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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!

4 Chris Brogan Is a Proud Freak

Marketing Podcast with Chris Brogan

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Chris Brogan, founder of Owner magazine and author of The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators

Freaks Chris BroganChris Brogan has embarked on a bit of a mission. He’s proudly telling his story and the story of many others who might not always end up on tidily scripted news shows. Brogan is calling them “freaks” but he’s doing so as a badge of honor, not as a put down.

One of the primary objectives of this mission is to provide some hope and encouragement for those who feel somehow they are different and are struggling to stay on that path as the world tries to push them back to its idea of normal.

He is building a community or place where people can start to believe that maybe there is a place for them. Check out his #proudfreak hashtag to meet some of those people. (Ironically, people who don’t feel like they fit in maybe aren’t the best people to try to corral into a group of some sort, so community might not be the exact term.)

But Freaks is also very much about turning your idea into something that has business value in your very unique way. In Freaks he also shows you how people have begun to find and serve a community and then how they have developed a marketplace around that.

One of the most interesting points in the interview is when I ask Brogan if his treatise is autobiographical. He claims in fact that he wrote this book for his children who he affectionately calls weirdos. In that he means that he never sees them finding their passion in a cubicle and this book just might help them understand why.

In Freaks you’ll meet dozens of other “weirdos” in what amounts to a fun filled romp through what it can mean to own a business these days.

If you feel like you’re a little different, your idea is a little off beat, then dive into Brogan’s new book and you just may find solid evidence that you’re not only right, you’re not alone.

 

15 What Digital Marketers Get Wrong

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s post comes from @chrisbrogan

From the very first day I opened my first company, I knew that I was bucking trends. Or so I thought. You’ll laugh.

Starting Without a Storefront: Or So I Thought

storefront

photo credit: Atelier Teee via photopin

I launched my business without having a website. So what, you’re thinking. But all my friends and models to follow at the time were built online. I learned what you know: your website is often not your business.

Stay Close to Your Community

I went on to market strictly through the digital channel. I blogged mostly, and neglected the value of asking my customers and audience to consider getting my (now beloved) newsletter. So I went years without having a good solid list of people to reach out and connect with about doing business. I bet you knew that long before me, as well.

Measure What You Want to Improve

I love the social networks as a digital channel, and I continue to believe they have value in selling. But I’ve been strongly over-valuing them as potential lead generation for my business without doing that essential step that you know already: I haven’t measured. And the moment I did, I found some startling results. I don’t sell nearly as much via my social networks as I do via my newsletter. And yet, I was spending a lot more time there than I was on developing ways to improve the one high-performing sales and lead generation platform I had.

Quick note: I believe social platforms have a huge role in business-making. Only, my experiences with directly selling into them has been very lackluster. Instead, I share insights, and lead people gently to get my newsletter. And then that converts.

Relationships Are Everything

You know this because you’ve read the Referral Engine and you follow one of the best relationship guys in the world here. John works hard to nurture relationships with his community and his colleagues, and what I’d come to realize was that I was serving a small set of buyers (huge companies) and wasn’t making time to connect with the people who matter (like John). With that in mind, I’m working on some ways (low tech and eventually a little more high-tech) to make sure that I keep the people who matter to me top of mind, even when I get bogged down and busy.

But you already knew the value of relationships.

In Praise Of YOU and Your Smarts

So, in the end, I suppose why I wrote this post was to validate the great learning you’re getting from John and others here. Because I launched a digital-first business, I’ve had to backtrack and learn what you knew from the start. And I’m better for it. Thank you for sharing what you know with learners like me.

Chris BroganChris Brogan is president and CEO of Human Business Works, a publishing and media company focusing on courses and tools for smart professionals like you.

1 The Five Most Engaging Podcasts of the Year

marketing podcastI’ve been recording podcast interviews since some time in 2005 and it’s one of my favorite things to do. The show has opened some pretty cool doors and allowed me to meet some very cool people.

This year I met the likes of Harvey MacKay, Stephen Pressfield, Eric Reis, Derek Sivers, Kevin Kelly and Hugh MacLeod through my podcast and reconnected with old friends such as Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, David Meerman Scott, Peter Shankman and Scott Ginsberg.

The following five episodes make up what you my readers called my most engaging shows of the year.

1) Anything You Want

This week’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby and author of Anything You Want 40 Lessons (When you buy any version of the book you can grab 200 musical downloads as a gift from Derek too!)

2) The New New New Rules of Marketing and PR

My good friend David Meerman Scott stopped by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast recently to talk about the release of the 3rd Edition of his mega best selling book The New Rules of Marketing and PR. This book changed the way many people think about marketing and has remained on many a “must read” list since it was first released.

3) 5 Google Plus Tips and Chris Brogan

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I grabbed a few minutes with Chris Brogan. Chris is the founder of Human Business Works, writes and speaks on all things related to social media and is a documented Google Plus fanboy.

4) 5 Types of Content That Every Business Must Employ

The creation and distribution of content has become such a significant aspect of effective marketing that it requires a high place in the strategy conversation in most every business.

Some might go as far as to suggest content marketing has become the most effective way to build a business.

5) Understanding the Most Fundamental Shift in Marketing

When I want to make marketing extremely easy to understand, I sit small business owners down in front of the above graphic and have them fill in some process, touchpoint, campaign, product of service in each of the seven blanks. The idea behind this graphic I call the Marketing Hourglass is that marketing is no longer a hunt and close business, it’s a be found, build trust, nurture, wow and refer business.

5 Does Google Plus Change Everything

Marketing podcast with Chris Brogan (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Google+ for businessThere certainly are those that believe Google has landed a game changer with their social network Google+ and those that are ready to claim it’s a nice niche platform for techie kind of people.

Personally, I think it’s currently the best platform for business in terms of the functionality it offers, but of course is currently lacking the dedicated user base making it hard to imagine a business setting up shop there exclusively.

Even with that limitation Google+ has indeed changed some things already.

  • Its existence can certainly claim credit for a number of enhancements for business users rushed in recently by Facebook.
  • SEO firms are both nervous and giddy about Google’s integration of G+ with search
  • Google+ ties together many of Google’s already entrenched, but untethered services such as Picasa, YouTube, GMail and Apps.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is  and author of Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything and Google+ evangelist Chris Brogan

Brogan boldly and passionate professes, as the title of the book suggests, that Google+ is the next super power in the social network game and cares little that Facebook has hundreds of millions of users more. It’s the Google connection and the Google dominance in other important business areas that intrigues and excites Brogan most.

Again, from a strictly business point of view, I have to agree. Now is the time to grab, build and enhance your Google+ profile and brand page. This action will never hurt you and you may discover that actively placing content from your blog on Google+ is a way to get your content indexed by Google even faster.

One of the things I like most about Brogan’s book, however, is that while he firmly supports the use of Google+ for business, much of the advice he gives about how to use it is solid advice for anyone that wants to build a following, find great content and engage users on any platform.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

20 5 Google Plus Tips and Chris Brogan

Marketing podcast with Chris Brogan (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Google Plus LogoFor this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I grabbed a few minutes with Chris Brogan. Chris is the founder of Human Business Works, writes and speaks on all things related to social media and is a documented Google Plus fanboy.

Chris and I talk about what Google Plus is, what it means, its strong points and weak points and why he has moved a great deal of his own personal networking activity to Google Plus. Have a listen.

Below are a couple tips that I’ve been using to enhance my own Google Plus experience – connect with me on Google Plus if you like.

1) Add the Google Plus Profile card to your blog – Grab the Google Plus Card WordPress plugin puts your Google Plus profile in your blog sidebar just like you see over there to the left – this will help spread the word about your presence there.

2) Add photos like a slideshow – Create a new Album and upload a series of slides as images (all the same size) in the order you would like them to show and Google Plus creates a viewer that can be clicked through much like a slideshow.

3) Send Google Plus items to Evernote – simply create a circle and add your Evernote email address as the lone user. Then share anything on Google Plus with that circle and it will automatically be sent to your Evernote account.

4) Search Google Plus – Google Plus doesn’t really have any good way to find people you might want to connect by occupation or interest yet. You can, however, use Google search to do the job – to search by topic, add this to a Google search – your topic site:plus.google.com ie: “small business marketing” site:plus.google.com

5) Publish your Google Plus public feed to your WordPress blog – I’m sure badges and widgets are coming for G+ but until they do here’s how I published a mini G+ feed on my blog

First – find you profile # – mine is 103952215474318614668 – then simply use this tool from plusfeed to create an RSS URL with your # – http://plusfeed.appspot.com/yourprofilenumber here, this is an RSS feed for my G+ public feed only (you can actually do this for any public feed if you wanted to publish other people’s feed)

Next take the RSS feed above and burned it at Feedburner (I know, another Google property.) Feedburner has a feature called BuzzBoost that makes it pretty easy to republish an RSS and produces the code you need for your widget. Take that code and create a text widget in WordPress, place it in your theme (you might also add a link back to your profile) and that’s it.

Bonus: Don’t forget to add the Google +1 button to your blog and Website pages. This is one way that people point out content on your site and share it with their Google Plus followers. I show you how to do that here: Adding the Google +1 Button

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.

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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

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