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18 Why You Must Change Your Content Marketing Approach

Now that pretty much everyone on the planet gets the importance of content marketing it’s time to throw a wrench in the works. To remain effective with your content marketing efforts you must constantly evaluate, change and evolve!

I know you may not want to hear that, but content only provides value when it’s useful and the consumer always determines what useful looks like. As more and more content marketers experiment with content form, length, frequency, mode, delivery, and style the consumer pallet for content continues to mature and evolve and you must do so with it. content marketing

I’ve been participating in content marketing for about fifteen years now, long before we called it that, but I’ve always tried to stay in touch with the wants and needs of the reader.

My first efforts were articles placed in directories and shared in an ezine. (How’s that for some nostalgia) In 2003 I started blogging here and that’s driven a great deal of my growth for over a decade.

Over the years my email newsletter has become more of a place to filter, aggregate and share other people’s content in snack sized versions. I produced my first eBook in 2004 or so and now feature ten, including some I’ve licensed from other writers.

We now feature guest blog post two and sometimes three times a week and I contribute blog style articles to about a dozen publications on a regular basis. Social media has obviously opened new doors in terms of sharing and generating new forms of content.

I believe the future of content marketing, however, rests in our ability to evolve to a more personalized form of creation and delivery where the end reader participates in the curation and creation of the content they request from marketers.

This next step will require even more from content marketers if they are to continue to deliver value in an saturated field of more and more content. I reached out to some well-known content marketers and asked them to share how their content marketing thoughts had evolved over the last few years.

Their responses are both fascinating and informative.

Enjoy!

Online content strategy has changed over the last couple of years. The focus is still on providing value, but this has been honed even further. I see businesses being more strategic about the type of content they publish online, to build the communities they want. There’s more long term strategy in the content they produce. I see businesses blogging less often but with deeper content to create strong evergreen content relevant to their business. I see others sharing more thoughtful pieces of content to connect with the right people. A few years ago providing value might have been enough to get traction to impact your business, but it’s also very important to create the type of coherent online visibility you need to establish relationships. Combining the two is essential today. There’s just too much noise, too many people publishing the same thing. And of course you need a visual marketing strategy to go hand in hand with your written content if you want to really take advantage of social media reach today.

Cindy King
Director of Editorial
Social Media Examiner

Different people in your target audience (whomever that audience may be) have varying preferences for content format, platform, approach, etc. I always knew this to be true, but in the past two years I’ve really embraced the concept that there is no such thing as all-powerful content. No magic bullet. No reliable home runs. Consequently, I’m striving to create more and more content types native to more and more content platforms, so that there is something from me in the style and format that’s preferable to each person in my tribe. That’s why I’m doing more podcasting, videos, ebooks, slideshare and just about everything else. Instead of trying to do one thing extraordinarily well, I’m trying to do many things very good. It’s not easy, but content can’t fully succeed as the tip of the spear – you need the whole spear.

Jay Baer
Convince and Convert

In the last two years, I have changed my ideas about blogging. I used to do more video posts with tutorials but I’ve switched to posting very long text posts with a lot of screenshots as my primary blog post and then occasionally add in video posts. I’ve found that having a lot of screenshots is great for people who are scanners. Even though my video posts were usually around 3-5 minutes in length, not everyone wants to sit through them. My blog posts are typically between 1000-2000 words which is much longer than I used to write when I had written posts. I’m also focusing this year on posting 2-3 times per week on my blog rather than just 1 time per week. It doesn’t always happen but I do like when I can post more often because it allows me to post a little more variety of content. I can post one in-depth technical post about Facebook or social media, and then also post something slightly different about business motivation or more general marketing or even something more personal about my journey. I’ve found that people have really responded to my personal posts – they don’t always get the biggest amount of traffic but they definitely get the most comments and I think they are great for connecting with your readers.

Andrea Vahl

Over the last two years, I’ve attempted to add more contrast to my content. It has often been said that content is king. However, with so much content out there it can all start to blend together so I’ve been focusing on making contrast king. This way, my readers look forward to what’s coming next. There’s more anticipation and surprise and, as a result, more attention and conversation is produced.

Michael Port
Book Yourself Solid

1. Publishing on weekends – CMI now publishes posts on Saturday and Sunday, as we’ve noticed that the posts get a bit more attention with less competition on those days. 2. Audio/Podcasts – Last year, we launched our first podcast and have seen amazing results. In the anticipation of more opportunities to get access to iTunes (ala Apple CarPlay), we are in the process of launching a podcast network as part of our core content offerings. 3. More In-Person Events – A decade ago, we were under the impression that social media might lead to people less likely to travel to events. Actually, the opposite has happened. With more networking going on via the Internet, people are actually craving more in-person, face-to-face time. So over the past two years we’ve added an event in Asia Pacific, as well as five additional events in North America.

Joe Pulizzi
Content Marketing Institute

We’ve not really changed much at all with regard to our content during the course of the last couple of years. Since launching our corporate blog, we’ve always focused on just one thing: our audience. We try to write content for the blog that is informative, educational and which can help marketers (our audience) do what they do more efficiently, effectively and with fewer headaches. We try to stay on top of trends, tools, and must-know, must-consider things as marketers develop and execute their integrated marketing strategies. Much like you, we understand that relationships today are built with information, and by giving it away (information), people come to trust and rely on us as a go-to source for whatever it is they need. I use just one phrase as a barometer (and I use this when I’m on the road speaking as well): How do you know if you’re doing it right? Ask yourself just one questions: Is it good for people. If so, then you’re doing it right. I believe that applies to every facet of your content marketing and lead gen initiatives: website, landing page campaigns, blog, social, email, and is applicable both online and off.

Shelly Kramer
V3 Integrated Marketing

“At Social Media Examiner our approach to content has not fundamentally changed in the last five years with two exceptions. We still publish 1000+ word articles that are extensively edited by a team of at least 6 editors. However, the first major change is the use of images. We custom design Facebook open graph and Twitter card images for our high profile articles to help them appear better in social. This means we have a designer create a nice image with words that will compel more clicks and shares. Secondly, we have upped the frequency of our original content from six times a week to ten. This means publishing two articles per day on most days.”

Mike Stelzner
Social Media Examiner

The last two years have been a time when we’ve experimented a fair bit with our content on numerous fronts including: 1. we’ve seen our longer form content do very well so have experimented with what we internally refer to as ‘mega-posts’ that are more comprehensive guides to larger topics. These posts are generally 2000+ words (and have gone as high as over 5000 words). While this isn’t what we publish every day we’ve tried to throw them into the mix ever few weeks and have been rewarded with great sharing, traffic and comments. 2. I’ve experimented increasingly with repurposing posts in different mediums. This has included using content previously published on the blog as slideshares and republishing older posts on LinkedIn and Google+ (usually with updates). I’ve also done it around the other way by publishing content that was still in a ‘first draft’ format to LinkedIn to get reader reactions before publishing it to the blog. 3. On ProBlogger we’ve also slowed our frequency down slightly and have been experimenting with ‘themed weeks’ where we tackle a larger topic over a series of posts over 5-6 days. This means we’ve been able to dig deeper into topics and build momentum. These theme weeks have been very well received. 4. The other major change for me has been the way I’m sharing content. I’ve put a huge effort into Facebook (on Digital Photography School) where we’ve gone from auto-posing new posts to 5-6 manual updates every day. The results of this have been amazing for us – while others are seeing reduced results with Facebook we’ve seen significant improvements in our organic reach, engagement and traffic driven from Facebook.

Darren Rowse
ProBlogger

I’ve become even more convinced of the power of brevity.

Dan Pink
To Sell Is Human

I just made a change… this week! After 5+ years of writing two posts a week, I’m now publishing content every day. It wasn’t so much that I thought “more is better” — the old way was good for a while, too. But then it became stale and I felt like I wasn’t challenging myself. Just as important, I felt like I wasn’t serving my readers well. The new blog has a lot of more frequent, shorter content, as well as a new series of Reader Stories and Profiles to highlight some of the great people in the community. So far, I’m very happy with the change and I think the readers are too.

Chris Guillebeau
The Art of Non-Conformity

I tend to go to longer content in social media and shorter content in blogs and direct response. I’m not sure why other than I use stories in social media and those tend to go longer. I don’t know that I’m using content for just education about ‘how to’ — but education about who I am and how I serve, how I live and how I see the world.

Carrie Wilkerson
Barefoot Executive

I stopped sending newsletters monthly that were long and had multiple subjects to it. I found that they were not getting read. Now I send brief single subject emails weekly with very enticing titles to get open, click thrus and shares. This has resulted in much better open rates and easier content generation.

Barry Moltz
barrymoltz.com

More Long Form Content We are gravitating away from shorter more informal “blog” posts and are investing much more in creating lengthier, more authoritative articles. There’s a glut of blog content of the short style, and while it may be shared on social media widely, it also tends to have a short shelf life. Longer, more in-depth pieces on evergreen topics tend to deliver a better ROI on the investment (time or money) in an article. In other words, if you’re going to write an article, you might as well make the extra effort to make it rich in detail and fantastic! It’s not unusual for Small Business Trends to publish pieces I’ve personally written or we’ve commissioned from others, at 1,500 – 2,000 words each, several times per week. (We publish around 50 articles per week, since we are an online magazine.) We don’t have a steady diet of long pieces, but we do a greater percentage of them today than two years ago. Here is why we do more long-form content. We find that people AND search engines tend to favor well-written, in-depth pieces. For instance, Google recognizes Schema markup for in-depth articles. But even if you don’t know what Schema markup is or don’t want to bother with it, you may just find that longer content helps your site’s engagement because (a) people tend to spend more time on your site reading longer pieces stuffed with useful information; and (b) they are more likely to explore the rest of your site, not just consume a short snack and immediately go away. Also, a page with a lot of quality content on a specific topic tends to naturally rank well in search because of the sheer quantity of information for the search engine spiders. That means more people may find your article — and your site — via search. And perhaps hire you or buy from you. However, everybody has their own style, and every site is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all. I recommend that people experiment. See if long-form content works for you.

Anita Campbell
CEO and Publisher
Small Business Trends

My approach is much different now than in years past. When I first started out with my blog in 2006, I posted ten to twelve times per week, then a few years later, I brought on contributors in order to scale the blog, while I focused on writing for business media outlets. Now, I rarely publish on social networks and only write articles six times each year when I have new research I want to push out to the marketplace. Part of this is because I believe the marketplace is changing and part of this is because I burned out from posting so much. I have so much going on now that I would rather focus my content production when I need to get something out there rather than random articles.

Dan Schawbel
Author of Promote Yourself

The biggest change for me has been that there are more outlets to share my content on. Specifically I think of Instagram. In the past the only way to share what I was seeing out in the world was in a blog post. Flickr has always been around as someplace to upload photos, but that is where it ended. There was no real community. But, using Instagram I can take a photo, tag the location and then write as little or much as I want and share it out to all other channels. I love having that flexibility and functionality right in my pocket anywhere in the world. I no longer have to take out my laptop to create and share.

C.C. Chapman

“Social media has changed the way I approach the content I create. Twitter, Facebook, et al have reduced our attention spans and at the same time increased the amount of “noise” we have to wade through, in order to get to the “signal.” As a result, I am creating more visuals and making any written content more succinct. I’m using images to gain attention, graphics to convey my message, and even my new book, Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, is just 194 pages, spread out over 30+ concise chapters. In short, less truly is more.”

Andy Beal
CEO of Trackur

I’ve changed it all. I write once a week or so for chrisbrogan.com, instead of once or twice a day. Instead, I write my newsletter once a week, and write for private communities multiple times a day. I’m sharing a peek from outside, but only the faithful gets the payload.

Chris Brogan
Publisher of Owner Magazine

So, if you’ve made it to this point why not share thoughts on how your content marketing is evolving!

On Women: Leading, Mentoring and Changing the Face of Business

March is Women’s History Month. Some 10.1 million firms are owned or co-owned by women, 40 percent of all businesses in the U.S., says the Center for Women’s Business Research. Between 2002 and 2007, women created almost twice as many businesses as men, according to data from the Census Bureau.

There is much written and unwritten about women business leaders, much proposed and assumed, and much left to say. So, I asked eight women business leaders three questions, and I think their answers have a great deal to offer in terms of what this group thinks about being a business owner, and being a woman. (You can find three answers below and answers from Martha Beck, Pam Slim, Nancy Duarte, Carol Roth and Sarah Robinson on AMEX OPENForum)

Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media, Inc. She is widely known for her honest industry observations, her inability to not say exactly what she’s thinking

Who would you list as your primary role models when staring and building your business? And why?

Lisa: Vanessa Fox I didn’t necessarily look to her as a role model in terms of starting a business (though she’s done a fine job of that), but more as an example of how I wanted to conduct myself and be seen in my industry. Vanessa is the brain responsible for building Google Webmaster Central, but since then she’s gone off to start her own consulting firm, is ever-present in search, and is just someone who does things *right*. She does them for the right reasons and with her clients’ best interests in mind. And that’s important to me.  It was also important to have someone in my sights who works just as hard today as she did before she became a success.  She’s kept her head and she’s an expert at what she does.  Who wouldn’t look to someone like that for an example?

Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Executive Editor of Small Business Trends and co-autor of Visual Marketing: 99 Proven Ways for Small Businesses to Market with Images and Design

Do you feel you’ve been able to contribute something unique to your business precisely because you are a woman? If so, please elaborate.

Anita: Usually I try not to dwell on gender, but as I look back I think being a woman made me work all the harder, and not give up.  Whether real or perceived, I felt I needed to strive to be better than men in whatever I took on because I was a woman.  Whether I really HAD to be better than my male counterparts or was in fact being treated differently is not the point.  I felt that way — and it drove me.  So much of our success in business starts in the 6 inches between our ears (i.e., in our own minds) that we become a product of what we believe.  And so, because I believed I had to work harder, I did work harder. While I might never have been the most creative or the most brilliant, I can say that I worked harder than many to build my business.

Known as The Barefoot Executive, Carrie Wilkerson is a mentor/coach/adviser to over 100,000 men and women as the Barefoot Executive through videos, podcasts, masterminding, mentoring and live speaking. She is the author of The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom

How would you characterize the differences between male and female business owners?

Carrie: I would say that, for whatever reason, men do seem more driven to keep going while women seem to slow down their growth when they think it is ‘enough.’ Other than that, maybe I’m naive, but I don’t see that many differences. I do get the ‘how do I balance work and life better’ question more from women than men. So either men have that figured out or it’s not top of mind for them.

1 Monday Guest Stars

Here are your guest contributors for Monday’s edition of the Duct Tape Marketing Small Business Week iPad Giveaway.

Read each of the five posts that follow and click our entry form link to match the guest star with their post.

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan consults and speaks professionally with Fortune 100 and 500 companies like PepsiCo, General Motors, Microsoft, and more, on the future of business communications, and social software technologies. He is a New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents, and a featured monthly columnist at Entrepreneur Magazine. Chris’s blog, [chrisbrogan.com], is in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150.

Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Twist Image — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. His first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his successful Blog and Podcast is a business and marketing bestseller. Follow Mitch here: www.twistimage.com/blog.

Anita Campbell

Anita Campbell serves as CEO of Anita Campbell Associates Ltd, a woman-owned consulting firm helping companies and organizations reach the small business market.  She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication.  She hosts Small Business Trends Radio, where she interviews other small business experts. 

Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software, founder of bplans.com, and a co-founder of Borland International, author of books and software on business planning, Stanford MBA, father of five, married 41 years.  His latest book is The Plan-As-You-Go-Business-Plan.  He can be found blogging at his main blog Planning Startups Stories.

Pamela Slim

Pamela Slim is a seasoned coach and writer who helps frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own business. Her blog, Escape from Cubicle Nation, is one of the top career and marketing blogs on the web.  She is also an author of Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.

2 What is a Marketing Strategy and How Can I Get One 1

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Pamela Slim

Pamela Slim is a seasoned coach and writer who helps frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own business. Her blog, Escape from Cubicle Nation, is one of the top career and marketing blogs on the web. She is also an author of Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 1

Ask a new business owner what his marketing strategy is, and he will most likely say “sell as many products as possible to as many people as possible.”

While optimism is a good quality in an entrepreneur, this definition is a recipe for disaster. When you are unclear whom you are trying to reach, you will stumble from one marketing tactic to another, diving into Facebook with zeal one week, Tweeting like a fool the next, and, in a final act of desperation, pitch your friends and neighbors as if you were a teenager begging for a last-minute date to the prom.

An effective marketing strategy defines:

• the detailed profile of the ideal person you are trying to reach (age, profession, gender, race, income level, hobbies, political views, attitude)
• their hopes, fears, needs, desires, challenges and problems
• the particular places where they hang out in person or online
• the books, blogs, newspapers, magazines and trade publications they read
• the people and companies they most admire
• the tools they use to connect with others (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, professional associations, forums)
• the specific outcomes you are trying to achieve (establish trust, build followers or online presence, get referrals, sell products, recruit evangelists, attract partners)
• the metrics you will use to track progress

Once these components of the strategy are defined, you can create a tactical plan that outlines the specific activities you will engage in each week in order to achieve your outcomes.

A good marketing strategy leads to specific to-do lists like:

1. Contact 5 board members of the Atlanta Association of Gluten-Free Libertarian Physicians
2. Write guest post for the Gluten Free and Proud blog
3. Attend the Living Gluten Free lecture at the Atlanta Whole Foods Market

If all of this sounds like too much work, you could always revert back to the standard marketing practice of optimistic business owners: stare at your phone and pray it will ring.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 2

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software, founder of bplans.com, and a co-founder of Borland International, author of books and software on business planning, Stanford MBA, father of five, married 41 years. His latest book is The Plan-As-You-Go-Business-Plan. He can be found blogging at his main blog Planning Startups Stories.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 2

Years ago the marketing plan was a lot of Ps: price, place promotion, and so on. I prefer the Ms: market, message, medium, measurement, management. And you care about it because of the last M, money.

The market is about target markets. It’s like sculpture. You start with a big block of everything, and what makes it beautiful is what you take away. Michelangelo started with a block of marble and ended up with David. So for a restaurant, to take one example, if you try to appeal to everybody, you’re doomed. Instead, you target foodies, or families with young kids, or office workers. Not everybody. Food, service, location, and pricing optimize for specific target groups. Visualize and imagine your ideal target buyer.

The message should match the target market. Understand benefits. Don’t talk about quick and inexpensive if you’re targeting a high-end market. Understand what your benefits are — much more than features — and focus the message you want to deliver. The secret is to please and attract your special targets instead of promising everything to everybody.

The medium has to match both the market and the message. Don’t count on social media to reach retirees or mainstream television to reach urban intellectuals. Put your message where your market will find it.

Develop measurement to set your marketing goals so you can track and measure your progress. Look for numbers like sales, units, leads, presentations, page views, downloads, and conversion rates.

The management happens with the following up on the metrics. You track plan vs. actual results and look carefully at the difference. That leads to revisions and course corrections.

Which brings us to money, the reason why you want a marketing plan: better marketing planning means better marketing management which means more sales and managed, optimized marketing spending.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 3

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan consults and speaks professionally with Fortune 100 and 500 companies like PepsiCo, General Motors, Microsoft, and more, on the future of business communications, and social software technologies. He is a New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents, and a featured monthly columnist at Entrepreneur Magazine. Chris’s blog, [chrisbrogan.com], is in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 3

Marketing for small business is about satisfying wants. Most of us are lucky enough to be in the want business, not the need business. Marketing is connecting a buyer to a want. And strategy? Strategy is your approach. It’s how you get from where you are to where you’re going.

You have to answer six questions to write a simple marketing strategy:

WHO IS YOUR BUYER?

Write out the persona of your buyer: who she is, what her other challenges are besides the ones your product solves, what else she might need. Think like that all the time.

DO YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THAT BUYER?

How do you get to them? You can try to buy your way in with ads, you can set up your web presence to grow your way in, and you can use social media to communicate your way in. You need to get to your buyer, and you need to get to the plural, not the one.

WHAT DOES SHE WANT?

This is harder to answer than not. And no, your product isn’t the answer.

HOW DO YOU HELP YOUR BUYERS BUY?

Do they need more proof? Do they need special payment methods? Do they need guarantees? This is an oft-overlooked part of a marketing strategy.

HOW DO I REACH OUT?

Where and how will you connect with these buyers? Online? Social sites? It’s up to you.

HOW DO YOU GET REFERRALS?

Referrals are gold in most businesses. People don’t buy all the time, but they can refer every week. Make this part of every plan.

From here, you’ve got the bare bones to write a simple strategy. Test variations and grow from it. It’s how I do it.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 4

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Twist Image — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. His first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his successful Blog and Podcast is a business and marketing bestseller. Follow Mitch here: www.twistimage.com/blog.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 4

Without a lighthouse, how would ships (prior to GPS) know where landfall was? How would they know that they were headed in the right direction? What would have been their beacon? Think of your Marketing Strategy as a lighthouse… and not a GPS system. Businesses often make the mistake of confusing the two. See, a GPS will give you the exact directions to your exact destination with turn-by-turn accuracy, and while it would be nice if you could create a document/map for your business like this, it simply is not realistic in this day and age. A true Marketing Strategy is simply: a lighthouse. It’s a vision for where you business needs to be and how you’re going to get there (but we’re open to tweak and adjust on the journey).

A great Marketing strategy is built in two parts: the “why?” and the “how?” Knowing “why” you’re doing something (the core strategy and vision) will lead you to the “how” – or the tactics (the stuff you’re going to do to make the vision “come to life”). A great way to start, would be to ask some questions and to spend the time critically thinking (and writing down!) the answers.

Here are some great questions to get your Marketing Strategy rolling:

  • What is the purpose of our business?
  • Why do people love buying from us?
  • If we could get them to buy more, what would we want them to buy and how much more money should they spend?
  • How much of our sales are we willing to put into our Marketing?
  • What are we willing to pay to find a brand new consumer?
  • What are we willing to pay to keep an existing customer?
  • What is the life-long value of a customer to us?
  • What would be the ideal Marketing mix? (how much traditional vs. new media makes sense)?
  • If we created a calendar, when we spend the most of our marketing budget and how would we spend it?
  • Are there other new marketing opportunities that we should be looking at?

Start with those questions and as the answers become crystallized, try to format your thoughts into a serious plan (if you do a simple online search for “marketing strategy,” you’ll find many templates that you can “adopt” as your own).

Always remember, without a strategy, you’re just another ship sailing in the night… destination unknown.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

1 What is Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 5

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Anita Campbell

Anita Campbell serves as CEO of Anita Campbell Associates Ltd, a woman-owned consulting firm helping companies and organizations reach the small business market. She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication. She hosts Small Business Trends Radio, where she interviews other small business experts.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 5

A lot of things in business sound more intimidating than they are. If you jump right in and “do” they become much easier.

Creating a marketing strategy is one of those things. A marketing strategy is nothing more than planning out how you intend to use marketing to achieve your business goals. You start by identifying the overall goals for your business. Then you break it down into marketing activities to support the business goals.

Here’s an example: let’s say one of your business goals for the year is to increase renewal business from existing customers by 15%. To develop your marketing strategy, think about the marketing efforts it would take to get more customers to renew. Maybe that involves a customer appreciation program to reach out to every existing customer personally at least 120 days before their contract comes due. Or maybe it involves creating and communicating a special pricing plan, designed to secure early renewals and lock in a longer renewal term. These and other types of marketing approaches will directly help increase renewals. Therefore, they become your marketing strategy.

Once you have decided up on a broad strategy to achieve your business goals, you break your strategy down into smaller chunks of activity (such as milestones and tactics). Breaking it down into smaller activities and next steps is important if you want to achieve the strategy. Nothing spells death to a strategy faster than staying broad and vague.

Some people go to great lengths to define terms like “strategy,” “objectives,” and “tactics.” For most of us in small businesses, we don’t need to get obsessive about the strategy process. For most of us it’s more important to just dig in and start working on marketing strategy, and not make it too complicated or intimidating for our staffs.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

44 Snackfest Continues – 2009 Marketing Advice

This is part two of a two course helping of snack sized small business marketing advice for 2009. Find the 1st course here.

With 2009 just around the corner I thought it would be fun to collect the thoughts of some of the leading marketing folks around the web, but do so in what I am calling snack size fashion – so welcome to Snackfest 2009.

In keeping with the current trend in social media for small bites of info, think twitter sized responses – Plain and simple I asked some thought leaders this question:

2009 will be the year for small businesses to . . .

Want to play along? Here’s how, post your comment answer to the same question, comment on the snack answer of each expert and tweet your thoughts using #snack09.Follow the Twitter Stream on this here

Here’s how some thought leaders responded to my question.
Guy Kawasaki, author of Reality Check said . . .Stop believing that Wall Street and investment bankers are any smarter than they are.Twitter ID

Ann Handley, chief content officer for Marketing Profs said . . .Swell in ranks. Corporate downsizing spawns a host of new businesses. Many decide to cut their own path, as traditional paths close up.Twitter ID

Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft said . . . market to prospects and customers without increasing marketing expenses or staff size.Twitter ID

Bob Burg, author of the Go-Giver said . . .focus on adding even more value to existing and future relationships and being truly authentic.Twitter ID

Laura Lake, Guide of About.com/Marketing said . . . make a major shift into social marketing and online relationship building. It’s no longer an option, it’s vital.Twitter ID

Scott Allen, author of The Virtual Handshake said . . . get funded. Cap gain tax cuts & revitalization of SBA = available equity & credit $$$. It’s time to make a big move that needs big capital.Twitter ID

Chris Baggott, CEO of Compendium Blogware said . . . take advantage of their inherent advantage in local SEO. Targeted business blogging empowers small business to control their own destiny and win the online battle.Twitter ID

Anita Campbell, editor of Small Business Trends said . . . Get serious about making money! When times get tough, tough business owners get going. 2009’s economy means no fooling around.Twitter ID

Rich Sloan, co-author of StartUpNation said . . . Home-Based businesses will be launched at unprecedented rates. Attrition will decrease as people use tools like email marketing.Twitter ID

Jim Gilmore, co-author of The Experience Economy said . . . act boldly and take sales from retrenching big businesses.

Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing said . . . Stand up and say “Happy customers are our greatest advertisers. We’re going to find a million ways to make people happy.Twitter ID

Ken Yancey, CEO of SCORE said . . . get back to the true managerial basics of running their businesses. Businesses that were marginal in previous years will really struggle and well run businesses will survive and hopefully thrive.

Lee Odden, publisher of TopRank blog said . . . stop wasting time on tactics du jour, and start looking their online marketing holistically to find the right mix of measurable marketing efforts that generate sales and build value over time.Twitter ID

Bo Burlingham, editor-at-large, Inc. Magazine said . . . take advantage of the opportunities for growth in a recession.Twitter ID

So, what do you have to say?

5 Talking About Money, Marketing and Other Stuff

I wrote a guest post for Anita Campbell’s Small Business Trends site titled – What’s Money Got To Do With It. The post explores the idea that too many small business owners don’t place enough value on what they do to charge what it’s worth. The post drew some pretty strong reactions – go check it out and add your two cents.

Speaking of guest writing – I am contributing content and community involvement for the newly launched Business Exchange Community hosted by Business Week. It’s a community all about content and building out niche topic areas. Anyone can join, build a profile, and suggest topics. I’ve been busy working on the Small Business Marketing topic area.

I think it’s a great place to read and catch up on some content you may have otherwise missed but I think there are also some opportunities for exposure and traffic for those who get in there and start and curate a topic area.

And don’t forget to check out the great post over on the Digital Nomads site. I am finding some great tips for doing things on the road both from the contributors and the comments made from readers. I mean who knew that Microsoft Live Search Mobile had speech recognition, category lookup and GPS tracking. My post this week focused on Navigating Your World When On the Go

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