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Four Core Marketing Principles

Four Core Marketing PrinciplesMarketing your company or brand can often seem like a daunting task. Many business owners have trouble even knowing where to start. If you are faced with this situation, you’re not alone but there are simple solutions to get you headed down the right path.

This post may seem like a pep-talk, and in some ways it is but the best place to start, in my opinion, is to follow these four core principles. Four simple ideas to keep at the heart of everything you do. Four, time-tested ideas that breed success but are often overlooked.

Be your business biggest fan

Excitement is contagious, and you need someone to spread that excitement about your brand. Just as a fan (fanatic) is excited about their team, celebrates the wins and finds the positives in the loss, you should be out there ‘hyping’ your brand. Customers and employees know when leadership is not excited about the products or services they sell and it makes it hard for them to get behind the company when they sense this. Are you your businesses or brands biggest fan? Do you get excited when you have success, do you share that excitement? Be that leader, the brand evangelist, the hype-man of your company.

Don’t settle on past success

The past is the past, and the future is changing rapidly. Sure it’s great to celebrate a success or a big win. Every team needs to do that, but if you get complacent in your efforts, you will soon stop reaping the benefits of your past success. Marketing windows close quickly, audiences get bored with the same tactics and messaging. Therefore, you should always be looking forward, willing to try new channels and ideas. Some may succeed, others may fail but don’t settle in the past.

Build brand advocates

The best marketing comes from customers who fall in love with your brand and who become advocates for it. People buy into your business not because you say it’s great, but because they’ve heard it works from someone they trust and know. A little effort on your part can turn into a lifelong customer who spreads the word about your business so don’t neglect customer care. It always pays off in the long run.

Operate with Integrity

To gain a lifelong customer who becomes a brand advocate, you need to operate with integrity. Integrity needs to permeate through every aspect of your business, from the top, through the marketing and into the customer service. The public is quick to spot someone with operates without integrity and in today’s climate, and social media word can spread quickly. Bad press can quickly kill excitement about your brand and turn away potential customers. On the flip side, integrity breeds enthusiasm and enthusiasm is contagious.

Keeping these four principles at the core of your marketing efforts can help your business thrive! Operate with integrity, get excited about what you offer, spread that excitement to others and never settle on your past accomplishments.

Four Core Marketing Principles

North Canton, Ohio has a lot of extremely talented individuals in the technology field. From designers and website coders to app developers, you really do not have to look too far if you are a business owner who is looking to take things to the next level. We recently stumbled across a local company, Squirrels, who has created a line up of stellar software programs. Today, their flagship applications AirParrot and Reflector are used around the globe by hundreds of thousands of people-educators, business owners, salespeople, developers, graphic designers, gamers and more. They let me test drive Reflector so that I can share it with you!

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 9.18.33 AMReflector is a wireless mirroring and streaming receiver that works great with Google Cast™, AirPlay™ and AirParrot. Mirror your content to the big screen without wires or complicated setups. Play games, watch movies, demo applications or present from the palm of your hand. Everything you do on your device can be wirelessly sent to Reflector!

I am not stranger to the area of screen sharing and information presenting. When it comes to gathering a group of people together and projecting a video or a presentation, I have tried PowerPoint, Google Hangouts, GoTo Meetings, AirPlay and just about every option that you can think of. I was expecting to have a lot of hoops to jump through, like passcodes to enter or something of the sort, but it was incredibly seamless to set up and get running.

If you are familiar with sharing your phone, laptop or tablet with your Apple TV, then you already know how easy it is to share your smartphone with any device running Reflector. Jump on the same Wi-Fi as the device you’d like to mirror your display on and then walk through AirPlay per usual. Why use Reflector over AirPlay? AirPlay limits you to share to their Apple TV but Reflector allows you to share from, say, your smartphone to your laptop. I can reflect anything that is happening on my phone directly to my computer’s desktop.

Not on the same Wi-Fi as the desktop that you’d like to display on? There’s an App for that. With entering a short Quick Connect Code, Reflector Director allows you the ability to share no matter where you are.

I found a really insightful review of the app over on YouTube. You can learn more about it there:

In hopes to both support local brainiacs and help out local business owners or educators, we simply wanted to invite you to check out all of the great work that is happening at Squirrels. Keep making North Canton proud, guys!

North Canton Locals Create Reflector, a Presenter’s Best Friend
write content for customers

write content for customersThe places we spend our time on the internet these days (ahem, Facebook) are rife with junk to keep us entertained while we should be doing something else. “She Did This and You’ll Never Believe What Happened Next” and “Top 10 Weirdest Celebrity Couples” spread like wildfire and get way too many views for the zero service they actually provide. Marketers call these (annoying yet irresistible) types of content and headlines “click bait” – a term that does not have nice connotations.

As a small business, you do actually have beneficial services and products to provide to the public – but how do you even get noticed amidst all that voluminous junk?

People are online in exponentially increasing amounts, especially from their mobile phones. But they probably aren’t spending hours playing on your website. That’s one reason amplifying your content is critical – to get your quality content to the online spaces where people are spending their time.

Yes, you could write shallow blog posts with click bait titles that might get thousands of likes, shares, and views. But how does that contribute to your business’s growth? A few hundred highly-qualified visitors who engage with your content and then become subscribers, leads, or  sales are much more valuable than the millions of people fighting over a blue and black dress.

So what is the secret to developing content to amplify that isn’t just click bait?

Write content your customers care about.

Catch that? The operative word is customers.

[Tweet “Value is measured in sales, not clicks. Secret to amplifying content that isn’t just click bait: #contentmarketing”]

Focus On Customers, Not On Clicks

It’s easy to get excited when a post gets more shares, retweets, and +1s than usual, and when it brings an influx of visitors to your website. Clicks are exciting. They are easy to measure. They are a nice pat on the back. But clicks that don’t grow your business are time wasted – for the people who read and the time you spent creating.

Alternatively, you can write a great article, full of wisdom and education and your brand position and put it out there in all the channels. But if potential customers don’t care about it, they won’t read it or share it or like it – and they sure won’t come buy whatever it is you are trying to sell.

Determining and getting to know your target audience – intimately – is a critical element of Phase 1 (planning your campaign) in the 7 Phases of content amplification.

Identify Your Customers and Develop Content for Them

Pretend you are a local coffee shop. Your audience isn’t all people on Facebook (too many pre-teens and grandparents in other states). Or all people within your local geographical area (they don’t all drink coffee). Or even all locals who drink coffee (some only drink Folgers they keep in their freezer). Your audience is the unique demographics, needs, and concerns of the people who ultimately buy your product or service and then continue on to become loyal customers and promoters.

You probably already know who these customers are, and had a few names come to mind as you read that. Think about these people and consider these questions (or even better – ask!):

  • What are their demographics? (age, location, income level, job position, family status, education, etc)
  • What needs did they have that created interest in your business?
  • How did they hear about your business?
  • Why did they choose you?
  • What have been the results of doing business with you?
  • Why do they keep coming back and what do they tell others about you?

On the other hand, it’s also helpful to have an idea of why people with similar demographics and needs did not choose your business.

This information will help you narrow your target and better understand why people become customers. That understanding in turn drives marketing strategy and creative content that appeals to the people most likely to do business with your company.

How to Find Content Topics Your Customers Care About

The best way to find topics that your potential customers care about is to talk to them and get their ideas. Something that is obvious to you might be the most commonly held misconception among your customers.

Fortunately, the internet is a gold mine of information when you know where to look. You can do market research, focus groups, and surveys to learn more (and we do highly recommend these), but a few hours of online research can also reveal some great ideas – without the time or cost.

Here are a few places/people to mine for content ideas that your customers will care about:

  • Reviews (on your website, on retailer sites, on Google, Yelp, and other places your business is listed or customers spend time)
  • Forums
  • Emails and phone calls
  • Sales people
  • Staff experts
  • Existing customers
  • Online surveys to your email list, followers, and website visitors
  • Competitor websites
  • Industry and customer blogs
  • Search results (for your brand, products, service, needs, industry terms)

Look for commonly asked questions, misconceptions, needs, benefits, thoughts about your brand/product/service. Listen to what they are saying – especially when you find it in multiple places. Turn that into content that then answers these questions, dispels myths, explains how you meet these needs, and drives perceptions in a new direction.

The best part about quality content that truly matters to your potential customers? Push it out there so it’s easy to find and they will do the amplification work for you.

Get Help Identifying Your Customers Online & Developing Targeted Content

Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information, time, and research needed to identify and target and write for your potential customers online? Sanctuary can help guide you through every facet of your online marketing strategy, including defining audiences and developing and amplifying quality content that drives new business. Contact us today for a free assessment and quote.

Photo by 10ch licensed via CC2.0.

The Secret to Ensuring Your Amplified Content Isn’t Just Click Bait
content marketing nailed it

If you were to sit back and look at content marketing efforts from a bird’s eye view, you’ll notice that there is an awful lot that goes into a campaign. To be effective, experts tell you that you must understand your business, your audience, your available tools, your priority topics and so much more. My head is spinning and I’m only talking about content marketing — not actually creating a plan.

content marketing nailed itChris Auman noted in his Content Amplification 8,000 word skyscraper piece, “With any ‘campaign’, planning is essential. Amplification starts light-years before ‘Publish’ during the planning stage. Just taking a little time in advance to block out some of the essentials will help you take your campaign a lot further.” There is an essential planning piece that is regularly overlooked and here lies the problem with content marketing. We have put our heads together and boiled down the skyscraper content article to offer you 5 tips for planning your content marketing campaign:

  1. Nail Down your Identity: You are completely unique to the internet world. The very first and most crucial step is understanding who you are and what you have to offer the wonderful World Wide Web. You need to nail down your identity before you move forward with content marketing.
  2. Nail Down your Victory: What is the point of doing your content marketing campaign and what will you count as a “win” for your efforts? Might it be to raise awareness or improve click-thru rates (CTR)? No matter what it is, be sure to have a measurable and reportable system in place. You need to nail down your victories before you move forward with content marketing.
  3. Nail Down your Audience: Now you know your voice and you know what you are measuring for it to be a win. Next question is, who are you trying to reach? With billions of potential eyes to be in front of daily thanks to the Internet, who is your ideal reader and where can you find them? You need to nail down your audience before you move forward with content marketing and this will help you with better answering Tip #4.
  4. Nail Down your Content: Research your topic and define your content type. You know who you are, what a win is, as well as who and where your audience is … now ask how will you reach them? Is it a lengthy ebook (Kindle, iBook, etc.), digital newsletters, email marketing, micro-blogging (Tumblr, Google+, etc.), or any number of other channels. Understanding your channel, what shape your content takes is completely up to you. Old Spice is winning the race with off-the-wall antics while Social Media Examiner shows themselves as experts in their in-depth annual reporting. You need to nail down your content
  5. Have Fun: Now that all of the planning is done, plan to think outside the box while you own and enjoy the content marketing process.

We know that we had to simplify the painstaking process of planning a content marketing campaign. Are there additional tips that you would add to this list?

 

Check out our Content Amplification Checklist. An easy to follow checklist that covers each step in the amplification process.

5 Tips to Nail Planning your Content Marketing Campaign

My digital marketing education and engagement ritual

In the world of internet marketing, you’ve got to relentlessly keep your finger on the pulse of the digital marketing industry. It’s essential to spend a little time every day reading, listening or otherwise engaging with new information, or you’ll quickly fall behind. Things in our world simply change too fast.

But consuming information is only half of the picture; it’s just as important to contribute by sharing what you know and learn. For this, social media is a powerful force in the world if you know how to use it properly.

Here’s why it matters:

With ongoing education …

  • I might have a chance of keeping up
  • I’ll be more educated and learn something new
  • I’ll continue to be a trusted advisor for my clients
  • I’ll be able to stir the pot in our office and help others think outside the box and learn new things (One person can’t know everything about everything!)

With knowledge sharing via social media …

  • I’ll brand myself professionally as someone who’s knowledgeable and trustworthy and as a thought leader
  • I’ll amplify the content, thoughts and opinions that I have, the content that my company creates, and other people in my company, my clients and trusted industry friends
  • I’ll be able to engage with more like minded people in my industry all over the world, with existing clients, and with new potential clients
  • I’ll create good signals around my business that the search engines like (Liking, favoriting, retweeting, Google +1ing, etc.)
  • I’ll indirectly help create links back to my company website
  • I’ll raise the overall visibility of my company and myself online

How to Develop Your Daily Ritual

Making time to learn on a daily basis can be difficult. It’s a huge hurdle that I face on a daily basis, and I’ve had a hard time sticking with it over the years.

I’ve learned that I need to form habits to make sure things stick. Decide on what to do, how to do it, what order to do it in, and remove hurdles and roadblocks – instead of hoping that my random stabs during the day will make some dent. (Which it never does).

So, without further ado, here is my daily process and the tools that I use for learning and engaging online on a daily basis.

Step 1: Form Habits

First, set aside a specific time during the day to work through your ritual.

For many it’s just a matter of getting out of bed an hour earlier. It’s amazing what you can do if you get up a little earlier and you’ll be surprised that you don’t feel any worse after about a week. For others it might mean taking a long lunch and working through things while you eat. Or maybe you’re a night owl and like to read for an hour or so just before you go to bed.

The point is that you have to designate a time and stick with it.

Step 2: Decide What To Read

There are a million blogs. Some are great, many are not. I continually try to follow new blogs, but I’m cold and heartless if they don’t provide consistently great information. I’ll cut them off at the knees without a second thought.

Focus on quality over quantity. Narrow down the sites you follow so that you have laser focus on your industry or niche.

Step 3: Decide How To Read

Using a feed reader is a must. Feed Readers are a great tool for selectively choosing which sites you want to follow, and collecting just those posts. When you open up your account on a daily basis, all of the new posts will be highlighted and you can scan through everything at a glance.

My recommended Feed Reader is Feedly. It has a very nice, clean interface, it works on all platforms, it’s free and it has a nice Google Chrome extension. This is my tool of choice, but there are also many other options.

The point is that you need one central place to go and digest what you have to read and review on a daily basis.

Step 4: Decide How You’ll Collect Random Articles and Information

Many times as you’re reading you’ll discover more articles and information that you need to consume. If you stop and read that article right at that moment, then you’ve lost the battle for the day. You’ll get sidetracked and your daily ritual will be interrupted.

My solution is an app called Pocket. Reviewing the articles in your Pocket account on a daily basis is the second key step in the ritual. Pocket allows you to VERY easily save articles and information from anywhere and access it in a VERY nice interface for reading later.

So after you scan through and do some reading in your feed reader, move over to your saved articles in Pocket. Consider even saving some of the articles from your feed into Pocket just in case there is a heavy flow of articles that day.

Pocket allows you to remove the pressure of digesting all the good content all at once and know that it’s saved for later in a trusted place.

Step 5: Share Valuable Information

As you come across valuable information, share it. Right then. You should always be considering great content, tidbits of information, stats, advice, infographics, photos and links to others for sharing on social media. This is a key part of the process. If you don’t do it right away, you’re likely to forget or be unable to find it later.

Get in the habit of thinking ‘wow, that’s a good nugget of advice’ and take 20 seconds to share it with others.

Step 6: Decide How You’ll Share Information

Now that you have it drilled into your head that you need to share, you need to consider how you’ll share stuff.

You can always open up Twitter or Facebook and create posts individually, but there are great tools that allow you to post to multiple sites all at once. My favorite is Buffer. It’s free, it’s easy, it’s integrated as a Chrome extension, and it does one thing well. It allows you to post a bunch of valuable stuff at once but space it out over time so you don’t irritate your followers.

You can spend an hour a day working through your ritual and know that you’ll have many posts going out throughout the next day or weeks depending on how you schedule your posts.

Step 7: Honestly ENGAGE on Social Media

This is one of the hardest parts of this process – but but engaging honestly on social media is essential to success.

Choose 1 or 2 platforms that are your favorites (trying to keep up with too many will just derail and distract you).

To engage honestly with others in your chosen medium:

  • Share their articles.
  • Message them directly.
  • Tag your posts and give them credit.
  • Hashtag articles so others can discover their great content.

Promote what other people are doing, encourage them, call bullshit if they’re off base and do your best to be authentic and endearing.

Social media is about sharing the love so I would suggest that your strategy be about 90% engagement and sharing others’ content and just 10% promotional – and only when it’s really good stuff.

Step 8: Create Amazing Content

I shouldn’t have to even mention this one, but after you’ve done all this, consider creating your own unique and valuable content. It’s hard, it’s time consuming, but the rewards are incalculable. Start now, keep going and never stop.

When you have great content, share it. Post it on Twitter, create images and graphics that you can share on Tumblr, put a nugget of advice out on Google+ and consider authentically sharing your advice and information on niche forums and in the comments of the websites that you follow.

Again, it’s hard, but nothing worth getting is ever easy. Creating content is a cornerstone of successful digital marketing and a necessity. You might not be able to do it on a daily or weekly basis. But the point is that you make a little time for it. If you took 30 minutes a day and chipped away at writing an article, you’d have at least one article a week – and that’s better than 99% of people out there.

In Summary

So in a nutshell I’ve provided you with my daily ritual. This is what works for me.

  1. Decide what you’re going to read and read on a daily basis.
  2. Establish a trusted place to save articles and read them daily.
  3. Establish social accounts and get in the mindset of consistently sharing other people’s ‘stuff’.
  4. Honestly engage with your followers and people in your niche.
  5. Create your own valuable content.

Next, in part two of this article I’ll discuss in detail why you should care about making this ritual a part of your day and how it can help you and your digital marketing:

Education and Engagement — How to grow your digital footprint online

 

How to Establish the Habit of Reading, Sharing and Creating Great Content
spaghetti content marketing strategy

Ohio business leaders are coming to embrace the concept of ‘content marketing.’ The transition from traditional outbound ‘interruption’ based marketing to an inbound or content marketing can be scary.

I can’t just STOP my outbound marketing activities (i.e. direct mail, cold calls, print & radio advertising)!

You’re right. You can’t. And you shouldn’t. But all successful marketing organizations…and I mean do ALL …have one thing in common; a disciplined approach to testing new media, new offers, new lists, and and new creativity.

Consider this first foray into content marketing a test of a new media channel. But rather than throwing something against the wall to see if it ‘sticks’, wouldn’t it be nice to have an outline of what you can and SHOULD expect when launching a content marketing campaign? Dale Covey would call this ‘starting with the end in mind.’

spaghetti content marketing strategy

Executive Summary

I’ve collected the most common questions I receive and distilled them into this handy blog post. Below I try and answer 3 simple questions:

  1. How much will it cost?
  2. How will I measure success (failure)?
  3. When can I expect to see results in a measurable ROI?

(more…)

What can you expect when implementing a content marketing campaign?

web-video-adviceOk, so over the years we’ve learned a few things about web video. We’re by no means experts but here are some basic 101 tidbits of advice that we can pass on for those who are just starting out. The advice below will help you kick your bland boring videos up a few notches and maybe you’ll stand out among your competition. (more…)

Advice on creating low budget, informational YouTube Videos for your website

I was on Quora other day and saw that someone had posted the question: Google+: How do you link your Google+ profile to WordPress blog content?

For content marketing, Google+ is increasingly important for both search credibility and there’s been recent evidence to show increases in click-through-rates and other hidden benefits of having authorship credit.  That’s why more and more people are seeking to link their Google+ Profile Page to their blog.wordpress google+ author snippet

(more…)

WordPress: How to connect Google+ to your blog

Professional marketers know the rule:  You don’t make your money from the first sale. You make your money from the repeat business.

The vast majority of profit derived from acquiring a new customer comes in the months and years AFTER their initial purchase. But how much can (or should) you be spending to get new customers? How much is too much and how much is too little?

For small business owners, a little understood dynamic of marketing is the concept of Customer Life Time Value (CLTV).  For my money (literally), Customer Lifetime Value is THE way a business measures the value and opportunity related to their repeat business.

So, we’ve put this post together to help walk you through the basics and we’ve even provided a handy Excel Spreadsheet you can use as a template to calculate Customer Lifetime Value for your Internet Marketing efforts.

(more…)

Customer Acquisition: How Much Should You Be Spending?

This week we’re talking about links and why they’re so important. Yes, it might be a dry subject BUT it’s a critical part of organic internet marketing and why website rank in the search engines. Stick with me it’ll be worth it.

Introduction and a little history

For those that are not intimate with the history of Google, the original algorithm that founder Larry Page developed was based on cataloging links on the internet. Not links going out from websites but links pointing to websites. He called the concept Page Rank and it formed the basis of what became the mega-intelligence behind Google.

The idea came from the concept of citation analysis which is essentially the study of citations in scholarly works. The core idea is that the more citations a work has, the more important it is. This concept applied to links on the internet is what made Google eventually become the most trusted, useful and dominant search engine on the web. Eventually eclipsing all of the competition and becoming one of the largest businesses in the world and making Larry and Serge Brin two of the richest people in the world.

Why you should care about links to your website

So why should you care? Because links are important when talking about ranking in the search engines. Very important. Let me stress that it’s not all about links but hopefully it’s clear that the more links that you have pointing to your website (from reputable, related and quality sites) the better. It is a critical reason why some sites rank higher in search results and why others don’t. (more…)

Why links are important and the right way to build them

For many local, small businesses it’s essential that you’re found when local people search for what you do. It doesn’t happen magically though. Search engines have no idea what your site is about or where you’re at unless you tell them.  If you search for a term related to your business and city and you don’t see yourself on the first page of results, then that’s a missed opportunity. I’d like to help you change that.

1. Google+ Local

First it was called Google Local, then Google Places. Now, officially it’s called Google+ Local. Google has a serious interest in returning highly relevant local results and this is where it all starts.

Google+ Local results can show up in a number of different ways. First, if someone is searching on Google Maps for a local business, Google will return local results. GPL results will also show up as a grouping of local results right within the search results as I’ve shown below: (Note the listings for Lucky’s Cafe that includes address, Zagat rating and links to reviews! Nice.)

Search for coffee shop local results

Mousing over the listing or clicking on the address will take you to a page with more information that is pulled from your GPL LIsting, and then finally, you can click on the More Info link to go to the detailed GPL page for the business. (more…)

4 ways to promote your business locally in the search engines

Perhaps the biggest challenges in launching an inbound marketing campaign as part of your Web Marketing Strategy, is coming to grips with  the sheer volume of content you’ve committed your company to.

It isn’t an insurmountable task. It just seems that way. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The key to ensuring success in achieving the lofty goals you’ve set…. breaking down the process into easily digestible tasks.

Ideally, you’d focus on only those tasks to which you provide the greatest value within short bursts of focused time. Everything else? Delegate. We addressed this topic in a recent post: How To Create Great Blog Content in 9 Simple Steps.

Another key is getting visibility on the work at hand so you can manage the content creation process effectively. This will allow you to delegate, monitor the quality and sleep well at night knowing with confidence your blog content will go out on schedule…and be something you’re PROUD of.

Enter the Editorial Calendar.

The Editorial Calendar (or Content Calendar) has been employed by publishing houses and news agencies for years. Think about it.  The Wall Street Journal isn’t starting from scratch every day hoping they can fill 50+ pages of content.  Yes, they are a daily news organization feeding the latest business news to you within hours of it happening.  BUT how many of their content have been in development for weeks or even months in advance?  I wouldn’t be surprised if Walt Mossberg and All Thing Digital have their editorial calendars blocked out for the next 3-6 months.  Guaranteed, they’ve got something on the books for the next generation of iPad and are gathering relevant information they’ll need when it comes time to sit down write the article.

It’s how every publisher ensures quality… by giving themselves just enough lead time to do the hard thinking, research, editing, and refinement to deliver timely and engaging content. (more…)

Marketing Planning: How To Create An Editorial Calendar