10 Marketing Trends That Will Change The Way You Brand

Posted on Posted in Branding, Digital Marketing

Have you ever run into conflicts between what a company’s “brand book” dictates and digital marketing success?

Are you worried your brand is stuck in the past and you can’t improve customer satisfaction or ROI?

Are you concerned you may be vulnerable to disruption?

Then you’ll love this article… because we’re going to talk about trends that answer how to solve those problems.

Now…

Branding IS critical to the success of your company, your products and your services.

If you have no identity, and you can’t project that identity to position yourself in the marketplace, your company may fail.

It’s also matter of degree.

How well you do this branding can limit how much you succeed.

But branding is not all there is in the modern world of digital marketing. There’s also:

  • Research
  • Customer Segmentation
  • Digital Marketing
  • Social Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Pricing
  • And more…

Digital and social marketing and advertising have become more and more important over the last two decades. More and more money and attention and people have moved from traditional marketing and advertising to Internet marketing.

How The Internet Has Changed Branding

Your brand is not just what your company intends. It’s also the average consumer perception of your brand. Here are some factors that have changed:

  • The Internet may be a customer’s first experience of your brand: Your new customer’s first experience of your brand may be online: websites, social, ads, videos… yours or someone else’s.
  • Customer opinion is everywhere: Easy-to-launch blogs and Yelp/TripAdvisor review-sites have created more voices and louder voices, making it simple for consumers to discover what their peers think about your brand.
  • Customer service expectations are higher: Customers expect brands to be available, responsive and engaging via social media. Relationships, authenticity and transparency can be very powerful, and not making this shift can put you at a disadvantage.
  • Reputation can go sideways quickly: The Internet, social media and news can change our perception of a brand. It may be out of the company’s control. Mistakes and bad news can spiral out of control and create reputation problems. The Internet never forgets.
  • Competition is greater: There are more options and more competitors. Barriers to entry are lower. You need more of a competitive advantage, a unique identity and you can no longer take loyalty for granted. You don’t own your customers. Just about every company is vulnerable to Uber/AirBnB-style disruption.
  • Personalization is easier and expected: Segmented ads give you the opportunity to present multiple voices and faces to different customers. We can truly personalize our marketing. You need a brand voice but you no longer need be limited to just one. Personalization can be a competitive advantage and may be expected by your customer.
  • Microtesting can increase customer satisfaction and ROI: You can run small tests to find out how evolving your brand may get you bigger and better business results. The most successful online brands like Facebook, Google and Amazon have this built into their websites and cultures. Their customers are highly satisfied and loyal because these companies use data to personalize the experience- making things more relevant and saving people time. If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity to evolve in a way that satisfies your customers more, you may get disrupted.

With that in mind, here are 10 trends can help us do better branding in the digital marketing era.

Let’s look at each one in detail…

#1: Make Sure You Have a Brand

If you aren’t intentional about what you are, you won’t understand why people react the way they do.

You may just be a big hot mess. Or not so hot.

You have a brand even if you think you don’t.

It’s saying something to people, even if you don’t intend it to.

Get a brand.

Be intentional about it.

#2: Invest In Your Brand

A lot of small businesses, but even a surprising number of medium sized businesses under-invest in branding or advertising.

Many seem to think that having a logo or a few designated colors is all that’s required. “Yay, we checked the branding box!” Not really.

Here are some of the things involved in brand definition:

  • Brand Name
  • Attributes, Personality, Values
  • Emotional Benefits to the Customer
  • Tagline or Catchphrase
  • Visual Identity, Graphics, Shapes, Colors, Logo
  • Sounds, Scents, Tastes, Movements

Just reading through that list may give you an idea how well you’ve thought through your own brand.

Via advertising, you can segment the projection of your brand to individual personas or customer types and vary the brand voice or customer voices.

Many companies do not meet their business goals because they simply do not reach enough potential customers, and advertising is the quickest way to get in front of your ideal customer.

 #3: Segment Your Brand Voice

There’s all this talk that you have to have “a brand voice.”

I get it. But if you’re going to anthropomorphize the company, let’s take the analogy all the way.

If your brand is supposed to be like a person that talks to people, let me ask you this… you’re a person: do you talk to everyone the same way?

Do you talk to your kids the same way you talk to a taxi drivers or the fast food drive through person?

Do you talk to your significant other the same way you talk to a police officer?

I hope not.

Ok, there might be some scenarios… we’re not talking about that!

You customize your approach. You have to.

It’s the same with marketing. We personalize to different types of customers.

Everyone talks about segmentation, because almost nobody has just one type of customer.

The one brand voice thing comes from the old world of traditional media where we weren’t able to target customers…

The ultimate example of NOT targeting is a superbowl ad: so many different types of Americans are viewing your superbowl ad that it has to appeal to all your customer types at once.

But the opposite of that is a highly segmented Facebook ad, let’s say for example, to one of your 12 personas: professional millennial women… and you can customize the look and the voice to appeal to and stimulate this group exactly.

You’re going to want it to be different than when you advertise or try to engage your retired male baby boomer customers, right? I hope so!

If you don’t, you’re not going to maximize your response, the customer experience, your sales or loyalty.

We can’t talk the same to everyone. The brand can’t look or act the same to everyone. Similar, but not exactly the same.

We need to strike a balance between identity and personalization without being complete chameleons.

Google’s logo shifts with the holiday, but it’s always Google. It’s a great example of a flexible identity. Part of their identity is simplicity, efficiency and personalization.

So, who are your customers? Personas? And how does your brand voice sound different for each one?

#4: Speak in Customer Voices

Sometimes when we advertise, we use testimonials, or we speak in the first person as the customer.

So it’s not just about the brand voice… it’s also about the customer voice.

But as we’ve already said, there are multiple customers or personas.

What are your customers’s voices?

Read customer testimonials and social media comments. What do they sound like? Can you separate them into personas?

Try writing some messages and ads in their voices.

#5: Let Your Brand Evolve Through Testing And Data

Branding is only one piece of the marketing puzzle.

Identity and looks aren’t the only goal. There are other business and direct response conversion goals.

Branding can either help or hinder the business or conversion goals. If branding is hurting other goals, then branding may have to evolve. You can use advertising microtests to do this.

If the brand voice is so restrictive that we can’t test new ideas to see how customers react…

Especially if customers are not buying or becoming leads in response to the current “brand voice” type messaging.

If the brand voice is suppressing digital marketing results, you need to chillax and loosen the brand voice parameters.

#6: Take Your SEO Keywords with a Grain of Salt

hirebrandingconsultant.com

facebookadagency.com

digitalmarketingagency.com

Keyword domain names are so 2010! Google is pretty smart now. It knows when you’re trying to fool it vs. when you’re actually relevant to the keyword.

Keyword domains are not worth it, and don’t make a good brand statement.

It’s a great example of not being able to see the forest for the trees. Missing the big picture because of a fear of no traffic. Missing out on an opportunity to signal value and quality.

I made this mistake with my cowbell book. I let my emphasis on Amazon keywords research hold too much sway over the subtitle, and it confused potential readers and ironically limited the number of people who thought it was relevant to them. Never again!

SEO can and should help determine what content marketing or infographics you create- it still has a place, but be careful how it affects your brand.

#7: Combine Art and Science

In the dark ages of marketing and branding, all we had was faith, opinion and confidence.

We now have the opportunity to research the data, add that to panels and surveys, do micro advertising tests to our ideal customers. We can discover what customers will love with a high degree of certainty. We no longer have to guess.

We don’t have to fall under the sway of creative con-men. We don’t need magical Don Drapers to make us feel safe.

Yes, we need creative people more than ever, but we can’t stop there. We need to be scientific and make sure that our branding drives business.

Don’t be a stubborn holdouts of the old paradigm of not testing, not evolving, not looking at metrics (they tell you what customers want!), not split-testing.

Tomorrow’s brand managers want to run tests… because the CMO is asking about trends, best practices and data… because the CFO and CEO and are wondering about disruption risk and how to push forward profitability.

#8: Evolve Your Brand Forward

The 90’s version of your brand should not be the 21st century version of your brand.

The 2015 version of your brand may not be good enough in 2017.

Yes, Coca-Cola’s logo and taste will remain the same post-Internet, but that doesn’t mean their social or digital strategy should.

In a world where Old Spice can suddenly refresh and dominate its category and Uber can disrupt an entire industry, no brand can afford to stand pat.

#9: Get Your Brand Team and Your Digital Team on the Same Page

As we’ve identified, branding touches on creativity, identity and customer segmentation- but all of these need to go into a feedback loop with the customer to see how customers respond, and what they respond to.

For too long, branding has been an ivory tower activity that happens in isolation from the customer.

We now can evolve the brand forward via customer feedback (without the customer even realizing it), but to do that, brand managers need to team up with content marketers and social advertisers to run micro tests.

Branding folks can also get demographic and psychographic persona info from the Twitter and Facebook audience insights and ad interfaces… IF they team up with the digital marketers.

Just as the disconnect between marketing and sales can hurt your company, a disconnect between your brand manager and your advertising or digital marketing teams can stunt your company’s growth and prevent maximum customer response.

If you aren’t getting this kind of data about your brand, you should talk to us!

#10: Let Each Channel Empower the Brand Voice Differently

Many branding people want a consistent brand voice everywhere, and that makes sense, but it shouldn’t be robotic.

Every channel and medium is different.

How do you execute consistency against each channel’s limits without missing out on the advantages of each channel as well? It can be harder than you might think.

  • Your brand on TV is video, with a super-high budget, big reach and big credibility, but it’s usually only possible to create a small number of creative pieces.
  • Your brand on Instagram is a mix of photo and video, authentic, personal, behind the scenes, need a constant flow of new creative, at least 250 pieces a year and hashtags are very important.
  • Your brand on AdWords is often text-only since text ads work best, and often less than 90 characters or only about 15 words sometimes with only 25 character headlines, categorized by major keyword themes, which at least 10 variations for each.
  • Your brand at the mall  is about retail store presentation, banners, traditional and digital signage.
  • Your brand through a celebrity influencer may be a mix of their natural voice, product placement and FTC-compliance.

And those are just a few examples of all the channels.

Many companies’s brand guides are vague and open to interpretation. The more vague it is, the more open you are to internal arguments (and confusion with your marketing vendors), or tyranny from one person.

That’s why it’s important to spend time making sure there is enough specificity about brand voice for every channel, and enough room for testing.

Imagine the Supreme Court trying to rule in a life or death case without the Constitution being as specific as it is… trying to judge based on a brand guide only 4-5 sentences long. It’s an impossible task.

Specificity is your friend- take the time to create it.

Some of the channels you may be on- each has a different mood, character and limits- they have different vocabularies and palettes in addition to the personas you go after on them:

  • Facebook: very social and casual, mainstream, everyone is there including young people (91% of millennials use it even though Snapchat and Instagram are more popular with teens- and you can use Facebook ads to reach people on Instagram).
  • Instagram: skews female (68%).
  • Snapchat: skews young (71% under 34 years old), very video-oriented.
  • Google AdWords: very limited text for text ads- 90 or less characters.
  • Twitter: limited amount of text, more intellectual.
  • LinkedIn: more business-oriented and skews male (57%).
  • Pinterest: extremely visual, more image than video, skews female (81%).
  • YouTube: depends on your targeting, 62% male.
  • TV: depends on the TV channel and time slot.
  • Magazines: depends on the magazine and its readership.

If different people read different magazines or watch different TV shows or use different websites or different social networks, then we can’t communicate or appear exactly the same in every place.

You need a brand essence clear enough to be consistent on all of them, and a chillax-factor loose enough to let your brand manifest differently on all of them, or you won’t be able to maximize all platforms.

The Old Spice YouTube responses are a great example of a brand remaining consistent and customizing at the same time. You probably saw the TV ads, and may have seen them online as well, but they also took to Twitter and used YouTube to respond to tweets with customized videos in the style of the commercials. They created an unbelievable 185 customized responses to everyone from the super famous (Ellen) to the Internet business famous (Kevin Rose) to the regular consumer… and these videos received from 80,000 to 1.8 million views apiece. It’s important to note that their overall campaign, including all channels, doubled their sales when they started the campaign in 2010.

But ultimately they became the #1 body wash for men, and their CEO claimed it was through engaging customers online.

That kind of engagement and sales success can’t happen when your view of brand consistency is narrow.

It’s tempting to throw up the exact same picture, font and slogan everywhere in the name of consistency, but this is a missed opportunity. There are more ways to be consistent, and much bigger opportunities on each platform.

It’s a shame to have to go back to a campaign from 2010-2011 to find such a stellar example. It just demonstrates how few brands are willing to evolve older practices. Is it possible that since Old Spice had lost so much ground that they really had nothing to lose? And that more successful brands are just too risk averse to reproduce edgier outlier case studies? Probably 🙂

If you need help defining all of this for your brand, contact us about a Brand Extension project. We’d be happy to help!

Speakers, Authors & Consultants: Do It Marketing with David Newman [Video Interview]

Posted on Posted in Branding, Digital Marketing, Interview, Sales, Social Media Marketing, Social Networking

David Newman is a nationally-recognized marketing expert and author of the Amazon #1 bestseller “Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits and Crush Your Competition.”

David runs a marketing and training firm dedicated to helping speakers, consultants, and high-fee experts maximize their influence, impact and income.

David’s instant-action marketing advice has been featured and quoted in The New York Times, Investors Business Daily, Sales & Marketing Management, Selling Power, Forbes, Fortune, Entrepreneur Magazine, and hundreds of media outlets throughout North America. Free marketing resources are online at http://www.doitmarketing.com

The Only New Thing About Content Marketing Is…

Posted on Posted in Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Social Media Strategy, Uncategorized

Content marketing is the hottest area in digital marketing right now. But what is it?

Marketing” is communication with the intent to persuade and bring about a sale.

“Content marketing” is marketing that uses content to persuade.

“Content” includes:

  • Videos
  • Blog posts
  • eBooks
  • Webinars
  • Whitepapers
  • Research reports
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts
  • Slide decks

“Content marketing” is the use of content to persuade people to buy stuff.

“Social media” always uses content (media is a synonym for content).

“Social networking” can be simply interaction without content (media).

You might say, “Wow, so content marketing is pretty much everything except verbal sales?”

I’d reply, “Yep, content marketing is a new name for most of what we’ve done as marketing for years. Old practice, new name. Sure, blogs are newish. And using Facebook ads and an ebook as social content marketing is pretty new. But it’s still essentially the same thing as mailing a brochure or writing a book.”

“Advertising an ebook?” you’d ask.

“New way to do the same thing,” I’d reply. “We’re just distributing marketing material to prospects.”

What’s new is that the Internet empowers us to:

  • Target prospects precisely. Both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads have dramatically advanced our abilities here.
  • Track their behavior after they click on ads, email links and social media posts. Use an analytics package like Google Analytics and a CRM like Salesforce to do this.
  • Follow-up with them in an automated, yet personalized fashion. Marketing automation software like Infusionsoft, Eloqua and Marketo do this.

The point of targeting, tracking and follow-up is to get more customers in a more efficient way at a lower cost.

  • Improved targeting means we waste less time with the wrong prospects.
    We save time and money.
  • Improved tracking means we learn what works and what doesn’t. We only continue with the most efficient strategies, content, target groups and advertisements.
    We save money and increase profit.
  • Improved follow-up means we convert a higher percentage of the prospects we paid to get as leads.
    We get more customers and increase profit and revenue.

The content marketing moves people down the funnel toward purchase. It can also filter out the wrong prospects for us. Any content marketing piece may only work at one segment of the funnel. Or it may work on multiple segments. And that’s as far as we can go without getting complicated!


Amazing funnel graphic from Adido! 🙂

5 Facebook Funnel Mistakes 99% of Businesses Are Making

Posted on Posted in Digital Marketing, Internet Marketing Strategy, Lead Gen, Social Media Lead Generation, Social Media Strategy, Strategy

If you sell online, or market for leads online, you definitely have a sales funnel. You may not know what your sales funnel is, but you have one.

The question is: how effective is your funnel?

When we map out a business’s funnels and assign numbers to them, they’re usually stunned by how many people drop out at each step.

In this example, we have only 5 steps and we start with 100,000 fans:

This funnel sucks

Only 5 sales? We lost 9,995 people in the process? Crap!

In digital marketing, the number of people lost at each funnel step is gigantic. It’s amazing to me that anyone sells anything online. And, in reality, many people fail.

Many much tears.

Unfortunately, many business people assume that online sales and lead gen is easy. In fact, it’s near-impossible.

Successful sales online (including inbound lead gen and offline sales) requires:

  1. Great planning,
  2. Lots of iteration (that’s the fancy word for trial and error), or
  3. Sheer luck.

The ones who succeed by sheer luck don’t learn anything. Usually they fail with their second business attempt and can’t figure out what happened.

Successful digital marketing requires:

  • An offering people want,
  • Marketing well planned and executed,
  • Testing,
  • Time, and
  • Money.

That’s the truth about selling online, and it’s not sexy. Unless you think executing wisely and achieving business profits is sexy. That would be like calling Gandalf sexy. Well I suppose there is someone out there who has… anyway-

To me digital marketing is not about sexiness or fun (though you can definitely have fun with the testing). It’s about finding and using a system that gets you results.

If you want to confront the cold hard facts and succeed, then you need to overcome the 5 most common mistakes that businesses make with their digital sales funnels.

Funnel Mistake #1: Too Many Steps

Every action people have to take requires a decision. At most decision points, more than 50% of your audience (usually more like 80-99%) opts out. That means they do things like:

  • Don’t click on your ad or link.
  • Don’t opt into your email list or your lead magnet (ebook, whitepaper, webinar).
  • Don’t put something in a shopping cart.
  • Don’t check out.
  • Don’t finish paying.

So, let’s imagine you have only those 5 steps above, and 10,000 people see your ad. Here’s what happens if ONLY 50% (we’ll be generous and give you a best-case dream scenario) don’t go through with it:

  • 5,000 don’t click on your ad or link.
  • 2,500 don’t opt into your email list or your lead magnet (ebook, whitepaper, webinar).
  • 1,250 Don’t put something in a shopping cart.
  • 625 Don’t check out.
  • 312 Don’t finish paying.
  • 156 buy

Let’s say you spent $5,000 on those clicks ($1 CPC). If you don’t profit at least $32 per sale ($5,000/156 sales), you lose money.

But let’s be more realistic with those numbers. Let’s say 100,000 see your ad…

  • At a 1% CTR, 99,000 don’t click on your ad or link. 1,000 do.
  • At 20% lead conversion rate, 800 don’t opt into your email list or your lead magnet (ebook, whitepaper, webinar). 200 do. (We’ll save this number for later)
  • At a 1% sales rate, 792 people don’t buy. 8 people do buy.

So if you spent $1,000 on those clicks ($1 CPC), if you don’t profit at least $125 per sale ($1,000/4 sales), you lose money.

Pretty dire, right?

But we still have those 200 emails. Here’s what happens with them:

  • 20% of them open your email. That’s 40 people.
  • 10% click to the site. That’s 4 people.
  • 1% buy. Shoot, you only have 1/25th of a buyer! That’s smaller than Mini-Me.

One more demonstration:

  • Let’s say you manage to get 100,000 Facebook fans.
  • 10% of them see your Facebook post- that’s 10,000 people.
  • Many Facebook posts get 99.9% interaction, not website clicks. A post that does well with website clicks may get a 4% clickthrough rate. That’s 400 people.
  • 1% of these buy- that’s 4 people. 0.004% of fans convert per post.

So your 100,000 fan page got your 4 sales. Pretty lame, huh? This is why we stopped doing Facebook fan growth: too many extra steps and too many people lost in the process.

Relax. It’s not the end of the world. If 4 people buy per Facebook post per day x 365 days = 1,460 people buy per year.

But how did you get those 100,000? You may have to pay $10-50k to get 100,000 quality fans with Facebook ads. Because the low quality fans will never buy.

So, you’d have to be profiting $7 to $34 per sale to break even on that fan cost after a year. And that means you’d have to be able to wait a year to make that $10-50k back.

This is assuming:

  • You don’t run any ads to promote posts (which many people do), and
  • You reach 10% of your fans (which many pages don’t).

The Facebook post visibility problem is just too expensive. A “Facebook Fan-Reliant Strategy” reduces your sales funnel’s effectiveness by 90%.

That’s why we switched to three funnels with fewer steps:

  1. Facebook ad -> Squeeze page to get email -> email -> click -> sale
  2. The shortest one: Facebook ad -> Sales page -> Sale [only 3 steps!]
  3. Retargeting audiences from #1 and #2 -> email or sale

Now, we’ve seen profits up to 2,200% from Facebook ad campaigns. To get that high, you have to create 100 ads a month. That’s how you find the ads that work incredibly well.

The upshot: Reduce the number of steps in your funnel.

Funnel Mistake #2: Not Getting Enough People Into Your Funnel

Advertising helps, and it’s critical for new sites. But only so many ads will be profitable. It will bring you a limited volume of sales.

You’re going to need more affordable traffic.

That means you need SEO or unpaid social media. And that means you have to create awesome content like this blog post. You have to create something that helps your prospect and you don’t get paid for it. But it brings in tons of people, some of whom opt into your emails and some of which buy.

But the most common mistake with content marketing is to create content that gets lots of buzz. You get tons of shares and comments and you slap each other on the back. But this often doesn’t move your prospects toward the sale. Check out this article to learn how to create content that gets shares and retweets and website clicks and sells.

The upshot: Create content that brings in traffic and sales.

Funnel Mistake #3: Keeping It Too Private

Because of how many people we lose at each funnel step, we need to do whatever we can to get shares at every step. For example:

  • Create ads that are tweets and Facebook posts that deserve shares/retweets and website clicks.
  • Create landing pages that deserve shares and retweets.
    • For example, a free lead magnet (ebook, whitepaper, video series, webinar) that’s so cool that people have to share it.
    • You can put Facebook commenting at the bottom of their free content so that excited people can comment. Those comments get shared via their Facebook account as well. Here’s how you add it. And Leadpages (note: affiliate link) has some squeeze page templates that have it built in. I use Leadpages and Clickfunnels (aff link) both for creating opt-in and sales pages. They’re both great.
  • Create thank you pages that empower people to share or tweet about it- especially after email opt-ins- but also for sales.

The upshot: Learn what kind of content the research shows people share and don’t share here (free whitepaper I wrote for Marketo).

Funnel Mistake #4: Only One Idea Per Funnel Segment

In the olden days of marketing, people created one campaign and ran it for months and months. If it tanked- they were screwed. 

Then a few brilliant folks like Claude C. Hopkins started using coupons to track what worked and didn’t. Direct mail was born. This evolved over the decades- and with digital marketing it has become standard to at least split-test your ideas. If you aren’t familiar with split-testing, you’re way behind. Google it.

  • Get a platform like LeadPages or Clickfunnels that empowers you to easily test 2 or 3 opt-in pages.
  • Create 2 or 3 sales pages, too.
  • Combine that with your ad testing and you will cut your cost per lead or sale by 50-80%.

You can’t afford not to do this, because many people who don’t just go out of business. It’s hard to make the math of profits work without this kind of testing.

And it’s how some marketers enter old niches and quickly dominate them. Some companies get put out of business. The most vulnerable businesses are the ones that have been around long enough to get cocky and think they don’t need to keep up with the times.

Don’t be lazy here or you’ll regret it.

The upshot: Split-test wherever possible.

Funnel Mistake #5: Being So Inbound That You Don’t Close The Sale

I get it. It’s cool to just market. To just do inbound. You aren’t pushy and you don’t get rejected.

Except you do. Someone else gets the customer.

Stop being afraid of selling. Get more of them to convert to the next step.

Figure out what objections or fears are keeping people from buying. Tell them about the other things that will happen if they don’t work with you that they should be more afraid of.

The upshot: Figure out what it takes to move them to the next step. Close the sale. Coffee is for closers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, my English teachers in school told me to write conclusions.

Fix all the mistakes above. You may go out of business if you don’t. You’ll reap massive profits if you do.

How To Never Run Out Of Great Marketing Copy Ideas

Posted on Posted in Advertising, Content Marketing, Creativity, Digital Marketing

Successful digital marketers test a lot of ideas. Which means they come up with a lot of ideas. Then have the discipline to go through multiple tests. It requires both creativity and organization.

Conversely, we’re pretty much screwed when we get writers block, only have bad ideas, or get seduced into writing for engagement rather than sales.

What Are Your Marketing Molecules?

These days in digital marketing, we have several very similar things:

  • Facebook or AdWords ads (10-12 words, <=90 characters)
  • Blog post headlines (8-10 words)
  • Corporate elevator pitches (up to 75 words)
  • Unique selling propositions (18-22 words)
  • Email subject lines (3-12 words), and
  • Tweets (about 15 words, 120’ish characters, if you leave room for a link)

These are all basically the same thing- short copy that convinces people to look or buy… I call them marketing molecules. the DNA of your elevator pitch. Your unique selling proposition (USP- if you don’t know what it is, keep reading- and btw you can have a USP for every blog post, every service or product you offer…)

The 3 Most Persistent
Marketing Copy Pitfalls

  1. One of the biggest problems we have in modern marketing, content creation and advertising is: how do you come up with enough ideas to test?
  2. Another big problem is: How do you come up with good ideas?
  3. Yet another: How do you come up with copy that sells?

It’s awesome if you can write clickbait, even muted (less annoyingly obvious) clickbait that still arouses curiosity. It’s exciting if you can get 1,000 shares, but… is that piece of content contributing to your business’s bottom line? Sure, a lot content has an indirect benefit and may somehow partially convince someone to buy if you’re lucky and the weather is just right… but that’s sort of like trying to survive on hors d’oeuvres.

Do you have meat and potatoes content that SELLS?

Or are you stuck at the level of just trying to get people to pay attention for five minutes before they flip back over to a viral video on Facebook?

4dAmazing Content Is
Four Dimensional

The best copy and content can do all four of the following at once:

  1. Inform
  2. Entertain or Inspire
  3. Compel People To Share It and
  4. Sell Your Stuff.

A lot of content only gets to level one- it informs- boring! Next level writers can entertain, inspire and motivate- that’s 2D Content. If you write the kinds of things people share, you may get to the third level- that’s 3D Content. But to go into the fourth dimension- which is either spacetime, a freaky Devo song, or amazing content that sells, we have to go further- to infinity and beyond.

That may be only the top 5% of content you luck out into writing- and really one out of twenty blog posts or email subject lines that can do this is not a bad ratio compared to how poorly most companies do. But is there a way we can increase your luck and help you create four dimensional copy more often?

Sometimes the things you need to write to get sales are harder to write. They require more thinking, maybe research, maybe even – oh no, the dreaded talking to customers.

Questions and formulas are very helpful… and that is where we’re headed!

I thought I’d show you my process of marketing my new online course… this began with a process of surveying my lists for topics, then testing ideas with Facebook ads, and finally creating two pathways for sales- one is a Ryan Deiss “Funnel Blueprint” series of lead magnet, tripwire and core offer; and the core offer, which I’m also testing as a direct first exposure, is a Jon Benson-style Video Sales Letter.

And by the way, there is a real feedback loop between marketing and product/service improvement. If what works and doesn’t work in marketing doesn’t inform improvements in your product and service- well, you’d better create things that are as awesome as iPhones. You can’t put lipstick on a pig and make it win prom queen.

15 Marketing Copy Elements

Alright- ready for some work? Because yes, you’re going to have to work. You have to answer these questions first… and as I alluded to before, you can answer these for your entire business, or for one product or service. You may find when you try to do the former, that there are really different answers for each product or service, and you’ll have to do this process for each. Yes, it’s a ton of work. Grow up and put your big boy pants on. Do the work, if you want great results. Otherwise, you might as well go waste time on Facebook and get mediocre business results. There are plenty of people creating distracting content that will help you procrastinate.

If you want to do the work- you can list 3 or 5 or whatever I ask, or you can write 10-20. If you write more of them, you’ll end up with better copy. Brainstorming never goes out of style for those whose fashion is marketing results.

  1. BENEFITS: List 5 benefits (problems you solve, and the positive version of that)- ALSO, decide on the CHIEF BENEFIT- this is the most valuable one, the one people are most likely to buy, the easiest one to sell.
  2. TARGET MARKET: List 3 specific types of people who it’s for- could be personality types, job titles, or family roles, for example.
  3. COMPETITORS: List 5 competitors- and I don’t necessarily mean specific companies. For example,
  4. WITHOUTS: List 5 things customers have to do now or think they’ll have to do, but don’t have to, with your solution. List 3 things your competitors require them to do that you don’t.
  5. PROBLEMS: List 3 problems they have without your help, and each of their 3 solutions.
  6. MISTAKES: List 5 mistakes your customers make without you, and the consequences of each.
  7. LIES: List 3 lies they’ve been told about the issue and the truth about each
  8. TIPS: List 5 tips you have for them to solve their problems
  9. SUPERLATIVES: List 5 things your company is first at, best at, most whatever, cheapest, oldest, latest, newest, funnest (I love that word), largest etc. – check out wikipedia superlatives lists
  10. CONFESSIONS: list 3 confessions where you screwed up
  11. PROCESSES: list 3-5 specific processes you use, anything you’ve trademarked or patented… e.g. Google’s PageRank, Facebook’s Newsfeed Algorithm… I made up one called “The Rock Star Effect”
  12. SPECIFIC RESULTS: List 5 very specific results- quantify some aspect of your solution.
  13. CASE STUDIES: Quantify the results for 3 standout customers- if you absolutely can’t quantify it, find the most impactful way to convey
  14. SOCIAL PROOF: Quantify how many customers you have, or if you can’t or won’t, get 5 testimonial quotes from customers. When you ask for these quotes, try to get them to say what concrete benefit or result you had for them. That makes for better copy!
  15. EXPERT PROOF: Get 3 quotes from experts about your solution/product

Now if you actually do that work above, you have a TON of ammo to create a shotgun blast of sniper bullets. And THAT was the worst chimera of a meta-analogy-phor I’ve ever created! Forgive me.

Also, if you want to do humor, come up with hyperboles (exaggerations) of the above… you’ll see what I mean in the last few molecule examples below.

10 Example Marketing Molecules

Molecules are composed of elements. Now that you have all those marketing elements (because you answered all those questions above, right?), we can form marketing molecules out of them. Combine all of your marketing elements into marketing molecules and test them!

After you combine them, you can add other aspects of copywriting wisdom to complete the molecule. The first two of these should look familiar- they probably account for 68.2% of the Internet’s non-horrible blog posts.

  1. List # BENEFIT: example, “3 Tips For Becoming Your Potential Buyer’s #1 Choice”
  2. How To BENEFIT: “How To Get On The Media’s Radar”
  3. DOUBLE BENEFIT: “How To Get On The Media’s Radar And Be Your Potential Customer’s #1 Choice”
  4. USP = SUPERLATIVE + CHIEF BENEFIT, e.g. “The Awareness Blueprint™ Is The Only Marketing Course That Can Transform Your Company Into The Rock Star #1 Choice In Your Niche…
    Even On A Modest Budget.” But of course for 90 character ads, you have to shorten that, so you can create two versions from it, “The Only Course That Makes Your Brand Your Niche’s #1 Choice, Even On A Modest Budget.” and “The ONLY Course If You Want To Get On The Media’s Radar And Be Your Customer’s #1 Choice.”
  5. Stronger USP = SUPERLATIVE + CHIEF BENEFIT + WITHOUT, if you can fit all that in! “The #1 Course For Brand Awareness Without Wasting Time or Money”
  6. BENEFIT + WITHOUT: I’ve found in my Facebook ad tests that benefits get an even higher CTR when you add a WITHOUT to them, e.g. “Finally Make People Pay Attention To Your Company Without Wasting Your Time Or Money”
  7. BENEFIT + COMPETITION: Emails, tweets and facebook posts are all competitors for your attention. That enables me to write copy like: “How To Get Your Brand Noticed Amongst Millions Of Businesses, Tweets, Posts and Videos”
  8. SPECIFIC RESULT: “Want Your Company Seen By 2.8 Million Members Of The Media In Newspapers, TV And Radio?”
  9. TESTIMONIAL QUOTE BENEFIT: “How On Earth Did Your Company Get This Much Attention And Acclaim?” or “Brian tells business owners where to put their marketing dollars to get maximum reach.”
  10. An End To a PROBLEM: “An End To People Doubting Your Company Because They’ve Never Heard Of It”
  11. List # Mistakes + Avoid: “5 Mistakes Brands Make With Publicity And How To Avoid Them”
  12. Step By Step BENEFIT WITHOUT: “Your Exact, Step-by-Step Blueprint For Mega Brand Awareness Without Wasting Time or Money”
  13. Want to sell with humor? Add HYPERBOLE: “How To Get Potential Customers To Stalk You Because They Can’t Wait Til Morning To Buy From You” or “5 Mistakes Brands Make With Publicity That Lead To Public Flogging” – Ok neither of those is hilarious, but I just made them up. And you’re going to have to write at least 20 jokes to find one funny one… sorry, but that’s a pretty standard comedy industry ratio. And I’m not going to write 18 more right now :-p

Write a bunch of them. Applying these to content creation is how you make sure you’re creating content that sells. A lot of the 15 elements above are the things that convince people to buy. There are a bunch of other elements out there like funny videos and animated gifs will not necessarily sell.

adideasexcelMy first use for mine was Facebook ads. I wrote 60, put them in excel to find out how many characters were in each one (the formula is =LEN(cell)), and then rewrote or split up any that were over 90 characters. Then I created another column called “central”. I can’t test 60 ads at once, or at least I didn’t want to, so I asked myself, which of these communicate the central thing about my course? And how central on a scale of 1-10 were they? Your USP is going to be pretty central. I also numbered the ads for easy reference in my facebook ad names.

It’s not a bad idea to use them as Facebook ads first to see what your target market clicks on the most. It’s the quickest, cheapest, easiest way to test. Read this post about that. Once I find out which ones get the best CTR or conversion rates, I’ll pick from the top 3-5 and reuse them as subject lines and tweets and other content.

That’s all folks! Copy the elements questions above into a document and start answering them! 🙂

How To Write Copy & Content That Sells

Posted on Posted in Advertising, Content Marketing, Creativity, Digital Marketing

Successful digital marketers test a lot of ideas. Which means they come up with a lot of ideas. Then have the discipline to go through multiple tests. It requires both creativity and organization.

Conversely, we’re pretty much screwed when we get writers block, only have bad ideas, or get seduced into writing for engagement rather than sales.

What Are Your Marketing Molecules?

These days in digital marketing, we have several very similar things:

  • Facebook or AdWords ads (10-12 words, <=90 characters)
  • Blog post headlines (8-10 words)
  • Corporate elevator pitches (up to 75 words)
  • Unique selling propositions (18-22 words)
  • Email subject lines (3-12 words), and
  • Tweets (about 15 words, 120’ish characters, if you leave room for a link)

These are all basically the same thing- short copy that convinces people to look or buy… I call them marketing molecules. the DNA of your elevator pitch. Your unique selling proposition (USP- if you don’t know what it is, keep reading- and btw you can have a USP for every blog post, every service or product you offer…)

The 3 Most Persistent
Marketing Copy Pitfalls

  1. One of the biggest problems we have in modern marketing, content creation and advertising is: how do you come up with enough ideas to test?
  2. Another big problem is: How do you come up with good ideas?
  3. Yet another: How do you come up with copy that sells?

It’s awesome if you can write clickbait, even muted (less annoyingly obvious) clickbait that still arouses curiosity. It’s exciting if you can get 1,000 shares, but… is that piece of content contributing to your business’s bottom line? Sure, a lot content has an indirect benefit and may somehow partially convince someone to buy if you’re lucky and the weather is just right… but that’s sort of like trying to survive on hors d’oeuvres.

Do you have meat and potatoes content that SELLS?

Or are you stuck at the level of just trying to get people to pay attention for five minutes before they flip back over to a viral video on Facebook?

4dAmazing Content Is
Four Dimensional

The best copy and content can do all four of the following at once:

  1. Inform
  2. Entertain or Inspire
  3. Compel People To Share It and
  4. Sell Your Stuff.

A lot of content only gets to level one- it informs- boring! Next level writers can entertain, inspire and motivate- that’s 2D Content. If you write the kinds of things people share, you may get to the third level- that’s 3D Content. But to go into the fourth dimension- which is either spacetime, a freaky Devo song, or amazing content that sells, we have to go further- to infinity and beyond.

That may be only the top 5% of content you luck out into writing- and really one out of twenty blog posts or email subject lines that can do this is not a bad ratio compared to how poorly most companies do. But is there a way we can increase your luck and help you create four dimensional copy more often?

Sometimes the things you need to write to get sales are harder to write. They require more thinking, maybe research, maybe even – oh no, the dreaded talking to customers.

Questions and formulas are very helpful… and that is where we’re headed!

I thought I’d show you my process of marketing my new online course… this began with a process of surveying my lists for topics, then testing ideas with Facebook ads, and finally creating two pathways for sales- one is a Ryan Deiss “Funnel Blueprint” series of lead magnet, tripwire and core offer; and the core offer, which I’m also testing as a direct first exposure, is a Jon Benson-style Video Sales Letter.

And by the way, there is a real feedback loop between marketing and product/service improvement. If what works and doesn’t work in marketing doesn’t inform improvements in your product and service- well, you’d better create things that are as awesome as iPhones. You can’t put lipstick on a pig and make it win prom queen.

15 Marketing Copy Elements

Alright- ready for some work? Because yes, you’re going to have to work. You have to answer these questions first… and as I alluded to before, you can answer these for your entire business, or for one product or service. You may find when you try to do the former, that there are really different answers for each product or service, and you’ll have to do this process for each. Yes, it’s a ton of work. Grow up and put your big boy pants on. Do the work, if you want great results. Otherwise, you might as well go waste time on Facebook and get mediocre business results. There are plenty of people creating distracting content that will help you procrastinate.

If you want to do the work- you can list 3 or 5 or whatever I ask, or you can write 10-20. If you write more of them, you’ll end up with better copy. Brainstorming never goes out of style for those whose fashion is marketing results.

  1. BENEFITS: List 5 benefits (problems you solve, and the positive version of that)- ALSO, decide on the CHIEF BENEFIT- this is the most valuable one, the one people are most likely to buy, the easiest one to sell.
  2. TARGET MARKET: List 3 specific types of people who it’s for- could be personality types, job titles, or family roles, for example.
  3. COMPETITORS: List 5 competitors- and I don’t necessarily mean specific companies. For example,
  4. WITHOUTS: List 5 things customers have to do now or think they’ll have to do, but don’t have to, with your solution. List 3 things your competitors require them to do that you don’t.
  5. PROBLEMS: List 3 problems they have without your help, and each of their 3 solutions.
  6. MISTAKES: List 5 mistakes your customers make without you, and the consequences of each.
  7. LIES: List 3 lies they’ve been told about the issue and the truth about each
  8. TIPS: List 5 tips you have for them to solve their problems
  9. SUPERLATIVES: List 5 things your company is first at, best at, most whatever, cheapest, oldest, latest, newest, funnest (I love that word), largest etc. – check out wikipedia superlatives lists
  10. CONFESSIONS: list 3 confessions where you screwed up
  11. PROCESSES: list 3-5 specific processes you use, anything you’ve trademarked or patented… e.g. Google’s PageRank, Facebook’s Newsfeed Algorithm… I made up one called “The Rock Star Effect”
  12. SPECIFIC RESULTS: List 5 very specific results- quantify some aspect of your solution.
  13. CASE STUDIES: Quantify the results for 3 standout customers- if you absolutely can’t quantify it, find the most impactful way to convey
  14. SOCIAL PROOF: Quantify how many customers you have, or if you can’t or won’t, get 5 testimonial quotes from customers. When you ask for these quotes, try to get them to say what concrete benefit or result you had for them. That makes for better copy!
  15. EXPERT PROOF: Get 3 quotes from experts about your solution/product

Now if you actually do that work above, you have a TON of ammo to create a shotgun blast of sniper bullets. And THAT was the worst chimera of a meta-analogy-phor I’ve ever created! Forgive me.

Also, if you want to do humor, come up with hyperboles (exaggerations) of the above… you’ll see what I mean in the last few molecule examples below.

10 Example Marketing Molecules

Molecules are composed of elements. Now that you have all those marketing elements (because you answered all those questions above, right?), we can form marketing molecules out of them. Combine all of your marketing elements into marketing molecules and test them!

After you combine them, you can add other aspects of copywriting wisdom to complete the molecule. The first two of these should look familiar- they probably account for 68.2% of the Internet’s non-horrible blog posts.

  1. List # BENEFIT: example, “3 Tips For Becoming Your Potential Buyer’s #1 Choice”
  2. How To BENEFIT: “How To Get On The Media’s Radar”
  3. DOUBLE BENEFIT: “How To Get On The Media’s Radar And Be Your Potential Customer’s #1 Choice”
  4. USP = SUPERLATIVE + CHIEF BENEFIT, e.g. “The Awareness Blueprint™ Is The Only Marketing Course That Can Transform Your Company Into The Rock Star #1 Choice In Your Niche…
    Even On A Modest Budget.” But of course for 90 character ads, you have to shorten that, so you can create two versions from it, “The Only Course That Makes Your Brand Your Niche’s #1 Choice, Even On A Modest Budget.” and “The ONLY Course If You Want To Get On The Media’s Radar And Be Your Customer’s #1 Choice.”
  5. Stronger USP = SUPERLATIVE + CHIEF BENEFIT + WITHOUT, if you can fit all that in! “The #1 Course For Brand Awareness Without Wasting Time or Money”
  6. BENEFIT + WITHOUT: I’ve found in my Facebook ad tests that benefits get an even higher CTR when you add a WITHOUT to them, e.g. “Finally Make People Pay Attention To Your Company Without Wasting Your Time Or Money”
  7. BENEFIT + COMPETITION: Emails, tweets and facebook posts are all competitors for your attention. That enables me to write copy like: “How To Get Your Brand Noticed Amongst Millions Of Businesses, Tweets, Posts and Videos”
  8. SPECIFIC RESULT: “Want Your Company Seen By 2.8 Million Members Of The Media In Newspapers, TV And Radio?”
  9. TESTIMONIAL QUOTE BENEFIT: “How On Earth Did Your Company Get This Much Attention And Acclaim?” or “Brian tells business owners where to put their marketing dollars to get maximum reach.”
  10. An End To a PROBLEM: “An End To People Doubting Your Company Because They’ve Never Heard Of It”
  11. List # Mistakes + Avoid: “5 Mistakes Brands Make With Publicity And How To Avoid Them”
  12. Step By Step BENEFIT WITHOUT: “Your Exact, Step-by-Step Blueprint For Mega Brand Awareness Without Wasting Time or Money”
  13. Want to sell with humor? Add HYPERBOLE: “How To Get Potential Customers To Stalk You Because They Can’t Wait Til Morning To Buy From You” or “5 Mistakes Brands Make With Publicity That Lead To Public Flogging” – Ok neither of those is hilarious, but I just made them up. And you’re going to have to write at least 20 jokes to find one funny one… sorry, but that’s a pretty standard comedy industry ratio. And I’m not going to write 18 more right now :-p

Write a bunch of them. Applying these to content creation is how you make sure you’re creating content that sells. A lot of the 15 elements above are the things that convince people to buy. There are a bunch of other elements out there like funny videos and animated gifs will not necessarily sell.

adideasexcelMy first use for mine was Facebook ads. I wrote 60, put them in excel to find out how many characters were in each one (the formula is =LEN(cell)), and then rewrote or split up any that were over 90 characters. Then I created another column called “central”. I can’t test 60 ads at once, or at least I didn’t want to, so I asked myself, which of these communicate the central thing about my course? And how central on a scale of 1-10 were they? Your USP is going to be pretty central. I also numbered the ads for easy reference in my facebook ad names.

It’s not a bad idea to use them as Facebook ads first to see what your target market clicks on the most. It’s the quickest, cheapest, easiest way to test. Read this post about that. Once I find out which ones get the best CTR or conversion rates, I’ll pick from the top 3-5 and reuse them as subject lines and tweets and other content.

That’s all folks! Copy the elements questions above into a document and start answering them! 🙂

11 Ways Your Website Redesigns Destroy Search Traffic – And How You Can Keep Yours!

Posted on Posted in Digital Marketing, Internet Marketing Strategy, SEO

countingI don’t have enough fingers to count how many companies have come to me AFTER losing their search traffic, AFTER a website redesign. Sometimes I can still help them, sometimes I can’t.

Your traffic, is your lifeblood. For a business with a website that creates customers, traffic is cash.

Some people assume that website designers all know enough about SEO to prevent cataclysmic traffic loss, but they don’t.

In fact, some of the things that some website designers value (for example: less text, more images and changing site navigation for aesthetic reasons) can hurt your rankings directly.

Website redesigns can be good- they can be necessary sometimes to improve branding or other issues- but there are limits to what you can do if you want to keep your traffic.

And anytime your page names, folder names, site structure or domain names changes, there are specific things you must do to keep your rankings and traffic.

The Top 11 Causes of Search Ranking and Traffic Loss

  1. Drastically reducing the number of pages in the site
  2. Reducing the amount of text on the site, replacing it with images
  3. Changing text copy based only on marketing considerations without considering keywords
  4. Increased page load times
  5. Doing work on existing domain rather than a staging server
  6. Changing site navigation- losing text aspect of menus or increasing the number of pages the homepage links to
  7. Changing site structure and URL structure without redirects
  8. Losing pages that many other websites link to
  9. If using a meta robots noindex nofollow code during redesign on staging server, forgetting to remove it at launch
  10. No sitemap.xml file- may or may not hurt
  11. Changing domain without letting Google know

11 Corresponding Ways to Preserve SEO and Traffic

Each of these is the solution to the same number above.

  1. Keep as many pages of content as possible
  2. Keep as much text as possible
  3. Don’t drastically change text copy
  4. Don’t create pages that take much longer to load, if possible reduce page load times
  5. Work on a staging server until everything including redirects are ready
  6. Keep site navigation as-is
  7. Keep site structure and URLs as-is, second best option is 301 redirects or mod rewrites- if a 5,000 page 301 redirect file is needed for launch, make sure you have a logic in mind about how new site is organizing the old pages
  8. Keep the most linked-to pages as-is
  9. Use meta robots noindex nofollow tag on staging server, then at launch remove it
  10. Create a sitemap.xml file
  11. If doing a change of domain name, add and verify Google webmaster tools on old site and new site BEFORE redesign, then at launch use change of address tool

If you have any questions, or would like an SEO site audit or SEO services, the Carter Group can help. Contact us today.

We can work alongside your website design team to audit the site and create a plan for getting what you need from the redesign without losing traffic and hurting your bottom line.

The 5 Most Dangerous Mistakes You’re Making With “Free Marketing” – And What To Do About Them

Posted on Posted in Digital Marketing, Social Media

Here Are The Top Five Reasons People Fail To Get Free Internet Marketing Results — And How To Make Sure YOU Avoid Every One Of These Deadly Common Mistakes

We all want big Internet marketing results without paying for them. Don’t you want…

  • Facebook likes, comments and shares– without buying Facebook Ads?
  • Google traffic– without buying Google Ads?
  • Twitter replies and retweets– without buying Twitter Ads?
  • Quality leads and actual sales– from free traffic?

The good news is there are proven ways to get free marketing results and you can start today.

What follows are the five biggest mistakes I’ve made trying to get free marketing results, and how you can avoid each and every one of them.

What’s in this post?

  • You can read the whole blog post… and that’s where the links to other resources are.
  • There’s a summary chart at the bottom of the blog post.
  • I made a video going through the chart if you’d rather listen than read, and that’s right here:

MISTAKE #1: Doing It ALONE

1mistake

Ever had to wait on someone for something so you could finish your work? It sucks. It’s so much easier when you can do it all yourself.

We can get a lot done SOLO. That works for a while, and will take you a ways.

But there’s a limit to how far we can go by ourselves.

No one is an island. And no company is either.

Partner up.

  • Write guest posts for free. This gets you traffic and lends you credibility that begins to create trust.
  • Write ebooks for pay. Propose an ebook idea to someone at a company that outsources some of their content marketing. More and more companies do that, every day.
  • Interview people for your podcast or blog post or your own lead gen ebook.

Those activities will grow your business in ways you’ll never predict.

It’s not just freelancers who make the DOING IT ALONE mistake…

I also made this mistake when I was a marketer in a bigger company. We were focused only on OUR website or blog. We interacted only with people in OUR company. We weren’t looking for partnerships or peers or mentors. As a result, we were an ISLAND that people didn’t KNOW or CARE about.

Marketers at larger companies can neglect partnership and miss out on new exposure and opportunities because we think we don’t need it, or it will be too complicated to get approval for it. True, it’s easier to get approval if it’s the kind of thing you already do, or other companies already do.

So, encourage employees to apply to speak at conferences. Put on webinars. You just need to partner with event planners and subject matter experts to make that happen. These may not be 100% free, but they’re close to it, and relative to advertising costs for large companies, might as well be free.

Non-profits and charities have raise money with Twitter and Kickstarter campaigns. In 2008, along with a number of other influencers, I helped Epic Change promote their first Tweetsgiving (which raised $10,000 to build a school in Africa).

Amanda Palmer raised $1.1 million and did a cool TED talk about asking with vulnerability. Check it out.

Asking for stuff will get you shares, retweets and MONEY.

Do it.

MISTAKE #2: Doing It ONLINE ONLY

2mistake

AllFacebook-Expo-2013My accountant recently reviewed where our business came from over the last three years. It was mostly from networking and conferences. A handful of key people have each referred us more than $10,000 of business. One person, in 2013, indirectly got us more than $100,000 in business.

When I met these people, I didn’t know which ones were going to be so valuable to our business.

Meeting people and getting to know them has turned into speaking gigs, working on big brands like Dramamine and Chloraseptic, writing ebooks for Marketo and Microsoft and others. Those came directly or indirectly from meeting with real people in real life– not just blogging or emailing people.

For example:

I met Derrick Wheeler at Pubcon, a conference I was speaking at (but not being paid). We both had a weird Zoolander sense of humor, so at the techno club event, we had a dance-off. He thinks he won. I think I won. But that doesn’t matter. We became friends, and a few years later, Derrick asked me to keynote the social media day at a Microsoft SEO Conference. It was a real speaking gig where I got paid and they paid for airfare, hotel and expenses. It led to connecting with another guy in their Partner Hosting Network, which led to a ton of other work, more connections and more companies to work for. That whole string of connections and work, already worth nearly $50,000 still hasn’t ended. All from just being a goofball at an event.

In email marketing they say the money is in your list. That’s true. And on a larger scale, the money is in your network.

Who do you know? Who knows you?

Reach out and connect, and it will pay off for you.

I phone with interesting people to see if we can help each other. I trade consulting with a PR expert. Recently, I got into my first mastermind group (these are groups that get together to share and help each other move forward). It’s already helped me (and in fact led to me writing this post). All of these have helped me improve my business and marketing, and some have led to paid work.

Grow your network and nurture it weekly. It can take years, but it pays off big.

MISTAKE #3. Self-Centered Posting

3mistake

dumbpeople everyehereIt can take us years to understand that…

What our AUDIENCE AND CUSTOMERS like and share with other people is often NOT THE SAME as what WE want to write and post about.

“My audience is dumb,” we sometimes think. Oh really? Then how come we aren’t getting bigger results?

Or “This thing we’re posting is really important!” Oh really? Then why aren’t more people interacting with it?

“The boss said we had to post this. But no one interacts with it, so it hurts our Facebook visibility and our relationships with our prospects.” I hear you. I’ve been there.

Everybody at times thinks, “My boss doesn’t get it.” How can we overcome that? Make sure when you report on which social posts and blog posts and videos WORKED that the boss understands what the success METRIC is, and how those “important posts” performed compared to the others.

Show the boss (in private where you’re not making their ideas look dumb to everyone) what the top performers and bottom performers look like. What do the BEST performers have in common? What do the WORST ones have in common? Write it down. Keep track.

In most cases, this will decrease how often they ask you to do posts. It might even help your boss come up with better post ideas!

Study the titles of posts that get a lot of shares with BuzzSumo, a search engine for super-shared content. I did that for this post- looking to see how many mistakes are in the most shared “mistakes” posts. It looked like five was best. I originally had three, but as I wrote I found one more and realized the first two needed to be divided anyway, so I had five!

Doing the ebook on Contagious Content for Marketo helped me discover the six things you should do for more Facebook and the four things you should never do– and those lessons work for tweets and blog post and video ideas too.

If you haven’t used graph search to see what your fans (or fans of the biggest page in your niche) like, do that. You’ll get a much better idea who they are than you have right now.

MISTAKE #4. Website Neglect

4mistake

email pop up testsThere were years where I wrote my best blog posts on other people’s sites.

That’s ok (and I recommend some of that), but it doesn’t make the cash register ring as fast as a really amazing post on your own site.

I was almost exclusively contributing to building authority for OTHER people’s sites instead of my own!

I wrote hundreds of posts for years on Blogger blogs. That was smart when it gave me the #1 Google ranking for “AdWords Consultant”. But it also kept me from getting the amazing results people get from installing WordPress on their own domain.

I’ve had probably four main websites in the last 15 years- but I neglected them.

  • I didn’t blog regularly.
  • I didn’t improve my branding enough.
  • I didn’t hire a real designing or branding person to take it to the next level.
  • I didn’t install really good WordPress plugins to more quickly ramp up my email lists and social shares.

I finally really changed that about two months ago.

Here’s what I’ve done to ramp up my free traffic, social interaction, leads and business opportunities:

  • I merged my two websites into one (and did all that good 301 redirect stuff to keep my search engine authority).
  • I moved to a better WordPress theme and redid my graphics.
  • I hired a branding person (doesn’t really fit into this article- but the point is I am investing in my own brand).
  • I added plugins like Pippity, vCita Contact and KingSumo headlines to boost my emails, my leads and the virality of my blog post titles. These aren’t free but there are free alternatives.
    • Pippity allows me to split-test email pop-ups; and that has helped me get 300% more email sign ups than I would have with the worst design. My worst email pop-up only got 1.9% of visitors to opt in. My best one gets 8.6% of people to opt in. you only get a certain amount of traffic every week- get as many email addresses as you can out of that. Pippity isn’t free- so if you want a free one, check out opt-in revolution or pop-up alley.
    • vCita Contact is good for freelancers who want people to be able to contact them or schedule appointments. Many WordPress themes have a contact page template you can use. If yours doesn’t, then for a free alternative, check out Contact Form 7.
    • KingSumo’s Headlines allows me to write 3-5 headlines for each blog post, and it tests which ones people click on the most, then it settles on the best one for the long-term. Since titles are the biggest determining factor in whether people click, share or retweet, you should be investing good time into headline writing and testing. This will multiply all of your traffic, leads and sales. There don’t appear to be any up-to-date free headline testing WordPress plugins, but you can change your blog post title weekly and manually check to see which worked best.

MISTAKE #5. Shy Posting

5mistake

Do you ever worry that you’re posting too much?

Turns out, we could post a heck of a lot more than most of us think. And more posting means more traffic, leads, sales… so posting too little is a big missed opportunity.

The fact is, most people aren’t seeing most of our social posts.

Here are the FACTS:

  • The research shows that most Facebook posts get most of their interaction within 30 minutes.
  • Facebook admits that only 16% of your fans see your posts.
  • Few people have studied what percentage of their Twitter followers are looking at their streams when you tweet any one tweet- but it’s likely less than 11%, because that’s roughly the MOST of your followers who are active on Twitter during any one hour.
  • The most interacted with Twitter profiles tweet 20-25 times a day.

So we shouldn’t be afraid of overwhelming our friends and fans and followers. They aren’t seeing most of our stuff!

One of the first Facebook pages I studied, before writing The Like Economy, was SuperheroStuff.com. They were getting real ecommerce profits from Facebook in 2011. And at that time everyone recommended posting once a day, max. Superherostuff was posting eight times a day. Four interaction posts and four sales posts. And they doubled their revenue just from their first year going onto Facebook. I always hold them up as an example of being willing to break the rules and see what works. It’s hard to argue with profits, especially when such a small percentage of Facebook pages are profitable.

The facts above mean:

  • We could Facebook post every hour. And if people around the world are your audience, that could be 24 hours a day. That’s 24 Facebook posts a day.
  • We can tweet at least 20-25 times a day.
  • Let’s say you post the same things to Facebook and Twitter- that’s roughly 20 times seven days = 140 pieces of content.

Now that’s a lot of content. Most of us can only create a few new original pieces of blog content a week, if that! And creating a GOOD post once a day on Facebook is hard enough, right?

So how could we possibly post 140 times a week???

Curation, my friend.

Curating means using tools like BuzzsumoBufferPostPlanner and Rignite to find and post other people’s content.

But won’t that send traffic to other websites, not ours? Yes- but there are ways to get something out of it. With PostPlanner, you can set up a sharebar that shows your info at the top of the page, above whatever you’ve shared.

Even if you’re not curating- you have great content on your site or blog- are you continuing to tweet and Facebook about it, or did you only do that once? If the content is still good, keep posting about it so more people can see it! Every good blog post needs a social post campaign scheduled ahead. Rignite is great for this- here are some of my results.

rigniteshortlinks

If I had only posted about those once, I would have missed at least 95% of those clicks you see above.

The free option for FINDING posts is Buzzsumo. For SCHEDULING posts it’s HootSuite. Once you find all the content you want to share, you can manually schedule it all ahead of time. But this is time consuming. I think there’s a real trade off here- $10 a month to Buffer is worth it, in my opinion, for the extra exposure, clicks and time savings on what I’d have to do to find all that content and set it up to post repeatedly.

Here’s a summary graphic!

5-free-marketing-mistakes

The 5 Most Dangerous Mistakes You're Making With "Free Marketing" – And What To Do About Them

Posted on Posted in Digital Marketing, Social Media

Here Are The Top Five Reasons People Fail To Get Free Internet Marketing Results — And How To Make Sure YOU Avoid Every One Of These Deadly Common Mistakes

We all want big Internet marketing results without paying for them. Don’t you want…

  • Facebook likes, comments and shares– without buying Facebook Ads?
  • Google traffic– without buying Google Ads?
  • Twitter replies and retweets– without buying Twitter Ads?
  • Quality leads and actual sales– from free traffic?

The good news is there are proven ways to get free marketing results and you can start today.

What follows are the five biggest mistakes I’ve made trying to get free marketing results, and how you can avoid each and every one of them.

What’s in this post?

  • You can read the whole blog post… and that’s where the links to other resources are.
  • There’s a summary chart at the bottom of the blog post.
  • I made a video going through the chart if you’d rather listen than read, and that’s right here:

MISTAKE #1: Doing It ALONE

1mistake

Ever had to wait on someone for something so you could finish your work? It sucks. It’s so much easier when you can do it all yourself.

We can get a lot done SOLO. That works for a while, and will take you a ways.

But there’s a limit to how far we can go by ourselves.

No one is an island. And no company is either.

Partner up.

  • Write guest posts for free. This gets you traffic and lends you credibility that begins to create trust.
  • Write ebooks for pay. Propose an ebook idea to someone at a company that outsources some of their content marketing. More and more companies do that, every day.
  • Interview people for your podcast or blog post or your own lead gen ebook.

Those activities will grow your business in ways you’ll never predict.

It’s not just freelancers who make the DOING IT ALONE mistake…

I also made this mistake when I was a marketer in a bigger company. We were focused only on OUR website or blog. We interacted only with people in OUR company. We weren’t looking for partnerships or peers or mentors. As a result, we were an ISLAND that people didn’t KNOW or CARE about.

Marketers at larger companies can neglect partnership and miss out on new exposure and opportunities because we think we don’t need it, or it will be too complicated to get approval for it. True, it’s easier to get approval if it’s the kind of thing you already do, or other companies already do.

So, encourage employees to apply to speak at conferences. Put on webinars. You just need to partner with event planners and subject matter experts to make that happen. These may not be 100% free, but they’re close to it, and relative to advertising costs for large companies, might as well be free.

Non-profits and charities have raise money with Twitter and Kickstarter campaigns. In 2008, along with a number of other influencers, I helped Epic Change promote their first Tweetsgiving (which raised $10,000 to build a school in Africa).

Amanda Palmer raised $1.1 million and did a cool TED talk about asking with vulnerability. Check it out.

Asking for stuff will get you shares, retweets and MONEY.

Do it.

MISTAKE #2: Doing It ONLINE ONLY

2mistake

AllFacebook-Expo-2013My accountant recently reviewed where our business came from over the last three years. It was mostly from networking and conferences. A handful of key people have each referred us more than $10,000 of business. One person, in 2013, indirectly got us more than $100,000 in business.

When I met these people, I didn’t know which ones were going to be so valuable to our business.

Meeting people and getting to know them has turned into speaking gigs, working on big brands like Dramamine and Chloraseptic, writing ebooks for Marketo and Microsoft and others. Those came directly or indirectly from meeting with real people in real life– not just blogging or emailing people.

For example:

I met Derrick Wheeler at Pubcon, a conference I was speaking at (but not being paid). We both had a weird Zoolander sense of humor, so at the techno club event, we had a dance-off. He thinks he won. I think I won. But that doesn’t matter. We became friends, and a few years later, Derrick asked me to keynote the social media day at a Microsoft SEO Conference. It was a real speaking gig where I got paid and they paid for airfare, hotel and expenses. It led to connecting with another guy in their Partner Hosting Network, which led to a ton of other work, more connections and more companies to work for. That whole string of connections and work, already worth nearly $50,000 still hasn’t ended. All from just being a goofball at an event.

In email marketing they say the money is in your list. That’s true. And on a larger scale, the money is in your network.

Who do you know? Who knows you?

Reach out and connect, and it will pay off for you.

I phone with interesting people to see if we can help each other. I trade consulting with a PR expert. Recently, I got into my first mastermind group (these are groups that get together to share and help each other move forward). It’s already helped me (and in fact led to me writing this post). All of these have helped me improve my business and marketing, and some have led to paid work.

Grow your network and nurture it weekly. It can take years, but it pays off big.

MISTAKE #3. Self-Centered Posting

3mistake

dumbpeople everyehereIt can take us years to understand that…

What our AUDIENCE AND CUSTOMERS like and share with other people is often NOT THE SAME as what WE want to write and post about.

“My audience is dumb,” we sometimes think. Oh really? Then how come we aren’t getting bigger results?

Or “This thing we’re posting is really important!” Oh really? Then why aren’t more people interacting with it?

“The boss said we had to post this. But no one interacts with it, so it hurts our Facebook visibility and our relationships with our prospects.” I hear you. I’ve been there.

Everybody at times thinks, “My boss doesn’t get it.” How can we overcome that? Make sure when you report on which social posts and blog posts and videos WORKED that the boss understands what the success METRIC is, and how those “important posts” performed compared to the others.

Show the boss (in private where you’re not making their ideas look dumb to everyone) what the top performers and bottom performers look like. What do the BEST performers have in common? What do the WORST ones have in common? Write it down. Keep track.

In most cases, this will decrease how often they ask you to do posts. It might even help your boss come up with better post ideas!

Study the titles of posts that get a lot of shares with BuzzSumo, a search engine for super-shared content. I did that for this post- looking to see how many mistakes are in the most shared “mistakes” posts. It looked like five was best. I originally had three, but as I wrote I found one more and realized the first two needed to be divided anyway, so I had five!

Doing the ebook on Contagious Content for Marketo helped me discover the six things you should do for more Facebook and the four things you should never do– and those lessons work for tweets and blog post and video ideas too.

If you haven’t used graph search to see what your fans (or fans of the biggest page in your niche) like, do that. You’ll get a much better idea who they are than you have right now.

MISTAKE #4. Website Neglect

4mistake

email pop up testsThere were years where I wrote my best blog posts on other people’s sites.

That’s ok (and I recommend some of that), but it doesn’t make the cash register ring as fast as a really amazing post on your own site.

I was almost exclusively contributing to building authority for OTHER people’s sites instead of my own!

I wrote hundreds of posts for years on Blogger blogs. That was smart when it gave me the #1 Google ranking for “AdWords Consultant”. But it also kept me from getting the amazing results people get from installing WordPress on their own domain.

I’ve had probably four main websites in the last 15 years- but I neglected them.

  • I didn’t blog regularly.
  • I didn’t improve my branding enough.
  • I didn’t hire a real designing or branding person to take it to the next level.
  • I didn’t install really good WordPress plugins to more quickly ramp up my email lists and social shares.

I finally really changed that about two months ago.

Here’s what I’ve done to ramp up my free traffic, social interaction, leads and business opportunities:

  • I merged my two websites into one (and did all that good 301 redirect stuff to keep my search engine authority).
  • I moved to a better WordPress theme and redid my graphics.
  • I hired a branding person (doesn’t really fit into this article- but the point is I am investing in my own brand).
  • I added plugins like Pippity, vCita Contact and KingSumo headlines to boost my emails, my leads and the virality of my blog post titles. These aren’t free but there are free alternatives.
    • Pippity allows me to split-test email pop-ups; and that has helped me get 300% more email sign ups than I would have with the worst design. My worst email pop-up only got 1.9% of visitors to opt in. My best one gets 8.6% of people to opt in. you only get a certain amount of traffic every week- get as many email addresses as you can out of that. Pippity isn’t free- so if you want a free one, check out opt-in revolution or pop-up alley.
    • vCita Contact is good for freelancers who want people to be able to contact them or schedule appointments. Many WordPress themes have a contact page template you can use. If yours doesn’t, then for a free alternative, check out Contact Form 7.
    • KingSumo’s Headlines allows me to write 3-5 headlines for each blog post, and it tests which ones people click on the most, then it settles on the best one for the long-term. Since titles are the biggest determining factor in whether people click, share or retweet, you should be investing good time into headline writing and testing. This will multiply all of your traffic, leads and sales. There don’t appear to be any up-to-date free headline testing WordPress plugins, but you can change your blog post title weekly and manually check to see which worked best.

MISTAKE #5. Shy Posting

5mistake

Do you ever worry that you’re posting too much?

Turns out, we could post a heck of a lot more than most of us think. And more posting means more traffic, leads, sales… so posting too little is a big missed opportunity.

The fact is, most people aren’t seeing most of our social posts.

Here are the FACTS:

  • The research shows that most Facebook posts get most of their interaction within 30 minutes.
  • Facebook admits that only 16% of your fans see your posts.
  • Few people have studied what percentage of their Twitter followers are looking at their streams when you tweet any one tweet- but it’s likely less than 11%, because that’s roughly the MOST of your followers who are active on Twitter during any one hour.
  • The most interacted with Twitter profiles tweet 20-25 times a day.

So we shouldn’t be afraid of overwhelming our friends and fans and followers. They aren’t seeing most of our stuff!

One of the first Facebook pages I studied, before writing The Like Economy, was SuperheroStuff.com. They were getting real ecommerce profits from Facebook in 2011. And at that time everyone recommended posting once a day, max. Superherostuff was posting eight times a day. Four interaction posts and four sales posts. And they doubled their revenue just from their first year going onto Facebook. I always hold them up as an example of being willing to break the rules and see what works. It’s hard to argue with profits, especially when such a small percentage of Facebook pages are profitable.

The facts above mean:

  • We could Facebook post every hour. And if people around the world are your audience, that could be 24 hours a day. That’s 24 Facebook posts a day.
  • We can tweet at least 20-25 times a day.
  • Let’s say you post the same things to Facebook and Twitter- that’s roughly 20 times seven days = 140 pieces of content.

Now that’s a lot of content. Most of us can only create a few new original pieces of blog content a week, if that! And creating a GOOD post once a day on Facebook is hard enough, right?

So how could we possibly post 140 times a week???

Curation, my friend.

Curating means using tools like BuzzsumoBufferPostPlanner and Rignite to find and post other people’s content.

But won’t that send traffic to other websites, not ours? Yes- but there are ways to get something out of it. With PostPlanner, you can set up a sharebar that shows your info at the top of the page, above whatever you’ve shared.

Even if you’re not curating- you have great content on your site or blog- are you continuing to tweet and Facebook about it, or did you only do that once? If the content is still good, keep posting about it so more people can see it! Every good blog post needs a social post campaign scheduled ahead. Rignite is great for this- here are some of my results.

rigniteshortlinks

If I had only posted about those once, I would have missed at least 95% of those clicks you see above.

The free option for FINDING posts is Buzzsumo. For SCHEDULING posts it’s HootSuite. Once you find all the content you want to share, you can manually schedule it all ahead of time. But this is time consuming. I think there’s a real trade off here- $10 a month to Buffer is worth it, in my opinion, for the extra exposure, clicks and time savings on what I’d have to do to find all that content and set it up to post repeatedly.

Here’s a summary graphic!

5-free-marketing-mistakes