August 28, 2018

Who Are You Marketing To?


You know those workshops you go to where the instructor puts you on the spot right at the start by asking you to describe your target market? I'm one of those instructors. And I do it because a discussion about target markets is a critical first step to any marketing strategy and subsequent plans.

Invariably there is at least one person in every class who tells me they can sell to anyone. I know I'll get the chance to preach, "You might be able to sell to anyone but you can't market to everyone." Marketing is expensive - in time and money.

We need to find and develop content that is valuable (useful and/or interesting) to those specific people we want to have as customers. Once we've done that, we've got it made, right?

So, who are we marketing to?
  • potential customers
  • customers
Wait, there are more people we want to impact with our marketing:
  • colleagues
  • peers
  • influencers
  • referrers
  • vendors
  • partners
  • collaborators
Don't let me confuse you - I'm not saying you now need to have content that's valuable to all these people too. You'd be resonating with no one.

This is where your marketing content has a different purpose: credibility. And that's about how you market. Do you show up regularly? Can your content be trusted? Is your brand consistent in its look, messaging and frequency? Can these people tell you're an expert?

While I take time to create valuable content, the way I market has had the most impact on my business success. ALL of my new business comes to me through that second group of people, not from marketing to strangers. Don't ignore these people - some of them will be your biggest fans.

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Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder Newsletter August 28, 2018

August 24, 2018

Online Marketing Faux Pas


Online marketing provides an ample playground for errors, such as typos, broken links, and incorrect dates. We've gotten used to little boo-boos - they happen to everyone and we're mostly forgiving.

Then there are those biggies - the things that can cause a total disconnect with our brand, services and products. Here are some examples I see more often than you might think:

  • The marketing strategist whose LinkedIn profile page url is a series of letters and numbers
  • The sharing app that doesn't use their own tool in their blog posts to make them easy to share
  • The bulk email service provider that sends icky looking newsletters
  • The blogging trainer who doesn't post regularly
  • The social media experts with no social connecting links on their websites
  • The catchy call-to-action that takes you to a sign-up form that doesn't work
  • The website designer whose own website is 5 years old (and looks it)
  • The obvious typos on a homepage that are still there 6 months later
  • The things we sign up for but never get, and the things we get that we never signed up for
  • The big, bold text that says, "CALL NOW!", yet no one answers the phone

If we don't care about the messages we're sending with our marketing, it's highly likely no one else will either. If we get the big things right, we'll be forgiven for the little things that go wrong.

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August 19, 2018

Unique Content: Do You Have an Opinion?


The one truly unique type of content you can create contains your opinions. Certainly, there are other unique types of content that will work for some... but not for everyone. If you are an expert, an influencer, a salesperson... you have opinions.

Opinions make for great content because they're usually polarizing - they will resonate strongly with some and have the opposite effect on others. Not only is this a great way to make a more personal connection, it's also a great way to qualify your contacts and turn them into leads.

Interestingly, the word 'opinion' has such synonyms as view, belief, conviction, persuasion, sentiment, judgment, outlook, attitude; and can be defined as implying a conclusion thought out yet open to dispute. Yet the definition of the word 'opinionated' is firmly or unduly adhering to one's own opinion or to preconceived notions. It turns out we want to be 'opinioned' which is more open-minded and less rigid.

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August 14, 2018

3 Reasons Why Businesses Should Be Podcasting


(guest post by Mike Tanner)

To suggest that I’m a big fan of podcasts would be… a bit of an understatement.

In addition to being the host of 3.5 podcasts (it’s a long story), I provide podcasting consulting, speak on podcasting panels and once had a dream that I was the host of a potato chip podcast called “Chip Off The Old Block” (That podcast should be coming out in the fall.)

I started podcasting because I enjoyed it. But what I’ve discovered about podcasting as it relates to business has left me realizing that I made the absolute right decision when I decided to start broadcasting my thoughts on an audio medium.

So here are three reasons why businesses should be podcasting.

Passive Advertising

I am a big fan of social media advertising. The targeting options available on major platforms are outstanding and things like analytics and retargeting make it a no-brainer to use social to promote your business, whether that’s through the use of paid ads or just a solid social strategy.

But those are active channels.

People need to be paying attention (mostly) if they’re going to interact with your content in any beneficial manner.

And that’s one reason that podcasts are so unique. Here are some of the places and situations where I listen to podcasts:
  • Doing the dishes
  • Driving 
  • Playing video games
  • Writing
  • Working
  • Walking
The fact is, I’m not able to significantly interact with people’s tweets or snaps or status updates while I’m doing MOST of those things. However, podcasts circumvent this by giving us the ability to consume content while doing a myriad of other things and, while this can obviously mean a drop in attention, some attention is better than no attention.

Can you imagine if you could say to yourself “peruse these tweets at 1.5X speed” or “read this blog post at 2x speed.” Well, you can do that with podcasts because they’re consumed passively in whatever manner and at whatever speed you’d like.

Podcasts are More Popular than NFL Football

Ok. It’s true. You can make stats say anything you want them to. But hear me out.

In 2017, 48 million Americans listened to a podcast at least once a week. This number rose by 6 million compared to the previous year.

In 2017, 20 million Americans tuned in to watch Sunday Night Football each week.

So while it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that podcasts are more popular than the NFL, the point is that a LOT of people are listening to podcasts… and that number is growing by a LOT each year.

As more and more people tune in to more and more podcasts, the opportunity for individuals to help fill niche markets with great information, and thus bolster their businesses visibility, are remarkable.

It’s Really Not That Hard

It’s not that launching a podcast is easy… except… well, it is.

Making a podcast sound great is another story, but it’s much easier to start a podcast than a YouTube channel or most other media platforms you might use.

Here’s what you need to start a podcast: a phone.

If you have a phone, you’re golden. You can get nice microphones. You can buy nice software. You can hire a producer. You CAN do lots of things. But when it comes down to it, you just need a phone. Once, I made an Instagram post about the idea of production quality as it relates to content creation. I said that:
“Gary Vaynerchuck could record a podcast on a speak-and-spell in an airplane washroom because the content would be golden.”
Three months later Gary V launched 'the airport sessions', a collection of podcasts with TERRIBLE audio quality that were absolute fire when it came to the content itself.

The point is not, “do a terrible job, who cares,” but rather you should not hold off on pushing play just because you had a little background noise.

Podcasts are easy and inexpensive to produce, growing in popularity and reach the consumer where they’re at. What more could you ask for in a content platform?

So what are you waiting for?

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August 9, 2018

Please Don't Use Email For This


Have you ever sent an email you regretted as soon as you hit Send? There can't be many who haven't felt that in their gut at some time or other, including me.

Facts are perfect for email communication; feelings are not. (Tweet This!)

This is particularly important when it comes to our business communication. While I haven't been completely successful in curbing this tendency, the thing that works best for me is to keep myself from hitting that Send button until the next day. Most often, a cooler head prevails and I end up deleting the draft instead of sending. But there's catharsis in the rant.

Rant privately (not on Facebook), then cool off. This is one time I'm asking you NOT to use email. Emails are not conversations.

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August 3, 2018

No Bricks Between Friends


Sometimes it's hard to give honest feedback, especially if it's negative. After all, the other person worked hard to create something and their feelings might be hurt. But the work is just not 'right', and may even be horribly wrong.

What do you do? Be honest, and give good direction about what you don't like and what you'd like to see instead. And what if you don't exactly know what you'd like instead? Be honest about that, too.

When discussing this with a new client recently, she said, "No bricks between friends." That saying came from her Irish grandmother, Annie, and the wisdom can certainly be applied to our business relationships, too.

Communication, by any of the many options available, takes time and costs money. But we are not saving time by withholding critical feedback. Here are two scenarios that might happen if we do:
  1. Later in the project, for example, a website, it becomes evident that the work is not pleasing. And later in the project, it will take much more time to make changes than at the start.
  2. With zero or little feedback, the project goes on to completion. But we aren't happy with the results, and may even tell other people that. And, before long, we might be looking to have the work done over again by someone else - also expensive.
These are not outcomes desired by either person in the relationship.

If you can't articulate your needs, a good independent contractor will help you do that by asking the right questions to draw out information and ideas. Time spent in honest communication early on will always lead to better results.