Knowing your customers and yourself is vital for small business marketing success. It’s especially vital for content marketers: understand and use these nine psychological principles.
Knowing your customers and yourself is vital for small business marketing success. It’s especially vital for content marketers: understand and use these nine psychological principles.
Are you creating content for your small business? If you are, you may be happy with the increase in traffic, but are you happy with your conversion rates?
You create content to grow your business, so it’s essential that you create that content with conversions in mind. We discussed growing your content to support your marketing goals well over a year ago. It’s even more important now, because the competition for attention is so much greater.
Think about the flood of content which spills onto the Web each day. KISSmetrics reports:
According to a 2012 study by AOL and Nielsen, 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared every day. By now, the mantra of “content is king” has been relentlessly drilled into our collective heads – but more isn’t always necessarily better.
(Read the article, it gives you some great ideas for getting ready for 2014.)
Yes, that’s 27 MILLION pieces of content – in 2012. Within a few weeks, 2014 will be here, so that research was 12 months ago. It’s scary to think that that 27 million might be 50 million pieces of content per day by now.
Measuring the effectiveness of your content via traffic is easy, so that’s what everyone does.
Instead, consider measuring via conversion rates, rather than traffic.
If you do that, you’ll start thinking differently about your content.
In her excellent KISSmetrics article, Sherice Jacob predicts that companies will measure content by conversions in 2014:
Success will be measured according to the metrics that matter for that particular industry – whether it’s number of downloads, order volume, quality leads or a combination of those criteria.
You’re creating content for your customers, aren’t you? Sad to say, most companies are not.
Look at the “Current Trend: What Type of Content is Created Most?” graph in Sherice’s article. You’ll see that well over half the content that companies created was about news and current trends, or about the company itself.
Why? Because creating that kind of content easy; it’s an ego boost, too. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Occasionally.
But when you talk about yourself you can’t expect great conversions. Your content is for your customers. I talked about WIIFM (“what’s in it for me”) in yesterday’s article on headline copywriting, and said:
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Think about your ideal customer (or your email recipient, your blog’s readers, etc.) Everyone wants to know what’s in it for them.
Create user-focused content in 2014, and measure by conversions. It’s the only metric which counts.
Take a look at the content you’ve published in the past 12 months, especially your “greatest hits.” Is the content customer-focused?
Love press releases? I do too. To my mind, they’re an essential part of any content marketing strategy.
I’ve often told the story of how I got into copywriting – via press releases. At the time (1980s!) I was running a business which was spending HUGE amounts on display advertising in Sunday newspapers. Since press releases cost us nothing except a few postage stamps, I sent out ten press releases to various media outlets.
Hey presto – we got fantastic coverage: radio, TV, magazines…
Yes, those days were different. However, the underlying marketing is the same now as it was then.
To get publicity, you need:
All these years later, the media isn’t what it once was. However, publicity is just as powerful now as it was then. And it’s basically free. All you need is a story that’s attention-getting.
You may be wondering about a press release’s value in these days of Hummingbird.
Yes, and not before time. Google’s Matt Cutts rained on the SEO parade:
With this new mandate, what Google has done is kill off the SEO press release. Google is now requiring that URLs and anchor text within press releases be converted to no follow links.
Here’s the thing. If you get media attention, you WILL get SEO value, because you’ll gain lots of links. However, you shouldn’t use press releases just to get links.
Let’s look at five simple press release tricks.
Anything you say it is.
Truly. Your press release might have a hook related to: timeliness, public interest, conflict, tragedy, humor, sex, money, human interest, the future, or animals.
Any one of those themes will do. Combine two of them, and you’ll hit the publicity jackpot.
Take a look at a newspaper, and you’ll see those themes every day. They’re news.
I tend to use the terms “press release” and “news release” interchangeably. All press releases must contain news.
You’ve got a newsworthy theme. Your next step is to find the story within that theme. TV Tropes could be a happy hunting ground for your story; check out the Rags to Riches trope, for example.
Whatever your theme, there’s a story buried within it. Think about it.
Tell yourself the story. Start with “once upon a time, there was…”
Stories in news release are publicity gold. Find yours.
You can post your press releases online of course, however, consider making press releases part of your overall content strategy.
Press releases are content. Post your releases into a Media, or Newsroom section of your website. Over time, those releases tell the story of your business.
Many of your site visitors have never heard of you, so several years’ worth of releases on your website increase their trust in your business.
Glitz up your press release. Add images from your media kit, as well as images you’ve created for your current content campaign. You can also add a video, and a downloads like a white paper, or a report.
These items increase the likelihood that people finding the release will click through to your website.
Finally, of course you can use links in your press releases. You want traffic. If you’ve been hammering several keyword heavily in your online activities, avoid using them. Use other words as anchor text.
Your aim is to get traffic from your press releases, and if you include a newsworthy theme and story, you will.
So there you have it – five press release tricks to help your small business. Now, go and get some publicity – you deserve it!
Need some help? I create press releases for clients. My aim is to find a theme, and tell your story.
We’re living in a new world; a world in which information is marketing.
If you’re new to marketing via content, you may be wondering how it works. Or indeed, if it works at all.
Content marketing works for many businesses, in the form of “native advertising” (also known as “sponsored content”.) Companies are relying on content:
It is usually labeled advertising (sometimes clearly, sometimes not), but if the content is appealing, marketers can gain attention and engagement beyond what they might get for say, oh, a banner ad.
It’s rumored that for some content, click through rates are as high as 20 per cent, compared with the click through rate for banner advertising: 0.1 per cent.
Will content marketing work for you? It worked for “Sales Lion” Marcus Sheridan, who famously used content marketing to build his swimming pools business. From the New York Times article on Marcus Sheridan’s content strategy:
Q. Once you wrote a blog post, how much time did you spend promoting it on Twitter and Facebook?
I didn’t. Dude, that one article on price has never been tweeted. It’s never been Facebooked. I’m not saying social media doesn’t help, but it’s nowhere near what people think. The only metric that really matters is total pages viewed. Here’s a statistic for you: If somebody reads 30 pages of my River Pools Web site, and we go on a sales appointment, they buy 80 percent of the time. The industry average for sales appointments is 10 percent. So, our whole marketing campaign revolves around getting people to stick around and read our stuff, because the longer they stay on our site, the greater the chance they’re going to fall in love with our company.
I’ve compiled some articles into a free report, Creativity Rules: Copywriting and Content Tips to Build Your Audience TODAY. Add your email address to the form in the sidebar. You’ll receive the report in your email Inbox.
Alternatively, you can view it here.
Here are some great reads which caught my eye today. Discover: a brilliant way to add Slideshare to SEO content strategy; a plethora (lovely word ;-) of social media management tools; lots of great tools to get ideas for content; blog post templates; and some “rules” of content marketing.
Are you making the most of Slideshare? It’s one of the top 150 most-visited websites in the world, and you can get a share of that traffic. This article gives you an entire strategy for making the most of Slideshare.
If you’ve been avoiding social media, give up the thought that you can keep your head in the sand. It’s time to front up on social. 46 social media experts share their top tools. You’re sure to find several tools which will help you to make the most of social marketing opportunities.
Looking for content ideas? The content-creation To Do list never ends. Some great ideas here.
Hmmm… Play the audio file link in the first paragraph. The word I said aloud was “camera.” What word did you think of? (It’s a lesson in how word association helps you with creating content.)
Hate writing, but need to blog anyway? Sometimes you can’t get out of it. This article teaches you how to create a How To post, step by step. There’s some templates you’ll find useful too.
I hate rules for anything, but these aren’t so much rules, as common sense advice for your content marketing. I love #16, “stop buying content from the bargain bin.”
Content marketing is HOT for a simple reason. It’s cost-effective. You get an awful lot of bang for your content marketing buck.
If you’re thinking about using content for marketing, you may confine your ambitions to blogging, and Facebook pages. While there’s nothing wrong with that, consider broadening your horizons, to info products.
Blogs and social media pages have a big challenge: they’re ephemeral. You can create a wonderful, traffic-generating blog post, which gets a trickle of traffic for years. While it’s valuable, and can do a great deal for your business, it’s still just a blog post.
A book on the other hand is a book. Suddenly you’re an author. At a more humble level, a white paper or a report is a product. It’s a discrete entity. It’s not that I have anything against blog posts and the like. Heaven forbid. I’ve been blogging since 2000, and loved blogs while other businesses were still scoffing at “online journals.” A blog’s wonderful, but info products are entities.
Let’s look at creative ways you can use info products in your business.
Want to become a thought leader in your industry? Write a book. Seth Godin is the pattern card for thought leaders in marketing. The man’s a genius, no question. Authors are respected.
No time to write a book? Hire a ghostwriter, or write a white paper, report or short ebook.
You can generate income from info products in many different was:
Speaking of traffic: Google isn’t the only search engine which sends you traffic. Aside from Yahoo and Bing, consider that Amazon, iTunes, and YouTube are search engines which can send you traffic.
Podcasts and videos are popular info marketing tools for this reason: traffic.
As we’ve said, a blog post is just that. Hundreds of thousand of blog posts are created each day.
If you create an info product however, it’s something for your site visitors to download, pass around, and keep.
Info products build your brand. Produce a book, and you’re an author… an authority. Produce ebooks, or a magazine, and you’re a publisher as well as a business person.
As 2014 speeds towards us, many more businesses will use info products like magazines to publish regularly to build their brand. I love Twitter, but a tweet has a life span measured in seconds. Every info product you create builds your brand now and in the future.
We’ve mentioned Seth Godin. He’s an info product powerhouse, who understands marketing and publishing. His reputation rests on a sold foundation of books.
In the early 1990s, if you strolled into a bookshop, you saw brick-sized software manuals stacked to the ceiling. Yes, they were necessary. I can remember reading my Lotus Agenda manuals as if they were holy writ.
Those manuals were also content marketing. Businesses displayed those manuals on bookshelves.
Nowadays you don’t have to kill a forest. You can use ebooks to enhance your sales. Think about what you wish your customers knew about your products. Create a downloadable ebook to tell them.
Most products lend themselves to a workbook or two.
Selling T-shirts? Create a workbook which shows customers how to draw their own designs onto your T shirts. Then create a contest for the best designs.
In real estate? Create a workbook/ journal/ app to help your clients to move house.
Your business produces a mass of research and stats. Use that information to create white papers and reports.
Tip: get creative with this. If you can’t stand to read your own white paper, your customers won’t read it either. Use straightforward language, and don’t be boring.
Your videos and podcasts are info products. By all means upload them to YouTube. Don’t stop there however. Make the most of them by compiling them into downloads on your own website, where your customers can find them easily. Info products you create to teach your products also promote your products – and they’re info products in their own right.
Techsmith for example does an amazing job with their tutorial videos as you might expect from a software company devoted to helping their customers to create images and videos.
Here’s what I like about the way Techsmith handles its tutorials: they’re entertaining, and informative, as well as being inspiring.
So there you have it – ten creative ways to use info products in YOUR business.
Discover my info product creation service.
“Brands are thinking more and more like publishers, complete with editorial calendars and content that is specifically designed to be great without overtly promoting the brand. Luxury brand Louis Vuitton has a gorgeous arts and culture website called Nowness that does not mention Louis Vuitton on a single page – not even the About page.”
Why content marketing? Because it works. Content marketing can achieve your business goals, no matter whether you’re a small local business, or whether you’re casting a wider net, and are doing business globally.
It’s never been easier to get information. Whatever you want to know, no matter how obscure the topic, enter it into a search engine, and you get results. Content marketing is information. Your customers are getting information before they buy.
So if you’re wondering whether YOU should be marketing via content, of course you should. As Jonathan Lister pointed out on Fastcompany.com:
Buyers are not persuaded by advertising alone. They’re using the web, search, social networks, and more to educate themselves on potential purchases. Research shows consumers are 60% through the buyer’s journey before reaching out to brands for help on available options.
And yes, by “brands” that means you, too.
Rand Fishkin of Moz presented The Content Marketing Manifesto over a year ago. If you’re wondering who, what, why and how about content marketing, this slide deck is a good start.
What could you do if you had an unlimited advertising budget? Maybe you’re salivating, thinking of all the advertising you could buy.
Sadly, even with an unlimited advertising budget, your results may not be as amazing as you hope.
Here’s why. When you buy advertising, you’re limited to the advertising venues you choose. In 2013, audiences are fragmented. If you choose to advertise on radio and TV, you won’t reach all the people in your target audience. Your audience may miss your ads completely. That’s money down the drain. The same applies to any advertising venue – you’ll reach just a small part of your potential audience.
Every business needs to advertise. However, for true effectiveness, you need something else: publicity. Publicity amplifies the effect of your advertising, and it’s long-lasting. I’ve often told the story of I first got into copywriting… how a press release I wrote changed the fortunes of my employer.
Few businesses strive for publicity. Public relations tends to be a mystery. Businesses may not even be aware that most news stories in print and digital media originate from a press release.
Here’s a secret: journalists mine their press releases looking for the faintest glimmer of gold amongst the trash. Finding a story is GOLD to them. Providing that gold isn’t easy. However, it’s possible. What could your company achieve if a journalist or three wrote about you? If you appeared in Google News?
You need just two things to create a powerful publicity campaign: time and imagination.
Firstly you create the content for your campaign, and then you launch it.
A few days ago one of my writing students contacted me about a new ebook she’s launching. She asked me what she would need to include in her first publicity campaign.
Good question. The short answer is, anything you like. It’s your campaign, so whatever you think goes. Ask yourself some questions. How much time do you have available? What results do you want?
Let’s say that you want to create a customized publicity campaign this week to promote something. That “something” could be your business, a new product you’re launching, or a service you provide. As in the case of my student, it could be an ebook. Maybe it’s something for your community – your child’s school needs new sporting equipment, and you’re running a donations drive.
Your first step in any publicity campaign is always to set clearly defined goal.
The next step is to decide what your message will be, and commit to staying on message. “Staying on message” throughout your campaign is perhaps the hardest thing to do, as any politician will tell you. It’s a challenge, but you won’t get the results you want unless you manage to do that.
Let’s get started…
Write down your goal for this publicity campaign. Please don’t omit doing this. You must write down your goal, because you won’t remember what it is tomorrow. Trust me on this one.
Write down the message in a sentence, preferably on a sticky note (stick it onto your phone), as well as in your diary. Make sure the message is in front of you DAILY.
According to Wikipedia, common components of a media kit include:
Backgrounder with historical information on the company or individual.
Fact sheet listing specific features, statistics, or benefits.
Biographies of key executives, individuals, artists, etc.
Past press coverage
Photos or other images (high resolution) of key executives, logos, products, etc.
A press release detailing the current news the media kit is sent in reference to
Media contact information (usually of a public relations department or spokesperson)
Collateral advertising material, such as: postcard, flier, newspaper ad, etc.
You can put anything you like in your media kit.
At a minimum, include a company backgrounder, some photographs, and anything else you think would be helpful to a journalist or blogger who wants to write about whatever it is that you’re promoting.
Many companies add their company’s media kit to the “media” section of their website. You can do this too.
However, for the sake of this publicity campaign, create a customized media kit which focuses solely on your goals for this campaign, rather than on your company as a whole.
Set a date on which you’ll begin your campaign. Please don’t put it too far in the future. Give yourself a week for preparation. If you give yourself too much time, it won’t get done.
Next, decide what you’ll include in your campaign.
You could include: a series of press releases, Facebook and Google+ pages, a webinar, guest posts on blogs, a blog tour, content marketing with articles… anything you like.
Ask yourself: What am I comfortable creating? Or hiring someone to create for me?
LIMIT yourself. Don’t aim to include too much. A press release, a blog post, a YouTube video, and a couple of articles, might be all that you can comfortably create in a week.
Every company has different resources. Use them. If you have a mailing list, make good use of that list. These are people who want to hear from you, who have done business with you, and who know you. They can help you to get the word out. So include mailings to your list in your list of activities for your publicity campaign.
Create your material. If you’re a copywriter, you can do it yourself. Alternatively you can hire someone.
We’ll have more to say on the various elements of a publicity campaign later – I’ll create some additional how-to material for you on this blog.
For now, consider the time you have available.
If you’re doing everything yourself, creating all the creative material might take you a week or more. Aim to have everything ready before you launch the publicity campaign. Once you launch, you’ll be so busy talking to people and running your business, that you won’t have time to create additional material.
However, don’t set the launch date so far in the future that you procrastinate. As stated, I recommend that you take a maximum of ONE week to create to your campaign material, and then a week to execute. Any longer than that, and your campaign will stall.
Just get it done. :-)
There you have it. You’re good to go. Set a goal for your campaign, decide on a message, and start creating your material today.
Everything’s getting smaller now — first the iPad, and then the iPad mini, for example.
But what about your content? Maybe your content is “TLDNF” (Too Long, Didn’t Finish.) Your audience snacks on content. Long content is a commitment, and we’re all becoming commitment-phobic.
“Do you snack on content? I know I do. To catch up with the news, I used to read news websites. These days, I use Flipboard on my iPad to ‘snack’ on the news of the day. Of course I read longer pieces too, from websites like the New Yorker. I spend more time snacking on, and reading content on the iPad than I do on my production machine, some days.”
Consider creating content snippets. We discussed easy ways to create quote images. Quote images are fast and easy to create.
You can also use the content you’ve already created. Let’s say you’ve created a “top ten tips” article for your blog.
Why not post some of that content as snippets? Chop up the content, and you’ve got ten snippets from one article. You can post these, with an image, to Google+ or to Twitter, with a link to your website, or a webpage.
I love the latest version of WordPress, because it comes with the Twenty Thirteen theme, which has a variety of post formats. It’s now easy to post snippets as links, quotes, and asides, to your WordPress blog. (I’m currently using the basic Twenty Thirteen theme on this blog.)
The Tumblr service is popular BECAUSE of the short and sweet content options it provides.
I talked about Tumblr here:
Post Short, Eye-Catching Content
Got interesting photos? Post them. Users react to, and will reblog, humorous material. Rather than posting a photo of your CEO behind his desk therefore, post a photo of your CEO throwing a frisbee for his dog.
Pull a good quote from an article on your primary blog, and post that. (The service has a bookmarklet which makes it easy to post material in seconds.)
Remember to add tags (keywords) to your content.
What content snippets could you create? Track your traffic. You might find that a mix of longer content and snippets saves you time, and gets you more traffic.