January 28, 2016

Maintain Your Marketing Messages

How's your static content? Say what? Yup, I'm inventing new words to categorize all those things many of us small business owners call 'marketing stuff'.

The word 'content' is part of my everyday vocabulary but maybe not part of yours yet. Whether you call it content or stuff, it represents you, your business and your brand to everyone that encounters it.

There are lots of ways to slice and dice content but one important distinction is whether it is dynamic or static.

Dynamic content is new and ever changing - the articles and videos you create, the messages you post on Facebook and Twitter, your newsletter, and so on.

Static content includes the messages you create once and continue to use. Things like your tagline and advertising text, everything on your website, your social media profiles, business cards, and so on.

While you're busy working on your dynamic content all the time, it's easy to forget about that static content. You might create it once but you shouldn't forget about it. The best way not to forget about it is to schedule review time into your calendar - I suggest quarterly.

For your static content, here are 2 regular tasks to consider:

  1. Audit all of your online stuff. This means reading all the text and checking all the links. I highly recommend getting someone else to do this for you. If you don't want to pay someone, find another business owner to partner with and do it for each other.
  2. Reread all of your marketing messages, always looking to make improvements. Has your target market changed? Have your services changed? Has your experience/expertise changed?

I call it static content but that doesn't mean it should never change. It's the lifeblood of your marketing strategy and requires your regular attention to keep it relevant and fresh.

photo by highwaysagency / Flickr
originally published in Work Better, Not Harder January 28, 2016

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January 24, 2016

Secret Formula for Crafting Your Own Marketing Message

This article by Debi Hartlen MacDonald (New Life Business Solutions) was published in our newsletter in 2012. I keep having to go find it to refer to - yes, it's that good - so I asked Debi if I could share it with you here on our blog. Here goes...
1. The Pain or the Challenge - What is the pain that your prospect wants to address, as it relates to your product? 
My example: "I help small business owners who are working their buns off and not making the strides in their business that they want to." 
2. Desired Outcome - What result does your prospect want? 
My example: "I help clients attract more clients, make more money, and have more free time." 
3. Solution - What do you do that helps them solve this problem? 
My example: "I help clients create focused, well thought out, and clearly defined sales and marketing strategies." 
4. Why Choose You - What makes you different from your competition? 
My example: "Unlike other marketing consultants or agencies, I connect the sales with the marketing for real results - meaning money in the bank." 
5. Proof - What is the proof that you deliver what you say you will? Do you have testimonials, case studies, etc. to relay? The more quantitative you can be, the better. 
My example: "In the first 4 months under Debi's guidance, we saw revenue increase by 134% over the preceding four months. She lit a fire under us - and we couldn't be happier." (Neil Everton, Podium Media & Communications Coaching)

Debi Hartlen MacDonald of New Life Business Solutions helps her clients attract more clients, make more money and have more free time, by helping them develop focused and strategic plans in the areas of sales and marketing.

photo by jaguarmena / Flickr

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January 17, 2016

eMail Marketing - Back to Basics

There are so many things to consider and details to look after when it comes to email marketing that the big picture can easily be lost. Here is what small business owners like us always need to keep in mind:

#1. You want your subscribers to be from your target market, or have influence with your target market.

#2. To get and keep those subscribers, your content - whether it's articles or advertisements - needs to be interesting or useful to your target market. Let me repeat that: your content is for your target market. Which means it's not about you - and doesn't even have to be about what you do.

If you are starting out, before you think about what you want to include, first think about what your subscribers would want. If you can find an answer to this question, you've got it made:

What can you give your target market that they can't get anywhere else?

January 11, 2016

Successful Surveys: How to Ask for Information

You really want to know what your clients think about your business. And getting suggestions and feedback from your subscribers would be a bonus. An electronic survey seems like the perfect solution.

The reality is that only some of your close friends and fans will complete a survey because there is something in it for them (helping you). But you likely already know what they think.

What's in it for everyone else? Stop and answer that question before you go any further.

Ask for only what you absolutely need.
The inclination will be to ask a lot of questions. But the more questions you ask, the less likely someone will be to complete your survey. For each question, think about what you will do with the result. If there is no action you will take, don't ask the question. To help whittle down your questions, consider what you would be comfortable asking if you were to do the survey by phone with your best customer.

Offer an incentive.
Expect to pay to get answers. The longer the survey, the better your incentive needs to be. Think about what you would expect in exchange for doing a survey for a complete stranger. A chance to win might not work unless it's a chance to win something big.

Use software to gather and collate results.
You need information, not a bunch of data that you have to spend hours sorting and analyzing. Plus digital surveys are faster to complete than any other medium.

Test, retest and test again.
You really only get one shot at this - make sure it's right the first time. It's really easy to negate your results by asking ambiguous questions. Test the functionality and also get other people to test the logic.

Run a perpetual survey.
Asking only one question at a time makes it almost a non-task. You could include a one-question survey in each newsletter or blog post. For customers, you could do this when you invoice or with monthly statements. (FreshBooks has this type of functionality.) Of course, it takes longer to gather information this way but you also have time to act on each piece of information methodically. Plus you can adapt future questions based on answers already received.

Share the results, if appropriate.
Depending on the nature of your survey, the results might be interesting or even useful to your respondents. Some applications offer the functionality to show to-date results as soon as an answer is submitted. In other cases, you might offer to send the results if an email address is provided. Publishing the results as an article is another option.

One final piece of advice: ignore feedback that isn't statistically significant. So, don't change the colour of your logo because one person doesn't like it. If over half of your respondents don't like it, ask more questions to understand why.

January 7, 2016

Action Marketing

You might be the nicest person in the world to work with. You might be the best at your craft. You might offer the greatest value for money. You might do all the right things.

But your potential customers won't know that unless your personality and 'secret sauce' come through in your marketing.

Marketing is progressing beyond words and pictures... to actions.

Did you reply to that Facebook comment? Have you kept to the schedule you've promised your blog or newsletter readers? Are you regularly sharing your expertise with others, without expectation of something in return? Are you making people laugh? And are you there to share in it?

photo by Art Dino / Flickr

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