Content Marketing Done Right

Content marketing when done right can deliver exceptional results yet as many as 75% of marketing departments are doing content marketing the wrong way. One big and critical difference between content marketing and promotional marketing can be summed up in these two words: sharing versus telling.

Today’s digital savvy buyers and educated consumers are ignoring traditional advertising and sales tactics like never before. They have become immune to brands telling them what to buy. Banner ads and online advertising are also feeling the heat with ad blocking technologies like AdBlock and AdDetctor helping consumers avoid advertising altogether. As one marketing agency stated “Internet savvy people are more likely to sign up for a trip to Mars than click on some banner ads.”

So, the logic would follow as buyers and consumers turn away from interruption ads online and are even using tools to nullify them, then marketing have responded to this challenge to ad weariness, right?

Ah no, this is unfortunately not always the case.

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Marketing is contributing to “Content Blindness”

When developing content marketing strategies, over 75% of marketing leaders report that product mentions are a regular tactic in their content strategies. (The Economist Group). Marketing departments have responded to the move away from online advertising or “ad blindness”by viewers and implemented content marketing tactics to counteract this decline in raising product awareness. However by flooding the social media networks with promotional lead content, they are in fact now encouraging “content blindness”.

The sharing of content has become a breeding ground for brand plugging and promotional stuffing. The result is audiences are now starting to see some content shared by brands as being deceiving, missing out on the fact that when you strip away the advertising pitch many of these brands have powerful stories to share.

Content marketing is primarily about sharing great stories and as you earn the audiences trust you can begin selling your products. The hard sales pitch tends to turn off potential customers, so rather going straight into selling mode, start with building trust and credibility through informative content that adds value.

Prior to publishing an article or blog post, ask the following questions:

  • Does the content offer real insights on a market or interest OTHER than plugging how great a product or service is?
  • Do the articles and blogs showcase the company’s expertise by providing actionable tips or research based analysis?

If the answer is, “Yes,” to these questions, your content is ready to publish.

Hold on I hear you say, so if we work diligently to create content NOT to sell to our readers, then how do we use content marketing sell?”

Well research shows that less is more, the least sales pitch orientated articles drive more sales when executed correctly. This is because the content will drive awareness (inform, educate, amuse, engage) and ultimately help prospects become qualified leads as they consider you as a viable purchasing option.

Any business can create a content marketing journey for their prospects and over time gently guide them to the solution to solve their problems: considering your product or service. But the patience and skill is you have to let them arrive at that conclusion at their own pace.

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Educate Through Content – Highlight Your Expertise

Real content marketing is about sharing thought leadership or research, addressing problems or market trends your customers or potential customers face. This stream of valuable content acts like a seed, planting the ideas which overtime grows into the realisation to prospects that they need your product or service.

The stark reality is that the press release route and publishing in-depth product descriptions serves only to create a wall between you and your audience. Audiences just tune out if they have not been primed with educational content before you go for the sale with “sales content”.

Also B2B buyers now use social media to research trends, reviews and ways to improve their business. This presents a great opportunity for marketers. But are B2B marketers missing the mark?

Well, the CMO Council studied how buyers viewed content published by business-to-business marketers. This quote may help focus your content strategy: “Business to business buyers and influencers are turned off by self-serving, irrelevant, over-hyped, and overly technical content.”

Still lots of B2B marketers think that “content marketing” almost like a Trojan horse, publishing product descriptions in the guise of content. But buyers constantly remind us they are not ready to be sold the moment they see some sales content. Their journey is about accessing content that understands their problems first.

So when publishing content on forums, LinkedIn or on the company blog, keep these best practices in mind:

  1. Hold the sell. As most readers are looking to learn more about a topic, do not start bombarding them with promotional jabber. Content sharing focuses on engaging them through quality articles packed with valuable insights to encourage them to learn more. Remember, in the sales process it takes anywhere between three and thirteen interactions for a prospect to turn into a qualified lead, so starting a “social conversation” with a sales pitch baked in will chase away potential customers, so the goal is to get them to stick around to learn something.
  2. Think of your audience, not your product. When creating and sharing content, always prioritise an audience first approach. What would the readers want to learn more about? What obstacles are they encountering and how can you overcome those? When you tap into your prospects’ needs and issues, you can create content that they can align themselves to and encourages them to continue the education process.
  3. Become a valuable information resource. Publish helpful content on a consistent basis will give readers a reason to visit your blog time after time. Becoming a go-to resource is critical to building up followers and readers. I also suggest that carefully offering a white paper, e-book or case study to visitors is a way to gain more in-depth information.

As your journey into content marketing continues, remember that telling is not selling so put your audience’s interests before your own. Content will only grow in quantity on the web, and the way to avoid content blindness and do it right is never use sales pitches disguised as articles. Instead focus on sharing your expertise and insights. Always write to benefit the reader. As time progresses readers will take note of your genuine approach to offering solutions and then will be happy to engage with the sales process.

Social Media Business Tips

These social media business tips may help a start-up or a business where social media marketing is a vital component in driving the business forward. Also to act as a refresher to any marketing person that may be working on different marketing projects at the same time making it difficult to remember all the steps. The main tip when it comes to social media marketing is that it must part of the daily routine so it needs to be resourced, planned and worked on.

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Tip Number 1. Understand the content marketing strategy

To be successful in social media the social media manager marketer must understand the content marketing strategy. From understanding the goals, objectives and desired outcomes to knowing who the audience is and what type of voice (thought leader, informative, educational, authoritive or maybe humorous) the business has selected to communicate with. All the critical questions are answered in a well planned content strategy, so any business or social media manager needs to know it, understand it, always has it to hand, live it and tweak while optimising it when called for.

Tip Number 2. Always have new content to post

Content marketing is not just about new content; the critical point is new, relevant and quality content that brings a different angle to a topic. The lesson for any social media manager is that new content posted regularly will help reach an audience but it is the quality and nature of the content that will achieve engagement to audiences or buyers on the social networks. So the social media manager needs to plan ahead and ensure there is always some new content ready to be posted. Creating quality content will and does take up a considerable amount of time and effort so it needs to be resourced.

Tip Number 3. Set up a content marketing schedule

Social media has to be a business function like finance or product, so the social media team needs to have a roadmap that calls out when you need to create and publish content, a content marketing schedule or diary. This also has the added effect to fully sync your social media activities with other business areas or events within that timeframe.  Try and use the 80/20 rule, 80% of your content is proactive in that it requires more effort so needs to be planned leaving 20% to publish any articles in reaction to any event or news..

Tip Number 4. Generating new content ideas

The value and impact of quality, original and insightful content a social media marketing strategy cannot be overstated. Sales and marketing together need to spend time brainstorming content ideas. It is crucial that the person leading the social media activity plans and allocates time to it. Every business that wants to maximize the results on social media efforts will pay attention to content ideas as to keep the content fresh, unique and interesting. Only then will a business be successful in engaging an audience. One simple way to generating ideas for content is to look at competitors blogs and other popular posts on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook to see what content works for them.

Tip Number 5. Follow news and trends for content ideas

Social selling and social media function better when people share news and articles from various sources, so keep on top of industry or market news and current events. This also allows the social media marketer to react quickly to hot topics which is one method to boost your social network influence. Use a social media tool to monitor hashtags, social conversations and people in order to keep up the date and on top of the trending topics. Social networks move at speed so when the opportunity presents itself it is important to be there ready to drive your own awareness and exposure.

Tip Number 6. Use imagery and visual media

Social media impact improves by using visual media, infographics, video and imagery. The use of imagery and a visually impacting way of presenting social content it is more likely to reach and engage a larger audience. Quality content is more than text and social media marketing has to include the production of visual elements such as photos, infographics and video content.social-selling-facts

Tip Number 7. Track, monitor and report on progress

There is no point investing time and marketing money in social media activities if a business does not track, monitor and have a report dashboard on progress against the targets set out in the social media marketing plan. So it is vital for you to report on the various social network activities (posts, articles, comments, shares), what results were achieved (leads, likes, connections, followers, sales,) and any plans for the next phase. It is best if this is reported to all the team including sales, marketing and management at regular intervals preferably on a weekly basis. Every business needs a clear ROI on any resource invested and social media is no different. It must deliver results.

So there are some quick 7 tips on social media for a business or marketing person looking to refresh themselves on some of steps to be successful in social marketing.

Sales and Marketing Ireland 

Sales and Marketing articles,tips and information for Irish companies.

The sales and marketing buzzword word at the moment is “Social Selling”; where the sales process is now tapping into social media conversations and the impact of social networks in driving brand awareness or buyer consideration. Most sales and marketing leaders would concur that the sales process has completely changed.

Read all the series of articles relating to content marketing and sales here: Source: Sales and Marketing Ireland (with images) · brianoconnell · Storify

Marketing Companies in Dublin Guide

Marketing companies in Dublin or anywhere in Ireland offer a menu of services from digital marketing,SEO, social selling, content marketing to social media strategy. This guide is aimed at the business owner to ask what skills do they expect to see before deciding to working with one of the many marketing companies in Dublin or anywhere.

Social networks and the rise of social selling has changed the marketing game completely for business’s. Business has become smarter,faster, cheaper  with slower and expensive business models struggling. The lines dividing sales, marketing, advertising and public relations have disappeared with sales people needing to be able market and marketing people needing to sell.

Before engaging with a marketing company, when it comes to digital marketing there are some amazing do-it-yourself marketing tools that entrepreneurs or small business can use if they so choose. However, to successfully execute a social media marketing strategy or to implement a content marketing lead social selling strategy a business just may need some help. But they most likely will not need help from a bloated marketing agency still using old-school tactics.

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A Guide to engaging with the marketing companies.

Partnership not an Outsourcing Relationship.

There are lots of agencies and marketing consultants offering social media and digital marketing services. But does the potential client know exactly is being offered and what should be offered based on the needs of the business?

Will the agency assist with quality content creation? Can an agency source relevant articles and other content for the business segment to share on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc? (this is at the heart of social selling). Can an agency suggest social influencers or people to follow? Can an agency set up a tweeting plan? Does the agency know when/how to post content on the social networks? Can they recommend blogs and forums the business should be participating in/on?

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It is important your marketing partner can “be you” and act like you online. They don’t see themselves as some outsourcing operation looking for a day rate. They may be required to form relationships with prospects and engage in communication that looks like it is coming from the CEO. Any business needs to build relationships and trust in the social networks and on the web in order to raise the awareness level for its product or service. By only raising the awareness levels cost-effectively can a business start getting considered (expressed in inbound leads, web traffic etc) so the marketing partner most likely has to participate in achieving the business goals .

Speed to Market

Social networks and the digital channels move at lightning speed, and any marketing agency needs to have the ability to adapt and keep up with the pace. They need to be active in real time. It is vital that agencies rev up the speed factor so that they move as quickly as buyers or consumers do.

Buyer Behaviour Knowledge

The agency needs to understand the science of how people (B2B or B2C) behave online and across the social networks to increase awareness, clicks, engagement, and views. Do you prioritise white papers or product articles, lead with thought leadership or informative content? The marketing partner needs to have proven experience and delivered results in the science of digital marketing.

Industry Expertise

Many if not most marketing companies have a wide client base and dabble in several industries. Any good marketing partner will invest the time in becoming a “subject matter expert” so they can really impact on a businesses digital marketing plans. So look for a marketing company that will take the time to learn about the industry you are trying to acquire customers in and win sales in.

Flexibility and Adaptability

The whole digital marketing landscape and channels keeps changing and evolving. What worked a few years back or even last year many not necessarily work today, and what worked today to boost SEO or web traffic might not work well in a few months. The best skill a business might look for in a marketing professional is the ability to adapt to change and the ability to speed up the tactics.

Creative Content Marketing

Any marketing company will claim to how to produce “content,” but what a business needs is someone who can create quality, engaging content that gets views plus has been keyword crafted to be indexed highly by the search engines. Content marketing which drives social selling and to a large extent SEO is still a relatively new field and the experience and expertise has not become mainstream. Remember when it comes to social media marketing or content marketing, buyers and consumers on the social networks will tune out fast to the over-abundance of posts, so it is vital a business has engaging content that stand outs.

Buyer Motivation Research

In a fast paced business environment it is not enough to just throw some ads or well-crafted messages at an audience. Digital marketing and social media successful engagement is about understanding as much as possible the things that interest buyers and why. By understanding the buyers journey, influence points and carefully researching the target audience, a marketing company must be able to more effectively craft sales messaging and marketing campaigns.

This is a an exhaustive guide to working with marketing companies but hopefully it might help a business ask some questions to find a marketing partner to deliver their business goals.

The Bitter Business is a sales and marketing strategy partner based in Ireland. We help companies Grow.

Social Media will boost Business Influence

Social media networks can boost the level of influence a business has within a market or even impact buyer decisions. The explosion in social networks in recent years means brands like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc are actually driving economic activity through its ability to connect like-minded individuals or business for economic gain. Also these same social networks are championing more human forms of regulation and currency. Influence and reputation, (person to person exchange of information), has become part of the social media economic system and indicates that personal or brand trust will give a business more value than just pure financial transactions.

social-media-influence

The availability of social media tools to identify data (profiles,reviews,reputation) and create actionable social media intelligence with deeps insights is disrupting the market and allowing people to make evaluations about companies,products, and even individuals through websites, apps and a wide range of social media platforms.  The whole area of Influence and Reputation management is well understood in the old commercial markets and now this concept is extending its roots into the social networks creating a more personal and social environment in which people to connect. Consequently, businesses that work to boost their influence and reputation in the social exchange of information and user experiences based on soft capital, such as trust, reliability,benefit and reputation are now seeing better business results than those companies focused purely on chasing the money.

For a business to thrive in this the “social media reputation economy” they need for tools to identify who actually has influence and reputation within a market so that they can connect and harnesses for economic good. What market influencers are talking about and why they are talking are top of mind questions being asked by decision makers or buyers. Understanding the why is key to discovering why certain people have influence in a given business content, location and time. Actionable social media intelligence that drills down into influencer reputation and analyses intrinsic values is key to a successful business that can execute actionable social media marketing activities on a global scale.

A key point to note within the social networks is that “reputation can determine the level of influence”. So the first focus is to to build reputation by sharing information, stories, opinions and success in a way that is easy for marketing practitioners to identify and verify. This is key to building your level of influence in the social media reputation economy.  .

The author Brian Solis (What’s the Future of Business) argues that today’s value system in social engagement is based on 5 Vs:

1) Vision (I learn something, I am inspired);

2) Validation (I’m accepted or justified);

3) Vindication (I’m right, cleared);

4) Vulnerability (I’m open); and

5) Vanity (Not egotism, but accidental narcissism. I’m important),

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Every business that wants to tap into the power of social media needs to understand that they have to invest time in positive reputation updates, build social relationships and measure social influence levels. For a company investing time in being identified as an influencer and paying attention to what they communicate online will pay dividends in the social media economy. Above all being aware that marketing practitioners have access to tools that drill down into the intrinsic values associated with influence and reputation means that you can rest assured that investing this time will deliver an real return on investment in the growing reputation economy being powered by social media.

One company I recently interacted with is – Connectors Marketplace, they provides actionable social media data to sales and marketing managers. This social media tool enables a business to discover who is talking, what they are talking about and why they are talking. Social media opens up so many opportunities for even a small business to compete on a global scale, influence and reputation can’t be bought, it must be earned and that takes time and effort not money.

Also please read articles on  Social Media Marketing

 

SEO Google results update for Ireland

This is The Bitter Business report on our SEO Google results in Ireland for the keywords we have targeted for sales and marketing services as of June 2015. Most of the links showing up in search results are just between seven months down to a few months old with more to follow.  The SEO search engine results for the keywords below are for Google.ie.

An encouraging observation I would comment on is that some of the results below proves with carefully selected titles and content, within smaller market niches and territories the SERP results can be quicker to materialise.  Some of the results I am happy and have even exceeded my expected results while others are still climbing but not as fast as I had projected. Still goes to show that despite my scientific approach to SEO there is still some things I haven’t figured out.  However I continue to learn what works and what does not when it comes to trying to get higher rankings for selected keywords. Always happy to share these if you drop me an email.

 

Keywords                                            Position on Google.ie                                           Link Age

Sales and marketing services                     No.1                                                                         7 months

Sales and marketing company                   No.11                                                                       7 months

Customer acquisition strategy                   No.7                                                                         7 months

Customer targeting                                      No.6                                                                         3 months

Social selling                                                  No.8                                                                         1 month

Social selling tips                                          No.1                                                                          1 month

Lead Generation                                           No.20                                                                       4 months

Sales Techniques                                          No.6                                                                          4 months

Social media marketing plan                      No.15                                                                        2 months

LinkedIn Lead Generation                          No.6                                                                          1 month

Business mentoring                                     No.15                                                                         4 months

Business Consultant                                    No.19                                                                         3 months

Sales Outsourcing                                        No.6                                                                           4 months

 

These are not all the keywords I have targeted, some like the keyword “sales team selling” show up on 1st page(very small exact keyword searches here)  but other more focused and competitive keywords like “social media marketing” (highly competitive) have yet to show up in any meaningful way.

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I have noticed a correlation between article lengths and search results with articles over 1000 words doing best. Also long tail keywords with articles written with this keyword in mind can show up on the 1st page of Google results. A keyword like “Social Selling Tips”, this article is only 1 month old but currently occupies the top results for this searched term on Google.ie.  Also when it comes to link building (important when promoting your content marketing) I have narrowed it  down to about 12 to 14 sites that Google rate, so posting your article on these social media or social linking sites is what will give your articles the boost to climb up the search rankings.

The biggest lesson I have learnt over the past few years (I have got a few sites with multiple keywords to top 2 and 3 results on Google.com –USA) is there is no magic formula when it comes to SEO in Ireland. It is about content; keyword focused content, content marketing (sharing and linking) and plain old fashioned grunt work to ensure your articles are posted to the 12 to 14 social sites I believe Google rate.  Update this again in December 2015.

Social Media Marketing Strategy

This is a seven step guide to creating a social media marketing strategy to reach more customers and drive greater on-line awareness for your brand or product. For a business to really capitalise from social media, it needs to build a clear strategy that takes into account what are the goals, what are you trying to achieve, who are the target customers are and what is the competition is doing.

Social media marketing can be defined as the use of blogs, articles and content marketing, white papers, video and images to share on social networks to raise awareness to pull in the web traffic and prospects

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1st Step; Understand your social media goals

As with any planning in business, the first thing anyone needs to do when creating a social media marketing strategy is to understand what you want to get from it?. What are the goals (traffic, leads, likes, buyers, SEO) so you know the purpose of your social media efforts. For some businesses it is to do with creating or raising awareness of a brand or product. For some companies the focus will be on generating leads, increasing sales or driving website traffic. Larger companies many look to social media to build customer loyalty, increase community size or use as a communication channel. The key point here is the goal for your social media strategy has to go beyond simply gaining Facebook likes and Twitter followers.  The above examples are only a few areas a business could focus on, but depending on your resources a business should ideally focus on one primary or one secondary goal. Remember if you do not have goals, targets and measures of success then in all likelihood you are not going to accomplish any meaningful results from social media activity.

2nd Step; Create measurable targets and objectives

The second step is to now set clear targets and objectives based on the goals you have set. Remember the “S.M.A.R.T” method, so make sure your social media goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time based.

Let us take the example of a business with a social media goal focused on increasing sales, then you might decide that the target is to generate an additional fifty on-line leads a month via landing pages, whitepaper or eBook downloads. If on the other hand, the goal set is to create brand awareness, then a target could the number of times your brand is mentioned on the social media networks per month. Also worth noting at this point, your goals, targets and objectives for social media should be directly tied to overall business goals, and they should be achievable. Goals without targets, actions and activities are just wishful thoughts. It is important to make sure the objectives are time limited. For example, you need to achieve a 100 percent growth in on-line leads generated within the next six months, not at some vague point in the future.

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Now that you have set the targets and objectives you need to make sure you can measure them. There are lots of social media tools to track and analyse activity and quantify your progress. These tools like Klout, Google Analytic, TweetDeck, Buffer or Social Mention to name a few, can let you know when your progress plus they will also help you to identify any trends early and adjust your activities if you have to.

3rd Step; Customer targeting – who do you sell to

So now, the goals, targets and objectives have been set so now you know where you are going, so all set, right?, well no because you still do not know how you are going to get there. You see a successful social media strategy is all about customer targeting, reaching the right people with the right messages. To do this, a business needs to understand “who do you sell to”. For example, there is no point in targeting everyone who has an interest in sport if you really want to target only those who are cycling enthusiasts.

The best way to do this is to draw up a buyer profile. What does the profile of your ideal customer or buyer look like? Make it personal and give them a name. Where do they work? How old are they? What social networks are they likely to be on? What is their income? How often do they cycle (as in above example) Do they have children? What brands do they like or dislike? What motivates them? The list of detail goes on. If you find that you have more than one ideal customer or buyer profile then create a persona for each.

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4th Step; Monitor the competition

As social media activity is mostly transparent, monitoring your competitions activity will tell you a lot about what works and what does not. After all, you are all targeting the same customer set. By constantly monitoring the competition, you have a fantastic opportunity to learn from their activity and actions.

This fourth step involves researching your competitors, maybe select ones your own size, in similar locations and some of the big ones. Find out what social networks they are active on, study their content (articles, case studies, whitepapers, videos, promotions, links). Is it direct or educational? What kind of industry references do they use? Do they talk about their product, markets, industry or brand and what if any other things do they focus on (events, discounts, and webinars)?

If for example you sell bicycles, do your competitors talk about how their bicycle brands perform in races or do they post cool cycling videos that just happen to include their bicycle range? Now see how well each competitor is doing on the social networks (followers, connections, mentions, comments, shares, likes) they get on their social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. This should give you a good insight into what social strategies work and which ones do not.

5th Step; Develop your content marketing messaging

OK, now that you have an ideal customer or buyer profile plus insights on your competition, next up on the list is to start developing your social media messaging. This is your top line titles and key messaging you want to share (writing the detailed content comes later); a list of key messages that you think will create awareness with your customers or buyers based on the profiles you have created in step 3. A suggestion is to target three or four buzzwords or better still “Keywords”, then break each keyword down into longer tail keywords so you build up a messaging plan.

Based on monitoring your competition a lot can be gained from adopting some of their successful messaging ideas and blending them with your own unique messaging that sets you apart — this has the effect of creating a unique voice in social conversations. Be creative, daring, controversial and educational as social media activity should be exciting, not dull.

6th Step; Select the social media channels

Depending on whether your business is B2B or B2C you will need to choose the right networks that are worth investing in for the products or services.

Most of us would agree that LinkedIn is a good platform to target for business buyers or business type sales while Pinterest would be better if a business is involved with retail or fashion. Some of these channels are obvious when you look at your buyer profiles and competitors but see if any other social media channels could pay dividends like Blogger, Scoop.it, Tumblr, Plurk, and Instagram.

As part of this exercise you should identify social influencers, these are the people who can help reach your target audience. Social influencers and respected bloggers have high levels of trust in their followers or readers and can be indispensable in creating social chat buzz around your brand.social-media-networks

7th Step; Build a content writing and sharing plan

The last but critical step is you need to develop a strong content writing plan based on your target keywords, you need to write and share (not just your own) engaging material. The content needs to align with your overall marketing messaging as in step 5 and be relevant to the social channels you will use. Content marketing is more than promotional blogs or product information; it has to add real value in the buyer’s journey to create awareness and consideration for your business within the audiences. Also if possible try not just stick to one type of media or theme, mixing videos, helpful guides, research papers,  images, info graphics, news and other formats will engage your potential customers far more effectively.

A golden rule to go with your seven step social media strategy is “Content marketing has to be constant” meaning a constant presence with great content across your chosen social media channels. Heed this note, every social media strategy can only be successful if you have an ongoing presence on social media networks, and that entails sharing fresh engaging content on a regular basis.

Social Media Marketing Plan

A social media marketing plan should not pose any major challenges to a small business. As in any growing business with a great product or service, the marketing team or person is most likely to be working on different tasks at different times and these tasks can change rapidly depending on the business needs. However, even with taking this into consideration, social media is now so vital to business success there are some tasks that need to be planned as part of the daily marketing routine.

social-media-infographic

Set the social media goals and objectives.

Every article, news release, research or whitepaper are assets in a social media strategy to serve the goals that have been set. As with any business strategy you must know what you are working toward. Is it drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, generate new sales drive traffic, build up your network, reduce the cost per lead. Whatever of any or all of these you need goals and associated objectives clearly defined.

Work on the content strategy

When it comes to marketing the product or service, social media marketing success depends on the content strategy a business decides upon. Prior to writing, commissioning or publishing any content, a business needs to understand, what audience(s) are going to be  targeted?, What type of voice (expert, commentator, industry) will you use to communicate? Who are you trying to influence? What specifically do you want to achieve (leads, likes, traffic, views or authority)?  Allot of strategy answers are to be found in questioning the content strategy so everyone involved in the marketing and sales efforts need to know the why, what and who, understand it and is always in their minds. Content marketing strategy can then be tweaked and optimised as necessary.

Make sure there is new quality content to post

Fresh, quality, informative and relevant content is at the core of every social media campaign to reach target audiences and ensure engagement. To be seen as an influencer and sector expert it is vital to share new content consistently and regularly. New content when well written (not self- promotional or product articles) and engaging can propel a business forward. This is why the person in charge of the social media plan needs to make sure there is always some new content ready to be shared. There is no hiding the fact that writing content does take time and continuous effort so it needs to be planned.

Set up a content sharing schedule

The social media plan needs to have a schedule when content will be shared so all social marketing activities tie back into other marketing events or business plans. Also a schedule will take account for any external events, key word targeting, launches, promotions or seasonal trends that impacts your industry. This is why the content sharing calendar is so important for deciding what social media activities are in the pipeline. While not all content can be created and planned for weeks in advance of sharing, the core, and keyword targeted content pieces that demand more care and effort should be.

social-media-strategy

Sharing sector Expertise

Selling is not sharing. Share your sector expertise on a regular basis in terms of marketing, insights, research, social stories and commentary to establish your business, product or service as an influencer. For every 1 self-promotional content pieces shared, share 4 quality “industry relevant” articles, also share insightful articles from other authors, comment and add value (not plugging your own business) on forums and groups.

Generate new content ideas

As stated above the value a great, insightful and quality piece of content can bring to a social media campaign cannot be overstated. This is why a business needs to spend the time brainstorming content and article ideas. Every business should always allocate time for it on a weekly basis. The reality is that without interesting ideas on content your goals and results will suffer in the long run. Content needs to be kept fresh, up-to-date and interesting in order to continue engaging an audience. An easy way of generating content ideas is to track your competitors and other influential blogs to see what content is working for them.

Following news for current and relevant content

As with most companies, some of your content marketing will be focused on industry news and events. This is why keeping informed of relevant news and events means you will be able to react quickly and creatively to opportunities which can boost your on-line exposure. Many social media managers monitor several different keywords, hashtags, social group and Twitter in order to keep up the date and in the know on trending topics. When the opportunity presents itself, it is vital to be ready to respond.

Include images, video and design

Social media is also a visual channel where images, video and good design can give an added edge in the awareness stakes. Using nice imagery or videos and a visually stimulating way of presenting content is far more likely to reach and engage a large audience. As the volume of content rises across social channel, great content should be complimented with visual impact. A business should working with a designer in order to produce visual elements like photos, infographics and video.

social-media-data-snapshot

Run social advertising

To add to organic reach on social networks, depending on your social media goals and business then social advertising on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may be a consideration. Running a paid social campaign might help get the content out to a wider audience and more relevant readers.

Communicate with all stakeholders

Whether you are a social media manager working in an agency or working directly for a company, you will need to work with all the stakeholders (management, sales, product, marketing and service) in order to agree on the content to be shared. This is why social media marketers should be spending time with the all the stakeholders to plan for the future as part of the marketing daily tasks. Meeting all concerned can help gain more insights into deciding what type content to create, what upcoming events are there in the pipeline, launches or news that may be of interest and any other ideas to use content to engage the target audiences.

Reporting

Finally but as important is the reporting on social media actions, activities and results. Whether you work for a company or an agency, it is vital to report on the social networks achievements and the upcoming plans in place. This is done by setting up and agreeing on regular reports that monitor the KPI’s or metrics you have agreed on with the stakeholders.

For more social media marketing tips, read the marketing category on The Bitter Business.

Inbound Marketing Strategy

Every business today needs an inbound marketing strategy. In the digital world nearly all marketing efforts are focused on actions like growing web traffic, increasing visitors, gathering sales leads, driving up conversions and securing buyers and customers.   Inbound marketing strategies deliver on all the same marketing goals but in a different way. Traditional marketing or push marketing  is really about interrupting buyers, trying to get their attention with TV or radio ads, online advertising, cold calling, direct mail to name a few.  Whereas inbound marketing is focused on “pull marketing”, devising marketing tactics to get buyers permission to share information as to add value to the buyers journey when researching products or services.

Every business will most likely use a blend of inbound and outbound marketing tactics to deliver the targets. Every marketing focused company including marketing automation companies like Hubspot, Marketo, Oracle and SAP all use both outbound and inbound marketing tactics. Indeed  outbound marketing activities like cold calling and lead generation by sales teams is nearly a forgotten weapon in customer acquisition as too many companies (especially newer technology focused companies) rely too heavily on inbound marketing to drive the sales pipeline.

inbound-marketing-strategy

As a percentage of traffic and sales leads, inbound marketing is now the main driver in getting a brand into the buyer’s awareness and consideration steps when looking for a product mainly due to the non-interruption aspect of inbound marketing efforts.

Listed below are some inbound marketing tips to compliment the marketing strategy in pulling in buyers to a business. The golden rule of inbound marketing including social selling is that is it about sharing not selling, help not hype.  A business of any size can deploy inbound marketing with some good content and a few whitepapers to start but be aware that inbound marketing will take time to take hold however once traction starts happening , inbound marketing will deliver better qualified and less expensive sources of sales than outbound marketing.

The cornerstone of nearly all inbound marketing strategies is “Content” and sharing quality content alone on social networks will go a long way to increasing traffic and leads to a business or website.  But like all great strategies there is more to inbound marketing than just publishing content; inbound marketing should also include whitepapers, research publications, social stories, social selling, article sharing, social conversations, reaching social media influencers, article seeding and participation on the social networks.

Here is a list of inbound marketing tips that will hopefully improve Inbound Marketing results for you

inbound-marketing-guide

 

  1. Develop a complete inbound marketing plan. Inbound marketing includes blogging, articles, whitepapers, social networks engagement, social selling, lead generation, traffic and social media conversations. Which of these tactics can be improved?
  2. Implement all inbound marketing tactics. A business should never rely on one or two tactics even if you are getting good results from current inbound marketing tactics, implementing all tactics will drastically improve desired results.
  3. Don’t forget the “awareness phase”. Social media using content as the lead is where people become aware of your business and they delight in the quality of the content being read. The awareness phase is where you engage customers and prospects for future purchases and opportunities, even in B2B marketing. A business needs to have blog posts that delight, social media content that engages and messaging that keep customers or clients coming back. Before you get a lead or a sale, you need to build awareness.
  4. Share the content. Simply posting a new article or blog post and then leaving it to chance that it will be picked up by search traffic or prospects are wasted opportunities. Social media networks opens up the ability to immediately collect traffic and leads based on a new article published not to mention the long tail SEO impact. There is more to sharing content than posting to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Sharing content takes time and effort, share across all social networks, forums, groups, while seeding the article on relevant sites like Reddit, Scoop.it etc.
  5. Love your social media accounts. Spend time attending to all your social media account, yes they are fantastic broadcast channels but also more importantly a place to build relationships. Have a constant presence and it need not take a huge chunk of time. Share content from other sources, like other articles, reply to messages, engage with conversations and give regular updates.
  6. Stay tuned in as Inbound marketing, social media marketing and SEO are in a constant state of change. What is the latest social platform, the coolest social network, what type of content (words, images, videos) are best of which audience? To keep inbound marketing firing on all cylinders, marketing teams have to stay on top of changes and make sure to adjust to new opportunities while refining old ones.
  7. Embrace analytics and reporting- The numbers produced from marketing tactics are the key to what is working and what is not. Data and numbers should be checked against goals on a regular basis be it daily or weekly. Ensure all the metrics and KPI’s are in aligned to goals, actions and activities. By viewing the numbers, a business can see where it needs to make adjustments to improve results.
  8. Solicit feedback. Chat to customers, other departments (sales), prospects and industry peers about inbound marketing. Where do they go to be made aware, what delights them, and why do they consider one over another? Also sometimes we can fail to understand how integrated inbound marketing can be with other aspects of the business, from outbound marketing campaigns to sales calls to social selling and customer retention for future purchases. How else you can use inbound to get great results?
  9. Write quality content. Content marketing in the inbound marketing mix is the main conduit in bringing in search traffic and leads. While content will bring in a level of traffic regardless of the content quality, the bounce rate will be high and the consideration rate low. In a digital marketplace where everyone is sharing content, every blog, article or whitepaper needs to be specific, well researched, well written and above all informative. Search the web for blog ideas and to see what social influencers are reading (and interview them to get in-depth information for future social posts)inbound-marketing-terms
  10. Commit time and resources. Inbound marketing takes time, if it is a real marketing strategy for your business, then investment in time and resources to make it happen is a must. Do not let other activities take priority. Every business that is successful with inbound marketing takes the time to follow through on all tactics, methodologies, strategy and implementation; otherwise inbound marketing contribution to the business is just a wish.
  11. Give to get considered. Once awareness levels rise (traffic, reads, likes), start to give more to get into the buyers consideration phase. Offer more giveaways, free trials, deeper white papers, studies and reports. Make it easy for them to consider you, use landing pages, webinars, free samples, and contact us forms so you can move the prospect to a qualified lead.

So as you can see, there is more to inbound marketing than a simple promotional blog and posting it on Blogger. Words sometimes can be hard and time consuming to craft, but words are powerful, fun, enlightening and engaging. These words constructed into quality content and shared as articles across deep reaching social networks will drive your whole marketing and  inbound marketing for today and into the future.  Inbound marketing works as you HAVE READ this article right DOWN TO THE END.

Brian

The Bitter Business.

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is not about boasting or bragging, rather it is about sharing informed insights to hopefully inspire people. Thought leaders are not afraid to propose new ideas, new models or different views on a topic.

Thought leadership when done correctly can help further a person’s career or a business. Being a thought leader should mean becoming a trusted source of information on your chosen topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of the audience seeking enlightenment or education.

So here are a few tips on using content marketing as a launch pad in thought leadership for you, your business or even the team you mentor.

THOUGHT-LEADERSHIP

Thought leaders speak and present

They speak to educate not to sell. Thought leaders seek out opportunities to present as to impart their insights from research or experience. They rise to the challenge of delivering opinions so to drive debate on topics. Thought leaders advance the adoption of ideas by speaking on commercially relevant, and research backed points of view. They are dreamers and doers; they talk about “blue sky strategy” from their own research or from research gathered through clients, customers or competitors.  They rarely speak about product, brand sponsored white papers or rehashed content that copy ideas already well discussed.

Give time freely with no expectation can propel someone into thought leadership and general awareness. A good lesson here is to accept non-paid speaking engagements if it puts you in front of an audience that facilitates dialog and exchange of opinions. Regardless of the event, the audience or the setting, a thought leader will always deliver meaningful content.

Thought leaders write and share

Thanks to social media and the access to content marketing channels, a constant flow of well researched articles which you have written will keep you visibility high and credibility in-tact.  Thought leadership is not about writing a few 600 word articles and then retiring your pen, in a digital world people will soon forget you. A constant stream of articles shared across social networks and forums tells people that the author is a thought leader year worth following on a continuous basis.

Articles need to be a minimum of 800 words although most research based articles can be 1500 words plus. Longer, deeper articles demonstrate the time taken to craft the story, to prove research undertaken and ensure reference points are covered in detail.

Once an article is written, the article needs to be published. For whitepapers and heavy research based articles, a good starting point is a professional or membership based organisation to which you belong that publish articles. Explore trade publications that cover your industry or topic.  Also submit articles to local newspapers, on-line news, on-line interest groups and publications.

Consider sites like BizSugar, LinkedIn Pulse, Academia, and inc.com, Forbes or Harvard Business.  Make sure to also publish to your own social networks to reach more people and improve your profile in visibility. A few options include publishing to your own website, your blog, and post on your LinkedIn profile or to groups, publish to Tumblr, Google+ or Medium.com, send out an email with article link to clients and connections. Send out a message regarding your article on Twitter, Facebook and relevant forums you feel would benefit from reading the article.

Thought leaders publish research

Research does not have to mean focus groups or an academic background, it has more to do with , homework on the topic you are going to write about. Write about topics you have expertise in, deep knowledge and first-hand experience in. Focus on writing great content with supporting information that will make you stand out from your competitors by giving more than just a bunch of research jargon or results.

Articles should be interspersed with references, quotes, trends, external research, supporting documentation or forecasts. Though leaders will use the research element within an article to gain the readers trust when sharing ideas, creative thinking or a different view on a topic. Some research and support ideas include interviewing experts in the field you are writing about, conduct surveys, share real stories about your own experiences, tap into social media channels to gather opinions or ask someone in authority to write a footnote.

A mistake to avoid if never publish in a hurry. Save a draft, let it cool and with fresh eyes review it yourself, rewrite sections where it does not make sense, spell check it and then depending on the level of “news” within the article you could share it first among friends, work colleagues or a mentor to check for errors and give you honest feedback.

BUSINESS-IDEAS

The vision of every thought leader is to be in the spotlight. The knowledge you share can bring about business opportunities, social influence, a better job, an award or an accolade, acknowledgement from your industry or a mention in a newspaper that engages your audience to rally behind the topic you have been championing.  A constant presence on the speak, write, research channels can lead to an invitations, doors being opened and new  ventures that never possible before, including the chance to mentor and encourage other people to become thought leaders themselves.

For lots of thought leaders it is a very personal journey, a deeper reason around, why am I here, what is the meaning to my work, what would I like to leave behind? As the articles get published, the influence will grow and the exposure to inspiring people will be the most rewarding. As a thought leader, regardless of the topic or reach of your publications, you will leave a lasting legacy for yourself, other people, a bright young business brain or even an industry.

Sales Strategy – Inbound Sales – Digital Sales Transformation – Social Selling – Sales Training

Sales training and digital sales transformation including social selling strategy training in Ireland.