Content Marketing

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Getting Started with Your Content Marketing Strategy

Getting Started with Your Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is about creating content that covers all levels of your marketing funnel from prospect to customer evangelist. Content is created to educate, inform, entertain and engage your prospects and turn them into future clients.

Six steps to begin creating a content marketing strategy:

What niche will you be covering?

  • Accounting
  • Financial Planning
  • Business Coaching

2. What challenges to your prospects face?

  • Lowering taxes
  • Planning for retirement
  • Advancing their career

3. What type of content do they like to consume?

  • Articles/Blog posts
  • Videos
  • EBooks

4. How will you create interesting content to attract prospects?

  • Contests
  • Quizzes
  • Videos

5. What do you want to achieve with my content marketing?

  • Increase traffic
  • Increase leads
  • Increase sales

6. How will I know if my content marketing strategy is working?

  • Monitoring your website/blog traffic weekly/monthly
  • Monitoring new leads to your business from online sources
  • Monitoring increase of sales from online sources

Communicating directly with your prospects

Businesses now have the luxury of communication directly with the prospects that they are trying to reach. The hard part is knowing where and how to reach them.

Five Steps to communicating with your prospects online:

1. Search out where your prospects are located online, what communities they join and join those communities.

2. Set up listening systems to understand what your prospects are talking about and who is doing the talking. You can set up Google alerts, twitter searches, check Q&A sites, Etc.

3. Create places to engage with prospects with Facebook Pages, Pages, LinkedIn Profiles, Twitter, Etc. and ask questions about their challenges

4. Comment on blogs that are relevant to your audience

5. Answer questions in Q & A forums

The combination of content marketing and social media marketing allows you the opportunity to highlight your expertise, create brand awareness, build an audience, engage prospects, and retain the attention of your audience.

Your Turn:

Are you using content marketing as part of your marketing strategy?

Have you created a content marketing plan?

 

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

Image Credit: Mark Smiciklas

Using Content Marketing to Educate Prospects about Your Business

Using Content Marketing to Educate Prospects about Your Business

The internet has allowed businesses to do business all over the world. It has also given prospects the availability of thousands of choices when looking to make a purchase, even when purchasing services. There are businesses that solely provide services to clients that they have never meet face to face.

Whether you meet with clients or never meet clients face-to-face, educating them before they purchase is the key to success. Content marketing is the key. It gives you the ability to show prospects your expertise and the solutions that you provide to solve their needs.

How do you make it easier for prospects to become interested in doing business with you?

It is commonly known in the marketing community that people do business with people they know, like and trust. You goal is to get prospects to know, like and trust you before the meeting, whether in person or over the telephone.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by educating the prospect on your services. This is going beyond creating marketing pieces that explain the services that you offer. This is educating prospects on how the service you offer will help them solve their problems, problems that they may not even know that they have.

For example:

Let’s say that you own a wedding planning service. For the bride who is getting married for the first time, she may believe that planning her wedding will be easy. She may not know there are hundreds of tasks to complete before her wedding day in order for her to have the wedding she has dreamed of since she was a child.

Your job is to educate her about all the steps that go into planning a successful and happy wedding that will allow her to enjoy the wedding of her dreams. Through this educational process, you will help her to realize all the things that she hasn’t thought about when it comes to planning a wedding. As she continues to return to the information that you provide concerning planning the perfect wedding, she will come to trust the advice that you give. When she begins to think that she may be better off hiring someone to help her plan her wedding, she will turn to the person who is educating her when thinking about hiring a wedding planner. You are one-step ahead of other wedding planners, because without even meeting her, she has gained trust in your ability to plan the perfect wedding.

What is some of the content that you can provide to prospects?

There are tons of ways that you can provide content. Vary your approach so that you reach prospects in a format that they will enjoy. You can create:

  • A blog
  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Slideshare presentations
  • White papers
  • Ebooks
  • Special reports
  • Infographs
  • Comic books
  • Video games
  • Apps

Just to name a few.

How do you go about educating your prospects?

Let’s stick with the wedding planning example. So how do you go about educating your prospects and gaining their trust? You can put up a wedding planning website and add pictures of successful wedding you have planned.

You can add a blog and write wedding planning articles and tips. You can create a wedding planning workbook or worksheets. Add short videos of weddings you have planned, podcasts and webinars on wedding planning topics, success stories of how you helped people plan the perfect wedding, facebook fan page with all of the above and twitter updates. You can add a forum to your website where brides can talk to other brides, have questions answered by you and other readers, and create a monthly newsletter.

How do you reach prospects?

Make sure that you are participating in the social networks that your prospects participate. Join forums and groups. Share your content on your Facebook, Twitter, , LinkedIn and other accounts you have set up for your business. Ask them to share it with the people that they know. Create a contest to gain more attention and find ways to share you content with the media and bloggers so that they can help spread the word.

Utilizing these marketing techniques can be cost-effective for a small business owner, the largest investment being your time. Whether you are a service provider or sale products, educating your prospects is essential in today’s marketplace. Prospects are educating themselves about their needs and by providing the educational content that they need, when they need it, you place yourself ahead of your competitors.

Your Turn:

Are you educating your prospects about the services/products that you provide and how you can help them?

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

A Simple Guide to Creating Your Marketing Plan for 2013

A Simple Guide to Creating Your Marketing Plan for 2013

The current economic downturn is causing stress among small businesses owners. Yet, this is not the time to cut back on marketing, but it is a time to get your marketing plan of attack into gear. You must first decide what your goals are, who your target market is, how you will reach your targets and set up a long-term plan to reach your target market.

What are your goals and who is your target?
Before you can begin a marketing campaign, you need to know what your goals are and who your ideal client is. How many ideal clients would you like to add to your client base?

We will follow Michelle Davis as she creates a marketing plan of attack for her financial planning firm. Michelle started her business two years ago and currently has 55 clients. She wants to add to add 25 new clients to her roster over the next twelve months, an average of two clients per month.

She has decided that her ideal client has a yearly income of $100,000 and $500,000 in investable assets. Beginning with a broad look at the type of client’s she wants to attract now, she need to add more details.

What other traits can she add to help decide who her ideal prospects are? Does she want prospects that she will have to spend a great deal of time educating on benefits of financial planning? Does she want clients who want full details of their financials on a quarterly basis, or someone who just wants to know if they are on target to meet their financial goals?

At this point, Michelle has decided that her ideal client is someone who has a household income of $100,000 per year. The client has investable assets of at least $500,000, married, planning for college education of two or three kids, and planning for the retirement of both partners.

They have an understanding of the need for financial planning, implementing the plan and desires to be informed but not educated. They also do not need a detailed report on their finances, but an overview of how their investments and whether or not they are on target to reach their goals.

Deciding where your market is and how to reach your market:
Michelle knows that the type of clients she is prospecting for live in affluent neighborhoods, children attend prestigious private schools and belong to certain country clubs and civic organizations. She quickly decides that cold calling will not reach this group of prospects. She sits down and thinks about the type of marketing activities that will reach her prospective clients, the type of marketing activities she likes to do and is most likely to complete.

Through careful thought and research, she have decided to use a combination of networking, referral partners, writing articles, writing reports, newsletters, postcards,blog, podcasts, slideshare presentations, radio interviews, videos, webinars, online groups, public relations and community involvement.

Now that she has decided on what kinds of marketing activities, she wants to pursue. She decides to do a breakdown of how often she will do each activity for the year, estimating that she is able to spend 10 hours a week on her marketing activities.

Michelle’s breakdown looks like this:

  • Networking events: Attend one per a week.
  • Cultivating Referral Partners: Host a breakfast or lunch meeting once a month.
  • Online Groups: Join 3-4 online groups that her target audience participates in and actively participate.
  • Writing Reports: Write an in-depth report once per month.
  • Newsletter: Create a monthly newsletter.
  • Postcards: Send out postcards every six weeks.
  • Podcasts: Create a short podcast once a week and post to blog.
  • Slideshare: Create a slideshare presentation four times a year.
  • Radio Interviews: Become guest on radio talk shows twice a month.
  • Video: Create one short video a month and add to blog
  • Webinars: Create four webinars per year.
  • Community Involvement: Become a sponsor in two large events per year.
  • Press Releases: Sending out press releases telling of news concerning her business or for a free offer.
  • Blog: Create a blog educating her clients and prospects on financial planning and keeping readers updated on financial news, adding posts at least twice a week

Creating her long-term plan to reach your market:

Michelle has figured out who her target market is, how she will try to reach her target market. Now that she has a plan on ways to reach her market, she has to decide on a schedule to implement the plan. Michelle starts by creating a spreadsheet with each month listed. Then she breaks the month down by weeks and starts placing events into each month, trying to place at least four events in each month.

For Example:

Weekly: Two blog posts per week and podcast

January

Week 1- Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Go to a networking event.
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 – Send Press release offering a free booklet geared toward my ideal prospects and add booklet to website
Week 5 – Create SlideShare Presenation

February

Week 1 – Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Host a lunch to cultivate referrals from current clients
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 -.Send out a postcard to prospects reminding prospects of the services she offers that are helpful to them and referring them to her website and blog

She lays out her marketing plan for the rest of the year, outlining her activities.

She knows that the plan should be flexible and is a guideline for her marketing activities, not set in stone. It will help her know what she should be doing at any given time, but she will not hesitate to change the plan when activities are not meeting her desired goals, but allowing the activities to have time to work and not change things too quickly. Give the plan time to work, making sure you have an idea of how the activities are really working before you change things.

Tracking results and hitting her goals:

Michelle revises her spreadsheet adding columns to keep track of her costs, what marketing activities are generating inquiries and clients gained per month, helping her to keep on target.

She knows it is important for to track her results. If she writes a press release and offers a free booklet, she tracks how many people call and request the booklet, and finds out how they found out about the booklet. She also tracks how many invites she sends out for her seminars, how many people sign-up and how many people actually attend.

Along with tracking her marketing activities, she tracks how many prospects that contacted her throughout the year that actually became clients. How long it took the prospect to move through her sales pipeline before they became a client. What was the deciding factor that made them decide to become a client? She tracks how many people visit her website. How many people download her reports, and sign up for her newsletter. Constantly tracking her results lets her know what activities are bringing her business and what activities are wasting her time. When it comes time to do next year’s marketing plan, she will know what activities to continue and discontinue.

Marketing Success

Marketing is a cycle. You must first understand what you marketing activities need to do for you. Are you trying to increase your prospect base, follow up with prospects, get a meeting, or close a sale? Gear your activities to what you are trying to do and focus on those things. When you increase your prospect base, move on to following up, getting the meeting, and closing the sale, then start all over. NEVER stop marketing, if you want to keep doing business.

Creating a marketing plan does not have to be a daunting task, it can easily be broken down into small bites of manageable projects that can be tracked and repeated. Just remember the old saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Your Turn:

Have your created your marketing plan for 2013?

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

 

The Secret to Online Marketing Success

By: greyweed

Show up Everywhere

 

That’s the big secret to being successful in online marketing. You have to show up everywhere you target audience hangs out.

 

Even better is if you can show up in a variety of formats. This may be the difficult part for solo or very small businesses.

 

So, how do You Eat an Elephant?

 

One bite at a time.

 

Start with one thing that you are going to do. Today you write a blog post or add an article to your website.

 

Tomorrow you comment on other blog posts or group forums.

 

Understand that just as it takes time to eat an elephant, it will take time to achieve success with your online marketing.

 

Create a plan and just keep just keep eating away at that elephant. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just something to guide you and keep you going.

 

What are some of the Ways that you can Show up in front of your Target Audience?

 

  • Creating a blog and posting often
  • Posting comments on other blogs
  • Adding articles to you website
  • Videos (short 3-5 minutes are best)
  • Podcasts that can be downloaded
  • Slideshare presentations
  • Webinars on demand
  • Live Webinars
  • Participating in forums and groups
  • Writing guest posts
  • Excepting guest blog posts
  • Submitting articles to publications that you audience reads
  • Create a contest
  • Interact with your Twitter following
  • Follow others on twitter and interact with them
  • Hold a tweet fest
  • Engage your Facebook fans

 

These are just some of the things that you can do to get your business in front of your target audience, let you mind run free and think up some more. Even better, if you have more ideas, posts them in the comments sections.

 

The Ugly Part

 

Here’s the skinny of it all, you have to keep showing up. You have to be dedicated to online marketing over a long period. The truth of it is, it will take some time to see traction from your online marketing efforts, but don’t give up. I get probably 90% of my business from my blog and showing up where my target audience resides. This is from a one-person operation.

 

I am thinking about growing my business and possibly adding employees or using more freelancers. How do I plan to do this?

 

  • Add more content more often
  • Add a bigger variety of content (videos, podcasts, webinars, slideshare, eBooks, speaking, workshops, ECT.)
  • Growing my email list so that I can get more leads and nurture those leads into clients

 

This is just some of the ideas that I have come up with for now. I am working on a plan for next year right now and you should too.

 

 What are you waiting for?

 

Are you scared it won’t work? Well of course, it won’t if you don’t do it. Why not try it and see if it works. The great part is that the biggest commitment is your time and energy.

 

You don’t have time. Well cut out an hour or two of television a day, get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later.

 

You have to get off your ass and do it to see results. Try it for yourself for a while and if is too much for you but you realize the benefit, than hire someone to help you.

 

I know you are tired of hearing about all the other people who are achieving success marketing their businesses online.

 

Stop sitting back and wishing it was you and do something about it.

 

Your Turn:

 

Are you really doing all that you can to achieve online marketing success?

 

What are some other ways that you can think of to show up in front of your target audience?

 

What Next:

You can always comment on my Blog, connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms, sign up for my NEWSLETTER.  or Contact Me.

 

 

 

Are You Setting Concrete Goals to Generate Leads Online?

Are You Setting Concrete Goals to Generate Leads Online?

I hear it and read it all the time “I want to increase traffic and generate leads online,” but that’s it. I understand that you want to increase traffic and generate leads, but how much more traffic and how many additional leads do you want to generate? If you generate two additional leads, you have generated leads, but is that enough? If you increase traffic by one more visitor you have increase your traffic, but is that what you really want? Probably not

You must know what your goals are.

What are your actual goals?

Do you want to increase traffic by 30% and generate 10 additional leads per month? These are actual goals.

Do you know how you will increase traffic and generate more leads?

Once you decide on your concrete goals, then you need to decide what you will do to accomplish those goals.

Will you add more content to your website or blog to increase traffic?

Will you submit articles to publications that your target audience reads? (You do know who your target audience is, right?)

Will you get involved in the social networking sites that your target audience is involved in?

You have to know what want to accomplish and create a plan of action to accomplish your goals.

You have to do more than just want more traffic and leads.

Online marketing is not a magic pill, you put up a website and people automatically appear it takes time and work.

How much time are you willing to invest in online marketing?

If you do not have the time to invest, are you willing to hire someone or company to handle the online marketing for you?

How much do you want the firm to handle and how much do you want to handle?

If you decide to go the route of hiring a firm, you must also understand that you will still be involvement in the process. You will have to make decisions on the direction that the marketing takes, you have processes to approve, material to approve and make sure that they are on track to accomplish the goals that you have outline.

You must also be realistic about what online marketing can do for your business. Many people give up because what they want to happen does come fast enough. It doesn’t matter what you are selling, if you are not finding ways for people to know that your business exist, they will not find you. You need to have a plan on how you will attract website traffic and generate leads.

Five Ways to increase website traffic and generate more leads:

  1. Create content: This can be adding articles to your website or blog, offering a free report, webinar or eBook.
  2. Share on Social Media: Share your content on social media sites, your Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, groups you have joined, forums you participate and submit to online publications.
  3. Email: Create an email sign-up form to attract leads. Offer something of interest to readers in exchange for their email addresses then send updates and offers.
  4. Nurture Leads: Nurture the leads that you receive through email by sending them additional information that will be useful to them. Offer them ways to get in contact with you, a form for them to fill out for them to contact you or for you to contact them.
  5. Follow-up: Ask them what problems they are trying to solve and give them ideas on how you can help. Show them that you know how to help them and give them reasons to contact you for help.

It is definitely possible to use online marketing to grow your business. You just have to know what your goals are and how you are going to accomplish your goals.

Create a plan and put that plan into action.

 

Your Turn:

Have you created concrete goals for marketing your business online?

Have you a plan of action to accomplish those goals?

 

What Next:

You can always comment on my Blog, connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms, sign up for my NEWSLETTER.  or Contact Me.