Publishing Your Brand


If you listen very carefully, you might hear it… the groans from small business owners all across the land when the phrase “Content Is King” is mentioned to them.

As true as that saying may be, most of today’s consumers go directly to search engines to answer even the slightest of trivial questions.  The mistake that most businesses make today is that they churn out content every day, but without making it part of their overall communications strategy.

Content publishing should focus on two simple goals: educating and building trust.

Content strategy is delivered through very specific content forms, and not volume alone.  Every business today is publishing content, and today is the day you need to think like a publisher.

How best to build trust with your audience?
Blog: There’s no doubt that blogs are the best starting point for content strategy as they allow for simple content production, and syndication of your message.  Search engines gobble up blog content.  Blog content can easily be delivered through other channels like e-books, workshops and guest articles.

Social Media: Step one – claim your stake with profiles on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.   But don’t let that stop you.  Take it to the next step by claiming your place on communities like Entrepreneur, Inc., or even Business Week.  Creating these profiles and optimizing links back to you site plan an important role in content strategy publishing.

Testimonials:  Third party testimonials may be the most powerful tool in your publishing arsenal.  Seek testimonials in a variety of forms including written, audio and video.  Share them on sites such as YouTube and Google+ to continue to build your publishing portfolio.

Reviews:  Depending on your specific business, sites like MerchantCircle, CitySearch and Yelp! can offer positive user referrals.  While never in control of reviews, overlooking them may prove more harmful than bad reviews.  One thing is certain, you’ll need to actively monitor these channels at all times.

Consider these two easy ways to educate your customer with content.

Seminars:  Today’s consumer wants their information neatly pre-packaged for easy consumption. Seminars, workshops and presentations are everywhere – both online and offline.  Once engaged, these channels provide a great opportunity to really engage your audience.  Taking your white paper or ebook and turning it into a 30-45 minute, value-packed presentation may be the most cost-effective way to both engage and convert casual leads into loyal customers.

White Papers & Ebooks:  In communicating their brand story, documenting the values and views are effectively done in the form of a white paper or book.  This content needs to highlight the businesses truly unique values including why it exists, what it will accomplish, and ultimately – it’s special purpose.

This is certainly a short list of ways and channels for you to reach new, actively engaged customers. What are others you might be using that are working for you?

Once you’ve developed your specific system of content publishing that works in unison for your brand, maintaining and growing our channels becomes a fun and welcomed task, instead of one to dread and avoid.

Building Brands By Blogging


Oh that blogging were as easy as pushing a button on your computer… and voila! – you’re published.  If you’ve ever had a blog, you know it can be a challenge to maintain and keep relevent.  Over time, you’ve likely abandoned it, and felt a little pang of guilt for not tending to it.  If you’ve not – then you are among the very few who have started and maintained their New Year’s resolutions.  Good for you! (However few of you out there).

While it may seem tedious and self-imposed, blogging really does provide a foundation for authority for any brand.  There is no other vehicle quite like a blog to help establish your authority in the market, while providing content that both engages, and excites your specific audience.  Think of it as owning your own broadcast station – and you’re controlling the programming (and advertising).

If you’re not creating content…you’re losing precious time establishing your brand in your customer’s mind, and certainly not keeping up with search engine optimization requirements today.  Everyone has some kind of specific viewpoint they can bring to blogging – and many voices are yet to be heard in this continually expanding part of today’s marketing mix.

Consider this:

You’ve got a uniquely personal brand, but nobody seems to know much about you?
Perfect – blog.  Do it ritually – twice a week for starters, more when news or the Muse strike.  Reward yourself as your audience grows…and keep at it.

Your blog let’s others learn how you can help.
If you simply blog about what you know, what you’re passionate about, and what you’ve done – others will feel as though they know you. Put that in your personal branding quiver.

Great blogs create buzz.  Great buzz creates recommendations.
Connecting to others with content they can share is the key to helping spread your brand with the most powerful marketing tool of all – word of mouth.

Integrate.
Sharing between social media channels today is easy, and a quick way to make your content simple to link back to and distribute.

Writing is cathartic, and authentic.
While often a struggle, writing provides insights into your personality and traits that are difficult to communicate in any other media.  For that, readers may reward you with following you.  What could be better than to have your own army of brand advocates ?

Blogging is here to stay.  Really…it is.
Journalism will not die anytime soon – with blogging taking a key role in the distribution of information and interests.  Don’t be left out of those conversations.  Get your brand’s unique perspectives known to your audience today, and establish a basis for referrals later.

It’s true – you may not have time to blog as much as you need – or as much as you’d like.  There’s a simple solution to that – hire a content developer or social media team to help you do it for you.  It’ll be worth your investment and in the long run, return with big dividends.

Marketing, PR, SEO and Advertising Blog Resources


Looking for a great list of the top marketing, PR, SEO and Advertising blogs?  Fellow blogger Chris Abraham pulled this list together in part from a list gathered from  AdAge Power 150.  It’s a solid list of the top marketing, PR, SEO, and advertising blogs.  Happy reading!

Blogging Remains Effective In The Marketing Mix


If you don’t know much about HubSpot, take a moment to review some of their interesting posts and services.  I often check in with them to gather supportive data on any kind of presentation I’m working on, and to see what information they may have on blogging’s impact on search engine data, traffic and even leads.

Really, what is it about blogs that make us marketers like them so much?  Here’s a graphical comparison from HubSpot that takes a look at six key factors and illustrates why blogs are so powerful in comparison to the average website:

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Focused on Education

A good website often integrates education into it’s messaging as a way to build credibility to help move prospects to buyers. But in the overall sales process, there are many factors that help to achieve this end goal, and a limit as to how much any individual will engage education before moving on.  Your end goal is, and should always be, convincing new viewers to engage you and buy your product or service.

Blogs, on the other hand, offer nearly unlimited opportunities to analyze, educate, question and converse with your target audience. Your blog gives your marketing team a unique chance to test different approaches to presenting your information and to do it without always being concerned about pushing people to the next step.

The Freedom to Associate

Blogs provide a far broader opportunity for a writer to explore topics that may catch the prospects attention, but may not deeply rooted in the sales process for the specific product or content.  Websites should be about moving the prospect through the sales process to a purchase, which limits the ability to explore content that might be off that process’ mark. B

Use a Softer Sell

Websites tend to be “hard sell” – and move the prospect as quickly as possible to the sale.  There’s a certain level of hard sell that has to be implemented on a standard business web site.  As blogs tend to have less of a hard sell focus, you can provide content designed to answer questions and build trust over time.  Soft sell techniques often are more appealing to a segment of the market you may be missing with just a website.

Defining Your Personality

Customers want to have an personal relationship with your brand.  The bigger the brand, the more difficult it can be to not be perceived as a cold, corporate brand.  Smaller brands may also have a similar challenge in that they may not be seen as credible or capable.  Utilizing a blog in your mix can help bigger companies appear more personable, while smaller companies can not only reach a much wider audience, but establish a greater sense of stability and credibility over time.

Messages Spread Quickly

Corporate sites tend to be static, and give little reason for visitors to return once they’ve had a chance to review its contents overall.  Return visitors may come again for another purchase, or to compare pricing and services – but it’s often impossible to tell where the content has been changed on a website.

As blogs are frequently updated, visitors know at a glance what’s new, and might even monitor the changing content via RSS feed.  This opted-in monitoring creates an open channel that can be shared through all types of social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo, etc.  Sometimes this sharing can be done automatically, helping spread the messaging much more quickly thank conventional channels.

Engaging In Conversation

If blogs provide one advantage, it’s the ability to conduct a conversation with your prospects.  Most people simply don’t engage with a website as they would a blog, which often inspires true dialogue that is helpful to the company, and to the prospect or customer.  Data gathered in these conversations can provide the precise feedback you need to adjust your product or service to meet the real demands from your target market.

Get Back To Your Blog

So you haven’t launched a blog, or maybe you’ve abandoned yours for lack of attention and interest.  We’d suggest you rethink that, and reengage.  While there’s no replacement for a well designed website for selling products and presenting your company, there’s also tremendous value in using your blog to reach out to new customers that can’t be done with a traditional website.I

This blog will continue to offer you insights to brand marketing, as well as cover news that is of interest to our team.  Please make use of it, and let us know what you think and believe.  If you do the same for yourself – your sales will improve, and you’ll be thankful for the time and effort you put in.

Have you been thinking about a blog?  Do you have one that you haven’t been keeping up?  What successes and failures have you had in your blogging experience?

Getting SEO Results With Social Media


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~Written by guest blogger, Mike Van Houten of JM Studio ~

As social media continues to implant itself as a permanent communication tool in tens of millions of lives, it provides the opportunity for more eyeballs to reach your brand. It also raises many questions regarding how much time to devote to each media platform, which ones are more important than others, and whenever I have a discussion with a client or fellow “geek” who’s interested in the topic, the debate of SEO vs. Social Media eventually ensues.

Which is more important? How should you split up your time reaching out to people online? The answer is simple…in a true multi-faceted marketing campaign; search engine optimization and social media cannot be separated. It’s a setup for failure or at the very best, a mediocre return on the time invested, if you perform one or the other but not both. Here is why:

Let’s use SmartBrand as an example (because it’s a neutral topic), a company that uses social media to the extreme. First we’ll look at social media in terms of branding results in Google.

Take a look at the search results below for the search ‘smartbrand’:

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While the top result is SmartBrand’s main web site, which should be the case, 5 other results are directly from social media sites like Ning, Flikr, Twitter, You Tube, and the like.

So in essence, utilizing social media IS search engine optimization, if carried out properly, and if you optimize each of your social media platforms as one cohesive marketing campaign that utilizes the same keywords and varying optimized descriptions (such as in YouTube video descriptions, or Flikr gallery descriptions and photo captions), you’ll ultimately create a funnel effect, not only exposing your brand, but driving traffic to one source.

You might be surprised that people actually follow the link in your Twitter profile to your primary web presence, or click a link in someone’s YouTube profile. It’s a double exposure win-win situation – if optimized correctly it’s exposure on the front page of Google from multiple social media platforms for your target keywords, as well as exposure in each of the media platforms themselves.

It wasn’t always this way. Any reputable SEO’er who is obsessed with the topic will tell you that updates to Google only within the past year started giving more weight to links and keywords embedded in social media sites. Particularly with the “Vince” update. Google didn’t pay much attention to YouTube videos, nor embedded YouTube videos in its primary web search results until it acquired YouTube.

A video’s ‘page’ in YouTube can carry page rank, if people link to it as a valuable resource.
 Getting each platform as valuable resource.

What kind of success or failures have you had with your SEO attempts through social media?

______________________________

team_mike Mike Van Houten is the owner and interactive media designer of JM Studio.
JM Studio designs sites with a user-centered approach with a philosophy that places the person, your web visitor, at the center of your web experience.  Mike is also the author of northern Nevada’s #1 blog about development in and around downtown Reno: Downtownmakeover.com

WordPress Marketing Blogger’s Network Launches


collaboration

What a terrific idea Rick Liebling from eyecube had in gathering a few of us together to create a coalition of bloggers on WordPress.

To the right, you’ll see we’ve added a short blogroll for the group – “WordPress Marketing Bloggers Network… WMBN”.   It’s individuals and efforts like Rick’s that give marketing a good name – and prove the power of collaboration and social networking in today’s rapidly evolving market place.

As part of our collaborative nature, one of the group’s members, DJ Francis of Online Marketer, has posted a short selection of the group’s most notable recent blogs. Of course, we’d like to continue that effort here – through reposting those same comments and notes for your review and enjoyment.

Thanks again to DJ and Online Marketer for compiling this list, and allowing us to spread the same message to our readers.

> Rick from eyecube interviewed columnist and blogger Rob Walker about his new book, Buying In.
> DJ Francis offers up some wise advice on how to become an A-list blogger.
> Francis gives you a run-down of the news (with commentary) on the day’s most important marketing stories.
> Paul explains Coke’s vocal efforts in the UK.
> Jax discusses Volkswagen’s user-generated survey.
> Rich covers a very interesting topic: the plight of voice actors in video games.
> David at Marketing Integrity notes a confusing VW ad campaign.
> Nicola snagged some snaps of Banksy and other graffiti artists in England last week.
> Incremental marketing tweaks require that you keep overall goals in mind via Brady’s Crew.

Please take a moment to visit these insightful postings from the WMBN membership. We’re all looking forward to making a larger splash through our collaboration and association – so keep an eye here for the group’s newest developments.

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