8 reasons why people aren’t liking or sharing your social media posts

Many professionals reject social media marketing because they think it takes too much time with little pay off. When they do post articles, they don’t get much of a response, so they feel it doesn’t work. However, social media, like all marketing, is about targeting, consistency, and quality. If you aren’t seeing results in your social media marketing, consider whether some of the following issues may be the problem: (more…)

Help people first; get business second

There’s the old adage that it’s better to give than to receive. Many people believe that in their personal life, but few seem to carry that idea into their business life. Helping people in a business setting is just as important and can reap substantial rewards personally and financially. It enables you to build stronger relationships with others which can make your work and personal life more fulfilling as well as eventually lead to business. The next time you are wondering why no one is sending you clients, consider some of these ways you can help them first: (more…)

Biggest marketing takeaways for small firms

How can small firms improve their marketing? Earlier this month, I joined a panel discussion on marketing at the Long Island Tax Professionals Symposium sharing tips on how small firms can successfully market their practice. Regardless of what kind of professional service firm you have, the same rules apply – firms must clearly differentiate themselves, be consistent in their marketing and focus on building relationships. (more…)

How to build an online presence

Are you concerned about your online presence? Earlier this month I spoke on a panel about Building an Online Presence, hosted by the Organizational Development (more…)

Content marketing best practices

Leadership Solutions
According to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America study of 3700 companies, 88% of organizations are using content marketing. And 76% expect to increase the amount of content they are producing over the prior year. With so much emphasis on content marketing, what can firms do to help make their initiatives as successful as possible?

1. Document your content marketing strategy. The CMI study emphasized that “B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy get better results from their content marketing tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods of content distribution compared to those without a written strategy.” A documented strategy keeps you focused on what you want to achieve and helps you design a plan for how to get there.

2. Create buyer personas. One of the keys to successful content marketing is understanding your target audience or buyer. Develop a profile (buyer persona) of that ideal buyer, client, or referral source, including their key demographics and behaviors. The more you know about your buyer’s needs, the better you can tailor the substance of your message as well as how you promote it to them.

3. Choose a well-defined niche. We’re all suffering from information overload and there is so much content available that it’s overwhelming to look at it all. One of the ways to stand out is to promote a narrow expertise.

You may find yourself with fewer leads, but better quality ones because you better match what the prospect is looking for and there are fewer obvious competitors.

4. Develop an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar helps you create and manage your content workflow. Use it to plan out content topics or themes in advance, establish deadlines and assign responsibilities for each step in the process. Think about the format for your content, your message and audience, where and how will it be marketed and distributed and what resources are needed.

5. Reuse content. Coming up with new content on a regular basis is challenging so look for ways to repurpose your existing content. For example, create longer and shorter versions of everything you do as well as think of different formats such as writing, audio, video, and presentations. Content curation is another method of reusing content, but you are selecting and sharing useful information created by others. Ideally add some of your own thoughts and commentary when sharing other people’s content.

6. Track results using appropriate metrics. The end game for any marketing is to bring in revenue, but there are other goals to keep in mind, such as; lead generation, lead nurturing, brand awareness, customer retention, and engagement.

Determining the appropriate metrics depends on your specific goals. However, some of the more common ones include: website/blog traffic and engagement metrics (unique and repeat visitors, page views, time spent on site, etc.); social media interest (followers, connections, sharing, etc.); quality and quantity of leads generated; and other ones.

Once you have established your metrics, start testing your tactics and revise and hone your strategies accordingly.

7. Start small and scale up. You don’t have to do everything at once. Instead start with a pilot project that you can scale up over time. You can focus on 1 or 2 priorities or tactics. Or look at how your existing content marketing can be improved keeping in mind some of the best practices mentioned in this article. Consider what you are already doing as well as how adding resources could improve your results.

Once you start to see successes, you can build on them.

Content marketing is a great investment when done right. Hopefully these  best practices will help make your initiatives more successful.

Need help with your marketing? Contact us for a free consultation.

How to create an effective marketing plan

image-marketing plan cartoonA marketing plan is essential to successful marketing. You set goals, define your audience, determine priorities and look at where and how you should focus your resources for the most impact. As part of the planning process you also analyze your business and financial situation so you can make informed decisions about your needs and resources.

Without a plan, you run the risk of spending time and money on an assortment of different tactics without a clearly defined purpose. Maybe some of those efforts will work. But what about the things that don’t work, or more likely, you’re not really sure what is working or could be working better. When you act without a marketing plan, you’re more likely to engage in random acts of marketing, which wastes precious resources.

An effective marketing plan needs all of these

1. Define your strategy(ies) first. Successful marketing requires that you have a strategy and a plan. The strategy defines your goals – what do you want to achieve and why. The plan is about how you’re going to do it – what steps do you need to take to implement your strategy.

2. Put it in writing. According to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America study of 3700 companies, “B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy get better results from their content marketing tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods of content distribution compared to those without a written strategy.” The study focused on content marketing, but its good business practice to put your plans in writing.

3. Allocate appropriate resources. Once you know what you want to accomplish and what you need to do to get there, you have to put aside enough time, money and bodies. The Ascend 2016 State of Digital Marketing Survey found that the most significant barrier to success in digital marketing was an inadequate marketing budget. Lack of internal skills/training was number 2 on the list. Think about who can handle what tasks, both in terms of time and ability. Outsource if necessary. If you don’t have the funds or the staff to do everything you want to do, then start with a small, simple project. Be realistic about your needs and resources otherwise your plan will go nowhere fast.

4. Measure results. The metrics you choose will vary depending on your goals. Think in terms of short-, mid- and long-term goals. The ultimate goal for firms is usually to grow revenue, but that takes a long time. You want some interim measurements in order to gauge your progress. For example, new business starts with new leads, which may start with increasing visibility. If you’re looking at website metrics, do you want to measure growth in new visitors to your website or look at repeat visits or how much time someone spent on the site? Make sure your metrics are appropriate and you use them properly. Marketing is a process of testing, measuring and revising.

5. Revisit your plan regularly. It’s a good practice to look at your plan annually or more often if your business has changed in some way. Consider your financial and competitive situation as well as your results to date.

Invest in creating a solid marketing plan for your business. It will be worth it.

For help in creating your marketing plan, contact us for a consultation.

 

Dos and Don’ts of Using Social Media to Grow Your Business

Social Media Dos and Don'tsAre you using social media to grow your business? What challenges are you facing? A few weeks ago, I spoke on a panel on “Using Social Media: The Dos and Don’ts to Grow Your Business” for the Organizational Development Network of Long Island. We talked about how social media can help and hurt your business. I’m happy to say I learned new things and got to exchange a lot of tips for how to make the most of social media marketing.

Here are my top dos and don’ts:

1. Do go where you audience is. A common question from the audience was which type of social media is the best. Well the simplest answer is to find where you audience is. If you’re targeting certain types of companies, determine where the company and its key individuals have a social media presence. Are they on LinkedIn? Twitter? Google+? Also look at how they are using each channel. Where are they the most actively engaged? Are they talking to their customers, peers, vendors or others? Yes, you can get into a more detailed analysis about which social media channel is the best, but it basically boils down to knowing your audience – where are they active and where do they look for the kind of information that you could provide to them.

2. Don’t think of social media as either a scourge or miracle cure for your business. Social media is a channel for marketing, business development and building/reinforcing relationships. It doesn’t mean you stop doing all the other things you’ve done previously; nor does it mean that you don’t try it because you’ve done okay in the past with your other tactics and don’t need to change. There was a time long, long ago when few used email marketing or had a website. Now you have both, but you are probably still incorporating networking, advertising, telemarketing and sales, direct mail, etc. Email and websites didn’t replace everything else, but you did change your marketing mix. Hopefully you’re always continuing to test and evaluate what works best for your business. And you should keep doing that as you incorporate social media into your mix.

3. Do dedicate resources to social media marketing. A lot of comments at the event centered on finding the time to deal with social media. Well, it’s like everything else you do to market your business. You have to set aside resources for it. With some types of marketing, the investment is more in terms of money (ex. advertising). Other times, it is more about time. Either way you have to make a commitment to promoting your business. With that said, look at some of the other dos and don’ts in order to help maximize your resources.

4. Don’t use it as a channel to talk about yourself. Yes, you can use it to distribute press releases or talk about your activities, new hires, etc. but just don’t do that most of the time. People want useful educational information; they are less interested in hearing about how great you are.

5. Do leverage your employees. Employees are a great resource for helping you develop the right kind of content to engage your audience. They are the ones fielding questions from clients. They probably have a lot of insights about what clients want to know about and how to craft your message. Employees can also help expand your reach by distributing your content through their own networks.

6. Don’t forget to consider legal liability. Have a social media policy covering what your employees can and can’t do. Understand rules governing advertising, copyright, trademark, trade secrets, publicity, and other problematic areas. If you’re in a regulated industry, special rules apply. You should also monitor what is being said about you for legal purposes as well as for your own reputation management.

7. Do have a plan and goals. Like all marketing (and business), social media works best when you think through who you want to target, how you’re going to reach them and set goals so you can measure how you’re doing. Otherwise you are likely to waste valuable resources.

8. Don’t try to do it all at once. Great, you believe in the value of social media and want to dive in. Even still you should start simple. Build a presence and an audience on one or two channels. Begin sharing content on a regular basis, but don’t be overly ambitious. Come up with a conservative schedule and once you’re reliably following it, then you can increase the frequency. It’s better to scale up slowly, than start with a bang and die with a whimper because you couldn’t maintain that level of activity.

Thanks to ODNLI, Paul Rubell (@www.rdtcontentmarketing.comPaulRubell) at Meltzer Lippe, Jerry Siegel at JASB Management, and a very engaged audience at the event.

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4 strategies for business and marketing success

Checkmate, Business Strategy ConceptIn the last few months I attended 2 very different events on how to grow and compete as a business. Both addressed the importance of understanding what differentiates your business and building the right internal culture and operations. Neither focused on marketing per se, but marketing was an important component. Every successful business needs to determine what it stands for (its brand) and then strategically communicate that value internally and externally. That lesson and the 4 takeaways below can help any organization find success in managing, operating and marketing its business.

1. Play to win. “Playing to win” means being focused and acting intentionally. In other words, don’t just react to changes; be strategic and have a real plan. Think about where you want to be and how you can get there. What kind of organization or team do you need? What are your obstacles? Where should you invest? Create appropriate goals and benchmarks so you know what you need to accomplish today to move you along the right path. And put it all in writing. Documenting your vision, strategies and goals will help you get focused and stay on track. It also lets everyone within the company know where you’re all going so they can feel engaged. This applies to general business planning as well marketing planning. Certainly marketing without a strategic plan is one of the biggest reasons why marketing fails.

2. Be different. Does your pitch/mission statement sound just like your competitors? Everyone says they offer quality service, care about their clients, and have tons of experience. So how are you really different? When you don’t differentiate, then you’re vulnerable to competing on price and turning your services into a commodity. Take the time to identify your unique value proposition and understand your target audiences and their pain points. The goal is to develop an authentic marketing message that resonates with your clients and prospects. You want to find your sweet spot – the place where you can speak with credibility and authority on topics that truly matter to your audience and your business. So know what makes you special and communicate clearly how that brings value to your clients so you don’t end up cutting your prices to get the business.

3. Pay attention to your work culture. According to a recent study by the National Center for the Middle Market, a well-established employer brand and compelling employee value proposition (EVP) help companies secure talent against their larger competitors and drive significantly higher revenue. (A company’s employer brand is the image and reputation it has as a place to work. Its EVP represents the tangible and intangible benefits people receive in return for working at the company.) In fact, in a study by the CFO Alliance, 95% of CFOs agreed work culture has an effect on the company’s bottom line. What does this mean for businesses? Your work culture is part of your brand. You need to identify, nurture and market it if you want to attract and retain the right talent to grow revenue.

And once you’ve got these great employees, keep them involved and motivated to help promote your brand inside and outside the organization. How can you do that? One way is to ask employees to share their experience and insights in the form of training materials, blog posts, newsletter articles, video or other content. If it’s challenging for them to create the content, give them appropriate resources. At a minimum, encourage them to share news and information that the company is putting out. And remember to publicly acknowledge their efforts. You want to engage your employees and show them they are valued, not dump work on them that they don’t want.

4. Invest the time in doing things right. The number one reason businesses give for not taking the business advice mentioned above is that they don’t have time. However, as succinctly put by Kelly Riggs in one of the events I attended, “leadership is about knowing how to invest your time.” Successful companies take the time to look critically at their business and figure out where they want to get to and how. They make long-term investments and appreciate that ROI is measured in more than just dollars.

For more takeaways from the 2 events, see “Aligning Your Employees with the Company’s Business Objectives,” from The CFO Alliance Quarterly Roundtable Series and “Winning Business in Any Economy: 4 mistakes you can’t afford to make,” HIA-LI’s 27th Annual Business Trade Show & Conference.

It’s July. Do you know how your marketing is doing?

Year 2015 marketing resultsIn December, we wrote about 3 reasons why you didn’t achieve your marketing goals in 2014. Well, we’re now 6 months into 2015 and it’s a good time to look at how you’re doing and make sure you’re not making the same mistakes.

So for your mid-year marketing check, ask yourself these questions:

1. How well are you targeting your audience?

Did you take the time at the beginning of the year to prioritize the markets you wanted to go after? When you really think about it, you probably have at least a few audiences you can target for your services (different industries, referral sources, etc.). It’s unlikely you have an unlimited marketing budget so that means you have to pick and choose where to spend your resources. Do some research to determine who should be your top targets for the year. And then do more research to learn about their needs and interests, how to find them, where they get their information and how they make decisions. You want to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.

2. Do you have specific goals and are you tracking results?

You should have very particular (and prioritized) objectives in mind that you want your marketing to help you obtain. This helps you to understand where to focus your marketing efforts and create benchmarks so you can monitor your progress. It might still be too soon to see the impact of your marketing in terms of actual new business signed this year. However, you may be seeing other indications that your message is effectively getting out to your audience. Are you seeing more web traffic, building your contact database, getting more calls, etc.? There are lots of ways to gauge progress. The first step though is setting short, mid, and long-term goals that are sufficiently specific for you to establish some way to measure improvement. Then remember that no matter how well you are doing, you should continue to track, test and revise your tactics.

3. Do you have a strategic marketing plan?

A marketing plan lets you think about your priorities and where and how you should focus your resources for the most impact. Without a plan, you run the risk of spending time and money on an assortment of different tactics without a clearly defined purpose. It also helps keep you honest and accountable. It’s too easy to start something and then let it drop. Putting it in writing reminds you that you thought it was worth investing in. You documented who you wanted to go after and why and how you would go about it. When you feel like it’s taking too long to see results or you’re tempted to spend the time and money on something else, read the plan to stay on track.

It’s July. How is your marketing doing?