the easiest way to regularly update your content is with your blog. Everyone knows they should be blogging but figuring out what to write about is not only a huge source of stress, but sometimes the bane of an entrepreneur’s existence. But it does not have to be that way. In fact if you look hard enough you will find that half of your work is already done.

So with that in mind I offer you these 5 easy content sources for your business blog (Ginsu Carving knives not included).

  1. Customer questions
    When it comes to content the first and best place to go (which is where most of my most polished gems emanate) is right to your customers. Those questions you answer time and time again with each new client. Those things that you take for granted and just roll off your tongue without a thought. Those are perfect fodder for new posts. And if you play your cards right, you can take one common question and turn it into a series of posts. Just think of all of the great material you have at your finger tips. No, seriously, think about it…NOW….See, there is a lot of stuff in there that you did not realize you had. No mater how run of the mill you think it is, if it is a question you answer regularly or information you routinely provide to new customers, then as Jeff Foxworthy might say “iiiit might be a blog post”.
  2. Competition
    Another great place to look is back to your old school motto, “When in doubt, plagiarise”. OK, well not exactly but stay with me. One of the best sources for information for your blog can be your competition. Yep, you heard me, competition. I know what you are thinking, “I don’t want to copy what they are doing, I am different”. Well true as that may be, they can still be a good source of ideas. Take a look at the information your competitors provide about their products and services and no matter how different you are, it will give you ideas that are all your own. And sometimes you might just find content that could be helpful to your clients on its own. In those cases you don’t actually want to copy what they have but take that idea and create your own version of it that is tailored specifically to your business and your clients. And you don’t have to limit yourself to direct competitors, you can look around the net and see who is doing what in your space and jot down some topics because, “iiit might be a blog post”.
  3. Webinars or other marketing materials
    When sourcing content for your blog you should never overlook existing materials especially things like webinars. Many companies put webinars on a regular basis to keep clients up to speed on products or services and with each new one you do you can be sure to find at least one posts-worth of information. Even if you have already covered the content in a cursory way on your site or in a brochure make sure to look closely because, “iiit might be a blog post”.
  4. Industry changes
    Changes in your industry are another no-brainer for content. When new reports come out that have any bearing on what you do, its time to play telephone and repeat what you’ve heard. You should try not to lose any meaning in the translation but you understand what I mean. First make sure that the information is potentially valuable to your clients and potential clients. Then all you have to do is take the information you have received and put it in your own words and,  “iiit might be a blog post”.
  5. Customer success
    When it comes to blogging, customer success is often overlooked but your blog is a perfect forum for sharing this information with current and potential clients. Think about it. You can keep it simple and just explain how Company X is making use of your product or service. Other clients or potential clients can see that and put themselves into the story. No matter how specific a product or service is, every company that uses it will use it slightly differently. This differentiation opens up the possibilities for existing customers to see new ways of making use of what they already have or why they might need something else from you. So when it comes to customers, no matter what you are doing for them, you can now look at them with fresh eyes and realize that, “iiit might be a blog post”.

There is a virtual plethora of other simple sources out there just waiting to make your life easier. So get out there and let them be discovered because you never know,  “iiit might be a blog post”.

What is a bounce rate and how do I reduce mine?

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

When marketers hear about bounce rates the first thing they think (like the rest of us) is about the college paddle-ball championships in which they carried their intramural team to victory when they kept their cool while their opponent sneezed at the crucial moment of a heated bounce-off . Once they come out of their reverie they then think of email but that is not the only kind or worse kind of bounce rate you can run across. Nay, the worst kind of bounce rate is the one that occurs with most site owners blissfully unaware. The bounce rate I am talking about is for your website. Now, I know what you are thinking, “But I am not sending my website anywhere, how can it bounce?”. Well. It is not THAT kind of bounce. When someone talks about website bounces, they are not talking about emails and they are definitely not talking about rubber balls; unfortunately they are referring to site visitors. Specifically ones that that make their way to your site and then leave from the same page they entered without going any deeper into the gooey deliciousness of your well crafted content.

So what can you do to mitigate this paddle-ball like nature? The best way is to try to avoid some of the barriers to entry that site owners sometimes unknowingly include in their site.

  1. Design & Layout
    The first place to look for potential issues is your site design. One of the biggest offenders can be in the use of media. I am not saying that you should not use media, in fact it is just the opposite. As I have stated in other posts, media (like greed apparently) is good. It should just be applied judiciously. You would not make a meal of Twinkies (at least not on a regular basis) and that same rule applies to your site. Avoid using gratuitous animation, automatic pop-ups and under no circumstances should you have media with an audio component play automatically when the site is loaded. A lot of it sounds good in theory but in these situations it is always best to harken back to that first law of web design: First, Do NOT Annoy!. Keep your site focused and that will help your visitors focus on why they are there. Stay away from things that could be at very least a distraction or at most a full on deterrent to nestling in and basking in the Cool that is your site.
  2. Content & Navigation
    The next places to look are your content and navigation. It should not require and advanced degree for people to find what they need. The ability for users to find their way around  quickly and easily is one of the most important elements of any website. If a user cannot find what they are looking for, they leave. It is as simple as that. The easier you make it for people to find what they want, the more useful your site will become. But finding it is not enough. If you want to reduce those bounce rates you also need to make it easier to comprehend as well. The content itself needs to be clear, concise and valuable. Marketing speak for the sake of hearing your self talk or technical jargon that does not mean anything to anyone outside your industry does not do anything for anyone. And forcing someone to read a hundred paragraphs on the technical specifications for flushing a toilet when the words “press lever” will do, will likely lead to that unwanted rubbery response you are trying to avoid. The easier you make it to read and understand, the faster they will get the point and the more likely that they will slip unknowingly into the comfy chair of your brilliant content without need of the Spanish Inquisition (whether or not they expect it).
  3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    Probably the biggest contributors to a sites bounce rate are irrelevant search engine rankings. I know what you are thinking, “There is no such thing as a BAD search engine ranking!”, but that is not necessarily true. As you may have remembered while putting on your deodorant this morning, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. It does you absolutely no good to rank for keywords that are not relevant to the content on your site. Sure you might grab a good spot in some searches but by trying to rank for unrelated keywords you could be hurting yourself in more ways than one. Not only are you getting a bounce because as soon as someone realizes that your site does not have the content they are looking for  they leave but you are also creating a negative first impression with a potential customer.  So when you pop-up later in a search that actually does makes sense, you might get skipped because all they remember that your site was not relevant. So the best way to avoid this is to make sure your site is optimized for the most relevant keywords possible.

No matter what you do, some bounces will always occur whether it is a mis-clicked link, an erroneous URL or just someone playing around in their browser. All you can do is optimize your site to mitigate any real and consistent bounces. Using a professional designer from the start can help avoid common pitfalls but even if your site is already up and running and is guilty of some of the outlined offenses, you can always go back and take a lesson from the Beatles and take that sad song and make it better…

 

Maximizing your website’s mobile audience

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Recent data suggests that 50% of website page views are now being made on mobile devices. I know what you are thinking, “So what, most people doing these searches have smart phones and aren’t they designed to see everything as If you were on your home computer?”. Unfortunately the simple answer is both yes and no. Not so simple, right. Let me ‘splain’… No it’s too much, let me sum up. Yes, smart phones are designed to have most of the internet functionality as your desktop computer. But at the same time, the functionality of your smart phone is more limited in general and more importantly the screen size is significantly smaller than your desktop.

These limitations coupled with the fact that your site is decked out with a brilliant layout, graphics and possibly animation means that when a potential client attempts to view your site from their phone, after hearing from a friend how amazing your product/service actually is, they might not be able to make any sense of what they are seeing.

With all of that in mind you can begin to see why it is important to make sure your customer facing pages are as mobile friendly as possible. So the obvious question becomes, “How do I do this?”. Well, I am glad you asked because otherwise this post would be nothing more than just another self-indulgent rant.

To answer your so brilliantly posed question, as with everything else, there are many ways of doing this but for the purposes of this brain dump we will boil it down to its simplest terms and cover the main two:

  1. Separate Mobile Site
    A separate mobile site is pretty self-explanatory. You create a completely different version of your site specifically for mobile devices. This can be done as simply as a text only HTML version of the site, a more complex version that also includes some graphics or as elaborately as fully customized version of the site design that is modified for a smaller screen. The first two ways can potentially be done without a great deal of technical knowledge (even by those hanging on to old school Static HTML sites) but the latter will almost certainly require the skills of a professional for either the graphics modification and/or specialized coding.
  2. Specialized CSS
    A Specialized CSS or Cascading Style Sheet — which is just a fancy name for a list of instructions for how things are to be displayed on your pages — is usually the weapon of choice for most entrepreneurs because depending on how your site was created, it can be the simplest to implement and for more daring site owners, something that they can handle themselves. The best part of doing things this way is that it is scalable with your site. Meaning no matter what content updates or changes you make to the main site, the same changes will automatically be available on your mobile site. This is because rather than redirecting users to a totally different version of your site, you are simply modifying the instructions for how things are displayed. Rather than an animation, you show a static image and rather than crazy layout art and special effects you simply show the content.

Once you have decided which way to go on your site (and possibly built it)  the next step is to do the Tim Gunn and “Make it Work”. Implementation of your mobile site is a little more daunting in general for those non-technical folks out there but it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as adding a JavaScript to the header of your pages or as complex as setting up a special dynamic page (.php or .asp) that is used to determine what type of device is viewing the site. But fear not, either way you decide to go there are many examples available across the net for you to download and integrate in relatively short order. And for those of you lucky enough to be using platforms like WordPress, there are plugins available to take all of the guesswork out of either option. Some more advanced plugins allow you to create specialized templates that effectively create a totally separate site while others will  simply serve up a Jenny Craig version of your content with the click of a button.

As with most things the simplest option is usually the best but simplicity is relative. If you have a really complex site, it might make sense to create a custom mobile version of your site but for most entrepreneurs the simple modification of the way existing content is displayed is all that is needed to serve the purpose.

No matter which way you decide to go the needs of your audience should trump anything that you think or heard you should be doing. I know, I know, you are thinking, “Well that is kind of cryptic, so what exactly does that mean?”. It just means that you should  make sure to always include a link to the full version of your site in any mobile version because there is nothing more irritating than being redirected to a stripped down version of the info you are looking for when you have the desire and capability to view things in all of their glory.

So why are you still hanging around on my blog? Get to it. Get started making your site more mobile friendly and make sure you keep your share of that 50%.

 

5 Ways to Make Business Blogging Work for you

Friday, January 27th, 2012

So you have a business blog but can’t quite manage to add content on a regular basis, welcome to the club. More and more companies are jumping into the blogosphere to aid their online marketing efforts but as with most things, just creating a blog is not enough to see any real benefit to your company. To really make your blog work for you, you need to update it on a regular basis. So then the $64,000 question becomes, “How do I do that?”. It can actually be simpler than you think. Here are 5 easy ways to keep those cards and letters coming:

  1. Write what you know
    I know it sounds like a simple statement but think about it. When dealing with clients and potential clients, how often do you find answering the same questions over and over again? If you are like me, that answer would be “quite”. So if you are answering things on a regular basis, there must be some value to what you are saying so why not write it down for posterity? Whenever you find yourself repeating an answer that you have given to other clients time and time again, make a note and VIOLA!, you have a topic to write about. Talk to a few customers in a week and you might find yourself with a whole treasure trove of untapped brilliance just waiting to be shared with an unsuspecting world.

  2. Editorial Calendar
    An editorial calendar is a simple concept used in marketing departments worldwide but somewhat of a foreign concept to most small business owners. What is it you ask? It is nothing more than an outline to follow for communications each year. It usually refers to content being developed for e-Newsletters, websites and other publications to help plan how to roll out content for products, services and events throughout the year. Once such publication is a blog so why not take advantage of this useful tool and create an outline for yourself for the postings you want to generate? You can sit down and think through anything you have planned for the upcoming year (or even just quarter if you don’t want to get too ahead of yourself) and simply jot down topics that relate to your products, services or events that you want to promote at each time. And then as things evolve, you can evolve with it and simply adjust the calendar to work with any new pressing topics that may be more important that your original. The important thing is to make a plan because once you have that done, you are half way there.
  3. Contributing Authors
    Platforms like WordPress allow you to provide limited access to colleagues, employees, partners, customers or friends  so that they can become contributing authors on your blog. If they have something to say on your topic, why not make use of their expertise to help expand your reach. They can login, add their post to the system, then you can approve the content before it goes live. It is a win, win for everyone involved. You give them a voice and they help you by providing different perspectives on things that are important to your clients and potential clients. And if your existing clients are willing to contribute, you can expand the reach of your most effective (and unpaid) sales tool, word of mouth advertising.
  4. Media Content
    Can’t think of anything to say (or you spell like I do)? No problem, why not just give your audience what they really want? Turn on that webcam that came built in to your new laptop and serenade them with the dulcet tones of your industry acumen. Let them get to know the real you (and if you are like me you can share your impeccable comedic timing while you are at it). It is not only an easier way for you to communicate complex thoughts – because lets face it, you are amazing at what you do and sometimes text is just not your medium – it is also the perfect vehicle for potential clients to get to know you before they decide to do business with you.
  5. Scheduling Posts
    The biggest problem entrepreneurs face when it comes to blogging is the time to do it on a regular basis but that kind of commitment is not entirely necessary especially when it comes to platforms like WordPress. One of the most amazing and overlooked features of WordPress is the ability to schedule posts. Now I know what you are thinking, “Great, but what exactly does that mean”, well hold your horses I am getting there (if you haven’t noticed from previous posts, my wisdom is something that trickles out slowly amidst bursts of comedic brilliance). By default any new post is added “immediately”. This just means that at the time you decide to publish, it captures the date and time of that moment and uses it as the time stamp for your posting. What most people do not realize is that they can edit the post time and even set it for a future date so that your post can go live whenever you want. So, “big deal, what does that mean to me and my time, right?”. Well, what it means is you can sit down for an hour or so when you have the time and bang out any number of postings from your list of questions you have jotted down or the editorial calendar you have painstakingly setup and set them to go live over whatever period of time you see fit. Ideally you should be posting at least twice a week but that is a pipe dream for most. But you can make the most of what you have by staggering the release. You can sit down for a few hours at a time and have blog postings that will automatically post to your site over the course of a month or more. Going on vacation? No problem. Schedule postings to go while you are gone and let your site continue to communicate with the search engines and do your marketing for you while you are away. Have a conference coming up or a really big project, no problem just set that crock pot of inspiration to slow and get to work.

So now that you have some ways to get the content out there, you have no more excuses. Share your secret cache of knowledge with the world and build your thought leadership, website influence and customer relationships all at the same time.

 

Crock Pot Marketing: A fix to and forget it appraoch to online marketing

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Marketing is the bane of most entrepreneurs existence. On one hand it is necessary to communicate with your potential customer base while on the other hand it can be an incredible time suck taking you away from the business of running your business. It needs to be done and as the business owner you are the ideal person to get potential customers the info they need, so what is the answer? I can name that tune in one note…Automation.

Marketing, Marketing, Will Robinson

Ok, so maybe Robbie the robot is not exactly the type of automation we are talking about here but a factory analogy is not too far off. Think about it, the key to marketing (once you have figured out your message and the best way to present it of course) is messaging consistently over time to your potential customer base. The problem that most entrepreneurs face is the same issue that plagued the manufacturing industry in years past, volume. And how did manufacturers resolve the issue? Automation. So why not apply a similar principle to your marketing efforts? I know I am not making an apples-to-apples comparison here but you get the idea. It is all about having the time to generate the appropriate volume whether it be physical product or marketing content. We have established that the key to marketing is the number of touches (and no, not bad touches) you make with a potential client over time but just because you want to connect with them on an ongoing basis does not mean that you have to come back next week at the same bat-time and same bat-channel to bang out more brilliant insights. It is hard enough for entrepreneurs to get into a marketing frame of mind for their own business (even if that is what they do for others) so why not maximize that time when lightning strikes and begin filling a crock pot with marketing gems so you can set it to cook slowly, releasing your brilliance as it heats over the course of an automated campaign?

Recipes for Success

Ok, now you are sold. You know you can count on one or two good days each quarter when you can not only concentrate on marketing your company but you are actually interested in doing it. You have the ingredients, now all that is left is to find the right appliance to turn your marketing recipe into the culinary masterpiece you know it to be. So what are the Consumer Reports best buys for automated marketing:

Blog
One of the easiest ways to automate your marketing efforts is through Scheduled blog posting.  Blog platforms often allow you to set a date and time for your postings to go live. WordPress is especially good at this. You can hack out 10 blog draft blog postings and then schedule them to go live at the date and time of your choosing. This allows you to sit down on that one day a quarter and get it all out, all of the industry innovations, customer epiphanies and other nuggets of brilliance related to your business that have been building up but you had not been able to release to the wild. Then once you have extracted every last drop of insight, you can go through and set your wisdom to a slow drip so its magic fingers will touch your clients as regularly as possible. So then you can get back to the business of running your business secure in the knowledge that even though you are not even thinking about marketing anymore, your clients are receiving the benefit of your experience. And once your marketing build up reaches a critical level again you can just rinse and repeat to reset the circle of life.

Email
Email can work in much the same way with the added benefit of your appliance restarting itself for each new subscription so each individual feels the magic fingers at the exact same rate and in the exact same order no matter when they turned on the heat. How does this miracle appliance work you ask? The simple answer is “AutoResponder”. Now I know what you are thinking, “hey, wait a minute, that is what I set when I go on vacation, how can that possible fulfill the promise that you have laid out?” But worry not, the name might be the same but the function is drastically different. Email providers like MailChimp, aWeber or even a more involved service like 1ShoppingCart allow you to set up serialized  autoresponders that run as a result of a subscription to a given email list. These autoresponders generally allow you to set up multiple emails as well as a time delay from the initial subscription so that they can be sent in the order you want them received and with the appropriate time delay between each so your touches can trickle out at the proper rate.

Social Media
Social Media content distribution can also be automated  as an additional prong in your email and/or blogging efforts. Most blogging platforms and email providers offer options for direct social media integration so as soon as your blast of radiance hits your blog or email system, the same information can be immediately distributed to your different social media outlets like Facebook, and Twitter allowing you to magnify your audience all while you are focusing your time on servicing existing customer and business needs.

The bottom line is that through small time commitments and simple automation, entrepreneurs can effectively market themselves without sacrificing the business they are trying to build in the process.