March 31, 2018

Where To Find Your Best Content Ideas

"What will I write about this week?" Wouldn't it be great if content ideas popped into your head just when you need them? (Queue the light bulb!)

You’ll find the best content ideas amid your daily business activities – but you have to be alert for them... and jot them down. For example, let’s say you…
  • have a discussion with a customer or prospect. Content ideas: a success story, answer a question, describe a service/product, define why you're different, an anecdote, how to solve a problem, local news.
  • receive an inquiry by phone or on Facebook. Content ideas: FAQ, describe a service/product, benefits and features.
  • learn something new. Content ideas: teach your fans, describe the learning process, give a review/opinion, share the source.
  • find a quote you love on Twitter. Content ideas: why you like it, how it's relevant to what you do.
  • do some online research. Content ideas: share what you found, how you found it, what it means to your readers.
  • try a new application. Content ideas: first impressions, good/bad/ugly, how you'll use it.
  • read a business book. Content ideas: a review, good/bad/ugly, why to read or not read, summary.
  • prepare a quote or proposal. Content ideas: what makes this one different from others, something common to all your proposals.
  • attend a networking event. Content ideas: conduct an informal poll, photos.
These are prime opportunities - and there are many more - to get fresh ideas for articles and social media posts. And even if some ideas aren’t so fresh, perhaps you’ll get the gift of a different perspective.

Your marketing content doesn't need to be something you do once a week in an allotted time, independent of your other activities. Ink it when you think it!

March 25, 2018

What Do You REALLY Want People to Do on Your Website?

Over the last 10 years or so I've built close to 100 websites and landing pages. In the olden days, clients would send me Word docs with the text for each page. I would add the pages, insert the text, and insist on a call-to-action for the bottom of each page. Sometimes those CTAs were different and sometimes they were all the same. Often they included wishy-washy words, like 'feel free', and asked people to 'get in touch'.

Last fall when I was rebuilding my own website, my WordPress mentor asked, "What do you really want people to do on your website?" I opened my mouth... and realized I didn't really know the answer.

How did I want people to get in touch? Who did I want contacting me?

I started with what I didn't want. Receiving unexpected phone calls during the day can cause havoc with my workload and lead to mistakes. And sometimes I work nights and sleep mornings. The getting-in-touch part couldn't be by a spontaneous phone call.

I also didn't want complete strangers who are price shopping... at least not without vetting them first. My website has always been designed for people who know me or are referred to me.

This led me to put a process in place to take bookings for marketing consults and client meetings. And an intake form for newsletter campaigns. It's more efficient for clients and myself, instead of back-and-forth emails to set a meeting date.

Now every page leads to a call-to-action that takes people to the next logical step depending on the page content - via a big bold button.

Perhaps you want people to call... in that case, put your phone number front and centre. If you want them to come by, include a map. If you want them to email, ask for that. If you want them to buy your book, link to the check-out page. To read your blog, give them a big bold button. Ask for action.

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March 20, 2018

Pick a Topic Like You Would Pick an Apple

Consider how likely you would be to open/read articles with these titles:
  • How to Be a Politician
  • Small Business Marketing
  • Healthy Foods for Everyone
  • Dressing for Work
  • The Benefits of Travel
  • How to Find Any Job
  • How to Be a Millionaire
Nothing much exciting... been there, done that. How useful can any of those articles be?

First, it would take a really hefty article to cover any of these topics well, and still, it wouldn't be enough. Each of these topics has too much detail to cover in a useful way. Much like we talk about finding a niche for our business, if we apply this to our articles they will be more concise and useful, will draw a more specific readership suited to our business.

Also, if we're hoping people will find us through search, broad topics like these won't put us on page one... they've already been done over and over.

Think about it like an apple tree. Instead of writing about the whole tree, pick only one apple to write about.

Narrow your topic, answer one question instead of 20, go deep instead of broad. You might try asking, "So what?" over and over to get deep into your topic. And start with an outline - you may discover each item on your outline is an article on its own. Instead of one article, you'll find yourself with hundreds of things to write about. Have fun!

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March 14, 2018

Do You Get Excited About Marketing Tasks?

Do you enjoy doing your own marketing? The answer has a big impact on how successful you will be at it. Stop and consider:
  • Do you like doing marketing work?
  • Do you have the needed skills?
  • Are you good at it, really?
  • Is what you're doing yielding desired results?
No? Beware. Negativity and stress will rain all over your marketing activities, dampening your results.

It can be daunting to give up control and money for marketing help. I do marketing for clients, charities and myself... and I still hire experts for my own marketing. I'm happy to get fresh and creative input from other pros. And I've learned I'm much better at other people's marketing than my own.

In recent months, I've had marketing help from eleven different people. Some was consulting, some training, but a fair bit was doing things I do for my own clients. Even though I love marketing, I still delegate.

Instead of trying to convince you it will be a good thing, how about a little experiment? Pick one task to delegate, only one to start with. Something tedious that needs regular attention, and that you keep putting off. Something like... I delegated a bit of routine social media work to my sister.

You can make big strides with a little extra help. What are you going to delegate as your first experiment? I'm curious - let me know in the comments.

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March 8, 2018

7 Out Of 12 Small Business Bloggers Agree On This

When I teach marketing courses, the group eventually tires of seeing this list come up on the screen in every class:
  1. Build relationships, community
  2. Grow your reputation, sphere of influence
  3. Be seen as an expert
  4. Share valuable info, products, services
  5. Increase your social media following
  6. Give value to your customers, prospects and colleagues on a regular basis
  7. Get found - SEO
The items on this list are key reasons for publishing a blog or newsletter. Yes, of course, the ultimate goal is sometimes - but not always - an increase in sales.

The problem is, you (and me) can't meet all the goals on that list at the same time. We'd become unfocused and demotivated. So I 'force' these small business folk to pick only two goals to focus on.

Last week I noted the two goals each person called out as we went around the room. I added my own two goals, as well, to round the group off at a dozen. Seven of us chose #2 - growing our reputation - as one of our two goals. And everyone had #1, #2 and/or #3 in their selection.

My two goals for blogging and creating other marketing content are #2 and #3. How about you? Share your two goals in the comments and I'll keep tallying them up.

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March 2, 2018

How a Not-so-good Writer Can Be Successful at Blogging

I like to joke that I'm a great example of how someone who can't write can still have success with a blog.

The fact is, in my past career I did a lot of writing: job descriptions, standard operating procedures, workflows, and reports of all kinds for all levels. And I had to un-learn every bit of it for blogging. None of it prepared me, other than good grammar. I had to learn to stop using words of many syllables ending in 'ion'... like implementation and clarification.

All that un-learning didn't help me be a better writer. Writing, and watching how others' wrote on their blogs, and paying attention to readers' responses - those things help me be a better blog writer.

I'm still not a great writer. But being a better writer isn't why I write. Writing is the absolute best tool I can use to share important info that my target market needs to know.

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