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How Inbound Marketing and Content can Draw Prospects to Your Business

How Inbound Marketing and Content can Draw Prospects to Your Business

Hubspot surveyed 3339 marketing professionals in 128 countries about the current state of inbound marketing.

Why is this Important to You?

It is important to you as a small business owner because it gives you insight into what is working and where marketing trends are heading.

With the increasing use of the internet and businesses competing in the global marketplace, many businesses are replacing traditional marketing with inbound marketing. The common consensus is that to reach the global marketplace focus on using inbound marketing tactics and to pull prospects with content that is relevant to them.

The benefits of Inbound Marketing are:

  • Inbound marketing costs are 61% lower per lead
  • 41% of marketers say inbound marketing produced measurable ROI in 2013
  • 43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog
  • 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result
  • 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing this year
  • Just 20% of companies without a blog reported ROI from inbound marketing in 2013

How can Inbound and Content Marketing Help your Business?

  • Reach a targeted audience receptive to your message
  • Improve the ranking if your website or blog
  • Improve conversion rates of online sales
  • Establish you and your company as experts in your industry
  • Attract better qualified prospects to your website or blog
  • Repeat visitation to your website or blog from prospects and clients
  • Keep in touch with current clients and promoting referrals
  • Help to establish likeability, trust and credibility

What are the Different Types of Content Available for use by Your Business?

Blogs – Educate, entertain and inform readers about your topics, encourage return visits to your blogs with frequent updating, engages readers to share comments and share the information with others.

Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, , LinkedIn and other social media sites help promote your business, showcase talents, engage prospects and help spread the word about your business.

Presentations - Presentations provides readers with information that is appealing, informative, short and straight to the point.

ENewsletters – Inform, educate and entertain readers on a consistent and timely basis, helps promote your business, are shared with others, increases reputation, recognition, trust and loyalty among readers, and increases sales.

White Papers – Showcases your industry knowledge, provides the opportunity to be a thought leader, informs and educates the readers and can be shared with others.

Articles – Educate, entertain and inform readers about your topics, showcase your knowledge and lead readers to action.

Case Studies – Educates readers on your businesses pass success and tell how your business will help them achieve the same success.

Video – Educate, entertain, informs watchers, helps increase your likeability, trust, recognition and reputation among watchers.

eBooks – Establishes you and your business as experts in your industry, increases reputation, recognition and draws traffic to your website or blog.

Podcasts – Educates listeners, helps increase your likeability, trust and reputation.

Online Courses – Educate participants, showcases your knowledge, increases reputation and sales.

Workbooks – Educates readers, helps readers solve problems, increases reputation, trust and loyalty from readers.

Seminars – Webinars and teleseminars help educate participants, showcase your knowledge, increase reputation and recognition.

Businesses use a combination of the above inbound and content marketing tactics to create a online marketing strategy. While this is list is not comprehensive it is a good starting point to begin thinking about using content marketing in your business and what tactics are available. Inbound and content marketing allows small businesses and solopreneurs to level the playing field when competing against larger businesses.

Your Turn

How are you currently using inbound marketing and content to draw prospects to your business?

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Marketing and PR for the Professional Services Firms

Blogging for Business Growth

 

Dear Blog and Readers: I know it’s been a long time, sorry to have left you

Blog and Readers: Sorry I left you

I missed my blog, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t write another post. I couldn’t take on another client. I felt dead in the water.

It felt like I was losing my mind. My mind was in a fog, like I was wandering around lost in the wilderness. Bewildered. Stressed.

One of my goals in life is to live as stress free as possible and I was failing.

The stress was getting to me.

I was becoming hard to live with. Hell I didn’t even want to live with me.

I couldn’t sleep, my head hurt, my patience was short. I was feeling completely overwhelmed and  bordering depression.

Oh the long nights of getting no sleep, listening to NPR, dreading the next day.

When the next day arrived, I didn’t want to get out of bed.

What a horrible way to live.

I felt like screaming.

So stressed out I could scream…too much marketing

Why?

Marketing.

Plan and simple, it was marketing. I was giving to much of myself to my clients and couldn’t get marketing off my mind.

I had taken on too much and it was beginning to drive me crazy. The more my clients asked for, the more I did, seemingly unable to say no.

It’s true. I was on the verge of losing my mind.

What was I going to do?

One thing for sure, I had to take a break, before I crashed and burned.

So I said to myself. Self, what do you want to do now.

I have been marketing for the last 15 years as a profession. So, I decided maybe it’s time for me to look for a job doing something else. I began looking around on the Internet for available jobs and I begin applying to jobs that sounded interesting but were not in the marketing field.

What I found out is that corporate America is even more demanding now that it was when I first left. They actually have nerves to want more education more experienced and pay even less money than when I was being paid when I left corporate America many years ago. The demands on employees is ridiculous, companies offer less benefits, less pay while asking employees to work more hours. There were jobs for administrative assistants that wanted a bachelor’s degree. If I have spent all that time and money to get a degree, I do not want to be an administrative assistant; I want to be an administrator. Maybe it’s just employers taking advantage of a tight economy. That’s my guess and it’s a damn shame.

This was out of the question for me.

I decided I needed to rethink my business and the services that I offer to my clients. I needed to keep from getting burned out and spreading myself to thin.

What do I really love?

I love blogging.

I’ve decided that I will focus on working with clients who want to blog and utilize blogging as the foundation for the online marketing.

I must not allow myself to be pulled into areas that I do not enjoy.

I must remain focused on the services that I am offering my clients and not be afraid to say know what they want services that do not offer. While this can be scary, saying no clients it something that I must do to be able to provide excellent services to my clients and not become stressed out by providing services to my clients that I do not enjoy.

I’ve decided to focus on just blogging services and not all blogging services.

I will concentrate on offering only two services to clients who are already blogging.

1. Blog audit: The client will determine what their goal if for their blog and I will provide a blog audit telling them how well they are doing and suggest what changes to make to reach their goals.

2. Blog Audit and Plan: After I have accessed the client’s blog, I will then provide the client with a plan to help them reach their goal.

That’s it!

I will not help you set up a blog or write blog posts for you. I will help you to access your blog, decide on the goal for your blog, determine if your blog is meeting your needs, figure out what changes are needed and offer suggestions  to help you improve your blog.

I will also help you create a plan that will help you reach the goal that you have for your blog. If you want to reach a goal within a specific period, I will help you create a plan to reach that goal. I will also help you to track you progress, that’s it.

I will not be writing blog posts, EBooks, articles, emails, blog set-up or anything else. If the client is in need of these services, I will help them find suitable candidates to provide these services.

While I am capable of providing many of the services that a client needs, I believe that it will best serve me and my clients if I remained focused on one area: blogging.

I have chosen blogging, because I believe in blogging and the benefits that it can bring a business. I also believe that a blog is the hub to successful online and social media marketing program.

According to Hubspot research 57% of businesses who blog, gain new business. I can attest to this, because my business brings in 85-90% of its business from my blog.

So that’s the skinny of it.

My goal is to help my clients become better more efficient bloggers and to utilize their blogs to help them meet their business goals.

My goal is to start at the beginning. I will try to help my readers build a better blog. I will try some new things on my blog and tell you how they go. I will offer from time to time my blog as an experiment and let you know what I am trying and how things work out. I will put to test ideas that others have and let you know how things go and put to test some ideas that you offer.

My approach will be casual, because I am a casual type of person. Through reading my blog, I hope that you will get to know me and I will in turn get to know you.

I hope is that along the way we will all learn a lot and build great business blogs.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Jenn

 

Stop Writing Blog Content and Start Promoting Your Blog

Stop Writing Blog Content and Start Promoting Your Blog

In the past the belief was that you write lots of content to help your blog rank well in search engines. This is becoming harder and harder, especially with the constant changes with Google, the top search engine.

I am going to present a different approach. Instead of spending your time trying to put out content every day or several times a week, scale back your output.

If you are a new blogger, I am suggesting that you only write one good blog post a week. Assuming that you have already taken the steps to determine your topic, niche and audience, now you can concentrate on writing. If you are not a new blogger and currently post more than two blog posts a week, scale back to two posts per week.

Concentrate on writing a blog post that resonates with the audience that you are trying to reach. Information what they will find important and useful, and then write a good in-depth post. I am not talking a short book, but a few thousand words are good.

This is simple, if you are an estate planner targeting the LGBT community, you can write a guide to estate planning for LGBT individuals and couples. You write a beginners guide to estate planning and it covers about 2300 words.

Summarize the guide down to about 500 words of quick tips and advice for your blog post. Turn the full guide into an EBook or PDF Download and include an offer for the guide in your blog post.

After you have written your blog post, spend the next week promoting that blog post and guide. Get your post in front of as many people in your target audience as possible.

Promoting your blog post:

  • Get involved in groups and forums, promote your blog article and guide. Attach a link to all outgoing comments
  • Send a quick tips release to online publications promoting your guide that reaches your target market with a link back to your blog, preferably a landing page if you are going to build an email list.
  • Send a similar tip release to associations and organizations targeting your audience with a link to your post included
  • Write out 20 tips and tweet them out to your network with a link back to your blog post
  • Share your blog post on Facebook, Google, Stumbleupon, Digg, LinkedIn and any other social networking that you are involved
  • Turn your guide into a slideshare presentation
  • Any other way that you can think of to get your post read and guide downloaded

Recap:

Step 1: Write one in-depth article per week of at least 2000 words.

Step 2: Turn your in-depth article into an EBook or PDF for download

Step 3: Write a summary of your in-depth post of approximately 500 words.

Step 4: Promote the hell out of your blog post and in-depth article.

Why am I suggesting that you cut back your writing opposite of what all the blogging gurus and I have told you in the past? It is too damn hard to keep up with the changes that Google constantly makes and hard as hell to rank on the first page of Google these days.

So Stop It. 

SEO is not what is used to be, things have changed.

Social networking and sharing allows you to stop concentrating all your time writing thousands of posts to rank well on Google. It is all about getting what you have written in front of readers, where they hang out most often. It is about becoming involved in their groups and presenting them with information that they need.

Competition is fierce and it comes from all over the globe. Now is the time to focus on the audience you are trying to reach, penetrate and dominate before you expand to additional audiences.

It doesn’t matter how many blog posts your write, how great they are if nobody ever reads them. You can’t afford for Google to find, rank your blog hoping your readers find you. You have to get out there and promote the hell out of your blog posts.

Have Your Say:

What do you think about writing less often? Are you scared it will hurt your traffic? Do you see the benefit of spending more time promoting write and less time writing?

 

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

 

The Four Steps to Using your Blog for Online Lead Generation

The Four Steps to Using your Blog for Online Lead Generation

You did like the gurus told you and you step up a blog for your business.

You publish to your blog faithfully three times a week.

You share and promote your blog on all your social networks, friends, wherever you can think of.

You added a contact form for future clients to contact you.

Nothing.

No one is contacting you and you don’t understand why.

The Four Elements of a Inbound Lead Generation Program:

The Offer: Content that you offer to your target audience that will be of value to them.

  • EBook
  • White Paper
  • Free Consultation
  • Webinar
  • Coupon

The Call-to-Action: An image or button that stands out and links directly to your landing page.

The Landing Page: A special page that contains information about your special offer.

The Form: A form that will collect contact information in exchange for what you are offering.

That’s the basics of your inbound lead generating program. Now let’s take a look at this in action.

Hubspot does a great job of this so I am going to use them as an example.

The offer:

Hubspot if offering its readers a free guide to Pinterest Business Accounts.

The Call-to-Action

The Call-to-Action is straight forward and to the point, Download Ebook Now, not later, Now.

The Landing Page

Hubspot Pinterest

The landing pages tell you what you get learn when you download and read the free Ebook. A quick step-by-stepy guide to Pinterest business accounts.

The Form

Hubspot Form

The form turns your request into a lead for their business. They now know that you are interested in Pinterest for your business and what your marketing problems. They also offer you the chance to keep receiving information from them knowing that most people will choose yes.

If you are using monthly themes for your blogging, you can follow this four-step process at the end of every month to generate leads for your business. The beauty is that you will know what the reader’s interests are by the offers they accept.

Once they become a lead, you will know how to nurture the lead into a client from knowing offers appealed to them.

Have Your Say:

Are you using any of these steps to generate leads for your business?

 

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