October 29, 2015

How to Find Time to Create Content


Whether you write for your blog, newsletter or social media - or all three - there are two approaches to creating your content: on the fly or by scheduling time. They both have to do with finding time to do it well.

You can spend some time daily creating content by blocking off 15-30 minutes in your schedule every day. If there's a certain time of day that you're more creative, exploit that and preserve the same time every day in your calendar. Alternately, you can set aside a block of time each week. Of course, this means more time at once, perhaps a couple of hours.

Creating content on the fly is a little more haphazard, and it's what I do a lot of the time - write when I'm inspired. I might read an article I clicked on from Twitter. Or I might have a phone conversation with a new client. Or someone might ask me a question. I most enjoy writing when I drop everything and do it while the idea is fresh.

Now you might be thinking that's an inefficient way to work but, most days, I'm at my desk and the occasional small interruption doesn't really affect my overall productivity. If you're out and about all day, you can still do this on your phone or tablet while waiting for appointments and in between meetings (typing or audio recording).

Crunch time comes when deadlines loom. This is when the stress starts if I haven't been good about on the fly content creation.

If you're not sure which approach is best for you, try them both and see.

With content creation, as with many things, little gets done without a clear plan and a workable schedule. Your editorial calendar is an important part of your content marketing campaign. Use it to stay organized and keep momentum.

photo by joeywan / Flickr
originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on October 28, 2015

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October 26, 2015

9 Types of Customer Generated Content


Do you want more customers like the ones you already have? You can use experiences with your current customers to develop content that will attract more of the same.

Customer-generated content is akin to 'social proof' - it elevates your reputation. By 'content' I mean all the 'stuff' on your website, social media accounts, blog, newsletter, brochures and so on. How do you get your customers to do this work for you?

  1. Success stories: Interview a client and write a blog post about it. Or ask them to write it themselves. Or do it live via Blab or Periscope and save the recording to post online. Prepare a few questions in advance so the advantages of using your product or service will be highlighted.
  2. Lessons learned and improvement opportunities: Write about a customer service experience and what you learned from it. This doesn't have to be negative.
  3. Case studies and examples: This works great if you do project-type work or customization. As above, make sure to include the benefits of your product or service.
  4. Collaborations: Work with a client to create a resource that would be useful to both of your target markets. This might be a free download or even a video.
  5. Testimonials: This needs to be a key piece of your content strategy. Start a process to regularly solicit testimonials from your customers. Grab onto unsolicited testimonials, such as tweets about your service. Put the testimonials on your website - and everywhere else. Consider using a testimonial to preface your success story or case study. (Video testimonials are gold!)
  6. Photo and video galleries: This might be to show off examples of work or products - also great for photos of your happy customers. Consider Facebook albums and other apps that are easily integrated, such as Flickr. You could also build a gallery of your customers' photos, perhaps using your product. Ask for permission first, though.
  7. Guest posts: Aside from success stories, you might also consider gathering guest posts from your customers if their target market overlaps with yours. This gives them exposure to your fans and subscribers - always a plus.
  8. Surveys and feedback: If you regularly gather feedback from your customers, use the results to support your case studies. Or extrapolate the results and share your conclusions.
  9. Customer Spotlight: There are a variety of ways to promote your customers, most notably by social media. Consider doing something more comprehensive like using an aggregator, such as Storify.

Many of these suggestions give you an opportunity to bring emotions into your content, and that helps you appeal to people similar to your current customers. Review your content strategy with a view to adding more of these types of content.

October 21, 2015

Your Marketing Made Easy


We have a LOT of options when it comes to our online marketing. The choices can be staggering, often leading to no action at all.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate as a facilitator at the Your Marketing Made Easy conference in Regina, SK. 10 facilitators, 16 workshops - covering topics like social media, blogging, email marketing, SEO, event marketing, web usability, and so much more.

It was a fun and inspiring day! My only regret is that I didn't get to attend many of the workshops put on by the other facilitators. I was inspired, though, to to experiment a bit, so I set up a Storify story to capture some of the event highlights - click here to check it out.

photo by Alvil Tayco on Twitter

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October 14, 2015

eMail Marketing is Not an Expense


I know your accountant will want you to log it as such, but here's why you shouldn't think of email marketing as an expense: it has an ROI.

Unlike many other marketing channels, the results are more evident with email marketing. You can tell if it's making you money or not. And, if it's not, you change it or ditch it.

First, some basic math, using my own pricing as an example. My average price for a monthly 'regular-sized' newsletter is $150 per issue. Over a year that works out to $1800. You, as my client, should be able to look back on that year and know that income attributable to your newsletter was more than $1800.

Wait! Before you go off tapping away on your calculator, we need to acknowledge there are different reasons for publishing a newsletter and some have nothing to do with money. Example: I specialize in newsletters so I have to walk the talk. You may have reasons I wouldn't even think of (but would love to hear about them in the comments).

If you pay attention to how your email marketing is helping your business, you'll feel better about the effort and cost you put into it. And that will lead to continual improvement through little tweaks which, in turn, will make your campaigns more successful through increased engagement.

photo by CAPow! / Flickr

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October 9, 2015

Research - What are your Competitors Doing?


If you've been doing a newsletter for more than a year, it's a good idea to examine your strategy, look at your stats, and implement some positive change. You don't want your email campaign to get stale.

Doing that, of course, means generating ideas. One way to do that is to look at what your competition is doing. Are they doing something well that you can expand on? Are they missing an opportunity that you can take advantage of? Is there a chance to collaborate?

Take a few minutes to sign up for your competitors' newsletters. Pay attention to the sign-up process, too.

photo by HowardLake / Flickr

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October 5, 2015

What I Learned at BlogJam2015

Anita Hovey and I acting out
I thought I would be spending the day with other business owners. I thought blogging was a marketing tool. I thought that swearing in public wasn't nice.

None of these turned out to be true at BlogJam2015 at the Marriott in Halifax on October 4th. What I learned is that I make a lot of assumptions!

Yes, there were some other business bloggers, but most of the speakers and attendees were not there for business. Mommy bloggers and food bloggers ruled the panel discussions. The few assumptions I had left were completely shattered during the closing keynote by Kaleigh Trace. One of her blogging tips was to relax and go masturbate. I swear every time she said 'vagina' I felt my mother cringe... and my mother wasn't there.

My biggest takeaway? Blogging is a tool for expressing our passions and prejudices. And 'success' means something different to every blogger.

photo by @E11ephantRoom on Twitter

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