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Posts Tagged ‘online marketing’

Podcasting: The Underused Marketing Tool with Big Potential

August 2nd, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

Jay BerkowitzI recently watched a video (online of course) that featured Jay Berkowitz, CEO of the internet marketing firm Ten Golden Rules.  He was talking about social media, which he is wont to do, and mentioned podcasting as a great online marketing tool simply because it is so underutilized.  I found this bit of information intriguing and decided to blog about podcasting for several reasons. 

  • First, as he pointed out, podcasting is a one way social media tool, unlike Facebook and Twitter (when they are used properly). 
  • Second, there are few competitors so it’s a relatively easy market to dominate once you pick your topic.
  • Third, I am sick and tired of hearing nothing but Facebook and Twitter this, Facebook and Twitter that.  At this point, articles on those social media platforms are redundant and boring. 
  • Fourth, podcasting is a creative medium and can be used in a variety of ways.
  • And fifth, a series of podcasts is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader on a specific topic and can really drive some traffic to your site (and hopefully convert some leads into clients).

 To quote Jay directly:

There are very few podcasts on any topic, but there are now millions of iPhones, iPods and iTouches – 25% of users download podcasts. It is a great way to build a following with an audience looking for this content, very few competitors are podcasting. You could also add the shows to your website.

Now, please forgive me if we have gotten this far and you’re scratching your head wondering what on Earth a podcast is.  It’s an audio broadcast, or, to put it another way, a song with no singing, only talking.  You can listen to it online or download it to listen to on your iPod or other MP3 player. A podcast can be short or long, include one person’s voice or a few people’s, and actually, it could include music if you’re so inclined.

Here’s how you could use a podcast: 

  • Distribute a weekly podcast that includes a secret word or phrase to receive a special discount on a product or service.
  • Create a series of educational podcasts on a specific topic that would be of interest to your target market.
  • Use podcasting for PR and release news in a more personal, immediate way.
  • Advertise new products or services using your most persuasive sales skills. 
  • Replace one blog post a week with a podcast. 

To create a podcast, you need some software.  I’ve certainly listened to podcasts, but I’ve never made one.  Google to the rescue!  A quick search on podcasting software resulted in this nice little list of 2010 Podcast Software Reviews, which is very comprehensive.  Underneath the long chart comparing the features of 10 podcast software programs is a tutorial on what to look for in podcast software.  Good information to have for a newbie. 

I’m curious to know if any of you have used podcasts for marketing purposes, and if they’ve been successful.  Leave a comment and let me know!

Making a Business Irresistible with Liz Strauss

April 20th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

Liz Strauss’ list of accomplishments is lengthy: she’s the founder of Successful Blog, which in turn lead to SOBCon, a conference that brings together successful and outstanding bloggers and businesses. Liz also helps businesses to build online communities and brand strategies that will attract not only customers but loyal fans. Liz answered a few questions to talk about what she does in the context of small businesses.

How did you get into blogging and social media? When did it click that this was something you wanted to do?

I’ve been in publishing for most of my adult life. So, when I decided to go freelance “for good,” moving online was a natural progression. It allowed me to use my experience and skill set to take on new and exciting challenges. I think I was hooked the minute I realized that it was about connecting with people in real ways that formed community and lasting relationships.

Why is building a community online crucial to a business? Do you see any difference between the needs of bigger companies and smaller businesses, as far as community goes?

The Internet, particularly the social web, has disrupted many industries and started new ones. These days we can’t rely on a great location — the corner of State and Main — to ensure that the people in our community will see us. The whole changes when the world becomes our marketplace. People no longer have to rely on what we provide them. They can look for exactly what they need by searching the Internet 24/7 anywhere in the world.

By bringing our online customers together where they can participate in our thoughts and ideas and allowing us to help us build something that serves them, we give them a chance to own and steer the choices we make on their behalf. We also give them an opportunity to connect to each other and build relationships. By introducing our offline customers to that online community, we open up our business to even more vibrant feedback and input that makes our business intelligence richer and more customer centered.

It’s slightly easier for smaller companies to do that, because they more easily form and communicate their message and brand, which allows them to open up the whole company to speak with customers easily and with confidence. Some larger companies may have to start more slowly to adapt their “big company” culture to retrain their evangelists to reach out and listen rather than broadcast.

You’re known for making companies irresistible to customers. Can you break down what you might do with one of your clients to make their business irresistible?

I always start with the basic principles of business, particularly leadership. Leadership has a strategy — knows where it’s going and which customers it wants to work with. We make sure that we can articulate those two points clearly. Then find and honor heroes and champions: people inside and outside the company who love what the business is doing. We listen and learn from the heroes and champions how we might align our goals to grow together. Leadership that loves the people who helps the business thrive, invites them in to participate in meaningful ways, and does that with intelligence, heart, and vision is irresistibly attractive.

How has bringing together businesses and bloggers at SOBcon changed those business’ efforts in promoting themselves online? Have there been any particularly key take-aways from the conference?

SOBCon is more of a think tank and business retreat than an all out conference. We keep it in an intimate mastermind format where content is presented then teams immediately discuss what they heard and apply it to their business. That sort of interaction ignites a high-trust environment, attracts serious business people, and develops deep networking relationships. I think we all walk away knowing that we do better when we test and try our thinking in a room of great minds who want to help us. A number of businesses have been born in the room that is SOBCon and from the network that it has become.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a small business owner trying to figure out how to build a brand online, what would it be?

Look to combine your passion with your skill set. Then weave your personal values and integrity throughout all of that. You choose your brand and live up to it and you choose your customers by the values you put into your brand.

Image by Flickr user Geoff Livingston

11 Things You Need to Think About in an Online Marketing Strategy

February 11th, 2010 :: Steven Fisher

If you have a small business these days, chances are you are online in some fashion and looking to leverage that channel and do some sort of online marketing. In order to prepare for your online marketing activities we came up with 11 lessons learned that you should consider with your online marketing strategy.

1.) What is Your Pitch?

Many clients I have met want to run head first into online marketing without asking a simple question – what are we pitching? The art of the pitch revolves around the marketing message you are looking to convey combined with the take action that the person you are engaging will take.

2.) What Are Your Goals with Online Marketing?

Once you have the pitch and the take action down you need to ask another very fundamental question – what do you want to accomplish with online marketing? Some goals can be to get new leads or subscribers or store customers.

3.) Where Are Your Customers to Engage Them? (email newsletters, online video)

Gone are the days of “build it, they will come”. You have to build a web site but also reach out in many different channels to get attention. You have to go where your customers are and engage them. In some cases it can be after the fact when they sign up for a newsletter or subscribe to your blog, only to be brought back to your site when the offer is right. In other cases it is using tools like online video, Twitter and Facebook to engage them.

4.) What Will You Offer On Your Web Site?

When you build your web site you should ask a fundamental question and that is “what will you offer someone that visits your web site?” and that is because people will come there interested in your business and wanting to get something from it. This could be a free e-book, photos, contact info. Something that people need. This can also be separated into specific offers that are tracked and go to a certain place. They are called landing pages.

5.) What is the “Take Action” on Your Web Site? Subscribe to email newsletter, Get Leads, Sell Something, Get an Appointment?

Following up right after you know what you will offer on your web site, you need to ask a follow up question – what is the “take action” of this site? Should my goal be to get an email address for a newsletter? Sell them a product? Make it easy to request an appointment or free consultation?

The site needs to have a take action in some form or because if you spend your time driving traffic and potential customers to your site and there is nothing to take action on, then there is nothing you will gain from having the web site in the first place.

6.) Should Have a Blog?

These days many people are almost expecting a company to have some sort of blog but many companies fail miserably at it using it as a press release dumping ground or worse writing a few things at first and then…..nothing. So you have to ask yourself, is your company the type of place that would benefit from having one? Do you have the resource to dedicate to it? Are you looking to establish your company or you as a thought leader or is this a channel that can connect you with your customers in dialog?

7.) Should You Leverage Social Media Channels? (Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, MySpace, YouTube)

I mentioned above that you will need to be where your customers are to engage them. As part of your online marketing strategy is the emerging and hot topic of social media. The core of social media is about having conversations with people and being at various “outposts” where your customers are located. The most popular social media channels are Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. You must explore and research where your customers are spending time and how they like to interact with you.

8.) What is Your Search Engine Marketing Strategy?

Yes, this old chestnut. Search engine marketing is really the tip of the spear in your online marketing strategy. All your activities do one of two things – improve your search engine results so people find you better or you use search engine marketing/advertising so people find you better. All to come your web site and take action in some form that we mentioned above. This works in unison with things like social media that increase your search engine rankings and improve your results.

9.) Will You Advertise? What Types?

There are many types of online advertising, pay-per-click, banner ads, video ads, etc. The main question is, will you advertise to direct traffic to you? It should be some aspect but you need to to your homework on what might work. Most important is to have your campaigns identified and test, test, test.

10.) What Are Your Metrics of Success for All of This?

Each business is different in how they measure success. Before you jump into all these activities we talked about above you need to know what will be a measure of success for your campaigns. If you have an e-commerce site it might be % of visitors converted to sales. If you have a content or services web site you might be looking to maximize your e-mail or blog subscribers so you can market to them at a later time.

11.) How Will You Measure?

That depends on the tools your employ and the metrics you need to gather. If you are looking to track social media metrics, you can utilize a tool like Radian6. If you are tracking pay-per-click or landing page campaigns, you can use a tool like Google Analytics. There are many tools out there and you need to know the metrics of success first and then researching for the tools will be much easier.

Building a Marketing Driven SEO Strategy

February 4th, 2010 :: Steven Fisher

We are all competing for what it seems is like the same space to get our message out there. People are inundated with marketing messages and pitches to take action. Almost all of those messages include a web site address. This is a form of outbound marketing, like cold calls or sales letters. What many people are looking to do which is low cost is get found on the web better so people get to their web site and take action. However, if you don’t have a marketing driven search engine optimization strategy, people will never find you. Many people start out with search engine optimization not knowing where to start. The conventional SEO strategy looks like this:

  • Research keywords
  • Optimize site for those keywords
  • Link internal pages using keyword loaded terms
  • Get links from other sites with keywords in the link

These days, this strategy isn’t working as like it used to and people need to start realizing that if a web site is not genuinely interesting and is not worth remarking upon, it can be nearly impossible to get links, attention and rankings.

Following the Rules of Marketing

In order to clear the decks and hit the reset button we will need to build a marketing drive SEO strategy. That requires us to actually follow the rules of marketing to make it work. Start with a market analysis. You have to ask three primary questions –

  • What does the consumer need?
  • How many consumer need this product/service?
  • What is the buying process?

In order for SEO to work well, a product or service must be designed with a clear audience in mind. The beauty of this is you can figure out if there is a market, and what that market demands, test that market, and then build a site to cater to that market. You can do this quickly and cheaply, using search marketing.

Next you need to do some competitive research. Query the search engine results pages under the keywords you want to rank for and pick out the top ten sites in your niche. You will need to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competition as well as determine the strengths and weaknesses of your own site, relative to the competition.

Now you will need to start positioning yourself through campaigns and testing them out. SEOBook has a great set of steps to do position testing:

  • Undertake keyword research
  • Look for a niche that is “worth remarking upon” and is new, or doesn’t have a lot of existing competition
  • Select a brand name and domain name the describes the niche ie. It is useful to include a keyword term
  • Build a site that focuses exclusively on this niche, and no others.
  • Conduct SEO campaign
  • Monitor results.
  • If you aim to be the first in the customers mind when they think of a keyword term, you can easily win the ranking game. What do you think of when someone mentions the name “Google”? Search, right. How about IBM? Computers. Hewlett Packard? Printers.

When you are ready you will need to take this niche you have selected for bit of a causal test drive around the block.

So when you evaluate the competitors in your niche, also consider how difficult it will be for followers to compete with you.

Executing the SEO Strategy

In the same article, SEOBook has a great check list to try things out and execute the strategy. Here they are:

  • Build content. Get a list of 50 keywords and write a page on each. Include how-to’s, generalist information, news (use Blog software), video, photos and maps. Tag all graphical content with keyword terms
  • Write naturally, stay on a single topic per page. Forget keyword density, it is overrated
  • Layout the site by placing most important (money) pages at the top of the hierarchy, one step away from the home page
  • Create a Google Site Map to ensure crawlability
  • Once the site is complete, submit to the top directories. We recommend Yahoo!,BOTW, and
  • Issue a press release. Ensure you include a link back to your site.
  • Open Twitter and Facebook accounts, and update each time you add a page of content
  • Add one new page of quality content to the site per day
  • After 30 days, examine your stats. Look for long tail keyword terms, choose the most popular term, and write a page about it. Use this list of long tail keywords as article starter ideas
  • Every 15 days, do the same thing again
  • Remember to write a new page of quality content every day
  • Find the top ten sites in closely related niches, and offer to write articles for them. Include a link back to your site

They say and after doing this myself with some other sites and after six months, you should be ranking well, and your traffic should be moving in an upward trajectory.

If You are Looking for Help from an SEO Marketing Firm

We can’t do it all and when we are a small business, we might try and do it all but we need to learn the hard way that it is best to find the expert for something and hire them to do it. In this case, you should be looking for a online marketing provider that provides SEO services. Here is some great advice from SmallBizTrends on what to look for:

Analyze your web site. The basis of SEO starts with your web site. Like a doctor who should ask questions and do some tests before making a diagnosis, your SEO company should start by examining your web site.They should look at factors such as: the URL structure, your title and Meta tags, page content, and how you link pages of your site to each other. The more complex your web site, the more thorough the analysis should be. This is where advanced SEO knowledge is crucial. Minor changes can have a big impact.

Identify keywords. Keywords are words that people type into search engines to find web pages. For most, they already rank well for the name of their business. To attract new business, they also need to rank well for other terms. Where your web page shows up in the list is your ranking – and getting on the first page can mean a lot more business than being lower on the list.Keywords and content are the foundation of a well-optimized web site. Your SEO company should see where you currently rank for relevant keywords. They should give the approximate demand and competition for various words (usually phrases) that are important to your business.If your business is a local business, your SEO company should focus on local terms by adding state or city names to keyword phrases you’re targeting. They should be sure that you’re listed correctly on search engine maps like Google Maps because map results show up above the rest of the results.